“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”—John Lennon

Life is short, for all of us. Few of us ever have as much time to accomplish all we want to do with our lives, to determine our purpose for being here, for loving others and learning to accept the beauty of feeling loved in return. Regardless of how many calendars you accumulate, how many decades go by, how much living you’re determined to pack into your life, there’s just this sense of life as a finite experience, a party that’s never quite long enough.

I think this knowledge is why I’ve always been determined not to live life on the sidelines, to truly invest my heart and soul into things, to occasionally leap before I look, speak before I think, act upon nothing but feeling and instinct, have illogical flings and complicated friendships, try on new careers and creations and ideas until I see what fits, and try not to box myself into this idea of who I am supposed to be and where I’m supposed to end up. Even the best map so often doesn’t know, and while you’re busy trying to follow the path, you tend to miss the beauty around you, the possibility of others.

Life is short, and reading this beautiful article was simply heartbreaking. It reminded me to be grateful–for each day, for each person in my life, for each opportunity for something new and different to come along, for each memory, even for each hour spent doing something you’d rather not be doing. Every moment can be beautiful. Every person you make a space for in your life can change it. Every new thing you see or do or create can be the beginning of something important. But none of that happens if you listen to all the excuses not to take chances, not to put yourself out there, not to go on an adventure, not to trust, not to love, not to create, not to let yourself be judged and criticised and hurt and rejected, not to be the most authentic version of you that you can be.

Growing up is hard. Going through that part of your life where you’re now considered a responsible adult, but don’t feel like one, and realising you’re at the age where you once imagined all your questions and uncertainties and quests to “find yourself” would have yielded all the answers you needed by now—and you’re not any closer to understanding yourself, life, or the universe than you were a decade ago— it’s hard. It can be scary and lonely and leave you wondering if you’ll ever figure it out. It can leave you wondering if the chances you take are the right ones, if you invest yourself in others out of a need to follow your heart or just sheer bad judgment, if living differently from what the world expects of you is worth the challenge, if you’re doing the right thing—even when the right thing for you might be the wrong thing for someone else.

Growing up is hard. But it’s immensely preferable to the alternative. That’s why I intend to keep putting myself out there, even when it results in getting hurt. I intend to sometimes make the wrong choices because my heart tells me no matter how hard I try to put things in perspective, intuition and emotion are powerful tools that shouldn’t be ignored. I intend to keep on taking chances, falling harder than I should, wearing my heart on my sleeve and sharing my most personal feelings with the world, starting projects I intend to finish but never do, wasting time watching TV just because I truly love it, and accepting that life is all about enjoying the journey, because nobody’s all that certain about the destination. I intend to live my life as if it is always going to be the opposite of loneliness, because there are no guarantees, and no do-overs.

And,I hope that when I am 35, I throw the best parties. :)

That sounds like a band name, or a really violent Meetup event, but it is neither.

Yesterday was not really a good day. In fact, it was such an upsetting day that I don’t even really want to write about it. However, since that’s how I best process and make sense of life, I will.

Yesterday, I had a fight with a friend of mine. Or, more accurately, I had a fight with someone with whom I’ve been attempting to become friends (based on some comments made during said fight, I’m not sure if he considers us friends or not.)

This is not the first time we’ve had this fight, as it’s happened at least twice before. It had, however, been a month or so since the last time this fight occurred, so I rather thought we’d successfully worked through the issue. Other than this particular issue, we don’t seem to have any problems communicating, getting along, or building a friendship, which makes it even more frustrating.

The fight is about communication: specifically, how I spend far too much of my life engaging in it and he is less inclined to it than most people, both out of time constraints and temperament. I am really like a teenager with communication, constantly texting people and checking my FB and going through withdrawals if I am in a technology-free zone. (This, I’ve discussed in a previous post.) He is not; he is comfortable not communicating with people for fairly extended periods of time. Although I attempt not to judge, I think perhaps both of our views on communication are slightly unhealthy and make other people in our lives (not just each other) a bit frustrated.

Yet, yesterday’s fight almost ended with us walking away from a friendship that appears to be of some importance to both of us.

The odd thing is, I am aware that this person in my life actually *likes* me, as a friend and as a person. He’s had many complimentary things to say to me, appreciates my snarky,witty, occasionally self-deprecating sense of humour, and has been willing to engage in the exchange of long telephone conversations and Facebook e-mails full of what he terms “emotional intimacy” and what I call “bonding”. He’s told me he enjoys talking to me more than he enjoys talking to many people in the world. He’s mentioned he thinks I have a wonderful spirit, and am an intelligent, attractive, insightful, funny person. Whenever we spend time talking, we laugh a lot, and very easily. We also talk about more serious things, topics I wouldn’t necessarily open up about to someone I barely know.

Yet, as he reminded me yesterday, we barely know one another. He feels I am forcing a friendship to happen through demanding communication, and is angered by an approach he feels is aggressive. On the other hand, I had a hurt and confused look on my face that said “I thought we *were* friends”.

The fight ended with him basically wanting to walk away from our friendship entirely and say “This isn’t working”, and to be honest, I considered it. However, that isn’t my way, and I don’t think it ever will be. Almost all my close friends in life are people with whom I’ve gone through a period of struggle, contention, personal growth, confused feelings, miscommunication, or just arguing about something at some point in time. Yet, most of these friends have been in my life for a long time, and have proven to me how much they care. When times were bad, not one of them abandoned me. It means a lot, those type of friendships, which I treasure greatly. Because I don’t trust people easily, I don’t often invest the time and energy and feeling needed to form those “real” friendships. I think what happened is that I very quickly sensed that this friend of mine could be one of those rare people in my life…eventually. I also thought, based on his reactions to me, that it was a mutual instinct at work. I assumed that he was investing time and energy in me because we could develop a “real” friendship, something not so easy to come by in this day and age.

So, you can imagine how hurt I felt listening to this person basically point out that we’re not really that close and in friendships, as in relationships, you have to pay attention to when someone is “just not that into you”. However, the most hurtful part of the whole exchange was him telling me he doesn’t feel comfortable having me in his home when I am in his part of town in a few weeks, because he doesn’t have that level of trust in me, and sees all the ways in which allowing me into his personal space might go wrong.

It is not that I don’t get why a relatively new friend wouldn’t offer to host me when I was in town. In fact, when I informed this friend I would be in his part of town in June, I didn’t request to stay with him. When we met one another because he was in Atlanta a few months ago, he didn’t ask to stay at my place, and I didn’t offer. Why? Because we didn’t know one another, despite years of the occasional text and e-mail and connection via a mutual friend. I also know this person is someone who values his personal space, and honestly, I tend to get annoyed with sharing the same space with others for too long. I’m an extrovert who needs decompression time, so no matter how much I like someone, not having my own space can become tiring for me. So, I made my own arrangements and didn’t even think to ask about crashing with my friend.

Yet, he is the one who offered…over a month ago, when he knew me less well than he does today, and had less reason to have any level of faith and trust in me. So, when I decided to extend my stay by an extra two days in order to accommodate some extra plans, I asked if I could sleep on his floor for two nights..a short enough imposition to not really be an imposition. He of course said yes, and reminded that he offered to host me some time ago, and I declined.

I am not hurt by the fact that someone feels they don’t know me well enough or like me well enough to have me stay at their home. I am hurt by the fact that someone would offer, and then say, “I no longer feel comfortable having you in my space.” That’s personal. That’s a slap in the face to someone whose greatest crime is trying too hard to be another person’s friend. It’s extraordinarily personal when someone who has always claimed to be fond of you and said numerous positive things about your character and your friendship no longer has the same level of trust and esteem because you had a fight. It hurts that when someone knew you less well, they had more trust and positive feelings towards you.

Ironically, before he offered to host me when I was in town, we had the same exact fight. And just a few days ago, when we spoke on the phone, he thanked me for being patient with his lack of communication and not pushing the issue when he was really busy with other stuff. I pointed out the reason it was easy for me to do that is because we seemed to have reached a compromise; he reminded me that I wasn’t unimportant by saying hi now and then, and I didn’t require constant communication in order to build a friendship. I thought, as with most things, we’d found a point of compromise that made both of us react positively to our friendship.

It utterly shocks me that me sending texts—and after two or three days of no reply, becoming concerned that I’d offended him during out last conversation—should provoke such a dramatic reaction as “I no longer feel comfortable with you in my personal space, and am not so sure we should be friends”. After speaking with him, I do understand why my text habits seems aggressive and make others feel pushed or bullied, something I’ve never considered before. Yet, I don’t feel as if I deserve the lack of trust or faith or friendship or esteem or whatever that came out of this disagreement. If the worst thing you can say about someone is “I know this girl that I consider funny, intelligent, attractive, charming, and enjoy talking to, but she tries way too hard to be my friend”, I’d like to think that’s not really all that bad. If I were, in fact, the obsessive, psycho-stalker type, I’d understand the concern…but the fact is that I don’t pick up the phone and call this guy constantly so he’ll talk to me. In fact, the only time I’ve *ever* invaded his personal space by calling was when we were in the middle of arguing via text, and since I think text is much of the problem in this situation, I’d prefer not to have arguments escalate via text. It’s too easy for people to be impersonal, to say things they don’t really mean. Other than that, we speak on the phone when he has the time to call and talk to me. I send the occasional card or book via the mail…something I do with most of my close, long-distance friends. I share stuff on FB just to share and don’t expect a response.

The irony is that neither my friend nor myself are the type to have much interest in small talk and banal conversation. While the phone calls we share are often rather personal and require a level of openness to “emotional intimacy”, they leave us both feeling positive about one another and our friendship. We say a lot of positive and supportive things to one another during those chats. If we’re *not* yet friends, it’s a pretty good approximation. Yet, the texts that are the source of argument and cause these destructive fights are typically the most banal things in the world, stuff I’d feel comfortable sending to someone I met yesterday. We have had real, extensive chats via text that are of some significance..but generally what I send out is “Hey, hope you’re having a good day” or “YAY! 1st place at trivia”. The only point is me reaching out to keep this friend, who does not live near me, included in my life, helping to create some semblance of friendship and connectedness. Yet, I don’t even know why I would…neither of us is the type of person to be interested in the day-to-day small things that comprise life, except as experiences to be enjoyed while they’re happening. I think we both prefer to talk about more substantial things–and that’s the part I could see someone feeling tired and emotionally drained by—so it’s an irony that we fight over the appropriateness and timing of trading small talk via text. People do it to stay connected..but in this instance, do either of us really care? I personally appreciate a text saying “I’m off doing this interesting thing but cared enough to connect” far more than I do saying “Hi” to everyone I like every day. Maybe my friend feels the exact same way

I think the difference is that I don’t think of text or IM or whatever 140 character communication tool one uses as a way of invading anyone’s personal space. While I would not call someone anytime, anywhere, to share something irrelevant—because I’d consider that a little inconsiderate and rude—I kind of see text as a medium of “that’s what it’s for”. I text people often because I can’t talk to them every day. Sometimes, I can’t even talk every week. But it’s my way of keeping people involved in my life and bridging the distance. Yet, I *do* get upset when someone does not do that in return. Part of it is that I simply don’t like to be ignored, but another part of it is that I don’t want to feel I’m the only one who wants to keep others involved in my life. I do want to feel I’m just as important to others as they are to me, and it doesn’t occur to me that everyone doesn’t walk around attached to their phone at all times, and isn’t constantly texting and FB-ing everyone they know. (Many of my friends do.) The funny part is that most texts I share with people are relatively emotionally insignificant and impersonal. It’s an example of being “connectedly disconnected”. I don’t know if I actually feel closer to people by trading “Hey, how are you?” messages everyday, because there’s no real bonding involved. It’s just this social convention that seems like the right way to reach out to people. Yet, it lacks any of the “bonding” that’s made possible by chatting with friends on the FB messenger every day, talking on the phone, or sending an e-mail (which so few people do these days.) So, the odd thing is, I’m constantly reaching out to people in attempts to feel connected, through a medium that doesn’t really provide a sense of connection. And, those who know that are irritated by this tendency, as well as my tendency to demand that these attempts to connect without really connecting are returned.

Maybe there’s a bigger issue here than just my relationship with this particular friend, but my relationship with the instant gratification, impersonal medium of text and IM. I had to give up IM when I realised I was spending far too much time chatting with people but not really connecting, multitasking, and trading pleasantries. I didn’t think I could function without IM. But I ditched my AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, and every other messenger I had installed long before IM fell out of vogue. And, surprisingly, I felt happier, and my friendships with others became more substantial. I wonder if I–like much of the world—have fallen victim to the same trap with texting.

Text actually upsets me. Because I know it takes 3 seconds to send one, if I don’t get a response, what occurs to me is usually “Is this person mad at me, and why?”, or simply, “Why don’t you like me enough to reach out by returning my text?” Yet, I would not react that way if someone was too busy to call when they said they were going to or took days to return an e-mail.

I’ve had to make peace with this communication issue with others in the past, and it typically resolves itself. In fact, it’s a dispute I’ve experienced with some of the closest people in my life. For instance, The Guy I Am Currently Dating does not text, and most of the time, if I call instead, he’s unavailable because he didn’t have his phone with him. At the beginning of our relationship, when there was less trust and understanding, this was a huge issue for me. Strangely, it just isn’t anymore. We found a solution that works for us.

I’ve also had this issue in platonic friendships, where communication—when, how, how often, what’s an invasion of personal space and what’s merely annoying as opposed to thoughtful— had to be resolved. Somehow, these issues disappear as I grow to trust someone. Yet, I’ve never had anyone willing to walk away from a potentially meaningful friendship with me over the communication issue, or lose a sense of trust or level of comfort in me because of it. It may be that the previously mentioned friend simply thinks it’s more trouble than it’s worth, considering he doesn’t think we’re that close, or it could be that, speaking on a friendship-oriented level, “He’s just not that into me”. The result is that I am perhaps dispensable.

But intuitively, I don’t think that’s it…and it’s so rarely wrong about these things, or I’d just agree to give up and walk away. I feel like there’s something under the surface of this situation that I can’t see or put my finger on, but it’s there. I feel like there are things about my friend that I don’t understand because I don’t yet know him well enough, and there are certain things that touch a nerve and evoke an emotional reaction from someone who is usually very calm and laid-back about all things of a personal or emotional nature. The frustrating thing about intuition is that you can sense that things aren’t quite just what you see on the surface…but you can’t see the why. If someone is especially guarded, you can’t even always see beyond the surface level—although I often can, and do. But not always.

And it doesn’t matter…why someone is who they are, or why they respond as they do, is none of my business. But when someone revokes their level of trust and comfort with me…that’s personal, and it hurts immensely. I’m not sure why I care as much as I do, but I do, and that tells me something. It tells me that not only am I an emotional person, I still believe this friend/acquaintance/whatever is someone worth not giving up on. It’s hard to believe that after someone has hurt you or made you feel less special than you like to consider yourself, but deep down, I still do…and that inner voice is always significant to me.

Likewise, I know that I am important to someone—whether that person likes me enough to consider me a friend or simply considers me someone he barely knows—when he walks away from what he’s doing in order to answer a phone call and “work things out”, something that could easily be avoided by not picking up the phone.

I’m not inexperienced when it comes to people; I’ve met a lot of them—admittedly, though, never one quite like this friend. I know when someone cares. And even though I push too hard sometimes by insisting on reminders of that via rather pointless text messages, I actually do know, regardless of someone’s communication tendencies.

It’s just nice to be reminded that those you care about think you’re an awesome person—and both hurtful and humbling when you realise that maybe someone doesn’t think you’re quite that awesome anymore. (especially when they indicate they used to like and trust and feel comfortable with you, and suddenly, no longer have those warm and fuzzy happy feelings about your friendship.) Trust and loyalty are so,so,so important to me in my life, and it’s the reason why I have many acquaintances, yet choose my “real” friends very carefully. To have someone I care about no longer feel able to attribute those qualities to me, someone I might have grown to consider a true friend….it breaks my heart a little.

Regardless of whether or not this person in my life still feels any semblance of positive emotion towards me, or any connection that was there has somehow been undone, I know that in certain ways, I’ve still been a great friend to him—even if I was one that was unwanted, or didn’t know how to express that properly. Although I am cynical, the ability for me to reach out and put myself out there for someone I barely know, based on little more than intuition and connection, is still there. Not everyone has that, and I’m really glad I do. I haven’t let being hurt by life and people take that from me, and while it may not be wise, it is me, and I think it’s good. :)

I am lucky, because I do have people in my life who I know genuinely find me to be an awesome person, for one reason or another, and others with whom I don’t always see eye to eye, but I know they’re still always there for me, because there is something important about our friendship. The Guy I Am Currently Dating is the kind of guy who will let me cry and offer support when someone else I care about hurts my feelings, and not everyone out there would do that—much less for little old me.

I’m not perfect, but I obviously can’t be doing *everything* wrong. I think I have the occasional redeeming quality. My texting and communication habits, admittedly, are not one of them. *smiles*

I am not by nature a timid or indecisive person. Except when it comes to issues like my wardrobe and what to have for dinner that night, I don’t have difficulty figuring out what I want, when I want it. I have greater difficulty when it comes to figuring out why I want a certain thing, if it’s a good choice, and even if it’s not a good choice, is my impulsive streak going to ultimately win out and do it anyway?

I seem to have less trouble making every day decisions than many of my acquaintances and friends. For years, I’ve run a social group, which means I’m the one who picks where the fun is going to occur, and what type of fun is going to occur, and what rules should be followed to ensure this happens. I don’t go to the grocery store and feel overwhelmed by the huge selection, because I know what I like. When the answer to a question is “I don’t care” or “What do you want to do?”, it really means those things. I’m not always that hugely emotionally invested in the restaurant we choose for lunch, or which mall to visit.

This, of course, extends to my personal life. For a somewhat sophisticated, well-traveled girl, I’ve never learned the coy, flirtatious ways of relationships. I have the ability to be remarkably direct when necessary, and to chase after the object of my affection. Of course, I only do this when I get the sense that someone is attracted to me, and the chase is an interesting game that I’ve been invited to play. Once I realise someone is either disinterested, or waits too long to make a move and chase back, I take the rejection at face value. Sadly, I think I’ve missed out on some potentially positive relationships this way, confusing rejection with someone who is confused or overwhelmed by me. However, the point is, I’ve always been far more intrigued by these relationships I’ve initiated..even if my sense of control was just a well-designed illusion…than any where I have someone simply wooing me in a simple, old-fashioned, gender-role-defined way. I do not know why this is. I’m eternally drawn to the unavailable, provided there’s the slight possibility the unavailable is going to make an exception for *me*.

It goes without saying that this has caused a world of drama, hurt feelings, and miscommunications in my life. It’s almost ended friendships. For a while, I tended to have the outlook on life where I wanted what I wanted, and anyone or anything in my way was irrelevant, and what I wanted was subject to change at any given time. It took me a loooong time to figure out how hurtful this was to certain people in my life. It’s as if there was an element of my life that was always a game not to be taken too seriously…unless something clicked, and I took life WAY too seriously.

I’ve grown a lot since then. In the past two days, I’ve spoken to two different friends about different stories and experiences in my life where I had to make a decision, and it led me to an epiphany. When it’s the right thing to do, I’m remarkably spontaneous. I went to Orlando to audition for a job and ended up in Fort Lauderdale a week later with little more than my weekender bag, and didn’t return home for over a year. I ended up flying to Atlanta to live with a guy I met online and had a fling with for all of two weeks in another city, before we moved in together. I’ve gone to the airport and boarded a plane because I was sad and frustrated with my life and wanted to go somewhere I’d never been. I’ve gone out for dinner with a guy who wasn’t interested in me, and within 24 hours, found myself in a two-month relationship. I Couchsurf with strangers and meet hippies in bars and end up posing for artists, photographers, and filmmakers. I’ve been known to dance on an occasional bar. I’m no stranger to playing life by ear.

Yet, on the other hand, I’ve stayed in numerous relationships that weren’t good for me because I felt I needed to, or it was the pragmatic thing to do, which is just code for “I am afraid of change”. I hang on to jobs until the very last minute, when it becomes obvious what I have is no longer going to work. I live in an apartment that’s inconvenient and I dislike because of all the difficulties associated with finding a new one. I live in a city I’m not sure is for me because I’d feel isolated and alone if I left, unless I went with someone, or had friends when I got there.

I had an epiphany when it comes to the world of me, and decision-making today…and that is that I’m largely guided by intuition. It is not so much just that I’m afraid of change—positive or negative—but that I have a practical streak somewhere inside me that I may not even be aware of. It lets me get away with a lot of stuff that probably aren’t the best examples of solid decision making, but when it comes to the big stuff, it tells me that timing is everything. It tells me to pay attention to the signs the Universe is sending, as well as what I want, and to not let my penchant for being attracted to the new, adventurous, and unavailable undermine good things in my life…as well as not to get so attached to the idea of security that I don’t see that my idea of security comes at a great price, and it’s time to move in another direction.

I realised I am not afraid to make big moves in life. In fact, sometimes I do so in a way that throws other people for a loop, and others aren’t quite prepared for the mini-tornado that accompanies my decisions. Yet, somehow, my intuition will always keep me from doing so if it thinks my timing isn’t right; if I’ve been chasing after someone with whom it clearly isn’t meant to be; if there’s something better waiting around the corner; if there are going to be changes in the future, but it’s wiser to wait until I’m getting the signs that it’s a more advantageous time.

Sometimes, I think that’s why I’m still in Atlanta. There have been plenty of opportunities where everywhere I looked, there were signs saying “Maybe this is the time to get the hell out of here”. And each time, I didn’t…and each time, something different and unexpected and life-changing was waiting for me. It’s always been the same way with jobs, and relationships…at some point, it becomes clear that one thing has to work out so another thing can present itself.

Tonight, I told a friend about an opportunity I didn’t take. After going through a difficult time in Atlanta where I really wasn’t well-liked or socially acceptable, had my heart broken by both friends and lovers, didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, didn’t have many responsibilities, was living on my ex-boyfriend’s couch, and was between jobs, I thought the Universe was clearly telling me it was time for a change. I started looking for different adventures, and somehow stumbled across an opportunity in Asheville, NC that would let me stay in a charming little B & B for the summer, food and lodging paid for, provided I worked as their receptionist. It seemed like a spontaneous, off-the-wall idea, but one that almost happened, because it also seemed exciting. I thought the time away might help me figure out what to do with my life.

Yet, I delayed. One can say I was simply afraid of change, but within a week after that, an old friend reconnected with me and wanted me to take over his old social group in Atlanta. He also got me out of my ex-boyfriend’s apartment, let me stay in his place until the lease was up, and gave me the tools to stop hiding and go out in the world again. I very quickly met a few people who are dear friends of mine to this day, and within 6 months, I had a whole new life here in Atlanta, including some of the most special people I’ve ever crossed paths with. It’s like I knew if I just restrained the impulsive nature, the desire to react chaotically and NOW, something awesome and life-changing was going to be on the horizon.

I have reason to feel the same way about my life right now. There are changes I could be trying really hard to make, alternatives worth exploring, different paths that might take me to a better, happier, more productive and creative place in life. Yet, I’ve been strangely reticent about them, and I think it’s because even though I’m aware some aspects of my life are in need of change…it isn’t dramatic upheaval, adventure, choices that will throw everything for a loop, and knock the sense of stability out of my life that I need. I may need a *little* adventure, but I mostly need the time to focus on returning my life to an even keel, not sending everyone around me into a tailspin.

It isn’t that I don’t know how to make decisions, identify what I want, or know what to do with what I thought I wanted once it’s there in my life. I’m fairly well-schooled in all of those things. It’s also not that I’m lazy or terrified of change. It’s just that there’s this intuitive voice warning me against making the wrong moves, even if on some level, they present themselves as sensible or appealing moves.

It’s like I internally know that things may be tough now, but there are better things on the horizon..yet they tend to arrive on their own time, instead of following my schedule. It’s like there’s a voice that tells me “Take it easy, take care of yourself, treasure the love that’s in your life, and value what you have rather than seeing what you don’t. What will be will inevitably reveal itself, as long as you’re listening.”

That has never led me astray. In fact, the only times I’ve found myself in seemingly unconquerable difficulties is when I got messages from my intuition, even remarked upon them to others, yet still ignored them.

On a similar note, it seems I owe my intuition an apology. Quite some time back, I posted about a “psychic dream” I had regarding a friend who is pregnant, and her child. I dreamed she was in a hospital room with her family, holding a tiny baby, whom they named Amelia. I shared this strange dream, which my friend thought was funny because she–and everyone else she knew—was certain they’d be having a boy. The ultrasound confirmed this…they were expecting a baby boy.

Since then, I’ve blatantly disregarded my dreams, thinking they’re just weird things fueled by my crazy drugs, and my “psychic dream” tendency abandoned me. Yet, this friend told me the other day that a follow-up ultrasound that was once 80% certain the baby was a boy was now 80% certain it was a girl. She’s also been struggling to eat and gain weight, a possible explanation for why one might have a small baby.

Maybe I really *should* listen to my intuition. Especially in Dreamland, it’s a powerful tool. It’s predicted car accidents, earthquakes, sent me visions of the girl my boyfriend at the time would ultimately end up dating after me (although neither of us ever met her), predicted my cousin’s infertile wife would get pregnant and have a boy (she did. What I didn’t tell them is my dream indicated she’ll be having another one in about 2 years.), predicted the gender and relative due date of my friend’s first baby, saw my dad in a wheelchair (a year later, he later developed significant health issues, and now he is), warned me about cheating boyfriends every time I slept in the bed next to them, given me the heads-up on relationships with a romantic future even when I didn’t see it, and has even sent me repeated visions and allowed me to experience the sensation of my own death.

As I mentioned to a friend of mine tonight, I’m admittedly not a pragmatic person. Yet, there is something to be said for simply “knowing” things, yet not really knowing. I couldn’t explain to someone how I “know” they play a significant role in my future somehow, or how I “know” it’s better to choose one thing over another, or sometimes, to choose inaction over making changes. I can’t explain how I “feel” what other people are feeling, even separated by hundreds of miles, or why I see glimpses of the future that are contrary to all indications of the present. I also can’t explain why I can’t “see” or “feel” some people who have a great presence in my life, and with whom I share a personal connection. Yet, even in my dreams, they are generally nowhere to be found.

It’s even harder to explain to your doctors how you still get scared because you “know” things, and one of those things is there’s something troubling you they haven’t found. If you tried, they’d have you at the psychiatrist’s in no time. Yet, I’ve diagnosed my own maladies in the past when doctors were wrong, because of my ability to listen to what it was telling me.

Is anyone else out there like this? Is your decision-making process influenced by a general sense of “knowing” about things that have not yet occurred, or less mysteriously, the ability to see into people and situations on a deeper level than is often appreciated?

Today honestly couldn’t get any worse if I actively tried to have a bad day. I hate to say that, because I’m well aware that it can always get worse…and for me, it usually will…but today was a pretty rough day. The weight of the world crushed me, and turning to people for help only to have them respond in a way that was more frustrated and freaked out than I was feeling…well, it only made it feel as if there were two worlds on my shoulders instead of one. I came the closest to having a full-on breakdown that I’ve had in quite some time, sobbing for about two hours and drawing random X patterns with the sharp end of scissors on my chest in hopes that some of the unbearable weight of the world would just go away.

As I’ve blogged about recently, I’ve had recent relapses with my health that have scared me. I’ve started to think the doctors were simply not right in the diagnosis they came up with, and I simply ran out of money and energy to keep subjecting myself to doctors who told me nothing was wrong, and I just needed therapy and anxiety pills. Yet, I know something is wrong. I find myself still having rushes of dizziness that travel at lightning speed from my stomach to just under my ear, and feel like I’m having a heart attack. I still have spasms under that same ear that are uncontrollable, and feel like something connecting my head to my chest is about to explode. I still gain weight by looking at food, and this hasn’t been something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. Yesterday, a walk in the sun followed by a short exercise video sent my pulse rate up to the level at which I should start to get concerned, and my BP remained in the “slightly unhealthy” range all night. Worse yet, getting up to make dinner, I felt like my legs were going to buckle under me. There is something inside me that’s not right, and I know all too well they haven’t done most of the tests necessary to rule out cardiac or digestive tract issues, because my co-pay is so high and my doctors know I can’t afford the tests. If I had money, I’m fairly certain my lifespan would be double what I expect it to be.

On top of it, I mailed a check to pay my insurance premium that was never received, and because my roommate left me with more than a few financial difficulties when he abruptly left, I didn’t exactly hurry to correct the problem. When I spoke to a representative from Aetna at the beginning of May, she said as long as I paid the back balance owed plus a $70 fee, I could re-activate my insurance. I found out today, when I finally had the cash to do so, that what she told me was false. If your policy is cancelled, just as if you should decide to change your plan, you have to go through the application process all over again. I now have no insurance, my doctor won’t refill my prescription without an office visit (it’s apparently against the law to do such things with certain medications.), and I have less that a week’s worth of pills left. So I have to pay for cab fare to the doctor, the cost of the office visit, cab fare home, and the cost of the pills I need. I’m guessing the $16 I have currently won’t cover things.

This afternoon, I got an e-mail from someone saying “Aetna needs more info from you about your medical history”, and I had to spend an HOUR on the phone with this lady explaining why I saw 13 doctors and was diagnosed with 8 different conditions and put on 10 different medications in the span of a year.

Of course, it was all “Yes” or “No”, so I couldn’t just say “I have one problem and take 2 medicines for it. Everyone else was just wrong.” It was all extraordinarily tedious, and I still don’t know if I’m getting insurance. She said I should hear from Aetna in 5 days.

At least she was nice about it, but still…I feel like when I was sitting in the street with next to nothing to cling to in terms of hope and a better future, and the ability to enjoy my present should the future not be something too extensive for me, someone randomly came around and hit me with a baseball bat.

Ironically, last night, I wrote these thoughts in my private journal, after having an episode of dizziness and rush of blood to my heart that made me almost grab the ground for balance. Whenever I realise that despite treatment, and being seen by numerous doctors, my health is not improving, I start contemplating the inevitability of mortality…the “when” and “how” my death will occur, and most frighteningly, whether or not I will be alone and scared and wishing for just one more day of being around.

I was going to post that entry, about love and death and the battle between appreciating each moment and completely self-destructing because, for some of us, life without freedom, life with restrictions, isn’t so easy to appreciate…no matter how much love happens to be around you. I realised that over the past year, the more my body seems to fall apart and limit and betray me, the more I have the kind of love and friendship and support and appreciation and admiration I’ve wanted my whole life, yet could never seem to hold on to when I seemingly had so much more going for me, so much more life to which I could look forward. It’s a cruel irony, or a lesson, and I’m not so sure which.

On second thought, perhaps I won’t post it. I’ve already sent some letters to people in my life that matter to me. I’ve already written some letters so that, if something happens to me, those who are left behind will remember how much they were cared about.

I’ll just let everyone watch the last episode of House instead. It deals with fear and mortality and self-destruction and regret far better than I ever could.

But it doesn’t make this particular day any better for me.

I recently read this blog post, which is exquisitely thoughtful and well-written, and a very honest look at what it’s like to be a not-so-grown-up in today’s non-stop world.

It’s a sad fact of life that the more connected and plugged-in we become as a society, the more disconnected we ultimately become from one another. For many people, a job isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle…one where your boss or co-workers can contact you at any time of the day, from anywhere in the world. In an economy where more and more people are attempting to empower themselves by working for themselves, trying to do what they love while earning a living, it’s not just a project or a passion, but a commitment.

The days of life working in a fairly well-balanced setting are long-gone. It’s no longer as simple as going to the office from 9-5 each day, spending time with your family or friends, having an hour or two to read or pursue your hobbies, and then getting a good night’s sleep. No..we’re all going, moving, stressing, thinking, creating, contacting..constantly. If you’re one of those people, like myself, who is inordinately stressed out by the need to be “on” all the time, it can be a tough world out there, and you don’t even understand how stressed the world around you is making you until something dramatic comes along to tell you. In my case, so much so that my body ended up in adrenaline overload, and I found myself diagnosed with an anxiety disorder…and however much I’d like to say I’m the screwed up exception, I’m not. Studies show every third person you meet is receiving treatment for anxiety or depression.

We don’t live in a balanced world. We don’t have the time we should have for joie de vivre, creative energy, or enjoying the little things. So many people I know don’t have the time to escape to a new destination for a weekend, have a leisurely weekend brunch, or even watch a two-hour movie without checking a phone or e-mail or answering a phone call. Yet, the sacrifices aren’t paying off. Today’s Americans work more hours than ever before, are in more debt, are more overweight than ever before, and if you’re a part of Generation Y, you’ve probably noticed your parents are having health problems at 60 rather than 80. And, the news isn’t any better for us, as we’re projected to be the first generation in centuries who don’t live as long as their parents.

There’s something we’re not doing right, and my long-time resistance to the lack of balance our lifestyle creates has led many to use words like “irresponsible”, “slacker”, “bon vivante”, and even “lazy”. (that last one, I certainly am not.) But, as many my age have found, even the person most determined to enjoy life to the fullest and not cave in to the pressures of “the way the world works” have found it hard to exist as a type B personality in a type A world.

I, personally, have always had a difficult time with this as it applies to my friendships and relationships with others. I am drawn, almost by instinct, to very focused, high-achieving, highly intelligent personalities likely to spend more time at the office than enjoying life with me. This has been an issue of contention in my world since I was 20, and the universal response was that I was simply immature and thought the world revolved around me, when in reality, most people are meant to put more energy into work than into enjoying life and building relationships, so that they have the freedom to concentrate on doing so later. Needless to say, most of these relationships with people who have gone on to be extraordinarily successful in their lives were filled with a lot of drama, and I realised very quickly that I’d never be happy with the type of person who was always “plugged in”, always in a different world, even when we happened to be spending time together.

While many of my friends have conjectured that understanding the difference between myself and the way the world works is responsible for my discovery of the benefits of polyamorous relationships, it’s really not. I think I simply look at the world a little differently than most people. I don’t live for “later” at the expense of “now”, because look how well it’s worked out for the workaholic, materially-driven Baby Boomer generation. “Now” is the only thing that’s guaranteed. “Later” is a question mark. Not a single person on this Earth knows how much “later” they’re going to have, and putting your life on pause, missing out on great experiences and people in order to secure a “later” that isn’t guaranteed…it has never made sense to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve always instinctively felt I’m not meant to be around quite as long as everyone else, and if I am, I may not have the health or vitality to make the most of my “later”. I’ve seen that happen to so many members of my family. I don’t want to duplicate the same mistakes. I’m not much of a gambler; there’s a streak in me that’s far too practical, that needs to be in control of the outcome.

When it comes to life, I am happiest accepting I am not in control of the outcome. Good things will happen. Bad things will happen. But if you start becoming so focused on your later that you don’t have the time, money, or energy to see what’s right in front of you now, that’s when you stop living and start going through the motions.

I don’t think I have enough days to go through the motions, and I only realised I’d become the kind of person who was when my world turned into something obsessed with deadlines, achievement, doing better, earning more, moving in a positive direction. Rather than celebrate my small victories, all of the sudden, everything around me seemed so inadequate. Everything that had previously made me happy wasn’t enough…I needed *more*. And in order to get that, I had to put in more stress, more hours, meet more deadlines, stay up until 5 AM more frequently. For the first time in my life, I was successful at something I’d built myself, and completed—-and I became terribly, terribly ill, and the whole thing came tumbling down. I quickly lost everything I’d built, not for the first time in my life, and this time, I didn’t have the physical or mental well-being to rebuild. I’m slowly getting stronger, both physically and emotionally, but it’s a process. I’m happiest and most able to cope with life when I take things one day at a time, when I remember to live each day as if I am not promised any more days in the future.

The truth is, I am not. While you don’t want to hear it, neither are you. The best you can do is to do what makes you happy, each and every day. For some people, that *is* working too hard, investing too much, in order to achieve the dream of accomplishment and creation that motivates some people. For others, it’s spending time around loved ones, appreciating the small things. For still others, it’s travel, adventure, meeting new people, doing new things.

I was at a concert last night (which I’ll discuss in a later blog), and remarked to The Guy I Am Currently Dating that it was fun to count the number of people who were incapable of sitting still and talking to the person next to them during the 15 minute break between acts. Even as they were dimming the lights, more than a dozen people in our section still had the glow of their iPhone/Android screen on.

Why, as a society, are we incapable of just chilling out? If we’re not working all the time, we’re making sure our calendars are jam-packed with social events and places we need to be, until it seems every moment of every day is scheduled and accounted for. Most people I know (and I am guilty of this as well) can’t sit and watch a TV show, talk to a friend or partner during down time, hang out at a leisurely lunch or have coffee with another person, or read a book without checking their e-mail, Facebook, telephone, or other device. And, in living in this overly connected/disconnected way, are we getting more out of our “now”, or less?

One of my favourite things about playing bar trivia with my friends, something I do twice a week, is that there are no phones or electronic devices allowed. Occasionally, it drives me crazy, wondering if I’m missing an important call or text…but more often, it’s a liberating feeling. I have the company of people I like, playing a game that’s fun, in an atmosphere filled with food and drink and laughter. What else do I need, and why should that not *always* be enough?

I love technology. I just love it enough to realise that I, like most of the world, am slightly addicted to it. I love having a full social calendar, a job that enables me to make money, creative interests that stimulate my intellectual growth. Yet, I should be able to relax long enough to watch a TV show without thinking I’m missing something if I don’t pick up my phone or check my e-mail. I should be able to go camping without walking around in circles trying to get a cell signal.

We don’t have a lot of balance in our lives. And while I’m blessed to have people in my life that are going to support me in all of my endeavours, and a great guy who will let me work when I need to and puts up with me texting in the car instead of talking to him, something inside me just still tells me the way our world works isn’t right.

If you know me at all, you know that more than anything, I’m a fan of real, honest, soul-baring connection. Yet, with most people, I get the sense that they don’t know what that is, and that it can’t be multi-tasked. I don’t think it’s the fault of the people I know, but simply how our society is wired.

I’m never going to be a Type A workaholic, I’m never going to put success and material things ahead of the things that truly matter to me, and I’m never going to be happy in a world that’s consistently disconnectedly connected.

I value the fact that I have some people in my world who look at life the same way as I do, people who still see that value in talking on the phone and catching up over a conversation at Starbucks, or even better, the 7 PM martini even though it’s a Wednesday. Yet, I don’t know a single person, including myself, who is immune to this constantly moving, ADD, plugged-in lifestyle…all I know is that, for a little while, at least, it is a relief to me when circumstances force me to be disconnected.

The other night, my electricity went out during a bad thunderstorm. It was inconvenient, because it was in the evening, and it was before I had a chance to have dinner. It was the evening, and rapidly getting dark. My TV didn’t work, my internet didn’t work, my lights didn’t work, and there was a 2 hour wait for pizza. So, I ended up lighting a ton of candles around the house, sitting on a blanket in picnic-fashion, eating a dinner consisting of yogurt and cheese and crackers, and reading a book on my Kindle until a friend called to talk to me.

When I answered the phone, I told him, “I’m having a quiet, romantic evening in…with myself”. (It really wasn’t that romantic, but it was relaxing, and that’s just as good.) We proceeded to chat on the phone for a few hours, and though I was relieved when the power came back on (no AC in the summer in Atlanta is really insufferable), I didn’t check my e-mail or turn on any of my electronics until after our conversation.

I realised, that was the first day in forever and ever I hadn’t multi-tasked a single thing I was doing, and it was liberating.

Can we all just slow down, chill out, unplug, and enjoy one another, the world around us, and simply being? It’s not like we have unlimited opportunities to do so.

Today, I experienced some really scary symptoms I haven’t had in a long time. I was just sitting at my computer after lunch, felt a sudden “Woosh”, a pulsing under my ears, and then everything got dizzy and it was as if my heart stopped. This is not the first time this has happened; it’s not even the 10th. All 12 doctors I’ve been to have told me there’s nothing wrong with me, although I was never able to complete the MRA of my arteries and the cardiologist refused to run anything but the most basic tests on me to rule out that I have any heart condition.

Every time it happens, it’s like someone presses the pause on the remote control. It’s a second, maybe two…but it’s enough to have the conscious thought: “This is it. This is what it feels like to die; helpless, and scary, and completely alone.” It is the scariest feeling you can imagine, and when it goes away, you never know when the next time is that it’s going to return…and if you’re going to make it through when it does.

And, when it’s over, it puts everything into perspective: all the stress about money and bills and your job, or whether or not someone you like actually cares about you in return, or whether all the fights with your significant other are just normal parts of a relationship, or you’re going to have to go through the painful process of ending a relationship with someone that is really special, but maybe not your soulmate. You let go of all the little things; the catty remark a friend made; the confused feelings you have about a valuable friendship in your life; all the reasons you avoid calling your parents; the medication that won’t let you lose weight, no matter how hard you try; the friend you’d like to get closer to, but lacks either the time or interest in doing so; the job that cuts your pay 60% and leaves you doubtful about your future, the books you started writing and will never finish; the significant other’s mother who calls you up to say she hopes you die, and threatens you or blackmails you into leaving town; the social engagements you skip because you don’t want everyone seeing you looking sad and fat and sick and you’re afraid something bad will happen and make you look crazy in front of others.

Sometimes I forget that maybe I don’t have enough time in life to take it all for granted, and spending time stressing out over long-term plans and the future is possibly not all that relevant. I’d give anything in the entire world just to be the healthy person I used to be. :( (( They always say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone..but a year ago, I had so much. I had worries, but I had health and energy, an attractive figure, an outgoing personality, a roommate to help with the bills, a job that was turning into a career…and it all disappeared, just like that. Whenever this illness hits hard, it reminds me of everything else I could lose. It makes me want to value everything, experience everything, fill my life with energy and love and laughter and fun and adventure, while I still can…because I know that being able to may just be a temporary situation. People much younger and much healthier than I am leave this world every day, and there are too many things left unsaid, too much love left unexpressed, too many things to put off until tomorrow, too many dreams that just don’t have enough time to come true.

I don’t want to feel that way. If I found out I only had a year to live, I’d put everything I ever had into making that year count. In some ways, being ill with something you don’t understand, your doctors don’t understand; well, it’s just as bad as knowing you might die some day soon. It’s more like a game of roulette with your future, and a reminder that you shouldn’t bet on the future.

If anything ever happens to me, I want everyone in my life to remember that in my world, they were very much loved and appreciated. I know I’m the kind of person that spends too much time either freaking out about the little things or just wanting to have fun, that I forget to mention how much I value those that are truly a close and meaningful part of my life. I wish I knew I had forever to tell people that…but I’m sometimes reminded that I don’t. I guess none of us do. You just have to value everything you have and love the people you have, while you have them.

But, mostly, I’m selfish. I just want my old life back, the one where the idea of my own sudden mortality doesn’t enter my thoughts and change everything. Maybe I’m physically ill in a way nobody has been able to diagnose, and the truth is, I’m not going to be here as long as I’d hope to be. I suspect that whether I’m 35 or 105 when I die, it will be too soon for me. Maybe I just can’t cope with anxiety, and for the first time in 6 months, my body got to the point where it just couldn’t cope, and the manifestation of that is physical. I don’t know. What I do know is that I want the life back where I was 5 times more energetic and productive, 25 pounds lighter as a result of being able to be energetic, and made 60% more every month. There are certainly some things I have now that I didn’t have then…including a greater sense of clarity, appreciation of closer relationships with others, and learning not to take anything for granted….but I think maybe I’d trade wisdom for health and vitality, any day.

Sometimes, I just feel so scared. And if something does happen to me that is unexpected, it won’t be totally unexpected…but I want to know that I am loved, and not alone, and on some level, at peace with myself, my life, and what I’m leaving behind. I hope that at least a few people will remember me in a positive way, and will go through life missing my presence. I hope that in some small way, my existence means something to the world.

And, more than anything, I hope I have more time than I feel I do in order to make that happen. But in case I don’t, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure each day counts as much as possible…as much as my physical health will allow, anyway.

Days are not unlimited. Each one should be special, in some little way. We all work so hard for a future that may never come, we forget about the precious nature of the moments we ignore along the way, the people we forget to love and appreciate and thank, the things we love we don’t have enogh time to do, the feelings we’re too uncomfortable to express.

I’m not going to live that way, because what I’ve learned is that not only is it true that some people don’t have that luxury…none of us do.

Not a single person on Earth is promised a tomorrow. It’s just more likely for some of us than others.

tags

I’ve written on this topic before, but not nearly as well as this guy. I’m absolutely fine with that, however, as this guy is an emotionally perceptive, fairly fucked-up genius.

I am one of “the others”, too, and I think that’s OK…no matter how much the Law Of Attraction says my lack of outward, contagious joy is depleting your energy. I don’t care how much you perceive my inability to take life less seriously so I can brush everything off and laugh all the time as a fault, and one that means you should de-friend me on Facebook because my lack of “My life is so fabulous! I’m doing cartwheels while eating an ice cream cone under a rainbow!” posts seriously brings you down. We all process emotion differently, and indulging in false happiness in hopes you someday achieve real happiness sounds a lot to me like…well, religion. I don’t believe in that too much, either, but if either makes *you* feel better, I’m all for it. Just don’t judge me for not being affected by it or buying into it.

I value my feelings enough to be honest and straightforward with them whenever possible. That makes many people uncomfortable, because as Jack Nicholson pointed out, most people don’t want and can’t handle the truth. Some don’t know how to react, and others simply aren’t interested. I am not really interested in those who are interested in seeing people as one-dimensional, static characters, so at least it’s a mutual apathy. No hard feelings. :)

Maybe the truth is, I don’t want to be happy. At least, not all the time. Being happy, or pretending to be happy when you’re really feeling a much fuller range of emotions you think your fellow humans are too shallow to care about or comprehend, is a lot like painting pictures and only using yellow. I don’t care how much you like yellow, after the fifth yellow picture, it’s boring. It’s boring to create, it’s boring to look at, and it’s dull to be surrounded by. And, frankly, it pisses me off that you don’t see the beauty in orange, red, purple, black, and all the others.

I want a full range of life experience. I actually *want* the full range of emotion I’m capable of experiencing, even though I sometimes wish I didn’t have to experience it so intensely, or all the time. I’m kind of grateful for the peaceful days when emotional experience gives me the day off. But I don’t have many yellow days, and I’m honestly glad for that. It makes the yellow moments more powerful, more passionate, more affecting.

I’d be a sucky artist and a boring person if my whole world were dipped in yellow. It kind of demeans me when I encounter a world that wants me to pretend that it is, which is why I so actively seek out the company of people who are visibly complex rainbows. Of course, this leads to an even fuller range of emotional experience, but I call that living, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. You’re supposed to live, love, laugh, cry, yell, freak out, do cartwheels under rainbows, run through fountains, make stupid mistakes, have crazy adventures, have crazy flings, travel outside your comfort zone, and learn about yourself each and every step of the way. You’re supposed to be passionate, intense, enthusiastic, engaged–and how can you possibly do that if you’re busy repeating the mantra of how “happy” and “great!” you are that day, and every day? Maybe you can, but I can’t, so I don’t.

I think people miss so much, focusing so hard on how to achieve the goal of living in a world of yellow. “If only I were happy” means you miss out on everything else you’re meant to learn, feel, experience, and be. It also means you’re overlooking the tiny moments of happiness that already exist within the complex tapestry of emotion.

The next time I ask you how your day was, please don’t tell me “Great!”, unless it really was. I actually care about the answer, and you don’t have to cover it in a layer of yellow paint for me to like you.

In fact, yellow is my least favourite colour. It always has been. The best kind of yellow I know is a Coldplay song. I’m not drawn to people who paint themselves yellow, in hopes of creating a brighter world. I’ll take something a little darker, multi-faceted, and complex any day. :) Better yet, just give me a full-on rainbow, and I’ll be happy. Or content. Or intrigued. Or inspired. Or…well, the list goes on, but you get the point. The harder it is for me to understand you—and I understand most people fairly easily—the more interested I am in knowing you. It’s not because you’re a puzzle I need to solve, but because you don’t hide the fact that you’re not going to bother painting the surface yellow while waiting for happiness to come your way.

I’m ecstatic and inspired when I observe thunderstorms on a summer day. They make me feel more enthusiastic about life than yet another day of “Partly sunny, high of 91.”. I think this is pretty much a reflection of my personality. I’m not only happy when it rains, but I’m bored when it does not.

I may never be a person defined as “happy”, but it doesn’t mean I won’t have happiness in my life. It means I’ll have a colourful range of life experiences, passions, accomplishments, interests, infatuations, love affairs, adventures, and crazy stories that so many people never have. In fairness, most people don’t want them, can’t cope with them, and I understand that. But, for me, it’s just how I’m wired. I want to experiment with every crayon in the box, try it on, see where it takes me or what it looks like.

What was my point? Oh, right. I seriously love Augusten Burroughs. Run with scissors whenever possible. :P


I thought this was really beautiful. It’s the kind of thing we all need to hear. It’s the kind of thing some of us need to put on the mirror when we get up in the morning, or on the wall so we can stare at it when someone undeserving and lacking in understanding of us makes us cry and feel permanently mired in a sense of loneliness and isolation.

I was reminded how, a few weeks back, I was telling a friend about another friend’s apartment, and how this space—though incredibly tiny and minimalistic by my standards (the bedroom would probably function as a walk-in closet for me)—feels like home to me. Some of that is simply the warm and fuzzy memories I’ve associated with the place, and the person to whom it belongs, but another part of it is that it radiates positive vibes. You feel love in that space. You feel that the person who lives there spends a lot of time surrounding himself with love and life and being present, in the moment, as often as possible. I envy that, because my own space does not feel that way. I think it’s because I live alone, and for the past two years, have lived with a roommate with whom I tried, but could not have a real and meaningful friendship.

However, for the most part, none of my spaces have ever completely felt that way, not perhaps since college. Feeling the presence of others, the presence of love, the presence of energy that is supportive and meaningful..it’s something important to me in defining “home”. I think it’s why I’m known to send little “care packages” to friends who live far away and I see too infrequently, usually consisting of a special book or journal or card or piece of artwork I’ve created. They are trinkets that are meaningless, and to some people, merely additional clutter. But, to people like me, they are a way to insert a feeling of love and peace into their surroundings.

I remember, when I first was able to afford my own apartment, I was excited…and at the same time, terribly lonely and isolated, even though I lived in the center of the city, surrounded by many choices for socialization or simply going for a walk in an urban atmosphere (something I really miss these days.) In order to make the place feel special, the first thing I moved in was a photograph of myself and my boyfriend at the time, my favourite book, and a butterfly candle a special friend had given me the last time we saw one another. It was my way of saying “This space may not be fancy, but it’s filled with love, and it’s mine.”

In any case, I shared with a friend of mine how peaceful and at home I felt in my older friend’s tiny apartment, and how in many ways, despite the unmanageable lack of space for someone as chaotic and expansive as myself, I felt so much freer there than in my own space. On my friend’s mirror is a piece of paper, a list of affirmations like the one I posted above. I don’t usually go in for affirmations—it’s a little too self-help for me— but this one, I always remember, because one of the things it says is “Remember that there are at least three people in your life who love you enough to sacrifice their life for yours.”

Somewhere, in that packed-but-not-cluttered small space, there is a copy of my favourite book, with a personal note left for that friend I see rarely, but never forget. As soon as I open the door, knowing that makes me feel at home.

For those of you who have been my friend for a long time and wonder why I send you random crap in the mail…well, that is why. It makes me happy to think that one day, you’ll come across a piece of me I’ve left behind in your world, and it will remind you that you are loved, and special, and always occupy a space in another person’s thoughts…even if it’s just little old me.

Yep, I’m most certainly an odd and sentimental one, which isn’t for everyone. But, once in a while, someone really gets it and is touched by that…and I enjoy kindred spirits.

In the past two weeks, I’ve had people have problems with me because I’m disorganized, I don’t manage life with common sense, I’m oversensitive, I’m overly communicative, I text too often, I keep my apartment too cold, I don’t take good pictures, I have a tendency to talk over others sometimes, I don’t trust people enough,I go off on tangents, I lose things, I’m too demanding with my friendships, I don’t have the cash I need to pay the excessive bills I have, my apartment is always a mess and I don’t remember to call my parents.

Also, in April I learned: I make other people feel used, unappreciated, am overly direct (aka: rude), I’m not pretty or independent enough for anyone to find me attractive, am fat and trashy, and may or may not be a gold-digging whore. And I’m not fun because I’m too sick to go places. And I lack subtlety, and people don’t always find me as attractive and endearing as I think they do. I think that’s a total recap of my list of personal flaws. Looking at the larger picture, I don’t think that *I* am the reason I have self-esteem issues.

At some point, I’d love to start getting feedback from the Universe where people remind me what they like about me. It seems like every other day, someone is giving me “constructive criticism” about all the things that are deficient about my personality, my appearance, and my life choices…and I really am at the point where I’m tired of being the punching bag for the Universe. If you don’t want to be my friend because there’s things you don’t like about me, fine. If you don’t find me attractive for one reason or another, cool. I’ll undoubtedly live. If you spend more time criticising me and giving me the silent treatment and noting how crappy my communication skills and personality make you feel that enjoying my company, it sucks, but we’re probably not right for each other.

I just really don’t need this constant string of “Hey, Alayna, here’s why you suck” in my life. I am dealing with enough…if people don’t like me, it’s kind of their loss. If people don’t want to be in a relationship with me because it makes them feel the opposite of happy, or think I’m not good enough, or subject me to listening to why other people don’t think I’m good enough…well, that sucks, but you only live once. Find the person who makes you happy. Every single person out there is happier without criticism and communication problems every time you see one another.

I’d like to think there are people out there somewhere who like me for who I am, the way I am. In fact, I’d like to think there are people out there who think I’m fucking awesome, and would love for me to send them too many text messages or invite them over to my messy,icebox apartment, and appreciate that I’m emotional, direct with my feelings, and don’t think or act like everyone else. Then again, I’m an idealist and don’t see things realistically and make impulsive choices, so probably not.

Earlier this week, fellow blogger Gala Darling posted about a bunch of random and interesting commentary on life, but one of the things that jumped out at me was the recognition that many of us aren’t really all that old, yet we’re children of a different era. We grew up in a time when using the phone actually was a popular part of day-to-day life. Her blurb on the current state of indifference with which we view phone calls was funny, yet quite true.

It’s funny; the more accessible and inexpensive phone access becomes for most of us, the less inclined we are to use it. I remember racking up WAAAAAAY too many phone minutes with long-distance boyfriends and infatuations in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, years where unlimited cell phone plans were rarely offered, and if they were, they were very expensive. These were the days when people were slowly forsaking their landlines, the annoying dial-up sound had been replaced by DSL and cable internet, and spending your cell minutes on someone was a valuable investment. Nobody spent time texting; instead, people sat having conversations over IM. (I can still recall my utter indignation at the idea of IM, though I spent much of my waking life using it. An angry “I can tell you’re multi-tasking me” would hopefully remind the person on the other end that talking to me was indeed worth a bit of undivided attention.)

I also remember 2002-2007 being years where a phone was permanently glued to my ear. Phones were tiny, if not yet smart, and everything was becoming more and more unlimited. I conducted more that one new in-depth friendship primarily via phone calls, and all of those people are still in my life today. I also sent myself back into memories of my teenage years, talking on my pink phone (yes, I did have my own room with my own phone, so I can’t say I had a terrible childhood. *lol*) until my arm would cramp and I’d have to pee, but I still wouldn’t want to hang up because there was more gossip to be had. On any given month, my unlimited Sprint plan would indicate I’d used between 3,500-6,500 minutes a month, for years.

These days, nobody has time anymore, and connecting with a friend means a series of impersonal texts. I empathise with Gala when she points out that nobody actually wants to have a conversation; the phone is becoming obsolete and real conversations are something that’s relegated to the face-to-face, because nobody wants to spend forever and ever typing out deep thoughts and feelings in 140 character blocks. It’s actually inefficient and time-consuming, except for the fact that you can do other things in between messages. Yet, if you know me, you know I text constantly..and so does virtually everyone else I know.

So, that leads me to my thought for the day: “Do we live in such a self-centred world where nobody is worth the luxury of undivided attention anymore, unless they happen to be within a 5 minute radius and can meet up for coffee?

Are we a generation of multi-tasking addicts that don’t have the time or interest in making real connections with fellow human beings? The more tools we’re given to connect, the more superficial we get about connection, and the less frequently people have interest in having meaningful conversations with other people. In my mind, this seems directly related to the sharp decline in the number of couples getting married, the number of people actually investing in relationships, particularly in large cities.

We’re not putting in the effort, and it’s something of which an entire generation is guilty. Yet, it’s a little sad. Sure, we may have been inefficient with sitting around hanging out and talking on the phone all the time back in the old days, but from my personal experience, the people I became close friends with were the ones with whom I took the time to converse. You can’t bond, discuss “What are your hopes and dreams and fears, and who are you, deep down inside?” while sending “Hey, how are you?” texts to friends, and unless you have the luxury of having enough time to schedule one-on-one coffee and dinner dates with all your friends (and if you’re like me, many of your friends don’t live anywhere near the same city as you do.), the end result is often a feeling of alienation. A million tools to connect at our disposal, and yet it’s easy to feel “We used to be close, and now I barely know you, because we never have time to catch up.”

For some people, it doesn’t matter. The superficial conversation via text or FB is enough to keep a friendship going. But, me, I’m an old-fashioned girl. I still write e-mails about my thoughts and feelings to old friends, or in attempts to get to know new ones better. I still send letters and cards in the mail with handwritten messages. I still step outside my bubble of “what’s going on in my life” to make time for those who are important to me, and I still expect that anyone who really likes me is going to consider me worth undivided attention.

Sadly, there just aren’t that many people who see things the same way. Rarely do my letters and e-mails get a response; phone calls are returned by a text or a FB message.

I suppose I’m a child of a different era. When it comes to friendships and relationships, I put in the effort, and expect the effort in return. In my mind, it’s just a way of saying, “No matter how busy life gets, you’re still important to me.”

It’s a pity that we’ve largely lost that aspect of our society, but we’ve also lost the genuine desire to connect with fellow human beings on a level that extends beyond the novelty, beyond the superficial, beyond the entertaining. Almost all of us have so many acquaintances and so few friends, something I remarked upon to a friend recently (via text!. *lol*) I think it’s because we don’t put in the effort, beyond, “Talking to you is awesome, as long as I can do it while I’m dong a bunch of other stuff.” And, thus, most of our conversations with others stay on a surface level, never get too deep, never leave you feeling that you’re maintaining close bonds with even your closest friends.

I’m not an “on-the-surface” kind of girl. I appreciate that The Guy I’m Currently Dating still has a 45 minute conversation with me before bedtime on nights we don’t see one another. We don’t always really “connect”, but sometimes we do, and for me, that’s the sort of thing that creates closeness and understanding. It is really an essential piece of every important relationship and long-lasting friendship that’s ever been a part of my life, and I don’t see myself requiring that level of emotional intimacy less simply because the ways in which we communicate with one another makes that difficult to achieve.

It’s a shame most of the world can’t, or won’t, slow down enough to see who and what is actually around them, to have friendships that go beyond the surface, to actually think and feel and share. Maybe I’m simply one of a dying breed, an antiquated romantic with a greater interest in and need for emotional and intellectual connection than most people I meet these days, but I do think so many people are missing out on so much, living this fast-paced life that’s well-suited to always skim the surface of things.

You only get one life. Why not invest in a little more love, a little more inspiration, and a little more honest connection and communication with those in your life? I think my friends deserve more from me than abbreviations and “Talking to you about pleasantries while on my way to do something more interesting”, and I can’t imagine myself ever having a relationship with the type of person who believes that short text messages mean “We talk on a daily basis.”

I have a few friends who, like myself, seem disinterested in catching up on pleasantries and more interested in actually forging connected relationships, and make a valiant effort to do so via text messaging. However, the medium just isn’t suited to the verbose, people who have a lot to say, people who want to say anything of substance. Messages are delivered out of order, or completely lost, or put on time delay…and it takes ages to type out multiple responses. Sometimes, the results are amusing…you’ll get a reply to one thing that’s unrelated, and therefore completely inappropriate, and very funny. Other times, this same problem can cause huge misunderstandings.

No, text messaging is not a substitute for picking up the phone (when you want to have a conversation with someone) or sending an e-mail (when you want to engage in the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and feelings in some manner of depth.). It’s great for finding out where your friends are, meeting up at the right time, letting someone know you’re stuck in traffic, or just saying “Hi, thinking of you”. But the fact that so many of us use it for absolutely everything means that actually communication is falling by the wayside.

I am, at heart, and old soul. And, the older my body gets, the older my soul becomes..the less I relate to the disconnectedness that defines our society. I’m going to be one grumpy, bitter old lady in 50 years. ;)

The 1990′s called. It said to pick up your damn phone. :P