Earlier this week, I was sad to hear of the passing of someone I knew during my theatrical days in NYC. We never got to the point where we were especially close, but we traveled in the same circles, and if something fun was going on, there was a good chance we’d both be there. Once we did get past that “Oh, hey, I remember you and your face looks familiar” stage of things, I discovered he was the kind of person with whom it was remarkably easy to have fun.

Theatre people, and artists in general, are most certainly a strange breed. Our parties don’t start until 11:30, because that’s the earliest most working actors and techies can conceivably get out of the theatre. We’re known to start drinking on a Monday afternoon, when the rest of the world has returned to work, because Monday is the night all the theatres are dark. We gather on rooftops and fire escapes and sing show tunes and manage to have fun, even though nobody ever has any money.

Yet, for some reason, there are people who love the life and the camaraderie built into a world that is, by nature, full of struggle and self-doubt and rejection and an utter lack of stability. When you’re working on a show, your company becomes your family. You run out of time to see your real family, your old friends, and dating is difficult—much less marriage, children, or relationships. Yet, somehow, it’s usually worth it.

This friend who passed away was, as he called himself, “a quirky homo chorus boy”. He was only 30, but in the world of musical theatre, it’s the age at which you need to start stepping out of the chorus, or risking the possibility that you’re never going to. I think he’s one of the ones who would have done that. In addition to being a gifted dancer, he also had a beautiful tenor voice that could handle every type of music with a certain joie de vivre. He would sing at parties, in the dressing room, at piano bars. Just like everyone else, he was struggling, hopping from tour to regional theatre and back again, but he was one of the ones who wouldn’t trade that life for anything else.

Off-stage, everyone loved him. There are different types of actors, and this friend was the one who always wanted to entertain, even after the curtain was down. If there was mischief, he was somewhere in the centre of the scheme. People naturally gravitated toward him, because he didn’t give the appearance of ever taking life too seriously.He did, but he didn’t let worries over money or a broken heart ever ruin that particular day with whomever he was around. As someone who takes feelings to heart and dwells on them and can’t find whatever it takes to ignore them and move on with my day (great for channeling your energy into artistic pursuits, terrible for being good company.), I always really admired that. Some people have the gift of free-spiritedness. Others, like me, may find it sometimes overshadowed by a certain amount of intensity and propensity toward the dramatic. This friend was someone perfect for my world; someone less narcissistic and more inclined to brush off every rejection or heartache with a few laughs and the knowledge that tomorrow was a new day.

Many years ago, I did a production of a little-known musical called “The Baker’s Wife”. (If you know it, I played Denise.) Knowing this, this friend took me to see a concert honouring Stephen Schwartz (the composer), and we smuggled cheap champagne in those eco-friendly thermos things everyone loved for awhile before most people gave up on saving the planet. We took the subway down to the Lower East Side afterwards, traipsing through the streets singing Liz Callaway songs and, as I recall, skipping through traffic. We ended up at a bar where we didn’t pay for a single drink. It was one of my best dates ever. (seriously, gay men are awesome at planning cool dates. There should be a book about this for straight men and lesbians. *laughs*)

I was really saddened to hear about this friend’s passing, and it kind of forced me to spend the week remembering the world of “Once Upon A Time”, where I lived a different sort of life and may have been a different sort of person, for better or for worse. I reached out to some people I knew from the “old days”. I remembered that, because I started performing at such a young age, my world was always filled with people who were “unconventional”. If my own family was both conservative and dysfunctional and little approval was given for anything, ever, the people with whom I spent time outside of that were generally proud to be eccentric. I had a lot of really great role models for living life on your own terms, and feeling free to be yourself, however fucked up you happened to be. It was always a conundrum from me, because that wasn’t the lesson that I got at home, at school, from my non-artistic friends. There, the rule was all about having people like you, approve of you, achieving things and being rewarded. That was much more important than any kind of authentic self. I think I grew up as a very divided person, knowing I was somehow not like everyone else, but feeling pressure to pretend so that everyone would always like me.

My best memories in life are of those people who made me feel that just being me made me special enough, likeable enough. This friend who passed away was one of those types of people, and the loss of everything he had to offer to the world leaves a space that can’t really be filled. I still think of him, and admire him, and the way he touched everyone he met…even people he barely knew. Some people love life and live with such enthusiasm, you can’t help but feel the same way for them being in your life.

The result of all this dwelling and feeling and intense introspection is a rather pronounced dissatisfaction with my life these days. I don’t know if I’d go back in time a decade or so in order to be that person I once was—I think I was both self-absorbed and self-destructive, and a bit of a diva. I lived very recklessly, didn’t forgive easily, and didn’t always consider the consequences of anything. I thought the adventure and the experience was enough. And, even when I ended up in Atlanta, I think I brought that attitude with me. I got myself hurt a great deal, and I know I hurt other people more than they deserved.

Yet, there’s this realisation I have sometimes that my life is boring. I sometimes think my friends—at least the ones who live in Atlanta and I’m able to see on a regular basis—are boring. I sometimes think I don’t actually have any friends in Atlanta, because although there are people in my life, I miss having that core group of personalities who are largely obligation-free and rate highly on the “openness to new experiences” chart. There is a focus on family and religion and conventionality and corporate life and attaining wealth and material goods that isn’t necessarily compatible with what I’m about, and it’s hard to meet people who don’t fit into that paradigm. In fact, the more people I meet in Atlanta, the more I’m bored to tears with about 90% of them.

Most of the people I meet don’t create things, and they don’t care that I create things. They’re willing to pay $14 for a drink, but not $8 for a book, which has really kind of dissuaded me from putting any energy into creative projects. (“Why pour your heart and soul and time and money into something if nobody freaking cares?). Most of the people I meet have clearly defined boundaries that simply aren’t open-minded enough to interest me (“I’d come to this, but I can’t really get into the idea of wearing a costume in public when it’s not Halloween.”) or have reasons or obligations that say “Oh, it’s 9:30, time to go home now.”

On top of that, Atlanta’s transportation system makes it pretty impossible to have a crazy adventure. You can’t go out on the town and party and take the subway home. There always has to be a designated driver. You always have to pay for parking. When you get where you’re going, you’re not terribly likely to meet interesting strangers (it’s more of a once-in-a-while occasion.), so you have to convince a group of friends to be willing to go out with you. The older I get, the more difficult this becomes.

I’m well aware that Atlanta doesn’t like me much more than I like it.. Even though I run a social group where people become friends, people rarely reach out to *me* because they’d like to be friends. It’s rare that people contact me to say, “Hey, do you want to get together and do something?”, unless they’re already a good friend. I know there are a number of reasons for this: I’m not single, I’m not in my 20′s, I’m kind of a pain because I don’t have a car, and there are a lot of people with whom I just share few interests. (I hate hiking, I don’t get up before 12, I’m not into healthy eating and wellness, I don’t watch sci-fi, I don’t have children.) I prefer making deeper emotional and intellectual connections over meeting people for the sake of meeting people. I already have thousands of acquaintances. What I need are friends who like me enough to call me up and ask if I want to do something, preferably something new and different.

While I find my directness with people, my flirtatious banter, my snarky sense of humour, and my rather boisterous, extroverted style of communication to be endearing, it turns out that Atlanta does not agree. I’ve been called rude. I’ve been called a whore, a homewrecker, and just “that guy’s fat girlfriend”. I’ve heard people say they can’t stand my need to be the centre of attention, and that my personality is the type that just sucks the air of the room. I’ve offended people just by showing up. I’ve had strangers remark on my social drinking, my fashion choices, and even the timbre of my voice. So, it is quite possible my lack of a core group of friends with whom I find it easy to relate and bond and have adventures is due to this: In the South, most people just don’t like me.

It’s sad, but I know it’s not just all me. There are people all over the world who would love to live closer to me, or to have the opportunity to have adventures with me on a more frequent basis. I have really strong friendships with some really interesting people. Some are based in a shared love of life and adventure, some are based on a romantic connection that morphs into a true friendship, and some are based on an emotional or intellectual bond that just oddly exists. I know right away when I meet this kind of person—someone who genuinely interests me—and it’s a shame that I’m the sort for which this kind of connectivity happens with other human beings maybe twice a year, if I’m lucky. The result is that those who know me the best and whom I enjoy the most are rarely in the same place at the same time, and even if they live in Atlanta, circumstances are such that I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like.

I’ve been told by a number of my friends—who, on the whole, tend to be more introverted souls than myself, but people who can be inspired to have fun new experiences “outside the comfort zone”, under the right circumstances— that I have a way of making the world a more interesting place to be and bringing things to life. People have told me that when I am gone, the exact same place or experience simply isn’t the same, and I am greatly complimented by the fact that there are people in my life who genuinely feel that way about me.

Yet, the problem is that most people in Atlanta—even those I consider good friends—don’t feel that way about me. And, also, there are times when I need to meet someone who inspires *me* to feel that way about life. Those types of people show up maybe once every two years if I’m fortunate, and those connections don’t always work out in the long run.

I realise my friends are not boring. If anything, I am the one who is boring, because I have long since ceased to find a genuine sense of adventure or romance or elation in most things. Life feels generally repetitive, and I suppose it’s a side effect of having crossed many things off of my bucket list at somewhat of an early age. I don’t always know how to feel inspired to have an adventurous next 30 years of my life. When I do find those experiences, or meet people who seem to naturally evoke them, they are surprising—I am shocked by the ability of another person to make me feel like a younger, lighter, more enthusiastic version of myself. A very few people in this world are able to make me open my eyes in the morning and feel excited about the day to come, so when I find that, I tend to place more value on it than perhaps I should.

I sometimes think Atlanta is simply too small and too conservative to provide whatever it is I am looking for, and that’s sad, because I have a great guy who’d be devastated if I left—-but I’m not sure it would be inspiration enough for him to leave with me. Other times, I think I just am not meeting the right people, and the inaccessibility of living in a city where one needs to drive to experience the city will always be a hindrance for me. Most of the time, I think that the prevailing attitudes and social viewpoints, and the things on which most people in this area are focused, is simply not compatible with who I am as a person. I don’t consider myself odd and eccentric, or overbearingly extroverted or even rude. I just want to live in a world where people embrace diversity, variety, taking down emotional walls, and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. I’m annoyed when people don’t want to do things because there are costumes involved, or you have to drive two miles to another place, or because the event is in the wrong part of town.

People in Atlanta seem to have a lot of “rules” for how they should live, how *you* should live, and what’s considered “fun”. It makes it really hard for me to meet anyone with whom I really bond, and when I do, that interest in “I’d like to get to know you better” isn’t always reciprocated. (I know one person who has seemed to call up every girl he knows to hang out as platonic friends, but has never once so much as contacted me outside of an event. I actually think he’s a fun person, but I find it off-putting that he would not like me in a one-on-one setting.)

Maybe I don’t really know what I’m looking for in terms of “fun” and adventure and meeting new people…but I know it when I find it. Most of the time, I know instantaneously that there’s the potential for me to “connect” with someone. Somehow, an overwhelming number of those people I’d consider “people with whom I connect” live in NYC, Philadelphia, D.C., or California. Sometimes, I miss those people greatly, and wonder what it is about me that makes people in Atlanta unresponsive to friendship with me. Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe people here just generally don’t “connect”, and although it’s a city, there’s truly not that much to do that hasn’t been done before.

Maybe I’ve simply been here too long. I remember feeling excited about this place when I first moved here. Yet, for me, some places may be more suited to me than others—but enjoying life is all about the people with whom you choose to share it.

I need more people, and more sharing….and I miss the days when that came so easily. I miss living somewhere that a majority of people actually like me, relate to me, and invite me out for drinks or coffee or want me at their parties. That has not been Atlanta for me, despite the few wonderful friends I’ve made over the years, and I somehow don’t think it ever will be.

I sometimes just wonder why this is the only place I’ve ever been that I’ve failed to charm people or to make a group of friends who actually want to get out and do things. Perhaps, over the past decade, I’ve lost whatever it was that made me endearing to people to begin with. Or maybe I’m just at that age where life is supposed to be about marriage and kids and stability and owning your house—and cities where there is less focus on those things are going to be a better fit for me.

I think it’s no accident that the people with whom I bond the most quickly are either well-traveled, extremely accomplished and/or creative, and/or open to new and different experiences. I just wish it weren’t so hard to find those people, and have them be around my age group, and have some type of commonality with me.

I wish that, every so often, someone would pick up the phone and express a desire to hang out. Because, really and truly, I’m a nice person. I may even be fun. Some people go as far as to use words like “vivacious” and “inspiring”. Those people exaggerate, but the point is, I like to keep life interesting. But it’s hard for me to do that without partners-in-crime. I’ve never been the “neverending circle of acquaintances” type of girl.

Usually, when I feel this way, someone or something positive shows up in my world, and totally starts it spinning on its axis for awhile. I don’t particularly mind that. It keeps life interesting. It’s almost an unexpected answer from the Universe, pointing out, “Maybe this is what you’ve been looking for?”

Yet, that hasn’t happened over the past few months, and I’ve felt a little melancholy. Instead, I’ve been suffering loss and estrangement and a general sense of “There has to be more to life than what I’m letting in right now.” I wish I were the sort of person who could be happy with the simple things—-a solid relationship with one person, a small group of friends I see on occasion, the TV shows I love—and sometimes, I can be content with that. But after about 3 or 4 weeks, the restlessness returns, and I need to feel there is so much more out there in the world.

Whatever it is, I want it.

Today, I spent my day trying to cheer myself up by hanging out in bed and watching “Mean Girls”, which I love and always makes me laugh, eating pizza, and drinking hot chocolate. Sadly, I spilled some of the hot chocolate on my hand. :(

It has *definitely* not been the most glamourous holiday ever. There should be some rule against getting sick at the holidays when you’re stuck at home because you’re ALREADY sick.

I am giving this one more day to go away, and then I’m breaking out the stash of antibiotics to see if it actually does shorten the life of my cold. (This is something people keep telling me, but it doesn’t seem to make much scientific sense, since a cold is a virus and antibiotics treat bacterial infections.)

At least I’ll finally get the tree up and add some sparkle to my living room. :)

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Solitude is an achievement.” ~Alice Koller

I have a tendency to get overly attached to people. It’s handled in a way that’s mostly positive and harmless, rather than reminiscent of the creepy stalker from “Two And A Half Men”, but it can be said that in almost all of my relationships, and in many of my close friendships, there’s an element of co-dependency. An old friend of mine once hypothesized that my extended period of polyamoury was a choice well-suited to my personality, because I was self-aware enough to know there was not a single person in this world with enough time, energy, money, attention, or any other attribute to manage to keep me entertained, happy, and fulfilled.

I do not know whether or not this friend has a valid point, or is simply mocking some of the quirks of my personality, but one thing that hasn’t changed about me is this: after living on my own for my entire adult life, I still do not like to be alone. Yes, there are times when I want to concentrate and create and live in my own world, and, as a friend would say, I need the world to STFU and GTFO. *laughs* It’s also true that most of my relationships go haywire when the “moving in together” phase kicks in, because frankly, there’s not that many people I like enough to want to be around them all the time. My home is generally my retreat from introversion; I like my own little oasis, and I’m picky about who should be allowed in it. As my Meyers-Briggs profile correctly points out, I am an extrovert who needs time for introspection and quiet,solitary activities.

Yet, I do not like to be alone for long. To say that the past 6 months have been a challenge for me is an understatement, and the challenge is as much psychological as it is physical. Something as simple as gaining 20 pounds because I can’t walk miles each day, and I am constantly dependent upon others as a result, has significantly lowered my self-esteem. It isn’t just what I see in the mirror, it’s the person I see. This dependent, introverted, physically tired person that looks back at me is not the person with whom I identify. The hardest part of all of this has been the significant amount of time I’ve been forced to spend alone, in my apartment…and when the time comes that I am finally able to get out and spend time with others, there are never any guarantees my body will cooperate. Sometimes, I end up back home in bed. It is not something I can control, but it’s been very difficult.

This is something that really hit me recently because, over the past few days, most of my close friends have traveled home for the holidays…and those who aren’t doing so are staying because they’re choosing to spend time with their families. I know that in some ways I will be happier here on my own, than visiting my family, which year after year seems like an obligation—and one that reminds me maybe a visit to the psychiatrist would help me, after all, because my home environment is less than healthy. Yet, there’s a part of me that’s still convinced that any company, even toxic company, is better than being alone.

This part of me is destructive; it’s the one that would accept booty calls from ex-boyfriends who weren’t worth my time, the one that would stay in jobs and relationships with no future, the one that would make it impossible for me to go to a club in my 20′s and end up back in my own bed before sunrise. Things that are not good for you are not a viable alternative to keep you from feeling alone.

Alone doesn’t have to be so bad, and I know that. However, today it hit me: one by one, friends were leaving, my roommate was gone, and my former roommate dropped off her dog so I could dog-sit while she and her husband traveled home to the family (she always does the same for me when I travel, so it works out incredibly well.) And although today was no different than any other day; I still worked inside my apartment, watched some TV shows, tried to make time for artistic projects….it felt different. There was nobody on Facebook, nobody texting or calling me to say hello, aside from my boyfriend, who has seemed busier than usual lately. I should have treasured the peace and quiet, but instead, I felt alone.

I can recall certain relationships in my life where, after spending time together, I’d look forward to the person leaving so I could do all the things floating around in my brain. I’m too type-A to want to cuddle in bed all day; my brain goes on active-mode and starts wanting to get up and do *something*. Now, I have all the space and freedom in my life I could want and nobody to answer to, and I am too ill and too bored with myself to know what to do with my time.

Today, I wished intensely that I lived in a city. I’d have liked to walk around and see Rockefeller Center in a December that wasn’t 20 degrees, or haunt the independent coffeeshops and bookstores of Washington D.C. I’d even have settled for being able to walk to dinner at the Vortex here in Atlanta. I think the suburbs are sucking out my soul, making me feel even more isolated and dependent. And while maybe it doesn’t matter now, when I’m sick and technically supposed to be on “bed rest” (for me, this is bed rest, evidenced by the refusal of my favourite dresses to zip.), I do hope at some point I will be better, and it will matter.

I am comfortable alone, in a city, where I am surrounded by people I don’t know and perhaps with whom I’ll never interact. I am comfortable alone, as long as I get to go out in the evenings and be amongst people, or even have interesting phone conversations and Facebook chats with people who intrigue me, who have interesting lives, share interesting gossip. Some days, I even prefer to stay in alone and watch my reality TV shows, and turn down social invites to do so.

But lately, I am just immensely bored with myself and with all this solitude. There is plenty to be interested in, but nothing excites me, because I want excitement and adventure outside of this tiny little world that’s been my very limited home for months. I hope I’m able to get my medical issues resolved soon, so I can work on restoring a more active and inspiring social life. Or, at least, I can leave the apartment and get sunshine and exercise again, so I can stand to go to the mall or look at myself in the mirror.

Tomorrow, I am going to amuse myself with hot cocoa and chick flicks, and when my boyfriend comes over, we’ll finally put up the tree and the stockings. But, somehow, it just doesn’t seem like Christmas, not the way it normally does. I’m far more excited about ringing in the new year!

This morning I woke up to discover that my cable and internet were down; the icing on the cake for what I like to call the 2011 Summer Of Doom. After verifying that, yes, everything was plugged in properly, and, no, the dog didn’t unplug one of the multitude of cords and splitters that ensure delivery of TV and internet happens throughout the apartment on a daily basis, I was told they’d send someone out. After explaining that I worked from home and internet connectivity was essential to my job, they said they’d upgrade my case to “urgent” status. This means, at the very latest, someone will be by between 11-2 PM tomorrow, which in cable guy time, probably means 5 PM.

Annoying as this is, I kind of have the same feeling you’d get when you were a kid and there was an unexpected snow day. It’s that “YAY, I totally don’t have to do anything at all today!” feeling, which everyone appreciates. There’s a difference between choosing to do nothing…which everyone does from time to time, but it’s easy to feel guilty about being lazy….and actually having a valid impediment that makes it impossible for you to be productive.

For some reason, it gave me flashbacks to the summers I spent at CTY (also known as Center For Talented Youth; also self-mockingly called “genius camp”. ) For those who have never heard of it, it’s a 3-week program for kids 11-16 that score exceptionally well on the SAT’s at a very early age. The program is sort of a mini-introduction to college life, and allows kids to stay on a college campus while taking a freshman or sophomore-level college course. It was actually an incredibly structured program, but for thousands of overachieving youngsters, often with extremely pushy and demanding home lives, it allowed for a specific type of freedom. It allowed for “finding yourself” long before the age when most people actively started looking for themselves.

In any case, I adored my summers at “genius camp”, where I took all manner of writing classes…not because I had any specific desire to be a writer, but because my math scores weren’t in any way, shape, or form “genius”, and I was restricted to humanities-based classes. One of the built-in facets of ‘genius camp’ was that from 7-9 PM each night, you were required to stay in your dorm room, preferably to study, read, or work on homework. As one of the more extraverted spirits on a campus full of introverts, I always thought the two hours of “lockdown” would be tough for me…no TV, no radio, no distractions, just you, your thoughts, some books, and some paper. As it turned out, this “lockdown” time is what put me in touch with my introspective side, something that was previously neglected, with a highly busy schedule, demanding family life, and need to be popular and well-liked and all of that.

Years later, after learning about the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory, I read that my personality type (ENFP) is the only extraverted type that needs regular opportunity for introspection. Apparently, it is my nature to learn, observe, experience, and take things in from being around other people…and later process them internally. In some ways, that’s the very essence of what blogging is, and perhaps why it’s a creative outlet that suits me much better than, say, trying to write a book or getting sucked into the world of academic research.
The result of those years at “genius camp” is that I learned just how distracted I truly am by any possible distraction in my vicinity. Even when I think I’m concentrating on one thing, there’s another part of my mind that’s thinking of three other things I might be doing. I learned to appreciate those few hours of forced, distraction-free “alone” time, because it helped me feel a little more centred and fond of my own life, even on those days when I wasn’t the most productive. Of course, I was also the first person to be excited about the two hours of social time that followed those study hours, because the chance to have fun and meet other people typically trumps introspection any day…at least it did until I hit about 27.

Days where everything decides to slow down and shut off, days like today, remind me of those locked-down study hours at “genius camp”, and although my first response to the inconvenience is general annoyance, I then feel a little happy about having the time to myself. I can write in my blog, I can read, I can work on some of the crafty projects I’ve been doing for Swap-Bot, I can write long e-mails to friends I won’t have opportunity to send until later…and I don’t have to feel guilty because I could be using that time more productively, making money, or doing things that other people would rather have me do. It’s anxiety-free, distraction-free time, and I wonder if maybe having a bit more of that in my life would help me cope with the anxiety-related aspects of my recent illness a little better. Perhaps I should start taking more regular retreats at Starbucks (if I still lived in a city, or a walkable area, I definitely would.), and stop feeling that even when I’m at home, suffering through the equivalent of “bed rest”, I need to be constantly entertained by outside forces, or working, or stressing over my situation.

As an adult, two hours of uninterrupted quiet doesn’t sound so much like a punishment anymore. And, I was reminded of another entertaining “genius camp” story to relate in the future…but that will have to wait for a future day of blogging.

Happy Tuesday, everyone! (and if you’re wondering, this post made it up courtesy of someone’s very slow unsecured wireless network.)

I’m the kind of person that naturally gets bored and feels uninspired if I stay put for too long. I’m not sure why; it isn’t that I don’t have the capacity to be happy or content. Sometimes, I even value the feeling of safety and security that “home” offers me, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than hide out there for awhile. Those phases are often short-lived, however, and then I find myself plagued by restlessness and ready to chase adventure again.

Day #2:




Escape To Your Happy Place

At least for me, half the fun of going somewhere different is looking forward to getting there. Everyone has their own “happy place”, the place they’d much rather be, if there were no boring meetings, dull assignments, crying children, or endless obligations to attend to in life. For most people, it’s the first place you’d be likely to run off and hide out if you won the lottery tomorrow, quit your job, and had the personal freedom to go anywhere you wished.

My happy place is the beach, which is why I try to go at least once a year. Atlanta, being hopelessly landlocked and short on bodies of water, has the misfortune of having beach-worthy weather for at least 7 months out of every year, without any actual beaches nearby. The closest beach getaways are 5 hours away by car, too far for a day trip, and too inconvenient for non-drivers like myself.

It isn’t so bad, if you live in a nice complex with a pool—which, incidentally, I do not. My complex finally re-opened the pool, and it is now filled with screaming kids and angry, angsty teenagers all day long. It’s a far cry from some of the previous places I’ve lived in Atlanta, where I managed to spend an hour each day lying in the sun and shedding my vampire-like complexion for a few months. So, the result is that once March hits, I start looking forward to a trip to the beach.

I didn’t get to Savannah yet, although I’m determined to spend a weekend there at some point this summer. However, I’ll be visiting the Jersey Shore at the end of June, spending a lot of time lying on the beach and tuning out the entire world. In order to accomplish this, I needed a new bathing suit, and this one seemed to say “me”…at least today.


Sometimes, part of appreciating life is reminding yourself that you have freedoms, choices, options. While you might not always have the time, money, or energy to step away from your life and escape to your happy place, remembering that someday you will is motivating and invigorating. And, sometimes, your happy place might turn out to be exactly right where you are.

As discussed yesterday, I’ve made a commitment to myself to make this summer an interesting one—or at least one that I won’t fondly look back upon as a time I spent working and doing the same old stuff. While work, life obligations, and the daily routine are all an important part of life, too often, they become the thing that defines your life, leaving little room to experiment, grow, and celebrate life.

So, every day, I’m making it a point to do one thing that’s just for me. Every day, I’m going to remember to do something that’s new, different, self-indulgent, or just plain designed to make me happy and appreciate the wonderful things in my life a little bit more. Who knows? Maybe someone out there will read this, and decide to join me.

Day #1:

Listen To An Album By A Band Or Artist You’ve Never Heard Of Before

Too often, most of us stop discovering new things because we’re comfortable with the the things we do like, and don’t want to miss out on experiencing those. You know how it goes: you’ll order the same dish at a restaurant every time you eat there because it’s your favourite, watch the same movie every time it comes on TV, hang out with friends you don’t really like but you’ve known for ages, and keep the same set of sheets on your bed you used in college. It’s important to keep a sentimental attachment to your favourite things, but at the same time, to be able to identify the difference between personal attachment, and simple habit.

I have a habit of listening to the same songs on my iPod, over and over again. I’ve had the same favourite bands for well over a decade, and although once in a great while I’ll discover something new to add to my list of most-loved music, I still have sentimental attachments to music I love, and to the things that remind me of all the good memories in my past. Unfortunately, this can be a little inhibiting when it comes to branching out, discovering new things, and making new memories.

That’s why I decided to start my project by listening to some new music, from artists and bands I’m either not familiar with, or don’t think I’ll like. I started off by listening to Lights by Ellie Goulding. This was a little bit of a cheat, since I had heard of her; in fact, I saw her perform on SNL a few weeks back. But, everyone needs to start somewhere, and listening to Ellie Goulding’s well-acclaimed album led me to discover British breakout artist Clare Maguire, whose Light After Dark is all the rage across the pond, but hasn’t made it to the U.S. as of yet.

 

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

 In fairness, neither album rocked my world, but both were more than worth giving a listen. Each album had two or three songs on I liked enough to give permanent space in my collection, and I discovered two new unique and talented voices that haven’t yet hit the mainstream. Ellie Goulding’s cover of Elton John’s Your Song is a gem that’s going to stay with me for days, and I’ll probably end up mentioning to friends (well, the ones that don’t read this blog) somewhere along the line.

Since exploring new things quickly becomes a habit, I also picked up some albums from artists I do like, including James Blunt’s Some Kind Of Trouble and Lungs by Florence And The Machine, both of which I’ll listen to if I ever manage to get caught up on my out-of-control workload. (Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person that can listen to music or put TV on in the background, and still concentrate on a thought. I think it’s a mild adult ADD symptom, one I’ve always had.)

What new bands/artists/songs have you discovered lately?

One thing I’ve come to notice about life is that it’s very easy for it to become routine. In fact, most of what a majority of us spend our days doing are the things with which we’re the most comfortable, often to the point that if we’re not paying careful attention, our lives end up on some version of auto-pilot.

When I was younger, the world seemed like this huge place full of adventures and possibilities and things I just couldn’t wait to get out and explore. When I look back, the most memorable of my experiences, the happiest times in my life have always been the ones that were the most unexpected—the ones that, if I’d just been content to sit back and let life happen to me, rather than flinging myself at it in a most undignified manner, I’d have missed out on.

As time has passed, I’ve seen more places, done more things, met more people, and life has started to feel like less of an adventure. After awhile, you start to feel as if one city is really much the same as another, and even though the world is full of people, 95% of those you’re meeting simply aren’t all that interesting. So much more of life begins to be filled with sameness, until you realise you’re not really inspired by your life anymore, not really growing, not really learning or experiencing.

For the past few years, I’ve felt that way. Don’t get me wrong, I have some pretty awesome things in my life. I make a living in a way that allows me freedom and independence, to a certain extent, that not everyone out there has. I have a circle of friends that care about me, and a wider circle of acquaintances I can call upon when I want to go out and have fun. I’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone who loves me, even though it isn’t easy, and even though I’m not sure our futures are in sync. I’ve abandoned a number of self-destructive habits and aspects of my personality that have always stood in the way of me being happy. If I just look at it from the surface perspective, I have most of the things I need in my life. It isn’t a fancy life—I’m not rich, or famous, or accomplished, or glamourous—but it’s one that’s filled with reasons to be happy.

Yet, I often miss that feeling I’d have when I was younger, and about to embark upon a new adventure. I miss that reminder that the world is big, and full of possibility, and there’s always something to be excited about. I miss that random connection with a kindred spirit that’s unexpected and absolutely enthralling, and the sense of empowerment and freedom that comes with going somewhere completely new and different, completely on your own. I miss wondering what’s next, and what’s going to be hiding behind the next door. I don’t necessarily want to give up the security and stability I have in my life now, things that weren’t there then—it’s just that I want to rekindle that sense of wonder, and adventure, and the feeling that the next day might hold something wonderful in store for me.

In order to try to make new things a part of my daily life, and to constantly remind myself that “comfortable” should not be the end-all, be-all of existence, I’m going to spend my summer inviting something new into my life every day. Most will likely be small things, but just the act of reminding myself to always broaden my horizons and let the world in much more frequently is a good way to keep life from becoming routine, while still enjoying many of the “comfortable” pieces of my life that I love, and look forward to each week.

After all, it’s a big world out there, and you’re never too old to stop exploring, taking chances, and choosing to do something different. It’s just that most of us become so busy and distracted and consumed by the obligations of every day life, we save that spirit of exploration, adventure, romance, relaxation, and discovery for weekends, vacations, and holidays…if we’re not too tired.

Life is too short to forget that spirit of freedom, and that belief in ourselves and in possibility we all have in our younger years. Perhaps adults just have to work a little harder to maintain that free-spiritedness that used to come more easily, when there were less obligations, and fewer experiences with heartbreak.

This summer, I think I’m going to go out of my way to try and reconnect with that part of myself. It may fail, but it also may become a new, lifelong way of looking at the world. :)

One of the things I vowed to concentrate on in 2011 is recapturing a bit of the zest I’ve always had for life, and, in recent years, I’ve found myself sacrificing to age, responsibility, hard work, planning for the future, and—well, being a bit more like everyone else. Being an adult, it appears, means making money, going to sleep before 3 AM, not eating fattening foods, not drinking on the weekdays, and not blowing an entire week’s salary on that bracelet that keeps staring at you, or that trendy restaurant at which you so desperately want to spend a great evening. However, I do miss the zeal for appreciating la dolce vita, something that seems to be missing from my life, and from that of my friends and acquaintances (at least, from what I’ve observed.)

To that end, I’ve made a commitment to live the life I want to, and not to make excuses not to have the new experiences and do the fun things I truly want to do. There’s always a reason; none of my friends want to go with me to an event, a travel experience means time away from my dog, boyfriend, and whatever happens to go on around here, I shouldn’t spend the money on something that seems too extravagant or unnecessary, or travel from my inconvenient suburban location with no car is too restrictive. Ironically enough, in my younger years, I didn’t let these concerns stand in the way of taking risks, having experiences—and there were likely more reasons not to do be that type of person then than there is now. So, I’ve decided that even if I need to do things by myself, or meet new people who share my interests, and even if the things I want in my life mean that my relationship or life in Atlanta just isn’t meant to be, I’m not going to keep creating excuses to limit myself. I can blame where I live, my job, my friends, or my relationship, but none of those things are really keeping me from being adventurous, or being myself.

One of the things I’ve taken an interest in recently is learning more about the things I like, and learning to appreciate them from a more educated, slightly more cultured perspective. I already blogged earlier this month about my movie and book challenge, but I’ve decided to learn more about other things that I enjoy. After all, clothing is more than something to spend money on, wine and spirits aren’t simply something you consume to get drunk, there are forms of culture that don’t exist on a TV screen, and you can have a much different appreciation for food when it doesn’t come in a plastic wrapper.

A great resource I’ve found for learning about and tasting wine is the great community at Snooth . The site also has a wonderful community for spirit lovers and bar aficionados, located at The Spirit.

I also ordered a pretty little new journal, hopefully to inspire me to renew a habit I picked up while working on The Artist’s Way, of writing three pages each day without much thought or structure, or the inclination to self-censor.

I’m enjoying all of these more solitary pursuits, at least for now. It seems refreshing to take time out and work on myself, rather than always seeking external company and stimulation. I’m also looking forward to a whole bunch of things in the future, while generally not feeling today is a huge drag, which is a sign my life is becoming more balanced and more enjoyable. As it turns out, no matter who you are, and at any age, la dolce vita is very important. :)

While absolutely nobody reads this blog, save for a handful of close friends, it seems I’ve been targeted by a spammer-bot that found me on LiveJournal, and just won’t quit with the comments. So, I’m going to handle the situation like I usually do when a problem with someone or something comes my way: by writing a polite note that is perfectly cordial on the outside, but on the inside, contains a very large middle finger. :)

Dear Spammer-Bot,

My comments are moderated for a variety of reasons, but you are one of them. Your comments will not be approved, so, please, stop wasting your time and mine.

Thanks,

*~ A.

In other news, I have now officially failed at/ broken all my New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t lost a single pound since successfully convincing the scale to take 5 off the number it shows me every day, I spend more time wasting time on the computer during my work day than actually working, I’m not in a financially promising situation due to all the things that are going into planning a friend’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and attending her wedding next month, and I’ve only read one book and watched one movie on the “classics” list. The past few months have brought a good deal of distance, both physically and emotionally (though, ironically, not at the same time.) into my relationship with The Guy I Am Currently Dating. We’ve had open and kind of emotionally draining conversations about the future of our relationship—or, in my mind, the lack thereof.

I’m certain that those that have known me for a long time have pegged my recent sadness as simply that thing that happens to me every so often, where I realise I’m dissatisfied with my life, and ready to run: from a job that isn’t ultimately what I want to do, but is improving my life and good for me *right now*; from a relationship that often seems too hard and too complicated and destined to end as soon as it is time for me to make any kind of major life change; from a living situation I don’t like, with a roommate that simply refuses to find a full-time job and hasn’t paid more than $100 a month toward living expenses for a year; from friends that talk about me behind my back and I’m not always certain truly like me or consider me a friend, nor if I truly like them. I know I tend to run away from things rather than moving forward, but I haven’t done that in a long while, and as a result, I feel stuck.

And while I know there are options for unsticking myself that don’t involve just packing up and going somewhere where nobody knows my name (which I guess means Boston is out. :P ), that idea can’t help but seem appealing and exciting to me. I’m ready for a new adventure, and for things to not always feel so stagnant. Part of me just wonders if I’ve exhausted my adventures here in Atlanta, while another part simply wants to move closer to the city and into my own apartment. Either way, I find myself being bored and restless, and while I don’t want to leave behind all the positive relationships I’ve built here and find myself all alone in the world, it seems like every time I finally develop something that feels like home and family, my natural inclination is to want to go away from it and visit it on holidays.

I am really, truly, in need of personal growth, adventure, and excitement. For the first time, concerns about relationships, work, money, and everything else aren’t paramount in my mind, although they really should be. My energy and focus always drifts away, and dreams of adventure, exciting changes, and recapturing my spirit.

I’m not really sure what to do with that, or about that.

A bit of my former enthusiasm for all my “projects” has dissipated lately, as is obvious in that this blog has been neglected for the past few days. As I told The Guy I Am Currently Dating, the last time I blogged was very possibly the last time I had an interesting thought.

I dislike January immensely, and February is only minutely better. Without fail, this time of the year is one where I sleep 8-9 hours a night, decide there’s absolutely no reason not to eat the junk food I love, refuse to go outside unless there’s a particularly good reason, and even when I interact with other people, become acutely aware that I’ve absolutely nothing of substance to add to the conversation.

Around this time each year, I become bored, depressed, and a catch a frightening glimpse ahead at the person I might expect to be when I’m 80. Not only do I become bored with everyone around me, all the things I spend my time doing (and often really love), and with the direction my life is heading, I become immensely bored with myself. I start thinking about all the ways I could make dramatic changes, become a different person, living in a different place, perhaps with a different kind of life. All my goals, and plans, and things I looked forward to on January 1st have been replaced with an intense satisfaction and desire to just pick up and go.

Of course, I never do, because it’s way too cold. I can’t even handle the temperatures well enough to motivate myself to go across the street, much less make life-altering choices or embark upon a new adventure.

I’m thinking maybe hibernation is the answer for me. I know once it’s March and I can finally leave the house again without shivering beneath 20 extra pounds of sweaters, coats, scarves, hats, and gloves, things are going to be OK. But, in the meanwhile, Winter is fairly difficult for me to overcome. Even my skin wants to be hidden, as it’s sprouted icky dry patches resistant to lotion or moisturizer of any kind.

It’s hard to feel sexy in January. In fact, it’s pretty difficult just to feel human sometimes.

Thank goodness for my electric blanket. It doesn’t conquer boredom, but at least I can remain healthy while being restless and dreaming of running away to a fun, lively place where everyone wears sandals 11 months out of the year.