This afternoon, I went outside and noticed that even though it was 90 degrees and humid (pretty much the status quo around here from late May-early October),it was raining, one of my favourite types of weather. In fact, it was so beautiful, it made me burst into tears. I’m not sure why, other than it reminded me of a few rare times in my life where I was just perfectly happy, and it seemed like the world was this exciting adventure in which anything was possible. It reminded me of being young and healthy and free and not yet discovering that the world holds a lot of “No”, a lot of disappointment.


I miss that person. I miss those moments. I miss that freedom I used to rely on all the time, to constantly rewrite my own story. Somewhere along the way, I lost that. It’s kind of sad that something as simple and beautiful as rain leaves me mourning for that brief time of possibility that exists in everyone’s life, before we start choosing, and choices have consequences and obligations, and those things shrink the size of your world immensely.

I don’t dream the way I used to. I think I’m afraid that if I did, I’d always want my dreams to become part of my reality, and my reality would be less of a comfort to me.

Image Courtesy Of DangerDame.Com
I have been very ill lately. I don’t know what’s wrong, despite a trip to the ER and the hassle of trying to get in touch with a specialist. There’s a random problem with my heart, which is beyond scary, and the entire month of July has been spent with me barely having the energy to keep up with anything. My world has gotten so small I’m almost the only person in it, and I spend a lot of time feeling scared and alone.

The thing is, too many of my friends have had to leave this world far before they should have. I can’t stand the thought of being one of those people. There are too many things I haven’t done yet, and I’d give anything for a do-over, back to those summers of rainy days when anything was possible and every adventure the most exciting thing in the world.

So, it seems rather appropriate that in the midst of all these worries, and loneliness, and fear that it’s a time in my life to prepare for endings rather than beginnings, I should read about the passing of Amy Winehouse. All of the talent, beauty, charisma, and vivaciousness in the world doesn’t prepare a person for how to live in the world, and how to be content in that world, and in herself. I can only imagine that she would have been thrilled to have departed in the company of so many others with the same struggle; the “27 Club” is full of geniuses, eccentrics, and those that couldn’t reach out and connect in any other way than through the beauty of art.

People have been on the television all weekend, telling tasteless jokes and putting nails in the coffin of a beautiful person they all gave up on a long time ago. But I feel it’s a huge loss, the crashing of a magnificent plumed bird into the sea. RIP, Amy Jade.

Amy Winehouse, A Memorial, by O-Lie

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much lately, and the “Life Less Ordinary” project has found itself on hiatus. Initially, this was a good thing—I spent two and a half weeks traveling to see family and friends in the Northeast, hanging out in NYC, Philly, and spending a week in the sun at the Jersey Shore.

Not unexpectedly, the latter is where things began to go terribly, terribly wrong.

If you know me, you know I love the beach. In fact, most of my “what I want to do one day when I’ve made enough money and am ready to disappear into anonymity” scenarios involve living on a beach somewhere. And, since I’ve been under a rather large amount of stress lately in my everyday life, I figured there was nothing better than spending hours each day on the sand, soaking up the rays.

This provided a fun and relaxing holiday, until the very last day, when I decided to rent a beach chair and sit near/in the ocean, while reading my book and drinking my contraband vodka and clementine Izze soda. It was a great day, and when I got back to the hotel and took a shower, I noticed I’d acquired a killer tan.

Two hours later, I noticed that the tan was actually sunburn, and it was kind of painful. By the end of the evening, I could barely walk without crying, and of course, the next day was the day we were set to travel to Philly.

I made it—barely—but spent the next week largely in bed, with blisters and painful 2nd degree burns over my legs and belly. In addition, I started to have dizzy spells for no reason, often accompanied by a feeling that fainting would soon occur, heart palpitations, and a feeling that my body was out of control. The first time, I thought I was having a heart attack, and was going to die. :(

I can’t tell if these experiences are provoked by heat exhaustion, anxiety, or a totally unrelated medical issue—but let me tell you, nothing is more frightening than the feeling your body is working against you. For nearly two weeks, I’ve been unable to tolerate bright lights, heat, and staring at the computer screen. Even small things have tired me out immensely, which is unlike me, and my typically energetic, vivacious approach to life.

Slowly, things are improving, and over the past few days, I’ve had the physical and mental stamina to return to work, largely through the help of sunglasses. (wearing sunglasses indoors so you can work on your computer looks silly, but if you are intolerant to light, it actually works quite well.) Yesterday, the sun and the 100 degree temperatures decided to disappear, and it was the first day I actually felt like my old self…so I have some level of confidence that I am recovering, although perhaps not as fast as I’d like.

As always, I enjoyed my time in NYC, although I’m always there far too briefly for my tastes. I had the opportunity to catch up with three old friends I’ve known for years, and always miss dearly. It seems like years ago, distance wasn’t such an impediment to friendships, since there was always time for phone calls, IM chats, e-mails, and the like. Nowadays, there’s rarely the time, and when there is, there’s not always the energy. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it’s something that kind of sucks about getting older.

Philly, on the other hand, was a bit of a disaster—with the exception of July 4th. If you’re going to be anywhere on the 4th of July, you want to be in Boston, Philly, or D.C., which is one of the reasons I always plan my trip up there over that timeframe. Unfortunately, being ill really limited my ability to see anyone or do anything, and also reminded me of how difficult it’s always been for me to get along with my family. They’re largely like strangers to me, strangers I find negative and less than supportive, and who don’t really relate to me or anything I have going on in my life. It’s always been that way, of course, but the older I get and the more well-defined my own life becomes, the less they seem like people I know or understand. There are always arguments, always difficulties co-existing, and within two or three days, I begin to miss living in my world instead of theirs.

I think that, all these years, I’ve tried to create a relationship and an understanding with my family that just doesn’t exist. I’ve tried to create a feeling of “home” in this place that should be home to me, and I’m always devastated to remind me that it’s not. I’ve created an ideal in my head that I’ve always wanted, a place that feels like I belong and am loved and understood, and it’s natural to assume that safe place should be with one’s family. For me, it isn’t, and I’ve come to realise that the stability and support and comfort I want from “home” is going to have to be one of my own creation. It’s reminded me why I’d like to focus on finding a place I’d like to live on a permanent basis, and being able to buy property there, so that “home” doesn’t have to be someone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be a transient idea.

I’m glad to be back in Atlanta, though, and to spend time with the people I care about here. Even if I have to spend a chunk of my summer in bed, watching TV and working with sunglasses on, there are still some good times to be had before the summer is over.

And, of course, Big Brother is back, one of my favourite summertime guilty pleasures!:)

Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love: ‘expresses the headlong libidinal attraction‘ of addictive love. Usually, one is inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone.” ~ Wikipedia

Day #5:



Infatuated, by Pink Butterfly Of Death

*~ Embrace Infatuation *~

I’m a big fan of infatuation, and it’s a state of being that’s played a huge role in my life over the years. In fact, it was the title of a short-lived, private, and thoroughly self-indulgent blog I kept off and on during my early 20′s, filled with emotional angst and feelings about….well….infatuation.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not excellent at relationships and everything that makes them work, which largely accounts for my rather complex and chaotic history in that department. However, infatuation I know well, and rather enjoy. There’s something invigorating about waking up each morning and being immediately reminded there’s this person or thing out there in the world that makes that day an amazing one.

Of course, infatuation doesn’t last—in the worst of situations, it burns itself out in the form of abrupt or cruel disillusionment, and in the best, the object of infatuation becomes a part of your daily life, changing your relationship with it and putting an end to idealism. But, during the brief point in time it exists, it’s a reminder of the human capacity to thoroughly enjoy and adore the people and things in the world, and makes it impossible not to enjoy life.

For someone like myself, someone who is happiest living in a world largely of her own making, full of idealism and emotion and ideas and creative energy, infatuation is a hard-wired personality attribute. I’m not just talking about infatuations with people—although they do exist, and contrary to popular conception of the word, are less romantic in nature than you might imagine— but with ideas, movies, music, books, culture, fashion, food, and even electronic gadgets.

When they apply to people, my infatuations can become dangerous; after all, I’m the type of girl who rarely ever had crushes on movie stars. Instead, I fell in love with characters, fictionalised representations of the types of people I’d be excited by meeting and to whom I’d be immediately attracted. As I grew older, these tendencies shifted themselves into my relationships with others, making it easy for me to idealise those that captured my attention, and even more insistent that I should be that interesting to others in turn. Too many crushes, flings, relationships, and friendships in my life have ended with the realisation that they were in fact infatuations, and I was far more inspired by the possibility than the reality. It is always the process of idealising and admiring another person that I fall in love with, which leads me to quickly fall out of love with the reality of that person, one of many factors that led me to embrace a non-monogamous lifestyle for a number of years. I also think it’s a character flaw that’s kept me from having relationships that work over the long-term, and the recognition of this has forced me to redirect my infatuation energy.


Nowadays, I’m far more likely to become infatuated with ideas, things that inspire my imagination, things that others have created. Over the winter, I became wildly infatuated with all things Tudor, an odd interest for me, because I’m not a history buff. After a previous infatuation, researching my family tree on Ancestry.com, led me to discover that many,many, many generations ago, a branch of my family tree descended from the Tudor line, it turned into me wanting to learn more about some of the crazy characters from that time in history. After immensely enjoying countless hours of The Tudors series by Showtime, I even found a few documentaries I thought were interesting (and I don’t tend to like documentaries.) Not only did I watch all the seasons in a period of a few weeks, I also started reading both fiction and non-fiction relating to the time period, and discovered a new favourite author in the process, Philippa Gregory.

Of course, this infatuation lasted for months, and didn’t disappear until it was replaced by another. Some are much shorter-lived love affairs, like deciding I was going to become more educated about wine, or reading Time Magazine, or that I was going to publish a book of poetry. However, I love that these infatuations come and go, and that some turn into lasting interests and talents—or, at the very least, help me accumulate trivia facts.

Reading over my old journal, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed for the version of myself that was around back then, reminded me that infatuations are healthy, invigorating, and inspiring. They help you grow, they help you discover yourself, and they sometimes even bring others into your life. Of course, the best part is that, unless you’re ready to mention them to the people in your life, your infatuations can stay your own little secret for a lifetime. ;)

Remember when you were a kid, and the best days in the world were the ones where you were unexpectedly allowed to do whatever you wanted, even if that was usually mostly nothing at all?

It’s harder to get that excited, lazy “snow day” feeling as an adult, unless you live in an area that’s prone to significant snowfall—but not often enough, so that it’s a novelty, and where everything shuts down for a day or two. Days off as an adult are a little different—even on weekends, there’s household chores and errands to be taken care of, and children or pets that don’t exactly understand why you want to sleep in. Even if you’re relatively obligation-free, like me, you may often find yourself working on the weekends, or attending social events that start to feel more like work and less like play after awhile. Sometimes, the weekends are actually more hectic than the work week.

Day #3:

 

Play Hooky

Most of us don’t have the freedom to do it very often, but playing hooky from life can be extremely liberating, and just downright fun—particularly if you’re not sick, don’t have an emergency to deal with, and there’s not a foot of snow outside your front door just waiting to be shoveled.



That’s what I’m doing today…a full day of nothing. I’ve had a pretty stressful week, working my butt off (if only there were a way to *literally* do that!) to make sure I can afford to do everything I want to do over vacation, and still pay my bills, both before I leave and after. People often think that working from home—or working in a way where you manage all the details of your own career, rather than showing up to an office every day— is a license to do less work. In reality, it’s the opposite. Working for yourself gives you certain freedoms (for instance, I can avoid getting up at 9 AM and do my work at 2 AM instead, if I choose.), but it also doesn’t give you the option of a traditional schedule that ends at 5 or 6 PM every day. Even on vacation, I still have to carve out a few hours each day to work, because clients tend not to wait. If you’re not going to be around for a few weeks, you’re replaceable, no matter how much they love your work.

My life involves far less time off than you might imagine, even if I am technically able to work in my PJs (incidentally, something I never do, unless I’m actually sick that day.) I sometimes miss keeping a less hectic, more traditional schedule, although not enough to inspire a massive lifestyle change and join the ranks of corporate America…which, as far as I can tell, is filled with uninspired, underpaid, and overworked Americans.

But, today, I am playing hooky. I might break down and work on a few projects here and there, but mostly, I’m planning to give my overworked mind the opportunity to do as little as possible. Afterwards, I’ll head out to play some trivia with The Guy I Am Currently dating, and will probably end up looking as low-key as I feel.

Too much playing hooky is bad for the soul, the body, and the wallet. But, every now and then, it’s the best possible way to re-charge. :)

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.

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. :)