Some of you may have noticed I haven’t been blogging much lately, and that some of my older posts are no longer with us. Sadly, for the 3rd time in nearly 16 years of blogging, I lost my blog and all of my entries. The Guy I Am Currently Dating was determined to save my posts for immortality, and hunted down many of them. However, a big chunk of 2014 is gone, and I am hoping to find it again bit by bit.

When you create, and you lose something you’ve created, it is a genuine loss. It can make you not wish to create new things, or re-create the old. I recently learned I am not alone in feeling this way; a friend of mine is a designer and programmer, and he recently lost a great deal of work. Fortunately, he had backups, but the process of re-creating something he was excited about the first time didn’t appeal to him. He is still in the “reluctant to create” space. Sadly, that’s the way I have felt about this blog.

So, I’ve decided to rekindle my interest in sharing thoughts with the Universe by participating in the A-Z Challenge! The rules are very simple; in the month of April, every day except Sunday is a different letter. By the end of the month, you should have 26 stellar, publication-worthy essays on the great issues! Right? 😛

I’m kicking off the blog challenge by writing about a book I enjoyed reading, “The Art Of Asking” by Amanda Palmer. For those who don’t know, Amanda Palmer is a talented, unconventional, and bizarre musician who was lead singer for the Dresden Dolls. She then later became an indie artist and helped revolutionise the idea of people using Kickstarter and other forms of crowdsourcing to create art, becoming the first artist to raise over a million dollars for a project. She is also married to the equally talented, unconventional, and bizarre writer Neil Gaiman, who clearly has a thing for unconventional redheads (see: Tori Amos). Amanda Palmer has been on my radar and in my links list for a long time, so it always surprises me when people ask me “Who’s that?”. Fittingly, the book was a birthday present I asked for, and one a lot of people might benefit from reading.

By most accounts, I have lived a fairly unconventional life, having traveled extensively and having jobs/interests ranging from business professional to “it may or may not be legal to discuss that”. I have slept on the couches of strangers and met people from other countries in pubs and clubs, and ended up having adventures. I have gotten into a little trouble. I have gotten into A LOT of trouble. I have had to start over again so many times, I should be eligible for some resilience award. I have been stuck in a city where I did not live and had no place to stay and a budget that allowed for a soft pretzel and Coke for dinner, and spent the night in Port Authority and been just fine…but had my stuff stolen from my own apartment by a roommate when I was out of town. Life has been an adventure for me, and most people don’t even know half of it. So, when I find the memoir of someone who has lived an even more adventurous, unconventional, risk-taking, trusting in strangers kind of life, it absolutely fascinates me.

Amanda Palmer is that person. She discusses having a variety of jobs, from waiting tables to working as a dominatrix, but focuses a great deal on a job that lasted for many years: working as a living statue. Oddly enough, her years as a street performer not only launched her career and introduced her to her husband, they formed her beliefs in a way most people find challenging: seeing asking for help as not just getting something you need, but allowing someone else to do a favour for you helps another person feel useful and access their generosity.

In her book, Amanda Palmer discusses the generosity of people around her, and how the world happens to be a loving, giving place. I have seen that. I have seen people want to take care of me because I had nowhere else to turn and was scared and alone. I have had people want to buy me a drink or coffee or dinner because they liked the way I looked, and bartenders often give me free drinks because I’m good company. I have had people I don’t know ask to draw me. I have been an active Couchsurfer for a long time, and never once had a horror story. I largely met people who were nicer and more giving people than people in my life back home. I have had strangers come up to a friend and I and want to buy our meal, or ask to take my picture wearing my bizarre headpieces and then send over a bottle of vodka. A lot of the strangers I encountered along the journey, I still am friends with on Facebook or send Christmas cards to every year.

On the other hand, I’ve also had people tell me, on hearing I was publishing a book, “I wouldn’t BUY it or anything. I don’t buy books.” Running a Meetup for over 8 years, I’ve had people tell me my time and effort wasn’t appreciated, wasn’t good enough, or even had them run out on the check. I’ve had guys in my life tell me I wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t witty enough, wasn’t interesting enough to keep their attention. I’ve seen the opposite of generosity and lifting people up in every way. It makes it hard to believe that Amanda’s observations are true; that the world is a nice place if you open yourself up to it.

Like many people, I live in a very corporate city. Prior to that, I’ve lived in other large corporate cities. The mentality in these places is one of self-sufficiency. I have had good friends suggest I take 2.5 hours on public transport to get to them, because I’m 10 minutes out of the way for them to drive to me. I have had some of my best friends in the world not offer me crash space because their apartment was small (if you have the choice between sleeping on the floor and in the bus station, the first is preferable) and it was inconvenient. I have had roommates who charged $5 for a ride to the store a half-mile away. And on some level, these things always outraged me, and I never knew quite why. It isn’t that I expect the world to revolve around me or that I am an exception to the self-sufficiency rule. It is a deep seated idea that “People are meant to be generous and giving when it comes to their friends and family.”

Last year, my mother had to be put in a nursing home, and my aunt, who once had quite a bit of money, went shopping to buy my mother everything she needed. She then sent my brother a bill, knowing my brother lives on disability and is caring for my terminally ill father almost alone, saying she couldn’t afford not to be reimbursed for these things. The bill was $150. My brother paid her back, although it meant going into debt that month. He asked when she’d be by to visit my mother. My aunt and her family couldn’t, because they were going on a ski trip. She hasn’t been to visit my mother since, despite living 40 minutes away.

The sense of injustice at this, at this Ayn Rand-esque “I earned my money and do everything by the book, go take care of yourself and don’t ask for favours” idea makes my blood boil. How can you have that attitude towards society and still like people? How can you cut people out of your life when they are struggling or not successful, and really like anyone but yourself?

It seems to make Amanda Palmer angry, too, the idea that “asking for a favour” is shameless. There are people who won’t ask a stranger for a tampon or to borrow a dollar in a crisis. There are people who will come to your parties empty-handed when the invite says “Everyone please contribute”. There are people who think they are somehow “better than”, and buying someone a drink or a coffee over conversation is looking for a better return on an investment.

In her book, she tells so many positive and uplifting stories of how cool the world can be when you are open to experiences and people. But she tells one that she describes as a soul-crushing experience, having overturned her ankle and being unable to walk on a busy city street in the Northeast U.S., and in need of help. She went by three older women who assisted her, and offered to call an ambulance. She said she was fine, but she needed help from the cab to her apartment to retrieve cab fare and asked the ladies to go with her, offering to pay their fare back. They wouldn’t help. She asked for a variety of other small ways they could be of assistance, and they wouldn’t do anything except say, “We’ll call you an ambulance”. She was in tears hobbling to her cab alone, because she felt the cruelty of what they world is like when you can’t trust or help anyone, not even people in distress.

Throughout my life, I have had people not wish to be a part of my life because my level of openness exceeds their comfort zone. I have had people not want to be talked about on this blog, written about in stories, or have picture on FB and Instagram. I have had people not want to be with someone who likes living in such a big and public way (and they should know me now, as I am quite the opposite.) I have had people tell me I’m crazy, the chances I’ve taken in life. But, for the most part, they haven’t been reckless. They have been based on reading people and knowing not everyone shares this “Money, Success, And Self-Sufficiency Defines You” dogma. Many people have a “Generosity Of Spirit Defines You” attitude, and believe, like I do, that when you put things out there in the world, you get them back.

When I first became ill, back in 2012, I was convinced I was going to die. And I became interested, because I couldn’t go out much, in sharing myself with strangers beyond this blog and FB and e-mail. I started becoming involved in a mail-swap community, and it filled the need to share pieces of myself with the world. Some of the things I got back, I really value, including one girl who wrote a letter about needing to come out to her family, but being afraid that whether she did or didn’t, she would never get the love she felt she deserved. I often wonder what happened to her.

Over the years, I have had to learn that many people are not like me. They don’t send 4-page handwritten notes just because they care. Sadly, I have started to become more like most people on many occasions, not returning e-mails and phone calls because I could do it later, and not making people smile quite as much. Being an open-hearted, open-minded person has gotten me a lot of things, but it’s also left me disappointed when my boyfriends or best friends didn’t show me the same loyalty I showed them, or people stopped reaching out when times were tough because nobody wants to be around someone depressing with all of their crappy life struggles. I think it’s a reminder that “Life can be crappy and unfair to you, too”, and that really kills the buzz. I have found myself de-friended in life and attacked online for expressing my opinions and my world views…and wishing people would be open and kind and giving in just listening and getting to know other people.

Amanda Palmer talks about this, too. She writes: “With every new connection you make online, there’s more potential for criticism. For every new bridge you build with your community, there’s a new set of trolls who squat underneath it.”

It reminded me that when I was in Washington D.C., I had an issue with my bank and it was a weekend, and I had no money, and a friend drove across town during his lunch hour with $750. I’d like to think that people can be really awesome if you can get over fear and doubt just enough to let them be. Amanda Palmer thinks so, too, which is why this book is worth reading. (and the preface is written by a conservative Biblical scholar.)

Friend in D.C. from many years ago, thank you for saving me and not letting me get murdered. <3

As you may have noticed, the blog has been a little quiet, and I slacked off and skipped last Sunday’s “Literary Libations”. In addition to the health issues, June has turned out to be quite the busy month for me, and I wish I had the same level of energy I once had, before I got sick. And old. OK, mostly old. The oldness is certainly to blame.

I’ll start off with talking about my favourite subject: me…and where other people are talking about me! :P Long ago, I did an author interview I figured the interviewer simply wasn’t interested in. As it so happens, she simply published many of them at the same time. While it was one of my first interviews and therefore not one of my best, and the interviewer spelled my name incorrectly, I enjoyed reading it because the questions were a bit different from the usual. If you’re interested, you can catch me talking about me here. You know you want to.

Every so often, you have an interesting weekend. This one was definitely an interesting one for me, one that started on Friday when I planned an event at an upscale restaurant that literally just opened a few weeks ago. I’d sent a friend of mine to scout it out, and she’d told me the menu was limited, but the decor was really nice. I later found out the dinner menu was more extensive, they had excellent martinis, and the place really is beautiful. I fully expect to see it on “Real Housewives Of Atlanta” sometime in the near future.

The staff was extremely friendly, and we had occasion to meet both the manager and the owner. I found out that the owner was my kind of guy, an exuberant Italian man from New Jersey, and he seems to treat his customers and his employees like family. The food was good, but overpriced. For instance, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I ordered a bruschetta appetizer and decided to split an entree, so we could have dessert. I ended up going for the teriyaki chicken breast with pineapple salsa, because it seemed at least somewhat healthy.

To my surprise, the chicken arrived….and, well, that was it. No veggies, no potatoes, not even garnish on the plate. I absolutely realise why America is fat and unhealthy. 20 dollars either gets you one chicken breast without accompaniment, or enough food to feed 6 people at KFC.

The oddest thing was the drinks. We saw they had a special offering $5 martinis, which turned out to be only available upstairs in the lounge area. Downstairs, the same drink with Absolut vodka was $10-$12. Upstairs, the $5 martinis were made with Grey Goose, and significantly better. Of course, they were only for the ladies and only served until 11, facts not widely advertised until you received your bill.

Nevertheless, the club area was a fun bar, although a bit loud and with some flashing lights. There were couches, tables, a large dance floor, and once the crowd around the bar dissipated, it was a nice place to hang out. A friend of mine decided to leave early, and because she lived nearby, The Guy I Am Currently Dating drove her home. I went to pull up a chair and sit next to another friend of mine, one with whom I wished to exchange gossip and, you know, typical girl chat.

We talked for a bit, and that’s when things got weird. I somehow found myself rejected by an 80 year-old guy.

OK, maybe he wasn’t 80, but he was old. And boring. And, although I’m a modest person (sometimes), I definitely have to say I’m quite out of his league unless he happens to have invented the first dot matrix printer or something, and is one of Atlanta’s eligible millionaires.

When the seat on the other side of my friend opened up, he got up and moved to sit next to her, informing me “It was time to upgrade”. Really? I mean, WTF, dude? Is that not the rudest thing someone you don’t know could say?

The funniest part is that he seemed oblivious to the fact that we knew one another. He immediately “upgraded”, bought her a drink, and completely interrupted our conversation. From time to time, she would attempt to resume it. We took pictures together. The bartender brought us champagne, compliments of the owner (at my suggestion. :P ), and still, at one point he suggested we should get to know one another because we both played musical instruments. I don’t know how oblivious someone who has been on this planet for so long could be.

He then basically stalked her for the rest of the night, made her feel uncomfortable, and when she left, he grabbed his coat and made a quick exit as if hoping to catch her. The Guy I Am Currently Dating, whose job it is to oversee all damsels who may find themselves in distress (seriously, he often has a car full of women.), ran after her to make sure the guy didn’t have an opportunity to catch up with her. I later told the bouncer, who was cute and talkative in that Southern country way, that the feminist side of me was angry that girls should be made to feel so uncomfortable they choose to leave rather than cause a scene. On the other hand, I’d have had no problem making that guy feeling uncomfortable enough that he’d have left the building first, but my friend is far nicer than I happen to be.

Regardless of the fact that it was a creepy old stalker delivering it, I am still irritated by the comment. By the time you’re 80, you should know how to treat classy women. In my mind, that includes me. My friend is also a beautiful, intelligent, and classy woman…but it isn’t that often that people walk away from me, informing me they’re planning to upgrade. :P

I also had an unexpected and short visit from a good friend who was passing through my part of town, and took some time to catch up with me. This friend does not like to be mentioned on the blog, so I’m violating one of my rules here. However, we don’t get to see one another as often as I’d like, so it’s worth noting in a vague and positive way. :P

I think everyone has a larger group of friends and acquaintances in the world, but a very small and select number that can be described as “favourite people”. This friend most definitely falls into the latter category. There are some people in the world who, once you break down a certain number of barriers, reveal themselves to be among the most caring and uplifting people you know. I count this friend in that category, and we somehow have formed a very natural and authentic connection over the years. It is a unique dynamic and not always uncomplicated. There are few people with whom you can honestly share a full range of often-uncensored emotion and experience, and still like one other, and laugh at the absurdity of it all even when life is this complex and uncertain thing. Of course, this friend and I will likely never live in the same city, which makes actually getting to see one another a more valuable thing. (Sadly, this is true of many of my closest friends. I do have a few “favourite people” in Atlanta, and they play a huge role in keeping me in Atlanta. Atlanta is not one of my “favourite people”.)

Hey, wait a minute. Maybe it just means people like me more when they don’t live anywhere near me. :O (insert abject disillusionment here.)

Finally, I’m not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I felt like I needed a new and challenging project for the summer, especially since my physical being is still less than cooperative and I always seem to be too broke or too busy to travel. So, when I saw an introductory course being offered at Writers’ Village University for fiction writers, at a mere $10 fee, I decided to sign up.

I really had no idea what to expect, but the community seems very diverse and very supportive. There are some extremely skilled writers, and there are people like me, who have never taken an online workshop before. The “getting to know you” phase of things seemed to be successful, as people had a very positive response to “meeting” me (which is always a self-esteem boost, if you’re me.).

However, I feel like I might be a little out of my depth in this writing community. At the very least, it’s a humbling experience that points out, “Hey, my writing isn’t quite as appealing as I though. Maybe there’s a reason my collection was rejected.” Hopefully, I can learn from being surrounded by better and more imaginative writers.

The class hasn’t officially started yet, but they kicked things off with an optional writing prompt. The prompt for my room was to write a story about nature using words like “stapler”, “billboard”, “car”,”phone”, and “hard drive”. I sent what I concocted to The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and he said he liked it, but I suppose he’ll probably always say that. My reply to him was:


The comments left by the mentors leave me with the vague impression that they didn’t quite get it. Maybe they just didn’t like it that much, but I think more of the first. I notice that I don’t tell stories in a way that is as straightforward as some of the other people in my group, and I rely more on description and you needing to insert yourself into the situation.

Uh-oh. I think I might be creating the literary equivalent of Darren Aronofsky films when I write short stories. Oscar committee gives a thumbs up. People are like “WTF just happened?”.

Remember all those people who got mad when they thought the cable went out during the final episode of “The Sopranos”, but it was really the ending? Yeah. I’d have been responsible for something like that. *laughs*

I did get some positive feedback from other members of the class, but I’m looking forward to the challenges that come from writing with a very diverse and gifted group of people.

One of the cool things is that The Guy I Am Currently Dating, who is not a writer, but a very imaginative and talented person, decided to take the class with me. We’re in separate classrooms, but it’s fun to have someone with whom to share the journey. I don’t often share my work with people, so frankly, I’m never sure if anything I come up with is good or not. I always rather assume it’s not, but have not yet stumbled on to that secret of success that says, “Hey, your writing is now good! Isn’t that awesome?”

Regardless, I now have something interesting to do over the summer when I’m not out socializing or home watching Big Brother. Let’s face it, those things occupy 70% of my waking hours during the summer, because I still have not mentally accepted that I am an adult and need to work even if it’s July. In my mind, I’m on summer break! As it turns out, that’s not a thing in life when you’re old. :(

Now, if only I could get my body stabilized from the medication-change fiasco, I might be a pretty happy camper. Or, at least, a pretty content one. :)


“When it comes to friendship, some people value quantity over quality. I’m not into that. I know and speak to a lot of people, sure, and I value those relationships, but if we’re able to move past the small-talk phase and really become friends, it lasts forever. That is so much more valuable to me than knowing 1000 people in every area code. I love that when I see my friends, we pick up right where we left off. Deep, reflective friendships infused with magic and positivity: that’s what I cherish.

I used to go out every night, but the older I get, the less I want to do that. For a few years, I’ve regarded this change as a kind of flaw — like I “should” be going out all the time, flitting around, being super-social. But that’s not who I am anymore, and I would rather see a couple of people a week — and have a truly meaningful interaction with them — than have the same conversation a million times a night. Of course, I love to go out and meet new people, but it feels like less of a “need” these days. I’m working on accepting that, and learning that that’s okay.”— Gala Darling

In addition to being bloggers and city-loving chicks who march to the beat of a slightly different drummer (perhaps with a 1980′s goth track to go along with the drummer, Gala and I share a number of things as people. We’re the same Meyers-Briggs type. We share an Enneagram number. We even have compatible astrological signs. We both struggle with a number of the same issues, have some of the same stories to tell about our earlier years, and know a number of the same people. So, when she happens to express something that’s close to precisely how I’m feeling about my life, there’s this moment of synchronicity that says: Oh yeah. That. There’s another slightly crazy human being out there who thinks the same way I do most of the time, but in this instance, said it better.

For those who don’t know, in addition to being a freelance writer and blogger, I run a social group in the Atlanta area. Prior to that, I was on the “board of directors” (and I use that term loosely, because there was absolutely no “direction”) of another social group, which unceremoniously kicked me out due to the generally scandalous nature of my life and the uninhibited adventures that will probably ensue if you know me well enough. Of course, the truth is, there happened to be a few people who didn’t like me very much, and it took them a long time to get rid of me. They had to try REALLY hard. :P So, in the spirit of “I have little respect for any club that would have me as a member”, when a friend I met via that group called me to ask me to take over his social group, I pretty much laughed in his face. Well, I laughed at his phone, but he got the idea. Why in the world would I put myself through that nonsense again?

It turned out to be the best thing that ever could have happened, when he finally talked me into it. It was really kind of a swap; I lived in his apartment, which meant I moved out of my ex’s apartment, until his lease was up. In return, his group was in good hands. I made not only new friends, but people who have been through stuff with me for the past 6 years. I met two roommates, a few romantic entanglements, some really wonderful friends, and the Guy I Am Currently Dating. Saying “yes” to doing something I’d just done and failed at so miserably that it destroyed any sense of peace and stability in life actually helped me rebuild my life at its lowest point, which is quite ironic. (I think. I’m never sure what’s REALLY ironic. Thanks, Alanis.)

In the almost 6 years I’ve run the group, I’ve planned over 300 events for members, and many, many more for my circle of friends. Something that started out with 350 members now has over 1800 members. Couples have met, moved in together, gotten married. It’s been a relatively good thing.

Yet, sometimes, it’s exhausting and I feel like I am simply too old for being in charge of entertaining strangers. Other times, I feel ill-equipped to run a social group; I’m not terribly organized, I’m not always social, I speak my mind in a way that isn’t what one thinks of as “proper”, and, let’s be honest, I’m an extrovert who isn’t always terribly fond of people. I have literally thousands of acquaintances, but I’m very choosy about my friends. Out of every 100 people I meet, I’ll find one with whom I really connect and will build a strong friendship.

Maybe it’s because I’m not out there looking to get drunk and hook up, two of the major past-times in any social group. I left all that craziness behind years ago, probably due to this process I like to call “growing up”. Unfortunately, when I see people who haven’t completed that process (and from what I observe, the process may start all over again once you hit 45.), I’ve found I grow more and more impatient. People that others are amused by based on charm and style have suddenly become those I want to strangle, and be like “Why aren’t you a substantial and intelligent person? And if you are, why don’t you show it?” Back in the day, those were the people I’d date. You can make up for a lack of any personal attribute with charisma, and I know that as well as anyone, so it annoys me that I am the person who now sees through that veneer. People have become more transparent to me over the past few years, and I’ve become remarkably less willing to spend time with someone not really out there looking to connect in any sort of meaningful way.

I used to be a bit of a snob, or as an old friend put it back in the day, “aloof”. It’s an odd quality for an extroverted personality, but the truth is, I read people well enough most of the time to know that I don’t want to know everyone. I want to create an atmosphere where other people will get to know those who are right for them, but I don’t have interest in being everyone’s new best friend. I don’t go to events seeking new kindred spirits, lifelong friends, or romantic connections. I never really have. I’m just me, and if I find that, I do. If I don’t, it’s not going to ruin my enjoyment of life.

These days, my impatience with people who come across in a way that’s obnoxious, creepy, or designed to be charming but is transparently fake kind of makes me a bitch. It’s not the best asset in a person who is supposed to radiate love and joy and that crap at all times.

It’s also become more difficult for me to hide my emotions, and keep the pieces of myself that aren’t all that loveable or appropriate for basic social interaction hidden. For instance, yesterday, I was upset because my telephone broke. The Guy I Am Currently Dating came over with a replacement, and I asked if we could do the phone thing later because the process of getting ready to go out and coordinate a large event is stressful enough for someone dealing with anxiety. He said that I didn’t have to do anything, because he would look at it. It turns out, my phone broke because I misunderstood the ambiguous instructions on the battery and damaged it, and was a complete idiot. Then, to add to my stress, he got mad and yelled at me because I was not apologetic about breaking the battery and it “didn’t seem like I cared”. A huge argument ensued, where for the 50th time, I had an emotional breakdown about dating someone who seems to expect a different way of dealing with the world and higher level of perfectionism than I can handle.

I was sobbing, and couldn’t talk, and trying not to ruin my makeup…but I didn’t want to host an event for strangers. I didn’t want to have to put on a smile and make small talk about life and be the cheerful hostess. I would have been a lousy 1950′s housewife. So often, I have to totally get rid of any evidence that I can’t handle my life and have been known to spend hours in bed wishing myself out of existence. And then there’s always one person in the group who doesn’t like me because I’m loud or snarky or not always perky and happy, or writes a bad review because the event was boring, the venue sucked, or there weren’t any good-looking single people in attendance. (totally not my responsibility.) It’s often a reminder, again, of all the ways I am just not good enough, no matter how hard I try.

Sometimes, I think of that old song with the lyrics, “Smile, though your heart is aching; smile, even though it’s breaking.”

And then there’s the matter of the pictures. I take a lot of pictures, and I share them with the world, because, one day, I will be a cold dead corpse somewhere and I’d like people to remember the lively version of me. I don’t take photos out of vanity, and I don’t use them to present a certain “image”. I actually get quite frustrated with people who say “Can you not publish this because I look bad?” and “Can you not publish this because so-and-so might see it?” and “This picture makes me feel like if others see it I’ll be judged”. I feel like I’m living in a world where I’m the only one out there who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. I don’t care if people see me drinking, doing something embarrassing, hanging out somewhere, or looking like an idiot. Those are all aspects of me, things I’ve done, and I’m generally ashamed of very little. I don’t care if I look unattractive, or I’m posing with a whip or dancing in a cage. I’ve sent pictures of me dancing in a cage in a see-through top to my mother. She thought I looked cute. :P

Today, I got a very abrupt message from a friend that said “Hi. Some of the pictures you’re posting do not belong on Facebook.”

In my opinion, my life belongs on Facebook, so when someone sends me a judgement, it immediately makes me angry. However, I very nicely replied that if she had issues with any photos, she could politely ask me to remove them. One person’s judgment regarding what I post may be different from mine, and I can’t help but feel it’s certainly not appropriate to judge my actions by your standards. I judge my actions by my standards. (and there was nothing even slightly offensive on there. I actually removed a lot of photos that didn’t seem the most appropriate thing to post, in my opinion, and edited others.) She did then ask, and I removed them, but really….at this point, I’m just exhausted.

I spend so much time trying to make other people happy, and it is (excuse the undignified language) NEVER FUCKING GOOD ENOUGH. There is always someone unhappy with me, all the time, despite the fact I spend a lot of my time investing in other people. There’s always some imperfection, something wrong with me and how I see the world that’s worthy of criticism.

So, I get it. I suck. I will never be good enough for most people, most of the time. That’s why I will probably die single and alone, and never, ever get romantically attached to a person who genuinely loves me, sees a future with me, is compatible with me, and can avoid lying/cheating/being a douchebag all at the same time. That’s why I don’t have many friends, I just know a lot of people.

And that’s why, most of the time, it’s easier and less emotionally exhausting just to stay home. I don’t make myself feel badly about being me, I’m perfectly comfortable with my blunt and open lifestyle, I don’t make racist or misogynistic comments, I don’t think I’m a sucky person to date, I don’t beat myself up when I make mistakes or wonder why I’m just that damned stupid, and I don’t go through phases where other people and things cause me to become emotionally and practically unavailable to myself. In addition, I find myself somewhat attractive, even if I’m old and fat and boring. I like all the same TV shows and bands as myself, and find myself to be an entertaining drinking companion.

So, yes, as Gala noted on her blog, the older I get, the less I feel like going out or dealing with people. Because, no matter what you do, people only seem to notice all the ways in which you’re not perfect or even likeable…and for someone to whom that’s quite important, handling that can be difficult. Feeling underappreciated and misunderstood is hard.

Fortunately, I get me, and I have a ton of books and TV shows I like. This must be what makes people want to become introverts.

When it’s just you that you need to worry about making happy, being perfect isn’t quite so necessary.

Yesterday, I somehow got myself lost in the tangled spiderweb that is the past decade or so of my life. It’s easy for me to do this, because one of the advantages (and also disadvantages, I suppose) of living most of your adult life online and going through a period of being a prolific letter (i.e. e-mail) writer, is that you have a lot of written evidence of your personal journey and interactions with others that got you to where you are today.

The reason for my search was simple: Somewhere between 2005-2007, I had a Yahoo! account. It is one I no longer use, nor do I remember it, but it is liked to my long-inactive Flickr account. For sentimental reasons, I’d like to access my Flickr account, but when Flickr merged with Yahoo!, I must have created a log-in with Yahoo!. This account is likely long de-activated, but I was able to find the e-mail address I used to sign up with Flickr. It’s not useful, because you can’t sign into “old-skool Flickr” anymore. You need your Yahoo! ID. I wrote for help on this subject, explaining the conundrum. They said, “Just sign in with the account you used to create Flickr, and we’ll send you the Yahoo! ID.” Great, except the account is linked to “jadedelegance.com”, a domain I no longer own.

Two days of bashing my head against the keyboard yielded no results. I started to have fantasies about beating Yahoo! employees unconscious with a bat. The anxiety caused by communicating with Yahoo!, coupled with some financial worries this week, finally got to a breaking point and I told Yahoo! just how unhelpful they were and made a list of the reasons I’ve used Gmail since 2007. After that, I got a sound night’s sleep. Obviously, I am never getting into my old Flickr account, and the 2,000+ photos that are in there (many of which I lost when Kodak merged with something else and deleted years of memories) will not be rescued. Corporations suck.

In any case, I gave it a noble attempt. I reactivated a few Yahoo! addresses I remember having back in the day. None of them were it. I then looked in the “storage” folder where I stored voluminous correspondence from 2003-2006 from my former Earthlink account, hoping for some reference to initiating a Yahoo! ID. Nothing. But I did naturally get curious, and take a trip down memory lane.

I read some e-mails from ex-boyfriends I don’t always remember fondly, but happened to be reminded of some of the good times. I read some e-mails from some of my best friends, including one where I was apparently mad because a good friend of mine repeated some unflattering comments his college roommate made about me, and I was all sensitive and hurt by the opinion/comments of someone I did not know. (Ironically, I remember neither the comments nor why I cared. Even more ironically, the roommate who made them is someone I am now fond of as a person and consider a friend. Reading the conversation about how this person and I would never get along was like discovering the book you’re reading has ironic foreshadowing involved.) I read some e-mails from some people in my life who are no longer in it, but a part of me can see why I’d miss them (which is not the same as ever wishing to speak to them again.) I read some e-mails from haters, including a friend of a friend who seemed preoccupied with tearing me to shreds whenever possible, and referred to me as “Alayna-Renee Vilemont” or “Alayna-Renee Bitchmont”. He saw me as kind of an allegory for all that was wrong with society, and said some of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard from someone, until I started dating Southern boys and met their mothers. I even read e-mails from people I used to really love and idealise and wanted approval from, and now I look back, and think “Why?”

Some e-mails I couldn’t read, because opening up old chapters of life is too painful. I somehow managed to only concentrate on the positive ones, through the laws of random clicking.

One of the more amusing conversations I came across was from 2002 or so, before everyone started living every detail of their life on the internet, but I’d already been sucked into a world that included blogging, long-distance relationships, IM, and any way possible to over-share with strangers. (I’d like to think I’m a trendsetter. :P )

One thing that most people don’t know about me is that, although I will talk your ear off about nearly anything and tell endless stories about myself and my life that you probably have no interest in knowing—followed by expecting you to share intimate details about your life because you find me so endearing— I really suck at small talk. One of the reasons people don’t always hit it off with me is because the endless social niceties bore me to death, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to hiding. Instead, I’ll jump right in with the colourful stories and psychologically probing questions, because it’s far more interesting than knowing you moved here 6 months ago and have a cat. I really fast-track all kinds of social relationships, which can make a certain kind of person uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the time or patience or interest to invest in people who are never going to be more than shallow acquaintances. Maybe it’s because I’m easily bored, and I want to hear about what makes someone different from everyone else, not the mundane details I could learn from reading your Facebook profile.

A good friend of mine is a similar type of person. Despite the fact that we met many years ago and logged endless hours on chat back in the day, he’s the type who grows annoyed and frustrated with some mundane,conversational type questions, like “What did you have for dinner?”. However, after a few years of talking to someone daily, you kind of become like an old married couple. The mystery is gone. What the hell else is there to chat about? Yet, you like someone enough that you don’t want to stop chatting because they now know your entire life story, and your present routine of “Sleep, work, internet, food, TV, weekend” isn’t terribly interesting either. Yes, I understand this is a somewhat boring question…but the point behind it is not. I think the habit of asking the question grew out of a relationship with an ex, which began as a long-distance relationship, and the conversation every night always included “What did you have for dinner?” It’s just a way of saying, “I’m curious about every little thing about you and your life, because you interest me.” Therefore, I get very annoyed with those who brush it aside as a “stupid question.” It’s not. Well, it is, but it’s not.

Alayna:”What did you have for dinner tonight?”
Alayna’s Secretive Friend:”Why? That’s a silly question.”
A:”I was just curious. Making conversation. You don’t want to tell me?”
ASF:“Well, I had roast beef. And potatoes. And vegetables.”
A:“Mmmm…that sounds good! What kind of vegetables?”
ASF:”Nothing special. Green vegetables.”
A:“Well,there’s lots of different types of vegetables, silly!”
ASF: “If you really must know, I had green beans. *annoyed sigh* GREEN BEANS, OK?!!

The funny thing about this conversation is that it is, again, kind of an instance of foreshadowing. A decade later, we live in a world where people perpetually photograph and Instagram their dinners, and share not only with their best friends, but the thousands of people they somehow know.

The world has somehow changed and technology has created a world full of people like me, who think every thought they’ve ever had is relevant. However, if everyone freely shares all the time, the process of opening up and sharing one-on-one with those you feel a specific bond isn’t quite so special. I, who once spent every waking minute near a “chat” tool, have largely gone back to old-fashioned letters and phone calls to keep in touch with those who really matter. Digital intimacy has been replaced by digital broadcasting, and it’s ironic that the more ways available to keep in touch, true connection doesn’t seem to happen easily via any of them. Once upon a time, it did, until it got easier and easier, and connection was designed to be as effortless as possible.

I find it funny that my views on communication have come full circle, and I disable all my chat tools. Facebook is great for checking in with acquaintances, but to be a good friend, you have to call me every so often, or better yet, make time to meet up and talk. I no longer ask anyone what they had for dinner, not because I don’t care about the people in my life, but because there’s no one with whom I spend all of my waking hours “virtually”.

In some ways, I think it’s so much better..and in others, there are things about that heavy level of communication I miss. What I know now, and didn’t then, is that quantity does not replace quality. When it comes to communication, the more we use technology to connect, the more disconnected we become, because connection no longer requires interest, effort, or putting too much of oneself on the line. It no longer requires thinking about other people, much less forming substantial bonds. Digital intimacy is now for everyone, and the way to communicate with those you value the most is to communicate in a non-technology-oriented way.

Sometimes, the more the world moves forward, the more we inevitably see the value in things left behind along the way.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be Christmas; it can be your favourite December holiday, or absolutely nothing at all, that decides it’s time for you to brave the cold (or, if you live here, the slightly unwelcome chill that doesn’t make “Winter Wonderland” seem really relevant.) and get out there in the world.

Last week, Gala Darling posted a day-to-day plan of action for December survival. While I found the article interesting, let’s be realistic. I’m not going to be motivated enough to do something cool, fun, or creative every single day of the month. Some days, I’m going to spend my evening in bed watching the Real Housewives of Something and eating pizza, because I like reality TV and junk food and don’t really want to do something with every moment of my life. I appreciate time spent doing nothing.

One of the suggestions, however, caught my attention: 12 Dates Of December. The premise is easy, of course. This month, schedule 12 dates to do something fun and interesting.

Gala’s list implied that you should schedule 12 dates to do something fun and interesting with your significant other or spouse, but again, I’m not really that kind of girl. I may *see* The Guy I Am Currently Dating 12 times a month, but if there were always the pressure to do something interesting or romantic or different, I’d quickly exhaust myself. Some of the best times we spend together involve decompressing from everything else, not planning even more shit to do on the calendar.:P Also, no matter how much I like a person, there is no one person in the history of my life that’s ever made me feel like “Hanging out together is so cool, we don’t ever need to hang out with other people”. I know some people experience this, but I think I’m just not wired that way. I’ve never been one to be part of the couple who falls off the radar, because they’re spending every night at home. After a week or two of that, I get incredibly bored. Additionally, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I do not live together, so I’d be even more over the introversion factor.

However, I totally support the idea that you should make the effort to put 12 interesting, adventurous, fun, or sociable events on your calendar for December. Being an event planner, this isn’t too difficult for me. I like to go out, I like people, and I like events that are a little out of the ordinary. When you think about it, though, 12 social outings that are not just a trip to the movies or the coffee shop can seem a bit daunting. Particularly for introverts, spending over one-third of your free time socializing with your fellow human beings can take some effort and commitment. Also, during a season where everything seems focused on the need to spend money, going out all the time can seem overwhelming for the average person feeling the pressure to buy expensive gifts for everyone.

I don’t really want or need much in the gift department. I like my clothes and my jewelry and my perfumes, but for the most part, I’m more likely to spend my money on experiences. It’s OK with me if I show up in pictures at different events with different people, and I’m wearing the same outfit, as long as all the photos look like I’m having a great time. I’d much rather have a friend take me out to do something new and interesting than buy me a scarf or an Amazon gift card, because in my world, sharing experiences with other people is what it’s all about.

I personally am going to try to focus on spending time with those important to me, rather than stress about spending money I don’t have in order to celebrate the holiday season. I’m not traveling this December, I’m not buying anyone a new flat-screen TV, and I’m not putting undue pressure on myself to find a new job before January 1st, or to make the holiday season the most perfect one ever. I’m not buying a $300 dress for New Year’s Eve, or looking to score tickets to the hottest event in town. I’m not even baking cookies. Strangely, I’m feeling pretty happy and relaxed about all of those things. It’s as if I’ve realised how much anxiety is really behind all our holiday traditions, and behind that is the desire to please other people, especially our families. Often, this is at the cost of our own peace of mind or emotional stability. Anyone who has ever seen Chevy Chase freak out because one of the two million lights he’s put on his house to impress his kids burned out and the thing won’t light up, only to discover the power supply in the basement was disconnected, knows that this pressure can be pretty great.

That’s why I like the 12 Dates Of Christmas. I am going to try to create 12 different, fun, memorable experiences with some of the people in my life who are important to me. (alas, many live at a distance, and while I really want to see them and spend time with them, I know it’s not feasible…and I may end up also having 12 Dates Of March to catch up with all my Northeastern friends and family.) Whether you’re in a relationship and want to schedule 12 dates with the same person, you’re actively looking for someone and want to amp up your dating life, or you’re like me and want to make time to really connect with those who hold true value in your life, it’s a really rewarding idea.

I rang in December 1st with my first date of Christmas, sitting outside on a rooftop bar in Buckhead, drinking overpriced cocktails and sharing stories with good friends while being silly with strangers.

I’ve recently become friends with a girl who moved to Atlanta and I’d known on FB via an old friend of mine in New York, but never met in person. I had no idea whether or not we’d hit it off; we’re the same age and have a few things in common, but also a few huge differences in our personalities. Since I don’t really tend to click with other women all that often, I wasn’t particularly expecting us to become friends, but I’ve been surprised how much fun I’ve had getting to know her. I wish we’d lived up in NYC at the same time!

Alas, we’re here in Atlanta now, and I wanted to make her feel welcome by throwing a housewarming party to celebrate her new apartment, and inviting out a few friends who have been in my life for many of the years I’ve been in Atlanta. I don’t think there was anyone in attendance I’ve known for less than four years, which was kind of cool. Since she’s the kind of girl who likes places, people, and things that are both fun and classy, we decided to do dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in the area that actually holds the honour of being the first restaurant I ever visited in Atlanta. That was followed by a cocktail at a bar known more for ambiance than for anything else, Whiskey Blue.

I remember the place having a nicer view of the city than it actually does. Although it’s a rooftop bar, the sides are obscured by plastic dividers that keep drunken patrons from accidentally falling off the building, and lots of fake trees with Christmas lights. We managed to not only make some friends who bought us tequila shots, but to steal their table when they left 15 minutes later, ending up with a good location to chill out, talk, and spend time with friends.

I also found myself in extroverted mode for the evening, and wore a fascinator in my hair that others seemed to find—well, fascinating. This resulted in free drinks, pictures, and friendly hellos from strangers, a vibe you don’t always get at bars where everyone is there with their own group of friends, or looking to hit on single people. We’d only intended to stay and have a drink before heading to a bar with a different type of scene, but before we knew it, it was 2:45 AM and the city was closing for the evening.

So, I have to give due thanks to Whiskey Blue for being more entertaining and providing a better atmosphere than expected, even if they did charge $10 for parking. It was a good way to ring in December, all captured with some fun photos. I hope, also, my new friend is starting to feel more at home in Atlanta. It’s not NYC, but you can definitely have fun and meet cool people if you try hard enough. :)

I have 11 more interesting Dates Of Christmas to go, and am not sure what sorts of shenanigans that might lead to, but I’ll certainly blog about them. I was born in December, so between that and the holidays, it’s always been one of my favourite times of year. However, it’s historically been defined by travel. (For some time, I was insistent on celebrating NYE in a different city each year, and I did.) This year, I’ll be going out of my way to have a great time in my own city. Advice and suggestions are always accepted!! :)

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?

“”Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”—“Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”

Over the past year or two, one of the things I’ve struggled with the most in my life is the balance between establishing something resembling “security” in my life, while also feeling the freedom to be myself, and express myself and create myself freely. It’s odd, because I’ve never been one of those people who had to go looking to “find myself”. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, journeyed down a number of different paths, but I’ve always had this fundamental understanding of who I am. (I think it’s why my Meyers-Briggs and similar personality tests have remained almost identical over a period of nearly 12 years, while most of my friends’ have altered with their lifestyle changes and personal growth.) No matter where I am, what life I’ve chosen to live, what I choose to do with my time, who I choose to surround myself with, I’m largely the same person. I’m more than a little quirky, creative, colourful, insecure, snarky, outgoing with a definite need to escape into my own little world sometimes, a little demanding and outspoken at times, a little withdrawn and inaccessible at others, divisive and intimidating for reasons I’ve never understood, stubborn, charismatic, energetic, intelligent, quick-witted, funny on occasion, unconventional, naturally attractive to some and naturally repellent to others. I sense things about other people and situations that others don’t always see. Sometimes I see too much about others for my own good, or for theirs. I am an observer of human nature, inspired by the dark and idealistic alike, and have dreams and visions that are so vivid they seem a part of my reality. I’m extraordinarily passionate about everything except the daily, mundane, repetitive stuff I’d love to be passionate about. I’m not like everyone else, and I’m long past the point in my life where that makes me feel badly about myself, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say I often saw people who represent my vision of conformity and the road usually traveled and wonder if I’d be happier and life would have been easier if I’d only been born that kind of person.

Interestingly enough, another thing I’ve always been for people in my life is a muse. I don’t know why; I’m with myself all the time, and I don’t find myself particularly intriguing or inspiring. I’m not the smartest or the most beautiful or the most interesting or the most assertive person in the world. Although I’m different, I’m also fairly low-key and ordinary in many ways. Yet, a lifetime of surrounding myself with artists and intellectuals and unconventional people has taught me that others see something in myself that I do not.

Over the years, I’ve been the subject of short stories and poems, posed for sketches, and had my portrait painted. I’ve been, although to a minor extent, immortalised in book form (for which I’ll always be eternally flattered.) I’ve starred in a number of different plays, musicals, operas, put on a one-woman show, and learned that every director I’ve ever met has looked at me and seen a different person. I’ve worked with artistic photographers and appeared in exhibitions. I’ve had a number of people tell me I inspire them to live, love, grow, and create. I’ve had some friendships and love affairs with people whose names you might recognise, although there’s not that much recognisable about me.

On one hand, it’s very flattering. On the other hand, it’s a great burden, being the thing that inspires someone else. I’ve had too many relationships end because someone fell in love with the girl who was going to help them break out of their shell and see a wider, brighter world, only to abandon that girl when the mission was accomplished (and marry or move in with the next girl in their life, one who was inevitably much more focused, much less flighty, but much less passionate about life.) I’ve discussed this story before, in my entry about the role of manic pixies in real life, so this is not a story about that.

Neither is this a post about “You should like my stories; I am awesome.” In fact, it’s a reflection from a girl who has learned that stability has come at a price. While I’ve been busy over the last two years or so struggling for “independence”, “respectability”, and “stability”, all things I’ve told adults need and qualities I naturally seem to lack, I’ve put many of the things that make me who I am on the back burner. My self-confidence and self-image has suffered greatly, from the emotional toll of trying to figure out what I need from my life, and wondering why people often judge and disapprove of me, to the physical trauma and side effects from illness that have affected me mentally, physically, emotionally. I don’t have the energy I once did, and never anticipated living without. The 25 pounds that got added to my body left me looking at a person I don’t love, a person who doesn’t care to flaunt herself, a person who isn’t always flirtatious or interesting to others, a person who no longer wants to be photographed or put on stage or be the centre of attention. In my mind, I no longer have it in me to inspire anyone, including myself…and I can’t help but think that’s a great loss. In reality, I’m still finding I occupy space in the world where I encounter men and women who idealise me, are curious about me, are enamoured of me, want to know me better because I bring out some creative and imaginative spirit. Apparently, a muse does not have to be in good spirits, young, beautiful, or easy to get along with, something which fascinates me. What is it about people that “inspires” certain other people?

Recently, I was having drinks with a friend of mine, and he said he didn’t know why others found him inspiring. In fact, he felt soul-baringly self-conscious about the idea, as if there were this fear that at some point, everyone would see he was just a scared, ordinary guy, and he’d be accused of being a fraud, a poseur. Really, when it came down to it, he didn’t see anything inspiring about himself at all. I’m not sure he even is at a point in his life where he knows who he is, or if he likes himself.

However, when I look at him, I see someone extraordinarily inspiring. He’s a person who once weighed over 650 pounds, and 2 years later, has lost over half of that. He’s been so inspiring to other people that, after finishing a tough obstacle-course type race here in Atlanta, he received an offer to spend the next 6 months training for a marathon. Not only that, he’s going to have the right kind of people to get him in shape, and help him reach his goal weight.

You see it on TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” all the time (transformations that are not always the healthiest), but to know someone with the sheer amount of willpower he has, someone who not only knows what he wants to do, but has the fortitude to battle against obstacles to get there, that’s true inspiration. When I felt too dizzy to be able to go outside and walk for five minutes without having a panic attack or worrying I’d have a heart attack, thinking about all he’d conquered gave me the strength to keep going, little by little. I’m a naturally impatient person, so accepting what I wanted was never going to happen overnight was the hardest part, but accepting that it wouldn’t happen at all if I didn’t start taking those little steps was what kept me getting out of bed on days it didn’t seem worth it to do so.

I’m telling this story today because my friend is leaving for his 6 months of training today, and although I haven’t known him for that long or gotten to know him as well as I’d have liked to, the few serious and thought-provoking and downright funny conversations we’ve had have made me an instant fan. He’s been nothing but supportive of me in the time I’ve known him, but in that honest, “It’s not really my job in life to flatter you and you can handle some constructive criticism” way that I need, but can only accept from certain people without being too emotionally impacted. There’s no doubt about it, I’ll truly miss him, and have no doubt he’ll be out there accomplishing everything he puts his mind to for the next six months.

People never really know when they inspire others, and when they discover that they do, the reaction to that is usually one of feeling flattered, mixed with “Why on Earth would you think anything special about *me*?”. For much of my life, I’ve felt a bit like the creative and often romantic “inspiration” I’ve evoked from certain others in my path has been unwarranted; the work of overly idealistic people who look at another overly idealistic person, and grow attached to a reality that isn’t there. I’ve always felt the need to shake people and say “Don’t you see there’s nothing special about me? I just pretend because you can’t go through life letting the world know that.”

Yet, what I’ve come to realise is that, like my friend, my own lack of self-confidence and skewed perception about the power I have to affect other human beings in this world, has kept me from seeing things that other people see in me….and those things have little to do with whether or not I’m in a positive mood, whether or not my body is in ideal shape, whether or not I feel like putting the effort into being charming or I end up being just downright impossible. I don’t know what people see in me, what inspires them…but I also know the people in my life probably have no idea, as an artist, who or what inspires me.

For years, I’ve kept a series of poems called “Intrigue”. It is not, as you might imagine, a recounting of all my various flings and fascinations and relationships. It is a collection of emotionally-based sketches, people who were able to evoke a response from me that inspired me. There are friends, lovers, acquaintances, enemies, people I no longer know, even people I’ve never met, detailed in these poems. There are people with whom I’ve spent years of my life, yet never wrote an “Intrigue” about.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a writer and all-around creative individual urged me to collect these, to turn all my “Intrigue” poems (and subsequent spin-offs) into a small volume of poetry. It likely wouldn’t be more than 30 pages, and few of the poems are any good; they’re merely emotional sketches. When I told her this, she repeated her encouragement for the project.

I again asked why, and she said “Maybe I just want to know what really moves you, what makes you tick. And if I do, so do more than a handful of others.” (I decided that, in my free time, I’d work on this and perhaps end up sharing with a handful of people who like reading my stuff.)

Everyone is inspired by someone, in some way…and in return, everyone inevitably inspires someone else.

I suppose it’s the circle of artistic—and emotional—life.

And I hope my friend remembers that when he’s missing home a bit, and off changing his life for the better..there’s simply no shortage to the amount of inspiration you can offer, even to your friends and family back home.

I have yet another confession to make.

I really do not like clubs.

I try, and give them a fair shot. Every so often, I’ll participate in planning a huge multi-Meetup thing where the goal is to get hundreds of people to get to come out to your club party. In my head, I’m always psyched about gping, and then I spend an hour there, and realise I’m quite bored.

When I was younger, I loved clubs. Most of my social life, from age 17-26, was spent going to one club or another. I knew the bartenders, I dated some of the DJs, and even if I didn’t have a friend who wanted to go because it was, say, Wednesday…I always met friends when I got there.

It’s easy to rationalise that I don’t enjoy clubs because I’m sick, get tired out easily, and have been suffering from perpetually low self-esteem for the past 6 months. A majority of social events are just too much for me. Yet, I’d been doing fairly well at social outings lately. For quite a few months, I couldn’t handle more than two or three people at a time. By the time we celebrated my birthday and New Year’s Eve, I could handle a much larger crowd, and alcohol. I even danced a little.

Unfortunately, last night didn’t really go so well. By the time we got to the restaurant and ate any food, it was well after 8 PM, which doesn’t work for me. Whenever I take my evening Valium, I need to take it with food, for some odd reason. I will always take the Valium with a cookie. Once we were there, I found the restaurant to be overheated, and I couldn’t remember for the life of me if I took my medication. I looked in the pill bottle, and did not see a half pill. (that’s all I get for the evening.) This freaked me out, because it meant either I’d failed to take the pill, or absentmindedly taken an entire pill. (which means, for me, I shouldn’t be drinking at all.) Everyone told me not to worry about it, but after one martini, I felt really “up” and energetic. After we got to the club and I had a second drink (others mentioned they were very strong drinks), I started to have brief flashes of dizziness/vertigo. These scared me, and then of course I struggled not to have a panic attack. I knew that messing with my medication at all could produce a very bad effect, and while alcohol usually makes me forget I’m even ON medication, last night it made things a lot worse.

I left the party by 12:30, which is unusual for me. By the time I did, I felt huge pressure in my brain, tingling throughout my body, and numbness in my arms and hands. I was really panicked about the whole situation, and on top of it, was starving. (for some reason, medication makes me extremely hungry, and not eating enough makes my body feel bad…even though I resolve not to eat any more than necessary most days, because of the simple fact that my body does not burn calories anymore. ) By the time we’d dropped our friend off and gone to the McDonald’s drive-thru, put on PJs, and were watching late-night Futurama, I had a full-scale migraine. It hurt to open my eyes. I think the loud noise and flashing lights provided an atmosphere I’m just not healthy enough to handle yet, because I hadn’t had one of those in maybe 6 weeks.

However, even before my recent illness struck in July, I noticed I didn’t really have fun at clubs anymore the way I did hanging out with my friends, whether in a group of 5 or 50. I like people, drinking, music, dancing, and generally having fun, so why would I not like clubs? Here are a few reasons why:

1)Dealing with jerks. In the club environment, rude people of all genders, shapes, sizes, and and attitudes have a few drinks, and start to show their true colors to strangers. This can range from the guy who physically grabs you on your way out of the restroom, after you ignored him all night. (yes, this actually happened to me) to the girl who threatens to punch you in the face because her boyfriend (who conveniently never mentioned he was there with someone) is buying you drinks and chatting you up at the bar. (this also happened.) Guys and girls alike tend to suffer from either inflated-ego-syndrome or feel somehow inadequate at the club, and both are demonstrated by just being an ass to strangers. Last night, I happened to meet a guy who sat next to me and started talking. He seemed a little like a jerk, but nothing I couldn’t handle. (I can be fairly snarky when I want to be.) Then, he started harassing me about whether or not I was a natural redhead, and making comments about how he was married to a redhead. The conversation was generally weird and awkward, and for some reason, he grew kind of hostile. I don’t know, maybe I reminded him of his temperamental redheaded ex-wife. So, I simply asked him if he was from New Jersey because the last time I saw that much hair gel was on the Jersey Shore. (he was also either Italian or had the requisite Jersey spray tan.) He then went to sit next to a friend of mine, where he talked about me to her while I was sitting less than 10 feet away, saying “That girl is too bizarre to talk to.” When she showed total disinterest in conversing with him, he talked to another friend, and I don’t know what he said to her, but he ended up telling her she needed to lighten up. The funny thing is, he kept coming back to our little VIP booth area we chose to occupy, although it was clear that nobody wanted to be bothered with him. Even my boyfriend, who is nice to everyone, glared at him.

Note to people in clubs: Girls are not weird, or stuck-up, or in need of lightening-up because you don’t get the feedback you want from them. It means they just don’t like you. It isn’t us, it’s you. Trust me on this one.

2)Running into people with whom you have past history. It doesn’t matter whether you knew them a year ago or 10, or you parted on good terms or agreed to hate one another, when you run into someone you used to hang out with socially and you no longer count amongst the people in your universe, it’s weird. It may be someone you used to date or hook up with, an ex-best friend, or someone who was a jerk last time you encountered them at the club. It’s still weird. It’s even more awkward when you have to pretend you’re happy to see that person again, and introduce them to all your friends. It’s even more awkward than that when said person sees that as an “in” to hit on your friends.

3)Running into friends whose names you don’t remember. Sometimes, you run into people you are happy to see, because you really do like them or have enjoyed their company in the past. In some cases, you haven’t seen them for years (as in the case of running into a guy last night who, the last time we hung out, I had the honour of meeting his beautiful daughters…and one of them was a very energetic, active 13-year-old girl. She’s now 18 and out of high school.Wow, feeling old.), and in others, you met them at an event but honestly didn’t pay enough attention to them to learn their names. I meet approximately 500 new people a year, and that’s a conservative guess. I have a good memory, but I can’t remember that many people. Meanwhile, they’ll not only remember my name, but where we met and what went on at said meeting. That kind of makes you feel crappy.

4)Clubs are the place where self-esteem goes to die. Not true of all clubs, but if you check out the women’s restroom of the trendy club in your neighbourhood, you’ll see a ton of girls standing at the mirror, fixing their hair and makeup, complaining about how they’re too fat, too old, too flat-chested, too whatever they don’t like about themselves. This is natural, because you’re surrounded by 22-year-old with perfect hair who believe that lettuce and vodka are food groups, and who occasionally have implants that are bigger than their heads. This is tough on the average woman, no matter how many cocktails you’ve had or how many drunk guys hit on you. It’s even worse when you’re just coming to the realisation that you’re old and on pills that cause you to resemble the Macy’s Day Parade Float. Yesterday’s club wasn’t too bad on that account; it wasn’t nearly as pretentious as some.

5)Being disinterested in hooking up with strangers. Let’s face it, most people go to clubs because they’re single and ready to mingle. They want to drink and smoke and dance and forget enough inhibitions to make bad choices and show interest in people they might never otherwise bother to know. If you’re there with your friends, your significant other, and other people in committed relationships, or those who just aren’t looking to meet strangers at a club you kind of wonder why you’re there. You could have gone to the bar and had the same drinks, the same conversations, the same experience, without the overbearingly loud music, obnoxious people, and flashing lights.

Besides, nobody ever meets anybody with whom they’re ever going to have a relationship, or even a real friendship, at the club. I’ve done a comprehensive study on this known as my 20′s, and it’s just how it is. I do know one couple who had a one-night stand at a club and eventually got married. I hate those people (for entirely different reasons than they met at a club.) Other than that, you’re going to meet people you’ll never hear from again, until you see them 5 years later at a club and have to pretend to remember their names. And it will annoy you when they hit on your drunk friends.

I do have one person in my life who’s an exception, someone I met at a club, got to know fairly well outside of the club atmosphere, fell out of touch, and later reconnected with. We are friends now, but there were at least 3 or 4 years in between where we had no contact, and the re-connection was totally random. I wasn’t sure that a friendship would be a wise or positive idea, and he had to do some work to change my mind. I will likely never go to a club with him again, though. *laughs*

6)Casual sex. If you are single and at the club looking to meet someone, clubs are the mecca of cheap, easy, casual sex. This is rarely an experience that’s that enjoyable (if you’re too drunk to remember their name, it’s really awkward in the morning, and the entire experience probably didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations..which is why you will never hear from that person again, unless you had the bad luck to meet a stalker.). As an older, wiser person, I have to say, just say no to picking up strangers in clubs.

Our society is really funny that way. We Google people before blind dates to make sure we’ll like them and are not dating serial killers, but we’ll go to a perfect stranger’s house to drink, do drugs, or have sex, without any regard to who that person is….because we met them at a club.

I decided long ago, long before my present relationship, that if I was going to have any sort of physical or emotional relationship with a person, it was going to be someone I already knew and trusted and considered a friend. Why would you want to end up in bed with someone you just met, and have no idea if you’d even like them as a person? I was about 26 when I stopped going to the club, and it’s also when I realised it was pretty unrewarding to have any kind of relationship…or even engage in flirtation…with people you don’t share any sort of emotional/intellectual connection with, and aren’t in an atmosphere to find out if you have anything in common. At least if you’re at a bar, it’s quiet enough to talk.

In summation: I guess that’s called “growing up”, but it’s a little sad to me that I see some of the same people at the same clubs doing the same thing that they were doing a decade ago…especially when they were 7 or 8 years older than me to start with. Not everyone goes through that emotional evolution in respect to human relationships, and most of those who don’t…the perpetual bachelors and bachelorettes who enjoy meeting someone new every weekend…you’ll meet at the club. I can simply no longer relate, and it typically makes me want to hang out somewhere else, doing something else.

As it turns out, the older (and sicker) I’ve gotten, the more I’ve learned that it’s fun to drink, dance, flirt, meet people, and be silly, but I really value substance and connection over style. There’s no doubt I like groups of people and being the centre of attention, especially when I’m well and not suffering from lethally wounded self-image. But, when all is said and done, I’d rather sit in a restaurant with 20 of my friends, play trivia with 5-10 people I know and find smart and interesting, drink at a bar with a handful of people, or just share a bottle of wine and extensive conversation with one person. Getting in touch with my introverted side has taught me friendships I truly value mean 100 times more to me than the fact I know 2 million people.

Maybe there’s room in my life for both, but as for clubs…not right now. It’s time for a new generation to take over. ;P

It seems like there’s a lot I’d like to sit down and write about, mostly stressful personal situations going on in my life. I’d like to update the world on the ongoing struggles with my health, and also an amazingly upsetting incident a few weeks ago that involved The Mother Of The Guy I Am Currently Dating leaving voicemails on my machine designed to tear me down, and ended with threats to do me harm if I didn’t leave Atlanta (for good measure); confusion about the future of my relationship (and specifically, if there is one there), and my ability to be independent and start all over again, should that need to happen; and the audacity of a girl in my Meetup that was not only incredibly rude to me when I interacted with her, but wrote to The Guy I Am Currently Dating to ask him out to dinner without running it by me first. I’d like to vent about the isolation that’s come with two months of illness, and the disappointment in friendships and infatuations that aren’t what you put into them, specifically when some people simply are the type you can’t get too close to, or they’ll pull a disappearing act.

Perhaps I could talk about Dragon*Con, and the anxiety I’m feeling over going, because my recent struggles with anxiety and medication have left me fighting with odd symptoms of social anxiety disorder, and because the medication I am on caused me to gain 8 pounds and feel less loving toward myself than ever before. (especially given some of the commentary delivered by The Mother Of The Guy I Am Currently Dating.) I could talk about how I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t believe anyone could find me attractive on any level; physically, emotionally, mentally, or just by virtue of being a “nice” person, and how I’m not sure how to interact with a world that doesn’t naturally emphasise my attractive qualities lately.

However, all those things seem stressful, so when I sit down to write, a blank screen stares at me, and I leave to do something else. Instead, I’ll share some of the things I’m infatuated with lately.


*Spotify. A new service that’s part ITunes, part Rhapsody, and one of the best ways I’ve found lately to discover new music, as well as share what I love with others. In theory, it can also help keep your music collection organised, but I’m afraid it takes a lot more to organise me.
*Christina Perri. A tattooed, long-haired native Philadelphian who channels a strange mix of Alanis Morrisette, Tori Amos, and Norah Jones, this girl is one of the more talented and unique voices to show up in the pop world in a long time. Her “Jar Of Hearts” caught my attention, as well as that of the radio stations, a few months ago, and immediately charted impressively on Billboard before Christina even signed with a label, or released a CD. Her first album is out in the UK right now, calledLovestrong, and is available on her website. Oh, and she’s a great supporter of To Write Love On Her Arms, one of my own favourite causes.


*Marie Antoinette One of the women in history that fascinates me to no end, I’m planning my own spin on a modern-day Marie Antoinette costume for Dragon*Con this year. And, just in time, I’m preparing to read Juliet Gray’s “Becoming Marie Antoinette”, the first book in the trilogy about this controversial coquette.

*Big Brother 13 Despite the fact I haven’t put any serious effort into campaigning to get myself on the show since making it to the final auditions way back in 2000, I still love the show just the same. And this year, I have Showtime, which means I can watch 3 hours a day (fortunately, while multitasking life.) It’s trashy, stupid, predictable, and I love it. Still cheering on the women America loves to hate, and waiting to see Rachel Reilly try to win the whole thing for her (and her cheating, controlling man.)

*Swap-Bot.Com I have always loved mail, and confess to an online shopping habit and missing the days when letters came in envelopes with stickers and handwritten love was usually involved. Today’s love letters to the world—and one another—are usually digital, and just not quite the same. (though, every once in a while, I’ll find myself getting excited when I see an e-mail from an old friend.) I also enjoy being crafty, unique, and sending little care packages to my friends…but the problem is, I don’t know many people like me. The last card I received from The Guy I Am Currently Dating basically signed his name, and the last present anyone gave me was tossed in a bag rather than gift-wrapped. Needless to say, I’m delighted to find a new hobby in Swap-Bot, where you can find like-minded pen pals and artsy folks, and even some writers and artists looking to get to know others. I highly recommend signing up and playing along!

I guess that’s all for me…ending on a positive note, so I can save my energy to recount some (if not all) of life’s dramas at a later date. See you over on Facebook! (do follow me if you’re a reader who’s not already a friend.I like to know who’s out there, but not enough to enable comments! ;P )

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!:)