Today, I came across an article on Facebook that really resonated with me. It was by someone who didn’t believe in pressure and limitation of New Year’s Resolutions, and just wanted to be a happier individual that didn’t obsess over things that really don’t matter that much. So, instead of creating a bucket list, she created a “Fuck It” list; a list of worries, concerns, anxieties, drama, and nonsense she wanted to remove from her sphere of existence.

I used to be much, much better about managing stress and anxiety, which is also to say that I was much better about living life in a fairly irresponsible way and not freaking out about situations I couldn’t handle until they actually descended upon me. For instance, even during the most challenging time of my life, where I’d lost all of my friends and was being kicked out of my condo and didn’t know where I was going to live, I managed to not freak out. In fact, two days before having to leave my home of years thanks to a very spiteful acquaintance-turned-enemy, I hosted a goodbye party for anyone who still cared enough to show up. During that evening, I drank multiple bottles of wine, went skinny dipping in the pool, hooked up with a friend’s ex-something-or-other, and skipped through the rather fancy lobby in front of the security guards, who were also from the Atlanta PD. In the midst of the chaos of trying to find a place to stash my stuff and figuring out how not to live on the street, I was more focused on this rather senseless and crazy fling than on things that mattered.

And when things went even more wrong and I moved in with an ex-boyfriend, and had no sense of how to get my life together, I approached everything with a “one day at a time” attitude. Everything was falling apart, and I was still listening to my iPod and tanning by the pool and playing online poker. I was trying to figure out my future, but didn’t wake up with the sense of “If I don’t fix this today, I might as well die.” I was still happy when I woke up in the morning and saw the sunshine. It wasn’t that I wasn’t aware that I should probably be closer to suicidal than thinking I was Paris Hilton recovering from a little “oops”, but it was a coping mechanism I’d always employed. Concentrating on the moment always made me more appreciative of the little things. If you’re aware that next week, you can lose everything, small things like trips to Cracker Barrel or being able to watch TV in my PJs or going out in the sunshine become things that really make you happy. For most people, most days, the little things are remarkable and life seems boring if you don’t set the bar higher for “interesting things that can happen to you”. When your life is really falling apart and you have no sense of stability, you don’t want interesting. You don’t want adrenaline rushes. Everything you have, even time that is so free of stress that you can dance around your room with your earbuds in, seems so much more valuable. I think the time in my life where I most appreciated how many good things I had in my life immediately followed the shock and trauma of having everything taken away.

These days, I can’t cope that way anymore. When things are not good, I am terrified of the consequences; I lie awake at night thinking about what it’s like to die, or what if I didn’t wake up the next day, or if I became homeless or got arrested or something happened to someone I love. (not that I have any reason to believe these things will happen.) When things are good, I rarely remember how to live in the moment. Instead, I’m stressing about the next moment and the next.

My doctors tell me I’ve struggled with symptoms of anxiety most likely my entire life. However, I never had any idea. Nobody did, because my way of coping with life was to appreciate what you have today, and if tomorrow sucks, deal with it then. In fact, except for my health issues, my life today is about 1/10th as stressful or dramatic as it once was. I’m no longer getting myself into “situations” wherever I turn. I no longer think of the future as “planning for next week”. And when things make me unhappy, I do not remember how to push them aside and live in a way that’s even more fearless or even more appreciative, because they may be temporary. Instead, I cry for the possibility that the worst might happen, and I don’t appreciate the little things I do have so much as mourn for things I used to have but no longer do.

Somehow, my coping mechanisms disappeared, and it left me an anxious, worried, frightened person. The person who used to handle situations that would cause other people to break down for me is suddenly a person who does not routinely wake up feeling joy anymore. She is a person who feels like a failure, who is scared her health will limit her or kill her and doesn’t know which is worse, who can’t remember “Today is a good day simply because nothing bad happened.” Some people might say I simply grew up and started thinking like a responsible adult, but I don’t feel better for the change.

I kind of miss those days when the worst things in the world were happening, and I just kept on living and dealing and moving forward. I don’t miss the horrible things that seemed impossible to handle, but I miss how wonderful it felt just to appreciate one of life’s small pleasures without fear or anxiety. It would be the highlight of my day to walk down the road for a slice of pizza and a rum and Coke, just because I could. I remember once, after not only barricading myself inside in the suburbs for months but also not drinking alcohol at all, taking the train over to Decatur and having a martini at lunch at one of my old haunts. I wasn’t worried about being seen in public and having an egg thrown at me, and it felt like freedom. I remember thinking I was too young to feel so worried and so scared about the future, and it gave me the courage to move on. Moving on wasn’t easy. As soon as I started to take small steps and appreciate the little things, though, the more I rebuilt my life.

I’ve had to rebuild my life often. Different cities, different friends, different jobs, different relationships. Long-term doesn’t seem to work well for me, and living with a life of little stability is something that takes courage. Now that I am not living that way, there is so much more time to think, and everything is so much more difficult to handle. I think about the future, I think about my relationships, I take every failure, every heartbreak, every loss, every personal deficiency so much to heart.

So, honestly, there’s probably something to be said about completely not giving a fuck about most of the stuff that adults are supposed to spend time worrying over. What do I think about myself? What do other people think of me? Am I with the right person? Am I loved? Am I successful at anything? Am I on the right path in life?

Life used to be an adventure, and you accepted that you’d have to adapt and change as it went along. That’s just life. And in the meantime, a quiet day where you got to sit by the pool or go dancing with your friends or watch your favourite TV show with pizza could be a pretty good day. As we get older, our requirements for things that make us happy seem to get higher and higher, and the definition of things that will ruin our days become a much broader spectrum of things. For instance, the past few New Year’s Eve’s of my life have been spent with me crying, because of arguments over relatively small things, like silly string and forks…whereas horrible New Year’s Eve’s in my 20′s were defined by very dramatic, life-changing moments that said “This is an end to a chapter of your life; you have to change course now”.

I do not think that seriousness and responsibility is bad, but life isn’t necessarily something to be mapped out in an obsessive way just because you become an adult. And, if you spend most of the good times thinking about the future and most of the bad times crying about the past, and most of the unremarkable times worrying about everything and everyone, you miss out on a lot of appreciation of the present. You miss out on the little things that can create a feeling of security and freedom and peace in your life, and that feeling isn’t something that should only be reserved for the very young, for those still naive enough to feel hopeful.

There are people in my life—very few people, and not those I’m able to see as frequently as I’d like—who put me in this frame of being, and as a result, help me cope with some very trying times and still look forward to finding happiness in the small things. For instance, one of them is a friend who has made a very conscious decision to live life without caring about the minor drama, without having life ruined by small mishaps, without being affected by what people think or say about him, without being bothered by 85% of what most people are bothered by. He’s truly decided to adopt an attitude of “Life is too short to only give a fuck about the really important things”, and as a result, he puts other people at ease. His lack of emotional delicacy and unwillingness to sugarcoat things is something that actually comforts me, and puts life into perspective.

There are a few others, but for the most part, a majority of the people I know seems just as stressed and unhappy and anxious and worried and care about just as many irrelevant things as I do. People care so much about image, about prosperity, about the future, about what others say and think, about having enough, about being better than others, about judging others—and it’s so limiting, and so stressful.

There comes a point where you realise that you can de-clutter your emotional space the same way you clean up your living space. You put things away when you don’t need them. You throw away things you won’t ever need or only serve to make you feel negatively. You realise that tomorrow, something great might happen, or something horrible might happen…but it doesn’t matter, because now you’re perfectly fine. If you’re not, you will be.

Giving a fuck about everyone and everything can be toxic, as toxic as not caring about anyone or anything at all. Not every moment is worth treasuring, because, yep..it’s just a moment. But once in a while, you’ll feel a sense of freedom and like everything that weighs you down has been stored in the closet, and when that happens, that moment is a good one. It doesn’t matter if it happens when you’re travelling the world, or when you’re making Kraft Mac & Cheese.

Fearing the unknown and being paralyzed by mistakes of the past are two really simple ways to make sure you never go anywhere, do anything, appreciate a single moment, because you’re so hung up on yourself and stuff that doesn’t matter. All of life is uncertain and unknown. And every day will be a yesterday eventually, and there may have been a mistake that day. There will be more.

I wish I could remind my anxiety of what it used to be like when it wasn’t consumed by being afraid of everything that didn’t have an explanation, or controlling the future, and was just a little piece of baggage along for the ride.

I wish I could remind anxiety that there are things worth being excited about and adventures to be had, and even if my “mystery illness” turns out to be a fatal five-years-to-live thing, they can still be a really worthwhile 5 years. When I was outside of Atlanta traveling this summer, strangely, life seemed to take back a sense of perspective. A little sunshine and good company and time out appreciating the small things, and I actually woke up every day feeling 10 years younger and looking forward to life.

I wish I knew how to do that in the context of my actual life, because I think I’m missing out on a lot, not feeling that excited about life every day. I wish I knew how to be happy about my ordinary, every day life, rather than feeling crappy about all the ways in which it isn’t the life I want, I’m not the person I want to be, and I feel powerless.

I think it would change a lot, if home felt the way I do when I travel…or if home actually felt like a safe, comforting place and not a temporary stop haunted by a lot of negative memories. I wish I could remember that my life is still full of possibilities, and not obstacles that all say “No” forever.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much for the past 6 weeks or so. Perhaps you didn’t notice, and I give myself more credit for having consistently interested readers than I deserve. *laughs* In any case, I haven’t been around the blogosphere too much. I’m not sure why, other than I have been feeling overwhelmed with actual day-to-day life. While my usual compulsion is to share all these things, it just hasn’t been that way. Frankly, I haven’t felt much like writing at all. My bank account looks sad and desolate, my paper journals haven’t been touched by ink in weeks, and while I did manage to start a short story for my upcoming collection (short story currently 20 pages and counting), it’s looking like my goal of having another published work out by December isn’t a realistic one.

I wonder if we all go through these crises of being, where we wonder if we have anything worth saying or creating, or if we are in fact people that anyone else cares about at all. I’ve been struggling with feeling irrelevant. Perhaps I haven’t been inspired to write because I’ve given up the idea that there’s an audience that cares, or that I have anything to say that hasn’t already been said before, and in much more compelling and eloquent ways. I’ve been struggling with feelings that in my everyday life, I am not only irrelevant but inadequate, and it’s turned me from a vivacious extrovert to someone who has become resigned to being a wallflower. I have not been as social as usual, preferring the company of my closest friends to parties, and feeling as if organizing things to do has become an obligation rather than things I can look forward to each week. I feel I am not interesting enough, not intelligent enough, not beautiful enough, not thin enough, not likeable enough, and not skilled enough in social situations to keep being the me I have always been. I do not know where this self-doubt comes from, but I have been paralyzed by it in many ways. I have this feeling that those in the world I love do not love me in return, and if they do, they should not, because I am too damaged and inadequate that anyone should spend time, emotion, or anything else on me.

Thus, I have been largely quiet on the blog, because people read blogs for interesting and inspiring stories—or at the very least, to be amused. I’m terribly un-amusing lately.

I will catch everyone up in longer posts on individual subjects, but here are some of the things that have happened to me during the past two months.:

* I’m sure I haven’t been gone thatlong, but I spent half of July reviving Alayna’s East Coast Tour. I was able to spend a week at the beach, visit my family, and see some of my favourite people who don’t live near me in Philadelphia, NYC, D.C., and Raleigh-Durham.

* Shortly after returning to Atlanta from visiting my family, I got news my mother was in hospital. She had yet another stroke and possible cardiac event, and for almost two weeks, did not know simple things like what year it was, who anyone was, and was unable to speak coherently without effort or get around without a wheelchair. Fortunately, she recovered, and was moved to a rehab facility. After she completes rehab, my mother will be moved to a permanent nursing facility. I cried after I left my family home, not only because of how they were living, but because I felt I’d never be back. I am an intuitive person, and it was a loss that hit hard, even before my mother ended up in hospital.

* All sorts of family drama ensued regarding power of attorney over my mother’s medical and financial decisions, her personal wishes, who pays the bills for her treatment, my 92-year-old grandfather’s will, etc. It is sad that when something happens to someone, the response from others seems to be “How does this affect me? How do I benefit?” I do not want to be involved in any of the family drama, and for all intents and purposes, I am happy that I was “written out of everyone’s will” many years ago. In my mind, it was the price of freedom and being able to live life on my own terms without being accountable to the idea of how others would have liked me to live. (yeah, how’s that working out for me? :P ) Yet, it makes me sad to hear how selfish and petty people are, people who are my blood relatives.

* Once all the family drama settled down, it was time to concentrate on costumes, house cleaning, event planning, etc. for DragonCon. I am very thankful that a good friend of mine was able to stay at my place and look after Trixie (my 13-year-old Lab/Beagle mix.), and that The Guy I Am Currently Dating took care of a lot of the trip planning. It was fun, but exhausting. It did push me past my physical limits right now, and was a reminder to be more careful about doing what’s best for my health and well-being, rather than being concerned about being a disappointment or liability to others.

* September is the month of events, as I have something going on every weekend until mid-October. Then, a short break, and it’s time for Halloween!

* As always, I’ve been addicted to my summer TV shows, and have watched a lot of Big Brother. It is the 15th season (the 13th year), which makes me feel quite old, because it was Season 1 when I was an alternate for the show. It’s funny to remember how young I was then, and what I would have been like to watch on reality TV at the age of 20. I thought I was the most interesting person in the world back then, and for many years following. Now, I feel inadequate in almost every way possible. It’s interesting how things change.

Sadly, my favourite contestant will likely be given the boot from the show tonight (marking the first time that my favourite hasn’t ended up winning in a few years.), and my original favourite contestant will likely be following her shortly. Just like in life, the smartest or most determined people don’t always win.

* Other shows I’ve been into include Lifetime’s “Project Runway” and “Dance Moms”, MTV’s “Catfish” (I still have a huge crush on Nev Schulman, and find it amusing that his older brother went to school with me, something I didn’t know until sending out a friend request on FB! What a small world it is!) and “The Challenge”, and a few others I watch sporadically. I’ve been reading, although not as much as I usually do. I finished Phillipa Gregory’s “The White Princess”, and am currently working my way through the letters of Simone de Beauvoir, after reading a biography of Sartre and de Beauvoir given to me by a friend. (although polyamory and open relationships have been around as long as time itself, it seems these two were the first to really define it as a lifestyle that worked—well, most of the time– they needed some work in the honesty department, it seems. *laughs*)

The Guy I Am Currently Dating got me into two shows we watch together: “Wilfred” on FX, which ranges from crude to absurd to philosophical, and “Ray Donovan”, which is the kind of drama I like quite a bit. If you get Showtime, I highly recommend it.

I haven’t yet seen “The Great Gatsby”, but I’d like to, as soon as I have some free time. I know it isn’t fabulous, but I do love the 20′s and Leonardo DiCaprio. *laughs*

* Oh, and yes, I finally did get money refunded from the hotel fiasco in Manhattan. It only took a month, and you can count on the fact that there will be a blog about that coming up shortly. ;)

For those who also follow me on Facebook, I’ve definitely been around, even while kind of ignoring my blog. I’ll have to try to be a little more inspired in the future. ;)

Of course, I’d like to open up my blog post today by linking you to a blog that discusses one of my all-time favourite topics: me.*laughs* While I’m perhaps not quite *that* egocentric, I did enjoy the interview that the lovely Megan Cashman posted with me, earlier in the week. She typically only interviews novelists, and while I hope to have that particular title one day, I’m glad she found me fascinating enough to make an exception. If you haven’t, please visit her page and read as we chat about what it’s like to be someone who is still publishing poetry in 2013, and believes that crowd-sourcing is the future of the indie artist. (In fact, perhaps it’s the future in general, as it gives established artists the freedom to *become* indie artists and pursue projects and passions that aren’t considered widely marketable.)

If you missed it, I also participated in the All-Authors Blog Blitz, where I was interviewed by a charming woman across the pond in Dublin named Paula Black. Her site, Raven & Black, is really geared towards readers of gothic erotica–and while I neither read nor write gothic erotica, it’s safe to say there’d be nobody on the planet shocked to learn that I did. Yet, I had the strangest writer’s block in trying to do a guest introduction for the page. I simply decided to share that struggle, and it came out in a rather humourous fashion, if I do say so myself. Hop on over and visit me in what seems a little like home, surrounded by black and crimson. ;P

Thanks so much to Paula and Megan for having me as a guest!! I’ve really been slacking on my Sunday author interviews lately, but it seems there are only so many hours in the day, and on my introverted days, I spend a majority of them writing. Earlier today, I began communicating in one word sentences along the lines of “Words. Difficult. Tired. Brain. Point. Unimportant”.

Why have I been working so much, you ask? As I alluded to in the last blog entry, but did not fully explain because it was another author’s day in the spotlight here, I had some last minute news tossed in my direction. Perhaps about a week ago, I was informed in the middle of July that I was going on a family vacation, and then home to visit my parents. I was also informed I’d be expected to pay for my part of the trip and backing out of going home was not optional, as I hadn’t been in two years, and my mother’s health is very bad. I’m not sure if it’s her physical health or her mental state, but her last stroke left her unable to walk without assistance and talking with her is certainly a labour of love, as it takes her ages to find the words to string together a sentence. It is one case in which my highly intuitive personality and active listening skills come in handy, because I’m able to finish her thoughts for her. Still, for a highly impatient person like myself, it’s a challenge.

On top of paying for the trip, the expense is compounded by the fact that I need to find a dog sitter. When I first agreed to take care of my dog, whom I love (but let’s face it, I’m not terribly good at taking care of things, nor am I the most nurturing person around.), I had plenty of people who were willing to take her when I was out of town, help out with getting her places, etc. These days, not a single one of those friends is available, and I’m left in the position of being a single parent. I have numerous things on my calendar each year that take me away from home for at least a few days at a time, and I can’t give up my life because I have a dog and everyone who was so eager to help is suddenly like, “I’m sorry, I wish I could”. So, the result is that the cost of every trip effectively doubles, because I have to find a pet-sitting solution. This has most definitely sent me into “working overtime” drive, which for me, means putting words on the screen as frequently and eloquently as possible.

I’m a bit nervous about the trip, because I’ll be returning to the Jersey Shore, and then to Philadelphia. This is where I got very sick in the first place, and because I didn’t get treatment when I needed it, my body had a particularly rough time with panic attacks and unrestrained adrenaline. I also didn’t get much support from my family, who thought I was being dramatic and inconvenient and attempting to be the centre of attention (when in reality, I needed to be in the ER, hooked up to IVs and heart monitors.) It was the beginning of one of the toughest experiences of my life, and I am afraid that, having a history of suffering from PTSD, revisiting these places will trigger negative physical symptoms. I understand this is simply a fear and there is no logical reason to assume this will happen, but I still have very bad days, health-wise. Thinking about this trip causes me anxiety in advance, but I feel obligated to do it, because when someone says “Your parents may not have that much time left”, you can’t just continue to ignore the fact that your family exists because you don’t get on with them too well.

There is an intuitive voice in my head that tells me it is time to go home, because it may be my last “normal” trip home. I do not know if this is because of my mother’s deteriorating health, or because I wonder if I am the one who may not be around next summer. All I know is it seems a lot like saying goodbye to something I lost a very, very long time ago. “Home” hasn’t been something I’ve had for a large part of my life, and so it’s hard to visit my family’s home and pretend it is in someway mine. It feels so much like visiting strangers, and I realise that’s because sadly, they are.

Of course, I’m still on flight restriction due to my inner ear disorder, which means taking the bus everywhere I go. So, I figured that if I have to do all this work and deal with things I’d rather avoid, I’m going to take my time coming back and spend a few days with people I really *want* to see. I planned a route that allowed me to visit some of my favourite people in four different cities, even if not for a terribly long time (I must say that I appreciate good friends and free Welcome Rewards points for making the trip easier, and people who like me enough to rearrange busy schedules just to see little old me. It’s definitely not the quantity of time you get to spend with the people you value, but the quality. :) ) I’m actually a pretty organized, logical trip planner—a quality that also comes out when I put together events—which is contrary to how I live much of my actual life. I don’t necessarily like being informed I need to travel at the last minute, because I plan my life in advance, but when last minute things happen, I like to make the most of them and enjoy them. However, every time I travel, there’s always an unexpected something going awry…and a lifetime of travel has taught me that organization is a huge way to cope with the unexpected.

I’m also planning to be a minimalistic traveler this time around, as I’m not as strong as I once was, and have no intentions of schlepping 50 pounds of luggage up and down the East Coast. If finances were not a concern, I’d likely take the advice of a friend of mine and “always just take an empty suitcase. You’ll find new things to bring back, and you’ll value them more because they’ll remind you of the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, and the things you’ve seen.” A wonderful perspective, but, well, she makes more money than I do. Once I become famous for…you know, whatever I’m destined to be known for….perhaps this will be the perspective for me.

So, there’s that, and in between, I have some events for my social group, catching up with the people here in Atlanta I like, and of course, the return of “Big Brother”.

Every so often, there’s a season that makes me glad I didn’t reapply for the show that year (I was a finalist for Season 1, which tells you exactly how old I am. *laughs*), and each year, I get a correspondence reminding me that I am on file with CBS and asking me to submit updated materials. This year, they’ve managed to pick a lot of shallow, vapid Hollywood kids (even if they come from all over the country), and the “old lady” of the house is 37. In addition to lowering the average age by a decade, it’s obvious that many of these people are obsessed with their physical appearance and the physicality of others, and talk about little else. I love Big Brother, but I have to wonder if they accidentally swapped buses with MTV and got the finalists for “The Real World”, instead?

Rachel Reilly, one of my favourite redheads (and former winner of the show), is not on this season. However, her spirit is there, somewhat, in the form of her sister Elissa. Sadly, like Rachel, Elissa seems to be a divisive personality and people are already campaigning to get rid of her in the first week. I truly hope that doesn’t happen, because I need some valid reason to watch the show this season. I’m sure it may improve over time, and once some of the more vapid characters are sent packing, but it’s truly shaping up to be a weak season. On top of that, Showtime dropped its 3-hour per night “Big Brother After Dark”, which was one of the main reasons I started subscribing to Showtime two years ago. The show is now 2 hours and on the TV Guide Channel, which is just atrocious. They censor everything, and half the time, they simply cut conversations. If the show was a B-plus on Showtime, it’s barely getting a passing grade on its new network. It will be quite sad if I completely lose interest.

There’s my recap, and what’s been going on in my world! If I have any reason to look forward to vacation, it’s that sitting on a bus is definitely much needed “downtime” (if only “down” meant asleep!), and I will need to recharge my batteries to get excited for all the fun (albeit tiring fun) that goes on in September and October in my world. I just need to convince myself that sun will not kill me, and I am not *actually* a vampire. ;P

I’ll see you all on Sunday, when “Literary Libations” will be back with a charming and interesting author you’ll be delighted to get to know! (nope, it’s not me. ;P)


“We all have an expiration date. If we didn’t, nothing would ever get done.”—”The Big C”

If you know anything about me at all, you know that I love entertainment. Pretty much any form of live performance or media is something I am going to enjoy (although I don’t much like sci-fi or action/adventure flicks, and have been known to walk out of a movie theatre or a play if it’s just that bad.), and it even extends to books, magazines, journaling, and of course, social media.

In particular, I love television. I always have. It sounds incredibly lame, but when I was a little kid, I used to pretend the people on my favourite shows were real. They were my friends. I talked about characters on TV sitcoms the same way I’d talk about someone in my kindergarten class. I had an Oscar The Grouch stuffed animal that lived in the laundry hamper in the hallway. I’d pass by and have conversations with him. I slept with an ALF doll, and had nightmares about the Whammies on “Press Your Luck”.

I’ve always felt an affinity for TV, that it was this consistent thing in my life I could always count on to be there for me when everything else in the world was chaotic or falling apart. I may have never moved to Atlanta if it weren’t for the TV show “Frasier”. When I got very ill about a year and a half ago, and wrote letters and journals about fearing I was going to die, I didn’t get through the fear because I thought of my family or friends or all I hadn’t accomplished in my life, or that dying at that point in my life would be a sad and terrible waste of potential. No. I thought, “I need to hang on and make things get better, because I want to see who gets kicked off Big Brother this week”. In a time where virtually nobody could stand to be around me and I thought I might either be losing my mind or my health, and getting out of bed was a challenge, turning on my TV and entering a world populated by strangers in a Big Brother TV studio every night made me feel connected to the world. It made me feel stronger to feel a connection with characters that weren’t even completely real, the same way it always did as a child.

Ironically, many of my past romantic partners have not liked TV, or felt it was a distraction, or felt intellectually above staring at a box with sound and pictures. I think I never quite understood myself well enough to know “Must Love TV” needs to be part of the equation, if someone is the type of soulmate I’m meant to end up sharing the primary part of my life with. Just as I couldn’t relate to someone who didn’t care for music, or thought theatre and art and performance was stupid, or never read books, I’m pretty sure my household will always have TV.

As happens every May, many of the shows I’d been watching ended. Unfortunately, many of them have been canceled for good, which always makes me sad. However, I know that in about a month, there will be new things for me to get slightly obsessed by, and I look forward to that.

In the absence of all my normal shows, I started looking around On Demand for something to watch tonight, and noticed that Showtime had started showing “The Big C” again. It’s on its fourth season, but it’s being advertised as a “limited series event”. Looking at Wikipedia, I see they’ve only made 4 hour-long episodes in Season 4 to wrap up the show. (previously, the show was a 30 minute deal.) The last one is airing May 20th.

“The Big C” is not the kind of show that’s for everyone, but it’s definitely my cup of tea. It’s full of sarcastic, intelligent, black humour. The show starts off with a middle-aged suburban housewife (played by Laura Linney, who is wonderful) being diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma, and given a year to live. It starts off in a way that indicates the end at the beginning; each season goes through a different season of the year. However, they don’t really follow through with that, and it isn’t a foregone conclusion that the show has to end with the main character’s death. There are a lot of plot twists along the way. And, strangely, for most of the show, it’s a dark comedy. A majority of the show is very witty and very funny.

So, I was shocked when I started watching Season 4, and found myself sobbing through most of the episodes. Suddenly, it isn’t funny anymore. It’s dramatic and tragic and all those things you think a show about a terminally ill person would be.

One of the themes the show repeats often is that each and every one of us is dying, every day. For a very long time, my tagline on many of my social profiles is a line from a Cake song that particularly resonated with me: “As soon as you’re born, you start dying, so you might as well have a good time”.

One of the reasons the show is painful is because it doesn’t sugar-coat anything. It reminds you that whether it’s cancer or a heart attack or a car accident or plain old age, at some point, every person you know and have ever known will no longer be here—including yourself. It is a sad thought, and a terrifying thought, but the premise behind the show is “If you knew you only had a year to live, what would you do with your life?”.

It then reminds us that perhaps every single person should live that way, because all the years are precious. Most of us don’t know we have a certain amount of time to tie up loose ends and do everything that matters. We have an expiration date, but for most of us, death comes as a surprise for which we’re unprepared. As I get older, I notice that not only just in myself but in those around me, the process of aging becomes a surprise for which we’re unprepared. Visits to the doctor start to feel a little more serious. We start to have a few more wrinkles. Sometimes, we pass by a mirror, and no longer see the child, the adolescent, the carefree young person. Instead, we start to see our mother, our father. There’s a realisation that time is not infinite and the clock keeps on ticking—and that’s if you’re lucky.

In the show, there’s a scene where Laura Linney’s character is in the hospital, and her son pieces together a collage of photographs from her life, so it’s the first thing she sees every day. I wonder if I am, on some subconscious level, more acutely aware of how short life is. I’ve lived in a room with a wall that has been collaged with my favourite memories since I was 26. It’s been a pain to take the wall down and reassemble it whenever I move. But it’s also really important to me to always feel like I’m surrounded by moments when I was happy and young and vibrant, and to see the faces of the people I love—even if they don’t always remember I love them, or how much I care. I think I’ve always thought, “If I don’t wake up tomorrow, I want the last thing in my head to be that wall.”

I think about being a thing that has an expiration date a little too much, and it scares me sometimes. My grandmother passed away when she was 50. I was a little over two years old, and it is one of my earliest childhood memories, being in a dimly-lit, sepia-coloured room with a tiny little woman with her head wrapped in bandages. Above her bed was a cross, making everything seem very somber and austere. My mother tells me I could not remember this; children don’t remember scenes in detail at that age. But I do. That is the only memory I have of my grandmother. She died when my mother was only 33. I spent most of my life thinking I was adopted, because I don’t physically resemble anyone in my family. When I was older, I saw a picture of my grandmother, and realised how much I looked like her. I think it’s why my mother always criticised me for being too small, too pale, too thin, too fragile-looking….things I could do nothing about. I always thought she was just being my mother, the type of person for whom even the smallest flaw is worth noting and compliments are rare. As I get older, I realise I must remind my mother of the mother she lost so early in life, and that she’s always been afraid that my small frame and fragile health meant she’d lose me early, too.

For what it’s worth, it turns out I’m a survivor, at least so far. I’ve been in a car accident where the driver was killed, another where my entire family was injured but me, and a third where my head literally went through the windshield, leaving an Alayna-shaped headprint. I’ve had tubes put in my ears, suffered a ruptured appendix at 9, and then developed an infection requiring another surgery. I had my knee completely reconstructed at 15. I need surgery again for a torn ACL. I have virtually no sweat glands and am prone to both hyper-and-hypothermia without feeling it. I get flu-like symptoms when I get rained on. I went to the beach and came back with 2nd degree sunburn on 60% of my body, and an infection that turned into a rare inner ear disorder. I’ve had enough “female troubles” to last a lifetime, and apparently, my heart beats too fast. I’m pretty much a walking medical disorder.

Yet, all things considered, I grew up to be a relatively strong person. I’d like to think even though I am not the healthiest person around, emotionally or physically, I’ve always been a fighter in my own small way.

If there’s one thing that scares the hell out of me, though, it’s death. I have had dreams in which I see my death—not the scary kind, where someone is chasing you, the building explodes, the car crashes, or the murderer pops out from the closet—but the kind in which I am almost able to experience the process of dying. It is never frightening, but almost calm and surreal. The thing always notice most about death is that I feel sad about leaving.

I had one dream in which I saw my death in that same way I see many of my “psychic dreams”, and that of course threw me for a loop when I woke up. It shocked me to see me as someone who was very old, and very small. I was surrounded by people I didn’t really know or recognise, but they were my family (apparently, in my dream, I have a daughter and two grandchildren and a very unruly great-grandchild, which is almost as shocking as the idea of me living to be very, very old.) My daughter doesn’t look like me, or what I imagine I’ll look like at that age. She is taller and stronger and more imposing, and has olive skin and black hair that is starting to show streaks of grey. I can’t imagine her being related to me, because she seems very strong, and I am old and tiny and look very fragile. The nurse tells me it is a few days after my birthday, and there are icicles on the tree outside the hospital room window. (which we have in the Northeast, but rarely here in Atlanta.) I ask her if New Year’s Eve has happened yet. New Year’s Eve is one of my favourite holidays, even though it seems to be a rather cursed day for me.

I do not believe my dream is truly a “psychic dream”, although numerous psychics and palm readers and whatnot have told me I will live an exceptionally long time. The hereditary factors in my family—people either die relatively young or live to be exceptionally old in my family—as well as my history of health problems, and my natural constitution, do not point to a long and robust life. For the longest time, I was convinced I wouldn’t live past 30, and I was OK with that. Now I am older and wiser and know how important it is to stay healthy and keep living and creating and sharing my life with those who matter for as long as I can, I am suddenly terrified of the idea that I might die.

It is not helped by the fact that I’ve lost many friends and acquaintances who passed away suddenly, at relatively young ages. I have to visit the doctor on Monday, and I am filled with dread about doing so. I feel so sorry I spent a lot of my life taking health and the gift of being alive for granted, and instead made many stupid choices, some of which *should* have killed me. I suppose that’s everyone when they’re young, but there’s an age where you stop feeling invincible. There’s an age where you realise you never were, and the fact that you’re still here and took that for granted all along isn’t something that should continue.

“The Big C” turned devastatingly sad because it stopped being about characters on TV, and started being about everyone. We may seem so different, but the one thing we all have in common is that one day, we will die…and hopefully, there will be people who are terribly sad that has happened. No amount of preparation, money, lifestyle choices, or prayer will change the fact that we all begin life and end life in a way where the timing isn’t run by us for our approval.

I suppose it’s everything in the middle that matters. That is why all I’ve ever wanted, really, is for my “everything else” to have mattered to someone, somewhere.

AUTHOR’S UPDATE: After writing this, I was almost pointed to this article via synchronicity. It’s no secret I don’t care for Jezebel’s perspective, especially when it comes to reading columns by female writers, but this article has more than a grain of truth. In fact, it seems remarkably tied in to everything I was feeling and writing about today.

“When 40 became the new 30, 30 became invisible. It’s a decade of major transition, a bridge from the broke hot mess of your 20s to the fabulousness of your 40s. Or when ‘Mean Girls’ graduate to ‘boring bitches.’ At least that’s one of the perceptions that hurts the pre-middle age group. Thirty-somethings are overshadowed by the antics of the 20-something “Girls” and the 40-something “Real Housewives” because, pop-culturally speaking, the best material is born from ‘having nothing’ (20s), ‘having it all’ (40s) or ‘losing it all’ (40s divorcee).”

I sometimes wonder if there are people out there who feel the way I do, who get to a point where they have so much restlessness and discontent inside of them, they’re ready to explode.

It isn’t a new experience for me, although it’s gotten worse as my situation has changed for the worse. I grew up with this feeling of restlessness inside of me, and even though performing provided an outlet for the experience and attention I needed from the world to feel happy, there was always a part of me that was biding my time. I grew up dreaming of bigger and brighter things. I wanted romance and adventure and experiences that I’d remember for the rest of my life. I wanted to travel the world and meet people and roam without being too accountable to anyone else. I wanted to converse with people far more interesting and worldly than I was. I was an adult who never looked back the moment the ink was dry on my high-school diploma. I had enough of being bored.

From 17-29, life was non-stop adventure and experience. Some were wonderful, glittering, romantic, legendary experiences. Others were immensely painful ordeals I did not have faith I’d know how to survive. When you’re a kid with daydreams about the world and all its adventures, even if you’re not particularly naive or sheltered, you’re still not prepared for how hard and callous and unfeeling the world can be. You abandon delusions that you’re somehow special, because the reality is you’re just another person struggling to get by in life.

Yet, in some ways, security and monotony has been the greatest struggle for me. It’s surprising, because I remember in those horrible moments in life, all I missed were the simple things, and swore I’d never take a night at home watching TV and eating pizza for granted again. Yet, it seems that people don’t change. I’m able to appreciate those small things with more frequency than I used to, and I’m able to live in my own little world for greater periods of time than I used to. However, that restless teenager that just wants to get out and live comes back frequently, and with a vengeance.

I am a grown-up now, with a rather ordinary and repetitive life. I no longer do much of note or accomplish much that makes me special. Time has taken its toll on me, physically and mentally. I no longer have the independence to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I have a dog that needs to be taken care of, and no roommate, and everyone who was ever going to help me with that responsibility so that taking care of a dog didn’t limit my freedom to travel is nowhere to be found. I lack regular income or any prospects that point to a way to make regular income, as my health still isn’t as strong as it needs to be to get out in the world and do things on a daily basis. Some days are great. Others, getting up and dressed is a challenge. It makes it really hard to remember that I used to be that person who would wake up practically bouncing on the bed because of all the exciting things life had to offer.

I always thought the above paragraph would be something written by someone closer to 80 than 30, but, here we are. I know that as long as I am on the Earth, I will never be done living, but the setbacks and limitations have been very hard on me in an emotional sense. All the time alone gets to me, and I have tried to make it otherwise, but it’s simply not how I’m wired. I’ve always needed to be doing things, interacting with people, having others notice me and engage with me. Like everyone else, I need my down time. Unlike most of my friends, 8 hours is fairly sufficient for me to spend alone and recharge my batteries, unless I happen to be ill.

My reality is that every day is pretty much like the next, and it drives me insane. I only see other people perhaps three days a week. Other days, I may chat with people on the telephone or via Facebook or e-mail, but I essentially spend about 70% of my life alone. For an extrovert, that’s hard, and it’s really easy to feel depressed.

I don’t always feel like I have a lot of friends, at least not here in Atlanta. People have rather forgotten about me, or understandably find dealing with the symptoms of my illness too restrictive or too much of a downer. The friends that I do have seem to be the type who look to me to plan interesting things to do or initiate adventures, which leads to my next limitation: transportation. I can only leave the house when someone wants to pick me up and take me somewhere, and in Atlanta, where it’s assumed everyone drives, it’s simply just too much of a pain in the ass a lot of the time. I hear “I wish you could have been there” a lot. I can’t help but feel, “I wish you’d cared enough to actually come get me.”

We have buses in my neighbourhood, but it is one of the least walkable areas you can imagine. My heart is unable to handle the mile walk to the bus stop, because it requires walking up and down a steep hill I’m just not physically able to conquer yet. It is a three-mile walk to the train station. You can call a cab, but the three miles to the train station will cost you $12. (Base fares for taxis in Atlanta are now $2.50-$3.00, but in 2008, they tacked on a “$3 gas surcharge”. Even though gas prices returned to normal, the taxis never got rid of the surcharge. Customers who need a taxi agree to blatantly be ripped off, and there’s not a thing to be done about it.)

Oh, and it’s not particularly safe to walk around after dark, which means that spending $30 just on round-trip transportation is my only option if I wish to attend an event that someone cannot drive me to.

There are very few decisions in my life I regret, but conversations with the ex who got me down to Atlanta where I expressed concern about transportation, and the reply was “Don’t worry. It’s very walkable and people can drive you where you need to go” should have been more detailed. In fairness, he wasn’t here much longer than I was, had a car, and grew up in the suburbs, so our perspectives were quite different. Also, living in the city is indeed much easier than living out in the middle of nowhere, and it’s really the only way you can manage in Atlanta without a car, or the health and free time that allows you to spend hours on public transportation.

Although I lived in Midtown for more than half the time I was in Atlanta, looking back, the amount of money I wasted on taxis and car services was excessive. Even when I was working outside my house or for a company, I had a regular paycheck, but there were always travel expenses, always non-optional “social” events to attend. Once I started organizing for a social group, I realised I was going to take taxis everywhere, because I didn’t have the time to spend hours on a sucky public transportation system. I estimate that for about 3-4 years, I spent about $400 a month on paying people to drive me around. Yet, I still found myself being bitched about on other people’s blogs and talked about behind my back because I was committing the cardinal sin of not paying friends to pick me up and give me rides to things. In my defense, I have to say that I’m not an intentionally rude person, and this is a cultural difference. People don’t ask for gas money in the Northeast, especially if you’re going the same place the driver is going. Buying someone a beer and offering a “Thank you” is politeness enough. Here, people want cash, and I was shocked to discover that was one of the many things people didn’t like about me when I started living down here. There are things people should tell you when you move here, and one is there’s a whole new set of rules when it comes to interacting with other people. I do not like most of the rules, which is why I still have people who ask me when I’m going to leave.

I live in the suburbs of Atlanta because, frankly, it’s where I can afford to live. On paper, I’m not the ideal candidate that anyone would like to rent to, so the fact I have a place to live at all is a blessing. It has enough space for me. When I moved out here, I had one roommate and then another who told me “Don’t worry, we’ll give you rides wherever you need to go”. After a year, that turned into grumbling and resentment about how dependent and needy I was. It was never a *choice* to be dependent. If you isolate someone, you take away their independence.

Then I got sick, and lost my ability to walk around too much. That really erased what little independence I had left. Much of my life feels like a repetitive loop, a child locked in her room, “grounded” for some infraction and not certain if there’s a reprieve in sight.

I can keep things in perspective, most of the time. I technically have my freedom, in that I am not dead or in jail. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, cable, internet, ways to make a little bit of money here and there. I have imagination, if I don’t have health, and I spend a lot of time replaying the film loop in my head of the days when life was filled with adventure, and dreaming of a time it might be that way again.

I know it can never happen as long as I live in Atlanta, or likely, anywhere in the South. Yet, unless I am successful at something in some way, I don’t have a lot of hope for being able to afford to live anywhere that it would be easy for me to live life in a way that’s not dependent on others. It is the proverbial Catch-22.

The Guy I Am Dating doesn’t understand. When I tell him I sometimes want to rip my skin off just so I can feel less trapped, I get a look of worry instead of someone who relates to that feeling. Yet, he is a very different person from me. He is an introvert who has not traveled much, who doesn’t get depressed spending most of his days on his own, who doesn’t need the whole world to notice him, and really values peace and security. I think it’s easy not to miss adventure when you’ve never really had too much of it, or pursued it. Many of my friends here are that way.

People will say “You do things all the time”, but the fact of the matter is, they’re typically the *same* things. We play trivia. We go to restaurants. We watch movies. We sometimes go to clubs or parties or concerts. We watch our favourite TV shows. We do the things that people do.

Yet, that’s the problem. I know it hurts the feelings of The Guy I Am Currently Dating when I express just how freaking bored I am with life, because he thinks it’s me saying I don’t like him or that I think he’s boring. But,honestly, I need to get the hell out of here sometimes. I need to not only do things, but different things. I want to get in the car and drive somewhere we’ve never been. I want to go to Athens for the weekend and see live bands. I want to end up at a random country bar on a mechanical bull. I want to road trip to nowhere in particular and end up doing something I’ll probably make fun of, but am pleased, because I’ve never done before. I want to cross things off of my “life experience” list. I want to do something memorable with people I like that didn’t have to be planned, but just happened because the people around me are always open to adventure.

There is so much *new* in the world, and I’m not doing any of it. And I’m afraid that one day I’m going to look back, and realise I mostly stopped living at 29. Life is just too short for that.

I really can’t wait until an opportunity comes up when someone can watch my dog and I can travel somewhere, anywhere. If people don’t want to go with me, I don’t care. I’ll go myself. I’ll hitchike and crash on strangers’ couches and have stories about interesting things that happened to me. I’m just not the sort of person who is happy living life sitting still in one place, and am dating someone who appears to not like to travel. In all the years we’ve been together, we’ve never gone on a trip together that wasn’t because of a convention he was organizing or a reunion he was attending, and that does make me sad. I sometimes think that is a major incompatibility, because my ideal romantic partner is a travel partner who values adventure. Sharing your journeys *with* someone is so much more meaningful than doing it on your own, and when I hear about all the couples we know who are exploring places that are new to them, it makes me feel downright envious.

I don’t want to have to watch the world pass by without me, while I sit in my little bubble and daydream. I am too old to be a Disney princess waiting to be rescued from the Evil Overlord Monotony and Confinement.

Yet, that’s how I feel. I want freedom and independence and adventure so badly that it not being available to me sends me into fits of depression and anger.

I know I’ve done a lot in my life. I’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot, but there has to be plenty of new adventures waiting for me. I know that life isn’t over yet, and I should accept that I’m at an age where routine is just what people do. I don’t want children and obligation for precisely that reason. It’s just that, as long as I live here, I can’t seek out too many new experiences on my own. I can’t even go to events I put together for my social group. I can plan them for others and live vicariously through other people, but I can’t experience them, and that physically hurts me. :(

I wish I knew how to be happy with what I currently have in my life, but it’s hard to compare it to what I once had, and not dream of all the possibilities I never explored while I had the opportunity. I don’t want to sit still. I don’t want to do the same things over and over again until, one day, I’m 40.

I know there has to be more out there. I wish I knew the someone who could help me find it. Sometimes, even the person who is always inspiring other people to get out and live life and take chances needs to be inspired.

I know that if I am lucky, one day I will be old, and I will have the same limitations in my life: transportation, money, health, wondering if anyone really cares about including me in their life, or I’m just baggage. It seems a little unfair to have to deal with them now, unless I happen to not live long enough to experience them at a later point in my life. After all, I’ve heard these are the years I’m supposed to be doing the most, accomplishing the most, building my life the most.

Like most things I’ve heard, this one appears to not be so true. I haven’t woken up with the feeling of “It’s such a great day, I can’t wait to get out in the world and LIVE!” in a very long time, and because I can remember that feeling so well, I miss it.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
Tomorrow will be dying.”

~ Robert Herrick

I’m feeling a little melancholy tonight, something that hit me pretty suddenly during an otherwise positive week. The reason for this is that after I got home from our usual Tuesday night trivia, I checked my Facebook as I always do, and saw a post that shocked me.

It was a post announcing the sudden and unexpected death of someone in my relatively wide circle of friends and acquaintances. I did not know her very well, but people to whom I’ve grown close over the years did have that opportunity to share a genuine friendship with her. She was someone who I’d enjoy reading commentary from on Facebook, who was unfailingly loving and supportive to her friends, and really left a positive mark on the lives of those around her.

I think what hit me hard was not the passing of someone that so many people in my life knew and loved— I only wish such incidents were isolated, but the past three months have been filled with such shocking announcements and loss and close calls involving impetuous decisions— but that this person was someone to whom I could relate. She was an ordinary girl, around my age, who didn’t pass away due to any prolonged illness or a drawn-out battle with self-destructive behavior or because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was just an ordinary girl whose heart decided to stop working properly, and by the time help arrived, she had been deprived of oxygen for too long.

It is selfish, but I want to cry because I see how easily that could be me. I too am just an ordinary girl who happened to become ill, to have a scary period in life where her heart didn’t work the way it should. I take medication to keep that problem from recurring, but for a majority of a year, I was terrified of dying alone. My world is not one that involves me being surrounded by other people much of the time. If my heart stops, I will die. I’ve learned from experience that it takes 15 minutes to get an ambulance when you call 911. By that point in time, there is nothing anyone can do.

I feel sad because of how easily that girl might be me, and because I don’t want it to. I feel sad because of the loss of someone who made the world a better place is not fair, and it is a loss that so many will feel for such a long time. There’s something shocking about death when it happens to someone young and vibrant, someone who assumes they have a lifetime to chase dreams, to follow passions, to love others. It is shocking because it’s a reminder that it can happen to any of us, or anyone we love, at any time. There is not always a warning.

There is not always another day to tell someone how you feel about them, or to make things right, or to make the changes you need to be brave enough and strong enough in life in order to be a happy and fulfilled individual.

There is always the possibility that every conversation, or e-mail, or Facebook status, or night out could be the last one you’ll share with someone—or others with you.

There is no guarantee that tomorrow exists, for anyone, at any age.

When you’re 10, you don’t focus on anything too far beyond tomorrow, but you assume there will always be another one . When you’re 20, you think the number of tomorrows you have are limitless, and you take stupid chances and procrastinate and self-destruct, and still come out OK most of the time. By the time you’re 30, you start to have an awareness that not only is tomorrow not a guarantee, that every single being on this Earth, however wonderful and unique, is temporary.

I can only imagine how much more importance that knowledge takes on at 40, or 50, or 60.

I hope I am around to find out. It’s odd that I should wish that more than anything, coming from the girl who never planned to live past 30, who thought dying young never meant having to disappoint anyone or hurt anyone or fail to do anything remarkable in life.

The oddest thing happened. I passed that point in my life, and all of the sudden, life became valuable. Death became less glamourous, and far more frightening, and real. I didn’t want the story to end the way I’d always planned. Now, I can’t stand the idea that I’m not going to be here forever, because however much time I have, it will never be enough.

In “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World”, Keira Knightley remarks to Steve Carell that she wishes they had been able to have more time together. He responds by telling her no amount of time ever would have been enough to erase the need for that wish.

I feel terribly sad because the relatively small part of the Universe I inhabit lost another special piece, and it doesn’t seem fair that there wasn’t enough time for her to truly live the life she loved. I am also sad because I know there will never be enough time, for any of us.

People often accuse me of being too straightforward. I say what I feel. I yell when I am angry. When I absolutely adore someone, I always let them know. I cry when I am hurt. I want every disagreement with a friend to be over quickly, and result in us still being friends. I follow my heart, even if it isn’t logical, even if it accidentally hurts others. Yet, I wish I had still more courage than I do to put myself out there, to take chances, to say what I feel, and do seems right for me. I wish I had more meaningful connections in my life than I do, because at the end of the day, that’s far more important than nearly anything else.

I realise that part of the reason I am this way is because I’ve spent so much of my life approaching it with a focus on the present, not the future. I didn’t want to be the person who endlessly planned for a future that might never happen, at the expense of experience and life that might happen today. In some ways, that’s irresponsible. That is not how we, as adults, are meant to live. Yet, in other ways, it’s realistic and showing respect and value to life, to the idea that the past can’t be altered and the future can’t be determined—but you can change your life, and touch the lives of others, with what you say and do today.

I know that when the day comes that I am not here anymore, it will ultimately be a surprise for me, and I will recognise that I still didn’t have enough time for all the living I wanted to do. I know that if I’m lucky, I’ll have more time than most people. I also know that perhaps I won’t be that lucky, and if I am, it will mean losing a lot of special people along the way.

Sometimes, I want everything life is planning to throw my way right now, because I don’t know what it has in store for me—and there never is going to be enough time. There is not enough time that I should feel I have the luxury of hitting the “pause” button, and thinking I’ll get around to dealing with life tomorrow.

I have seen bits and pieces of my future, in the form of various psychic dreams and visions. I don’t know how much I believe in all that, but I am not discounting the power of my intuition, a gift that’s served me very well throughout my life. If any of that is to be believed, though, life has unplanned surprises and twists and turns for me, and none of them involve dwelling on the idea of mortality.

Yet, life is so fragile and so temporary, it’s hard not to. Why should I, or anyone I love, be an exception?

When I think about it, there are a few people in my world I simply can’t imagine living without. They are very few and far between, but the world without those few special individuals would seem to stop for me, and I don’t know how it would restart itself in the same way ever again.

Every time someone in my circle of friends and acquaintances passes away, I remember there are a handful of people in the world who feel that exact same way about someone who is no longer around, and that sense of grief touches me immensely. I don’t know how or why, since it is not my own personal grief, but I have a tendency to feel emotions on behalf of others, and it’s not always a positive or endearing trait. I have to detach myself from focusing on many of the world’s greater problems and tragedies because I don’t have enough emotion to feel for every person who is suffering, and I inevitably end up trying.

Nobody is permanent, and that is perhaps the most frightening bit of knowledge I’ve ever come across in my life.

So, yes, today—I am sad, and cried for the loss of someone I didn’t know well at all. Perhaps I cried for me, and all the people I have lost, and all the people I will someday lose, and all the people who will turn out to represent a path not taken in life, a person who might have made a huge difference but never did. Perhaps I cried because I understand the magnitude the loss of this person has left on people in my life, and I do not wish that type of sadness on anyone. Perhaps I cried because I just don’t think it’s fair that we all search so hard for love and family and friendship and connection and romance, only to find out that every single one of us is a temporary fixture.

Reality is harsh, and sometimes it makes me cry, because the little romantic idealist inside of me has never been quite ready to handle such harsh truths.

I’d like to go on pretending there are endless tomorrows for as long as I possibly can. Yet, I think I passed that point in my life a long time ago.

I hope there is a tomorrow, and that it is just a little happier.

“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” —George Eliot

NOTE: You can either read my snarky rant about positive thinking, or you can just read this awesome article that inspired it. Or you can read both, but depending on how positive you are, you may not be able to handle that.

We’ve somehow all survived the Thanksgiving holidays, and while it would be appropriate to put up the obligatory post about all the things and people I am thankful for having in my life, I’m not going to do that. I’m not an unappreciative, ungrateful kind of person. It’s just that the people in my life *know* how much I love and appreciate them. They received a text or a phone call or a Facebook message or an e-mail reminding them, and I don’t restrict this sort of “I’m just reminding you that I like you!” stuff for holidays.

I actually have a lot for which to be grateful, and the way I live my life is generally to express what I feel, in some form, most of the time. I don’t need a holiday for that. I will express my feelings in the moment, or in a moment soon after that one. You don’t have to know me very well to have figured that out.

Of course, there are also many things in my life for which I am not grateful. They are difficult, challenging, confusing, overwhelming, or just plain suck. I don’t give thanks for those things, even though I’ve been told they’re making me a better person, and being more positive would allow me to see the blessings in the things that suck.

However, I am a realist. I love the things that make me and those I care for happy, and hate the things that don’t. It’s pretty simple.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I have been defriended on social media sites, received scathing comments in response to me expressing my thoughts and feelings, have had people refuse to associate with me, followed by spending time discussing me behind my back in unflattering tones….all because I am not “positive” enough. This is especially true on Facebook, where I’ve had people write “Every time I read one of your posts, it’s complaining about something”. and “Why do you have to post all these negative personal feelings? Nobody really cares and it brings everyone down.”, and even, “Sorry you’re sick, but do you think everyone wants to hear about your problems?”

This seemingly disproportionate response to expression of feelings that are not positive and upbeat shocks me. In fact, when I used a tool to analyze my Facebook posts, it characterised about 70% of them as either “thought-provoking” or “optimistic” in tone. Overall, my Facebook page is more positive than negative, more emotional, more profound, and more concerned with social issues than most. Yet, people don’t like me because I am not positive.

I freely admit, I am snarky. I comment on the things that annoy me or suck about life with a wry sense of humour. I don’t pretend that “challenges are just triumphs in disguise!”. I think “The Secret”, and most self-help books like it, is utter crap. I don’t believe there’s a secret to happiness or to changing your life. Dream boards and visualizing what you want in order to make it happen is kind of like praying for what you want, without doing anything positive to accomplish that goal. There’s no magical formula. It’s great to understand yourself and want to improve your life, but “Closing the door to negative thoughts and people!” isn’t what’s going to get you there. In fact, most self-help and motivational seminars that encourage you to think about positive things and your life will be positive are selling you the oldest trick in the book: denial. When you plaster a smile on your face and deny that sucky things happen to you, and it’s OK to be angry, upset, pissed, and negative about them, chances are good that you’re going to see some anti-depressants in your future.

Shockingly, I’m not a terribly negative person. However, I don’t have blind faith in anything. Things don’t just “all work out in the end” because you’re a “good person”. Read a history book. Plenty of great, positive people didn’t exactly have things work out for them, and plenty of people you wouldn’t want to know have been very happy.

I’m an idealist. I see people and the world the way they could be, and am so often hurt and disappointed that’s just not the way things work out, so much of the time. I am often disappointed. I often feel let down and not valued enough by others. I am often shocked when someone is hurtful or throws something in my face, or claims to love me, yet causes me to cry. I am often looking for something greater than what I have, because I believe on an intuitive level that such a thing exists. However, I’m also realistic enough to understand that I often experience emotional chaos because I attempt to inflict my unrealistic ideals on the rest of the world, and my fellow human beings often do not operate in the same way that I do.

I am also a realist. I know the world doesn’t work the way I would like it to. The legend of Camelot has always been a story close to my heart (hence Lady Guenevere as my screen name everywhere.), for a number of reasons, but an important one is that it epitomizes the duality of my personality. Camelot fell because of human frailty. It was pre-destined to do so; yet, people never stopped believing they could make the world a better place and build something ideal. The ideals never matched up with reality, and the consequences were devastating. Yet, somehow, idealism could co-exist with a firm grasp on reality.

Things don’t always work out in the end. Things disappoint you, people let you down, you fail, bad luck knocks at your door. It doesn’t mean you should stop believing that your life will be filled with positive moments. It does mean that if you’re unprepared to acknowledge negativity and adversity because you won’t allow such ideas in your positive head space, that adversity is going to knock you flat on your ass when it’s your turn to get screwed over by “how life works”. And it will, someday, be your turn, no matter how positive you are about you and your life being charmed and perfect and full of everything you’ve ever wanted. That attitude didn’t work during the 1950′s—it led to people drinking Scotch and popping Valium on a daily basis, but hey, they were smiling— and it doesn’t work now.

Yes, whoever you are, whatever your challenges and things for which you should be grateful, there will be moments when your life just sucks. Something will happen that isn’t fair. Someone will be a petty, jealous asshole and try to tear you down. The stock market will plummet and you’ll lose half your money. A flood or an earthquake or a hurricane will come to your part of town. You or a loved one will get sick.

Inevitably, you’ll have to deal, and the “secret” to dealing is not to visualise a world where everything is so much better and trust that positive thinking means that the Universe or God or whomever is going to fix things for you. You’re going to have to know how to cope, and how to fix things yourself. I maintain that cultivating an outlook based on fake smiles, cliches, and denial in order to “focus on being a happier person” isn’t going to equip you with the survival skills you need. And one day, you are going to feel extremely negative about the fact that cliches and smiles and dream boards don’t protect you from the bad things in life, and avoiding anyone who talks about “negative” things in their life is not only unhealthy for you, it is, at the core, self-centred. “The Secret” seems to be to focus on how awesome you are so frequently that you lose patience and empathy for those who are struggling and suffering, and turn your back on those who need support because they are bringing negative energy into your world. The irony is that you are obviously struggling and in need of support, too, only you’ve found it in a book that claims to have all the answers rather than in other human beings, or deep within yourself.

I don’t argue in favour of toxic people. Toxic friendships and relationships can harm you, can hold you back, and you should like yourself enough not to tolerate them. This is not the same as saying “I don’t want to know you because you’re too negative” to someone who will discuss both positives and negatives openly.

I believe in a full range of emotion and human experience. Nowhere was it ever said that we’re supposed to be happy all the time. We’re not. Sometimes we are, and that’s great. Sometimes we’re sad or pissed off or suffer a loss or uncertain about the future, and that’s OK, too….unless we don’t have anyone in our lives with whom we can honestly share feelings because they’re all too busy searching for the elusive Holy Grail of “positivity, light, and happiness”. I would not want to live in a world where everyone was happy and bursting with self-esteem, announcing how great they found life and other people and themselves, every single day. I know some people like that, and frankly, they annoy the hell out of me. I don’t find it genuine, and the facade makes me angry. As much as people dislike me for being too “negative”, “snarky”, “jaded”, “cynical”, or “realistic”, I want to scream and shake people and say “Why can’t you just for one second behave like a real, multi-dimensional person?!”

However, that’s just me. This page is called “Jaded Elegance” for a reason, folks. You’re not going to find affirmations and self-help here. I do believe in learning about yourself, learning about others, and finding ways to cope with life that enhance the good moments and help the sucky ones suck less. I do believe in friendship, love, compassion, empathy, and tearing down the walls that people build to protect themselves from the world…but only succeed in creating falsehoods and alienation.

I don’t think that deciding to be happy made you happy. I think you lost weight because you decided to stop eating pizza and get on the treadmill. I think you found the right person after years of horrible relationships because you took the time to get to know yourself, and gained enough self-esteem to stop dating jerks and losers. I think you found your dream job because you finally had the nerve to go out and chase after it. If a book or a religion or a seminar did that for you, that’s great, but I think you’re selling yourself short. It may have inspired you to do something better with your life, but you did that for you.

And just because you made positive life changes, don’t start believing life will always be positive and peachy because you’re now one of those “positive mindset people”. Sucky things will still happen, on a regular basis. Hopefully, though, you’ve acquired the necessary tools to deal with them in a healthy way.

We don’t live in a world of happy, and all the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to make it so. In fact, “Positive Thinking Is For Suckers!”, or so says this article I love.

Should people be happy? Of course. But trying to be happy, to the exclusion of focus on much else, is the same reason that those who are trying out a new diet rarely succeed. However, they become much less entertaining, telling you the calorie count of every single bite of food they eat, without losing a pound. Focusing all your energy on “being happy” is actually code for focusing all your energy on why you’re not happy now, making you a negative person in denial.

Living in the moment seems to be the best strategy, one that makes me the happiest when I can remember to employ it. Remember, we’re not promised an endless amount of them. Waiting for that day when we’re going to reach some ideal, to “be happy” means not taking advantage of a lot of days in between that could have been a lot of fun. Yes, some of those days will suck. I’d like to think the fun and memorable ones make up for it.

You can look at the glass half-full if that’s your choice, and I won’t judge that. You can bitch about the glass being half-empty all day long, and that doesn’t bother me one bit, either. As for me, I just see a glass with equal amounts of volume and empty space, and think, “Well, that’s usually how life is, isn’t it?”

On really good days, my glass is filled with a chocolate martini, garnished with a cherry. I promise, that’ll give a little boost of positive thinking to anyone. :P

In the end, it’s just life. It’s good and bad, black and white, positive and negative. But as long as you have a tomorrow, you have a chance to do it all over again. In my experience, the cherry will be there when you least expect it. However, when you demand the cherry on top, that’s the day the kitchen will be out of them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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