Cultivation: A Lesson in Patience.

I am sitting in Jennifer’s backyard, watching him dig. He is creating a garden. For weeks, there have been soda bottles and gallon-sized jugs and plastic cups filled with dirt and seedlings. Tomatoes. Melons. Peppers. Beans and peas in what used to be egg cartons. He transplanted a blackberry bush into a pot, last night, with the intent of taking it with him when he moves to the north pole in little over a year.

He has been talking to the worms, telling them to hide from the robin who will bring his friends and swoop in for some grub.

He’s a good soul.

And I am amazed at his patience. His excitement over the prospect of how beautiful the garden will be in a few months, his willingness to pull rotted roots from the ground, haul rocks, rake and sift through the dirt. I can’t help but wonder if that is how he thought of me, when we first became friends. The crazy girl in an abusive relationship with an anxiety problem and suicidal tendencies. Worth the work, because there is the possibility of beauty and goodness. Maybe. Doubtful, but maybe.

I think he’s just a good person.

But he takes pride in his work, and it makes me smile to see him giddy at the sight of new seedlings sprouting in the kitchen or to listen to him talk excitedly about how the dirt isn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be.

I want to have a window box where I grow herbs. I want to get as excited about growing something as Jennifer is. I want something to nurture.

We’ll see. I am not as patient as he is.

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Thoughts from a Tuesday Evening.

I have this need to…belong. I used to think that meant to someone. Now, I’m not sure what it means. With someone? Someplace? I don’t know.

And I’ve had this…this feeling for a long time now. Years, in fact. That I belong with the people who are with me, now. Now as in then. Now as in still. Now as in years down the road, I hope. And so I have been waiting. Patiently. Waiting for some sign or something that I am where I belong. Where is not a permanent place. Where is a state of mind. Sometimes you share Where with other people. And I have been waiting to know that I am sharing my Where with a person who wants to share Where with me, too.

I don’t know if that is the case. I keep hoping, and hoping, and sometimes I pray. I don’t know to whom, but I pray that if there is something out there, it will help me figure out if this is my Where. Or help me cope, if it isn’t. But I have no definite answer. I have received no definite answer. And so I keep waiting. And hoping.

I hate waiting.

And so I think it is time to move forward. To stop waiting. To make my own Where, and figure out how to survive on my own.

My worst fear is being alone.

I wanted to die, yesterday. I woke up, and the whole day I couldn’t stop thinking about what a relief death must be. An end to the waiting. Isn’t that all life is? Waiting for death? And I couldn’t do it, because I could never do it. Even though I want, so badly, to stop waiting. To stop feeling like my life is a string of mishaps and bad karma, like a lesson people tell their children. Eat your vegetables, or you’ll end up like her.

I did eat my vegetables.

I thought if I boxed these thoughts away, did some spring cleaning, that some normal person would emerge, and I could live a normal life.

What is normal, anyway? Some stasis. Maybe I should be grateful.

At least life inside my head is always interesting.

My Stewing Brain.

I hate the word “blessed.” It feels like a passive reception of something, rather than the result of actions. However, I do not have another word to quite convey what I am feeling.

I am blessed, I guess, to be in the company of good people.

In reality, I am not blessed. I have worked hard to make and keep the company of good people–their presence was not bestowed upon me.

But I have good people. And for that, I am grateful.

 

I am freaking out. About finals. I have so much to write, and my new meds make writing very, very difficult.

Oh, yes. In the month where I was absent, I became medicated. Good for my sanity. Terrible for my productivity. I am tired and sweaty all the time, but showing signs of decidedly less crazy. That, and excruciating pain has become tolerable and, at points, even ignorable.

But, I am freaking out. I have developed a drug-induced narcolepsy. Brain decides that any intellectual excitement should be coped with through naptime. I am an adult. I need my naptime.

So, I sleep. And I eat, occasionally. I sit down to write, and my brain refuses to cooperate. So, I blog about my brain being uncooperative–which feels sort of like brain cooperation, until I pause the blogging and return to paper-writing. Nooooope. Zero cooperation.

Brain? You suck.

I was hoping to be done writing by Tuesday, and that is not going to be a possibility. But it needs to be. Because I NEED THE BREAK. Only get a few days off, and I need every one of them to calm. the. frick. down. Read a book that I want to read, so I can remember why, in the name of all that is salty and crunchy, I decided to major in ENGLISH. Perhaps spend some time baking. Plant some herbs. Watch terrible comedies and laugh so hard that I cry. Break.

From my brain.

And then there is the part where I cannot SEE. I mean, I have dealt with vertigo-ish sensations throughout the majority of my life. I get dizzy. A lot. No. I had never known real dizzy until these new meds.

And the migraines get more frequent. And everything I eat makes me feel like there is a monster clawing at my stomach lining. (Truth be told, that could just be an ulcer. Or two. Or three. Anxiety.) And my panic attacks get more intense, albeit less frequent.

But I don’t feel like dying. And some of the sleep I get actually feels like sleep. And I am in better spirits, overall. These things have not happened in years.

It feels good.

So, I keep taking the friggin meds. And I blame my inability to focus on the fact that there is something wrong with my pituitary gland — even though I know my pituitary gland is not the part of my brain that makes writing happen.

But, since there is obviously something wrong with that part, too, I like to pretend.

Minimize the parts of my brain that are seriously messed up, you know?

Passion.

I am sitting in the hallway, just outside my classroom. I am nervous as all broken-loose hell, because I have a presentation to give today. On Joan Didion.

I love Didion.

This is my problem: in all my academic endeavors, I choose to write and present on topics that are close to my heart. I read myself into the readings I am assigned. I would stop it if I could–actually, it is what makes me so passionate about my work. Which is a good trait to have. Passion.

It also makes me nervous about everything I hand in. I never just hand in some random rant on something that doesn’t have any pertinence to my life. I cannot compose things that I cannot connect to my own life in some way. That is just the mode in which my brain functions.

So. I am nervous. Because I am passionate about things. About school. About writing. About composing my own story. About Joan Didion and how she has composed her own story.

*taking deep breaths*

Wish me luck.

Pro-crastination.

My mother got me a Zen Garden for Christmas.

It sits in its box, on my desk that functions as a dresser. I haven’t quite settled in to my “new” abode–force of habit, living out of boxes.

But, today, I wish I had it set up. I am sick, and tired, in the way that an anxiety overload makes one sick, and tired. I need some way to calm down. My coping method of crawling into the fetal position and sleeping for a few hours doesn’t seem to be helping me in the productivity department. I just need to clear my head.

103 pages to write. Two semesters’ worth of work. Seven days. Ready…go!

I just want to read Joan Didion essays. Once I get started, the writing will go smoothly. The getting started part is the problem.

C’mon, brain. Kick it into gear. Whatever “it” is. That cool productivity thing that makes us write copious pages of intelligent stuff.

Ready…go!

Something Clever about Eyes and Beholders.

Hi kids. It has been a while. A long while, I know. I have been thinking about you. Often. Life moves at such a neck-breaking pace, and I can barely keep up. I have so much to tell you, and no words to communicate. But things need to get out of my head. So. Here goes:

Since we last spoke, I went to the Land of Happiness and returned. I got a t-shirt with Maleficent’s face on it because she is, by far, the greatest Disney villain. I usually don’t root for the villains, but she’s so elegant and her monotone voice is somewhat intoxicating. That, and she turns into a friggin dragon. Take that, Captain Hook.

I went to the beach. I hate the beach. Sand is like glitter, in that it never goes away and you find it in places you didn’t put it. The ocean is dirty, and smelly, and I arrived at the beach thinking about my genetic predisposition to melanoma. Pass the spf 4000, please. But then I laid my body and my brain down on a blanket. I closed my eyes and just listened to the waves. For a brief moment, I was peaceful. Not at peace–I don’t know that I am capable of “at peace.” But peaceful. Someday, I hope to live next to the ocean. Someplace with more cliffs and less sand than Newport Beach, but someplace where I can listen to God’s easy listening playlist…if God were a concept my mind could entertain, and easy listening were differentiated from musak. God wouldn’t condone using the ocean as a Kenny G metaphor.

Speaking of God, I’ve been feeling especially nostalgic for him. Him? I really don’t know. Deity is an abstract idea that does not fit in my brain, though I have spent a lifetime pushing and shoving and folding it, hoping it will fit in one of my boxes. Instead, I have music and language that bring me a sense of belonging and a glimpse of something divine. But then Easter comes, and General Conference weekend, and I remember the times when my appreciation for those moments were more than academic. But who I was and who I am are separate people, with others between us, and it would be silly to wish to be someone other than who I am.

But I do it anyway, somedays.

Like today.

Today, I wish I were Beautiful.

I have been reading Joan Didion again, preparing for a presentation I am giving next week. I think, foolishly, some days that I could be a writer. And then I read Didion and I collapse at her feet. Please, Joan. Teach me to mold language the way you do. Teach me to speak, and not just talk, as I put words on paper.

And I read blog posts talking about conventional notions of beauty, and how campaigns designed to make women understand that they are more beautiful than they think they are still teach women that they are only important insofar as they are beautiful. And I say, “Yes. YES.” and Jennifer looks over to see what I’ve become so emphatic about. I tell him, and we agree that the point is spot-on.

And then I lay there, staring at his ceiling while he naps and I fixate. What would I be willing to trade, to be beautiful? What would I give to have someone tell me that even when I show up on their doorstep at 2am, head bowed, eyes filled with tears, feeling so pitiful and vulnerable and heavy that my knees barely support my weight, that I am a beautiful person? Conventional definitions be damned; I just want someone to think, somehow, that I am beautiful.

I am certain that this desire stems from years of abuse. If I were uncertain, the many mental health professionals I’ve sat across from would certainly make it certain for me. I know. I’m broken, and I am trying to build a new self from the shards of old ones.

But people are like gardens, and they need to be nurtured. And while some may think that they are a secret garden, flourishing because of their attentiveness to themselves and their own needs, I prefer to think of people as public gardens. The words and actions of all who pass through contribute or detract from the well-being of the garden proper.

And discrediting the source of my desire does not make it any less real.

I am feeling self-conscious, as I am trying to figure out — for the first time in my life — what it means to be my own person. Freedom is a lot of work, and the work is terrifying. This is me, asking help of no one in particular. Writing crappy similes about gardens and people and being beautiful.

Maybe I should try sleeping.

I want to keep writing, because I am trying to convince myself that if I keep typing, something worthwhile will come out. That the Joan Didion in me will come out to play.

Speaking of coming out, I’m queer. Part of putting new me together is actually being me, and me happens to be “bisexual” but prefers, simply, queer. Don’t tell my mom, or my brothers, because I don’t think I’m ready for them to know and I don’t know how to tell them. If you are reading this and happen to be my mom or one of my brothers, I am perfectly happy if you go on pretending you don’t know, and would appreciate you not telling anyone else? Cool. Thanks.

And on that slightly awkward note, I think I will bid you adieu for the time-being. Did I tell you Jennifer is teaching me how to speak French? Well. Jennifer is teaching me how to speak French. I can conjugate ten-ish verbs, and ask, “Comment dit-on ____?” Or, how does one say <insert English word/phrase here, in the hopes that Jennifer will respond with the French equivalent.> I have to be somewhat fluent in French before I can go to grad school (and I have to publish, present at some conferences, write something that can be used as a writing sample, and finish a few more semesters in one piece).

Beautiful.