the junk drawer — it begins.

this is not an overhaul. this is a de-junking. i am not salvaging from the rubble the pieces of healthy habits and coping mechanisms. i am excavating. i am brushing off the dirt to reveal things that once lived here.

i don’t have so much to change. i have so much, already. all that needs to be done is to wipe off the grime that has caked itself around what i have to work with. grime that has made everything unrecognizable, but that – with the right tools – is easily removed.

this is my metaphorical teeth-cleaning?

cleaning out the junk drawer takes some time. we are going to start out with 100 days, and then re-evaluate where we are at that point in time. so, call this the 100 days of de-junking.

this is day 1: i know how to make food.

i have historically had a difficult time feeding myself. i am an expert when it comes to staring at the pantry, and then the fridge, and then the cupboard, and then back to the pantry. looking at the ingredients and turning them into a meal? that’s something i have struggled with. but, it turns out that i really do know how to make food. in fact, i know how to make food that also tastes good. amazing. today’s lunch was pretty low-key in terms of preparation. but it contained some good veggies, whole grains, fruit, and some protein. those are the important food groups, right? let it be known, world, that i can feed myself, after all.

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My Sandwich of Awesome: mustard, spinach, tomatoes, black olives, alfalfa sprouts, and pickles on whole grain bread.

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My Sandwich of Awesome, carrots, celery w/ peanut butter, banana, and glass of water. This constitutes lunch.

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Jesus Is Not Virtuous.

I stopped drinking caffeine on September 19th of last year. Considering that Dr. Pepper was a twice-daily part of my life, it was a pretty big deal. I did it because caffeine messes with my ability to have restful sleep and it makes me more anxious than I already am. That, and caffeine exacerbates my migraines. Welp. The 8-ish month stint of caffeine-free living came to an abrupt halt this morning.

Oh my goodness. I have missed Coke.

I seriously took one sip and let out this contented moan, with my eyes rolling up. It was that marvelous.

I got a Coke on the way home from work because I had to write a paper. I had the wonderful opportunity of arguing that Jesus isn’t virtuous. Aristotle says so. It was a lot of fun to write, albeit difficult with the heightened anxiety that the caffeine induced. Now I want to go to sleep. Instead, I am going to shower, and then return to the Philosophy world with Immanuel Kant. It’s looking doubtful that I’ll get any sleep before class, today. I’m going to try and track down an iced hazelnut macchiato before school. Why not overdose on caffeine after my first day back?

Jennifer and I went hiking on Monday. It was the first time I’d been hiking in years. We did a very, very short hike to a place called Grotto Falls. It was pretty. I’d forgotten how relaxing it is to be in the mountains and away from civilization. I’d love to live someplace along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Someplace green. Someplace peaceful.

Someplace with breathable air would be a bonus, as well.

Here’s the falls:Image

Baked.

I intended to go hiking, today. I had hoped that heading up to the mountains would help me clear my brain. I wanted that rejuvenated feeling that comes when you’ve spent miles traversing along a trail and sweat is dripping from every pore, like some sort of atonement for your inattentiveness to the world outside yourself.

Instead, I got to meet Jennifer’s grandparents. His grandmother is like mine: old-ish, but energetic; incredibly religious; convinced that chocolate is the most important food group. In the three years that Jennifer and I have been friends, he has managed to meet most of my family. I have met very little of his. So, today was a milestone, I suspect.

After his grandparents left, Jennifer barbecued. Then I made cookies. Oatmeal-craisin. They are a tad dry. I’ve never had my cookies be too dry, before.

I love to make desserts. I derive a great amount of joy from making safe spaces for other people. Desserts are like a Safe Space declaration, in my family. I like to extend those spaces to others–specifically, Jennifer. So, I frequently find myself making desserts for him. Well, for whomever wants them while happening to pass through his kitchen.

But, today, my cookies were too dry. And I didn’t go hiking. I have this need for detox that is not being met.

*sigh*

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.

Disneyland.

I’m going to Disneyland. Not right this very second, but in a few days. Three. It is our final family vacation before Chuck leaves on his two-year mission for the LDS church. When he returns from El Salvador, I hope to be in Canada. When I move back to the States, Evan will probably be leaving on a mission of his own. Paul will leave on one just before Evan gets home.

Basically, this is the last time my family will be in the same space…ever. Or at least until my siblings are all grown up. So. We’re going to Disneyland.

It’s a good thing, too, because my brain is ready to explode. This week has been so emotionally exhausting. I have a neurologist appointment tomorrow, so the hope is that my physical well-being may be improved soon — despite my emotional exhaustion.

I told Jennifer I would come over before work. That was an hour and a half ago. I haven’t gotten off my couch since I came home from school. Too tired.

But it is all good. Because…I’m going to Disneyland. 🙂

Balancing Acts.

My body is at war with my brain.

Some Possibly-Relevent Background Information: A few months ago, I had a four-day migraine from hell. Anyone who experiences migraines knows that ALL MIGRAINES ARE FROM HELL, but there are some that are from a deeper circle of hell than others. The worst Dante could produce brought me this particular migraine. ANywho. On day four of this migraine, I was eating dinner with my family, and trying not to laugh at the funny thing Chuck said because I was mad at him, when half of my face stopped functioning. Literally. The right side of my face was paralyzed. There was a trip to the hospital (my immediate thoughts were that I was having a stroke), where they ran a bunch of expensive imaging tests and told me that I did not have any bleeding in my brain, nor did I have a tumor, but I seemed to have Bell’s Palsy. I spent the next two weeks in doctor’s offices, trying to confirm the diagnosis. During this process, other concerns came up…such as the possibility of Multiple Sclerosis, or a cancer, or a tumor someplace outside of my brain, or a hormone imbalance, or out-of-control anxiety, or a combination of some or all of these things. We are still trudging through the game that is Musical Diagnoses, running tests my insurance doesn’t cover and avoiding running better, more expensive tests that my insurance doesn’t cover. Woot. Anyway. The purpose of this italicized segment was to explain why I am in pain all the time — that is, for reasons unbeknownst to me and possibly you, as well.

I am in Week Two of the Spring semester. We survived Week One. I would like to take a moment and tell you how STOKED I am for the rest of the semester. My classes rock. Well. Most of my classes rock. It has been a very long time since I have been this pleased with my course load. The reading lists for my literature classes are amazing, and have served as a sign from Karma itself that I am being rewarded for choosing a discipline I love.

My classes are brain-food, and my brain is thrilled at the possibility of being sated.

Of course, it only follows that because I am being intellectually satisfied, my body has to revolt. Couldn’t be a whole, happy human being now, could we. Nope. I spend one moment in a state of brain-bliss, and then I am yanked back to Corporealville by intense amounts of random, currently-inexplicable pain.

Is it too much to ask for a little balance?

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In other news, I learned today that I could possibly graduate in a year. I was planning on at least two-and-a-half more years before I could graduate with my Bachelor’s degree. However, even with my minor, there is a possibility that I could finish up next spring.

In the 2.5-more-years world, I was headed straight from my undergrad to pursuing my graduate degree(s). However, if I am going to be done with my undergrad work in one year, I think I want to take some time off from school.

Travel? See some other segment of the planet?

We’ll see. It’s both exciting and terrifying, to think of life after my Bachelor’s degree has been completed.

I don’t know if I’m ready to grow up.

The Name’s Anxiety.

Today marks the beginning of a new semester, and I am NERVOUS.

For those of you who experience this pre-semester anxiety on a regular basis, I commend you for pushing through it and attending class in spite of it. I do not get nervous about school. Ever.

Imagine you are in first grade, and your teacher asks you to draw a picture of what you want to be when you grow up. My picture is of me sitting behind a desk, in a classroom, with a backpack full of books at my feet.

Imagine you are in junior high, and your guidance counselor asks you where you want to be in ten years. My immediate response is, “School.”

Imagine you are a supposed-senior in college, and you are supposed to be graduating…but you aren’t, because you changed your major. Six times. That is my life. Am I losing sleep over it? Not really, because I would choose to be a career student for the rest of my life, if I could find some way to do so.

I want to get paid to learn things and take classes. Dream job, right there. Ideally, learning things and taking classes would also involve an extensive travel itinerary to places like Tuscany, and The South of France, and Santorini, and London, and Prague, and more places that capitalized not because they are proper nouns but because they are such cool places.

I go to school. I have a job on campus. I spend more time at school then I do anyplace else. Not only are the buildings home to me, but Academia as an institution is my home. I have social anxiety. I don’t to well with people. I am clumsy, so physical activity is not my strong point. I am smart. Curious. Books have always been close friends of mine. I have always excelled in school. It is where I am most comfortable. Where I am in my element.

So. Tell me, please. Why am I nervous about beginning a new semester?

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I am attempting to unwind and calm down by drinking Crio Bru (my new favorite beverage) and watching Supernatural. Drinking stimulants and watching “scary” things. I know. I am aware of how that sounds, in terms of plausibly calming me down.

Don’t judge me.

However, the watching of Supernatural is being delayed by the Wii console, which needed to update itself right this very second or it would have initiated self-destruct sequence. I’m back at my place, which has a Wii console. At Mom’s, there is an Xbox 360, which is preferable to a Wii. I am on round three of attempting to perform the Wii system update, and I am doubtful that the attempt will actually work.

I just want my fix of Dean Winchester, okay?

****

I spent most of the weekend at Jennifer’s. He is back safely from the great Canadian province of Alberta. Hooray!

We have been watching James Bond movies. We started at the end of last semester. I had only seen four James Bond movies (The Living Daylights, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, and Quantum of Solace. In that order.), and Jennifer would not let that continue. He loves the James Bond series. So, we started a marathon. From the beginning. Early last night, we finished up through Die Another Day. *30-second dance party*

Daniel Craig is, of course, the best Bond. That is not up for discussion. It is the truth of the universe handed down from the Bond gods. Timothy Dalton is next, in all his awesomeness. And then Pierce Brosnan. Sean Connery is next, though there is quite the gap between him and Pierce. I’ll put Roger Moore after Sean and George Lazenby last…however, I feel I should let you know that I fell asleep during On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and cannot give you a proper critique of Lazenby’s Bondness. Roger Moore is a terrible Bond. Utterly deplorable. For those of you who consider Moore to be THE Bond: get over yourselves. Just because he was in the MOST Bond movies does not make him the best.

I plan on watching the first two Daniel Craig Bonds soon, here. I want to see Skyfall before it leaves the normal theaters and enters the dollar-ish ones. I waited too long to go see The Dark Knight Rises, and was left with a dollar-ish theater as my only option. I got decked in the face by some lady, and then she decided to sit right next to me. There were only six other people in the theater, with Batman and Jennifer as my witnesses, and the crazy person punched me in the face and then sat RIGHT NEXT TO ME.

We want to enjoy Skyfall without any similar incidents.

Resolve.

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

Every year, I make three lists of resolutions. I have resolutions I’m supposed to make, resolutions I need to make, and resolutions I want to make. Resolutions I’m supposed to make are things like: I will lose ten pounds. Need to make looks like…I will sleep for more than five hours a night. Resolutions I want to make? I will take a semester off of school and travel around Europe. I will…be impulsive. Do something stupid.

I hate resolutions. Every year, three bulleted lists of ways in which I will fail to change my life. More things to panic over. More reasons to feel defeated and worthless.

So, this year, I’ve resolved to not make any resolutions. Except that one. No resolutions.

Here’s to a 2013 that is better than 2012 was.