Monday, September 22, 2014

At the Threshold of the Fall Equinox

Tomorrow is the equinox, so I guess it will officially be fall at long last. I can't even express how happy that makes me. It's time for cooler weather and nice, long nights. It's time to read Dracula and watch horror movies. It's time for big steaming homemade bowls of stew, and soup, and chili.

Then it will be time for the holidays. Last year, I think I felt like I'd finally made them my own. Not what my family, or my ex-partners, or society thought they should be, but what I felt they should be. It turned out the right approach combines religion with the same fun, cozy traditions Seth and I have developed by ourselves over the years. I am really looking forward to doing that again. My holiday season felt like it had a lot of meaning on more different levels than usual and that's something that's been missing.

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I decided I'm not really going to bother with my high school reunion in October. The main reason is the tickets were prohibitively expensive -- for me with my limited income, anyway -- and I just couldn't justify spending almost $200 for Seth and I to attend something I'm not even sure I care that much about. However, I also really don't think I feel like wasting an entire weekend socializing with people I'm not even close to just so I can say that I did it. As nice as it was to see some of the old peeps at Robert's funeral, the introverted Pisces that I am still kind of couldn't wait to leave. An hour or two of forced social interaction is about all I can realistically expect out of myself these days.

Funny how similar that is to the way I used to feel about school events like dances and such while they were going on. Case in point -- the prom. I didn't even remotely want to go to the prom. I also don't know how many times I heard that one day I'd grow up to be a halfway normal person that deeply regrets not having the prom to look back on. Therefore I should just make myself go. I can tell you right now that at 38 years old, I don't regret my lack of fucks given about the prom or my insistence on missing it one little bit. Same goes for not having a senior photo taken for the yearbook or anything else related to high school. It wasn't important to me then and it's not important to me now.

If anything, I think I'm glad I stuck to my guns and did what I felt was right for me. Somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to do that with any kind of consistency because I let people convince me there was something wrong with the way I am. And now that I've sort of reclaimed my right to establish and maintain my own boundaries, I'm back to not being bothered by the fact that I'm pretty reclusive. I'm relatively friendly online though. If anyone from high school wants to shoot the shit, they know I'm on Facebook.

........

Not that I was really doing it specifically for the reunion or anything, but I've been sticking to the program as far as our calorie monitoring goes. I've lost quite a bit of weight over the last three months -- something like 50 pounds. I look and feel much more like my old self again than I have in a long time. Leave it to me to get myself back in some kind of condition to turn heads again and then not really care about doing so. Makes me wonder how much I really cared about that to begin with. 

I guess the weight loss was something I was interested in doing more for myself. I like feeling healthy and attractive instead of like someone that might potentially wind up left in the dust when it comes to life. Plus, even if I don't care about turning heads or impressing anyone from back in the day with how young and pretty I've stayed, I will admit that I like knowing I could if I wanted to.

Monday, September 15, 2014

On Emotional Honesty, Priorities, and Being True to One's Self

It always seems that the more I have on the agenda for work on a given day, the more I actually feel like writing something of my own instead. A blog entry, usually, or a bunch of shorter social media updates... but occasionally a snippet of a longer story, a piece of flash fiction, or a poem. Usually, I react to those thoughts the way I was taught to -- by telling myself I need to get "the important stuff" out of the way first and then if I have time later on, I can spend what's left of my energy doing things I actually want to do.

The trouble with that approach to writing is that nothing expressive or passionate ever actually gets written. There's always something else to do that "needs" to get done or that society would label as more important. By the time I get to the point in my day when I'm out of things to do, it's the wee hours of the morning and I'm exhausted, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. The last thing I want to do at that point is write some more.

In fact, I'm constantly wondering if maybe that "work first, play later" is actually the wrong approach. For me, anyway. It certainly feels like the wrong one. One of these days, maybe I'll learn that it's OK to be someone that makes decisions based on how they feel and not how good they look on paper or how many of the right people sign off on them. When I just allow myself to give the first hour or two of my writing day to something that I'd actually like to write, I don't resent having to work as much as I normally do. I resent the need to earn money less, since it no longer encroaches upon my self expression.

That is something else I'm learning to accept about myself as time continues to roll on. I'm not a rational, nose-to-the-grindstone sort and I'm probably never going to be. Yes, I do consider myself to be a relatively gifted thinker and I certainly have that elusive gift of common sense that seems to escape so many. However, being a watery Pisces female, I'm perpetually steeped in emotion. I don't even know what it's like to not feel completely passionately about something. If I love you, I adore you... but if I hate you, I most likely also can't even stand the sight of you. I don't just get mad; I get furious. I'm never simply happy; I'm elated. And then there's the way sadness can easily turn into a deep depression if I dwell on it too much.

I've always been a bit ashamed of this, as well as the way my emotions seem to get in the way of me toeing the line in the way my parents, my clients, and the rest of society would probably prefer. However, when I decided to stop apologizing for it ten years ago or so, it seemed to start a chain reaction that eventually led to self-acceptance. I may even be beginning to feel the first stirrings of pride in who I am.

........

I had a really nice conversation with an old friend from high school a couple of weeks ago. It was just us two girls shooting the shit. Talking about exes, talking about divorce, talking about high school. Also talking about how much people we know have (or have not) changed over the years, including ourselves. She actually said that it seemed like I'd come a long way -- that I seem really relaxed and a bit more at peace with myself and the world around me. I agree with that... to a point.

It's less that I'm more relaxed and more that I'm less apologetic. I am who I am and it hurts no one. In fact, it may do quite the opposite. The intensity of my feelings also means I'm a very loyal friend. I'm moral and God-fearing. I'm not only creative, but I have an uncanny ability to read other people and anticipate their needs. That's actually part of what makes me such a talented copywriter with such a solid client base despite never having advertised my services anywhere. That conversation with my friend simply made me realize that I'm more than OK with that at this point.

That said, I try to look for ways that I can be truer to myself. Every time I consider making a major decision, I ask myself if I'm doing it because I want to and it feels right... or if I'm just doing it to please somebody else that most likely doesn't even deserve the time of day from me. One day, I hope to have cleared away all the detritus from "before', including anything that still exists inside my head because other people put it there.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Partying With the Animals at the Monterey County Fair


We not only made it to the Monterey County Fair this year for the second year in a row, but we also remembered to take plenty of pictures. I'm even in a few of the shots for a change like this one I absolutely love of Seth and me. It was taken in the bleachers on our first night there waiting for Queen Revisited to take the Garden Stage right before the sun started going down. (We saw War and Journey Revisited on each of the other two nights we were there as well. Wonderful shows, all of them.)

Like most women, I'm hard on myself when it comes to my looks, so I'm not crazy about pictures of myself. I'm plenty comfortable in my own skin and I realize that I'm attractive, so it's nothing like that, but I never really see what other people claim to when they look at me. I feel like my dieting and focused efforts to take better care of my skin and hair are starting to show though and that's found me feeling more interested in my appearance than I normally do these days. I was especially surprised by how clear and smooth my skin looks in this year's fair photos. I also like that I look happy, healthy, and in love. As well I should! I am happy, healthy, and in love... and becoming more so all the time.


We're both doing great on our little weight loss journey still, but there's no way you can go to the fair and not enjoy plenty of fried food and guilty pleasure-type treats. I am not sure I've ever actually had real, deep-fried midway corn dogs before, but we shared several this year. We tried alligator for the first time -- wonderful, juicy, spicy fried alligator on a stick served over deliciously savory New Orleans dirty rice. We even had pizza, and nachos, and fried fish with garlic fries -- all the things we normally wouldn't eat these days now that we're paying more attention to calories -- and plenty of delicious craft beer to wash it all down. 

Walking to and from the fair, as well as all over the place while we were there actually meant we burned off everything we ate. I wasn't sure I was totally enthusiastic about the walking part of the equation before we actually went, but really, walking is like a lot of things tend to be for me. It never sounds like something that's going to be fun, but once I've got some music on and get out there in the fresh air, I actually enjoy it. I'd even go so far as to say it's a mood booster, especially since it gets me out of the house and away from my various screens for a while, which I probably need to do more often.


We actually went on rides this time as well, which we've never really done together before. Sort of, anyway. By "actually went on rides", I actually mean we went on the Ferris wheel twice, but it was still a blast. Beautiful views of the fairgrounds and the city from up high. It was an especially nice place from which to take some pictures, chat, and finish our contraband booze. You're up there by yourself in your little bucket, but you're still part of things. I usually just sit on the sidelines and watch other people ride the rides, so it was nice to participate myself a little bit for a change.


Visiting the animals has always been among my favorite things to do at the fair. Something about the way the hay and the barn areas smell always reminds me of being a little girl in Germany. Especially if said smells happen to be combined with the smell of burning wood or coals. It doesn't really seem to matter what your childhood was actually like. There's a real sense of security and "OKness" with the world that instantly sweeps over you when something reminds you of the days when you really were a kid. Barnyard smells and sounds provide that OKness for me and most likely always will. I like that Seth gets it and enjoys it, too. My ex-husband only saw an opportunity to try to hit me over the head with more vegetarian propaganda.


The produce building brought back all sorts of memories of the summer Seth and I had our veggie garden in Montana. Since we've been focused on losing weight and getting into better shape, we've been really loving our veggies. Everything at the fair just looked so good and smelled so fresh -- lettuces, squash, artichokes, various greens. As much as I loved the experience of letting myself off the leash long enough to enjoy a huge slice of pepperoni pizza and a few corn dogs, there's something I really love about eating fresh, healthy, wholesome foods from the earth as well. That makes it easy to stay on track the rest of the time for sure.


The fair came at a great time for me this year. I don't know how appreciated I've felt by my clients lately or how enthused I've been able to get about writing in general. That's usually a sure sign that I need to take a bit of a vacation and there's no time like Labor Day weekend for a vacation. Turns out I was right. I really, really needed a break, but I also needed to get out of the house, enjoy some fresh air, and have some fun. Spending a few days at the fair with Seth listening to amazing music and treating myself to some of my favorite foods in the world was just what the doctor ordered. 

I wouldn't say that I feel excited to be back at work starting tomorrow, but... I feel rejuvenated. Something rare and wonderful for me that I wouldn't mind feeling more often. Plus, autumn is coming along with a whole new set of possibilities and adventures to be had. I can't wait.