Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brand new start.

I just finished reading “The Zahir” by Paulo Coelho and it talks about an interesting idea… It says how sometimes we have to tell our story over and over until we can let it go, until we don’t need it to define us anymore. We need to get comfortable with it, find the resolution, and let it be. We have to stop allowing our old stories trap us into the characters we used to be; we have to let go of the old storyline and become who we were meant to be (also, I can't seem to stop typing 'to be'). Sounds simple enough, but I know it’s not. It’s about as simple as ripping my own heart from my chest, burying it, and growing a new one.

But all growth is pain, and any major change for the good is hard. I know this, yet I've been living my whole life as if someone guaranteed it was supposed to be easy. Where on earth did I get that idea?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lie to me (honestly).

It's amazing the unspoken societal rules we live by today, especially in regards to relationships. More specifically, I'm referring to the rules we follow in the exquisitely tortuous social construction called DATING. And while there are certainly self-imposed, socially influenced rules within established relationships, I'm going to speak to the dating game that I so often get tangled in (mostly because I'm awkwardness personified, but also because I try to play by the rules that don't make sense, but we follow anyway).

Most of us have played the Dating Game, which is really more of a marathon with rules and uniforms and referees (yeah, I'm mixing sports metaphors, bear with me). You know this game - it's the one that goes, "Well, I want you to know that I like you, but only if you like me back, because if you don't, then I don't want you to know that I like you." And because of this rule, fear, whatever you want to call it, we do things like call and hang up, text and pretend it was on accident, flirt with them, but not too obviously, et cetera. When we like someone, we're consumed with the fear that they'll find us out, and at the same time, consumed with the fear that they won't. And if they do find us out, and don't return the feeling (which happens most of the time), we're completely and totally mortified, as if by our liking them we are issuing a grave and unforgivable insult:

"Oh my gosh, I can't believe I've told you that you're so wonderful you've caught my attention. I'm sorry to have made you feel so special by my innocent, heartfelt confession! You must feel terrible that you're so awesome people like you!" I mean, really?

I was talking to a friend the other day about this, saying to her how frustrating this whole game is. We both shared how foolish we have felt in the past for liking someone that may or may not return the favor. But shouldn't we be proud of our declarations? Are we really so self-loathing that we think it an insult to say we (who are wonderful just as we are) like someone? Shouldn't that person be honored by such a confession? But no, it doesn't work that. We're too scared, self-conscious, defensive or some other paralyzing excuse. Instead of being true to our feelings, we bury them so deep that not even a bit too much alcohol can pry the secret loose. We hold the feelings close to our heart, praying that if the person returns the favor, they will somehow find the courage to be honest with us... in the same way we wish we had the courage to be honest with them. But if our confessions never come out, if that person never pursues us, what then? Then the regret starts to seep in, nice and slow, pulling a couple dozen "What if's" behind it.

So why can't we just be honest with each other? Why can't we tell the truth, get our feelings out, be confident and see what happens? Because that would be breaking the rules. And what happens to rule breakers? They get disqualified. Or more realistically, we have a reeeally awkward moment with the person in question, and if that person happens to be a friend, then there are all kinds of continued awkward scenarios to be had if you stay friends. And so instead, we lie, or at least conceal the truth until we do one of three things:

1. Give up.
2. Find courage and fess up (perhaps motivated by the possibility that the love of a lifetime may be lost if you remain silent).
3. Combine 1 and 2, or create some other personal strategy that somehow gets the two of you to come together naturally.

And those that get to number 3, are truly blessed indeed.

How do relationships even begin? I can't remember. All I know is that they must begin out of awkwardness, nerves and disbelief. All I know is that I will continue to play the game, will continue to play by the rules, and will probably be grateful to all the men who let me down by lying.

"So lie to me once again
And tell me everything will be alright.
It's the same old story."
- 12 Stones

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I suppose everyone has regrets (if we're truly living).
Of course, it's easy to look back and see what you could have done differently (hindsight's 20-20 and all that).
It's not so easy to look at the present and scry all of the outcomes and options (though some of us try anyway).
When we're in the moment we generally don't write up the pro's and con's of every possible move, and then confer with a panel of ethical peers before making a decision (unless you're Donald Trump... Money can buy that kind of surety).
We do what we do and it's not until we've lived through the consequences do we realize how we could have done things differently (read: better).
This is the worst torture because you can't change it; you can't take it back (only in dreams).
All you can do is comb the wreckage for things worth keeping, learn from it, and let your past influence your future (change IS possible).
Besides, what's the point of history if you don't learn from it (and have the courage to try again)?
Regrets, when coupled with hope, can build our future (if we're truly living).

"Wisdom comes with winters." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 23, 2010

Passive aggressive coffee drinker.

Okay, I admit it: I am a coffee freak. I have been drinking coffee since the 9th grade, and haven't stopped since. I like (love) all kinds of coffee: dark, light, espresso, mochas, cappucinnos, you name it. I'm fairly certain coffee is the only reason I ever graduated from any institution or completed any difficult task. Ask me to live without it, and I'd ask you if you wanted a swift punch to the kidney. Seriously. Coffee keeps me alive. There was even one point in my life when I could drink coffee before bed and still sleep like nobody's business. Though I've toned down my habit a lot over the years, coffee still remains my breakfast of champions.

But before you begin to think I have problems (at least in relation to caffeine), please know that I do have some limits when it comes to coffee. A few examples:

1. Once while camping, we ran out of pots and ended up brewing coffee in the same pot we used to boil hot dogs in the night before. Somehow I didn't think meat-flavored coffee would be palatable (just ask Allison). So I skipped the caffeine until I returned to civilization.

2. When I used to fix books for a living, my coffee cup was always full. You try spending 8 hours with nothing but glue and paper backs and see how long you can keep your eyes open without the aid of legal stimulants. It's not easy. The one time I tried, I glued my fingers together and my paintbrush to my desk. Anyway, one day I placed a full, perfectly blended cup of coffee on my desk, only to discover a couple of minutes later that a freaking horse fly landed in it. Gag. I promptly dumped that sucker down the drain.

3. I'm pretty open-minded about different coffee types, except for instant coffee. Why? Because it's a poser, a liar, a weak imitation of what coffee should be. I don't care what you put in it, you can't hide the taste of cheating.

4. I'm one of those annoying people at Starbucks that will order the "grande-sugar-free-vanilla-latte-with-soy" with the practiced air of a true coffee addict. But I will never drink Starbucks coffee black. NEVER. I would like to keep my stomach lining intact, thanks.

These examples aside, I used to think myself a pretty hardcore coffee drinker; one who would drink under the most severe instances... But a visit with my dad proved to me just how far I have left to go.

While visiting my family last weekend, I put on a fresh pot of coffee while catching up with my dad, the man who introduced coffee into my life in the first place. Now my dad will drink coffee under any circumstance - I've even seen him drink Starbucks "dark roast", which resembles tar more than coffee, and which would dissolve the esophagus of a lesser person. But he does it like he's drinking water. It's amazing! Anyway, after pouring myself a mug, I turned my back on it for just a few moments.

Then I heard my dad said, "I think something just landed in your cup."

I peered in the mug, and was horrified to find that the "something" was actually two gnats. A wave of disgust and regret overcame my caffeine-stimulated senses. "Oh, gross! There goes a perfect cup of coffee."

My dad shook his head, "What? Just dig them out and drink it. It's fine!"

I shot him a grossed out look, "Ew... no thanks."

"Oh, c'mon Brittany. I do it all the time." And with that, my dad reached into my cup, scooped out the gnats, smiled and said, "Good as new."

I don't know what look was on my face, but it wasn't a pleasant one. Would I really stoop this low to save a cup of coffee from being wasted? Never! Hadn't I already had coffee at Kneaded Pleasures that morning? Well, yes, but... Would I let my tough dad persuade me to join the leagues of the truly hardcore coffee enthusiasts? Actually...

I seriously considered it.

My hesitation has led me to believe that I have fallen, no JUMPED, off the wagon of socially acceptable coffee addiction into the realm of "seriously, she has a problem" addiction. You will soon see me drinking the black tar coffee that has congealed at the bottom of Starbuck's coffee pots. I will give up sleeping entirely. I'll eat espresso beans for dinner. I might even begin drinking instant coffee.

Whoa, whoa now. Let's not go crazy here. Nothing is happening to me, really. I'm being overly dramatic, which is quite typical of me. Still... maybe I should consider giving up coffee?

Yeah, right.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Three years changes everything.

So, since I have yet to finish any new entries, I've been going through old essays and decided to post one of them while my tired brain tries to find inspiration for a new post. Yeah, I know I'm cheating. Anyway, I wrote this one three years ago (THREE YEARS AGO! How time does fly...) and I never really posted it because I was too chicken. But now, three years after that whole drama-fest, I'm in such different (read: better) place, and this writing doesn't bother me anymore. In fact, it was so long ago, and I've changed so much, that it doesn't even seem like I wrote it. But that's a good thing, right? Right. Anywho, without further ado, here it is...

"His Smile” - Fall 2007

I remember his smile the most.

Shining and brilliant, it never failed to inspire one of my own. His eyes would crinkle up at the edges and his entire face would light up like his joy was a heat coming from the inside. It was warm and intense, cool and easy, all at once.

That’s what got me in the very beginning. Every part of his face, his eyes almost more than his mouth, took part in his smile. It was a miraculous thing, and he wasn’t limited to just one.
Even now, I can pinpoint each of his smiles. I can tell you everything about them: what they looked like, how they felt, who he wore them for and when…

He had his fake smile, the one he put on with people he wasn’t comfortable with, or in situations he wished he wasn’t in. This smile didn’t reach his eyes. It was automatic, an immediate wall of defense. He wore it in public and it wasn’t until we were alone that he would let me coax it off of his face.

He had his sincere, completely ecstatic smile. This smile would burst into life without pretense or effort. A winning football game, a small kiss, or even just finding a new favorite song would elicit this smile. He could wear it for hours, and even when the intensity faded, the sweet feel of it hung in the air, leaving us both relaxed and happy.

He had his laughing-so-hard-I-can’t-breathe smile. His eyes would squeeze shut and he would clutch his stomach with his rough brown hands, shaking all over. The energy from it would buzz and giggle through me until I couldn’t catch my breath either. No matter what I was doing, there was a part of me continuously trying to find this smile.

He had his I’m-trying-not-to-be-angry smile. This was the smile I would see when we got lost because I wasn’t paying attention to the road, or when I reorganized his room without asking. This smile looked almost painful, and made his cheeks tight and frozen. It also made me laugh, which only kept it there longer.

He had his I-love-you-and-only-you smile. His eyes would soften and all the lines would smooth from his forehead. This smile could stop time, and often did. He would come so close that all I could see were the corners of his upturned mouth. But, I wasn’t looking for his smile then, not really. Locked into his gaze and the thoughts behind it, I lost myself in a world that only existed when he looked at me that way.

He had thousands of smiles, countless and ageless. But of all his smiles, there is one that stands out above the rest. It's the smile that I will remember the most, the one that is ingrained behind my eyelids. This smile I saw once and never again: it was the one he wore when we stopped existing. When he knocked on my door that night, he was already wearing it. It was a quivering smile, a wet and uneven smile, a smile that broke apart everything I thought I knew. It stripped the air from the room, pulled the life from within me, left me curled on the floor in a pain I didn't understand. He left me there and took his smile with him.

Now all of my memories of him, good or bad, are tainted with these smiles. Some of them have faded, others have haunted, and still others have left scars where love used to be. Though time has lessened their affect on me, I know they're affecting someone else... Someone new and different and beautiful in ways I never was. They have his smiles now, and I have only shadows.

That's it, and all it should be.

Vestiges of his memory are all that I want now; They're all I need to keep the parts of life I lived with him, the necessary parts I must carry.

So, I remember his smile the most, though it no longer remembers me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wisdom? More like random neuron firing.

I found this journal entry today... I wrote it at work over a year and a half ago. I don't know if I agree with it completely now, but it's interesting to see what my little naive brain was thinking back then:

It’s amazing how things can come together for you. I was reading an article in ‘Psychology Today’ about happiness and how it’s not our reward for avoiding pain. It’s also not something that is guaranteed, nor is it reasonable to expect that happiness will follow you 24/7. It went on to discuss all the necessary emotions in life that we must experience, because after all, you must “know the darkness to appreciate the light”. Just after I read that article, I read one on attachment theory and how deep down, we are all (female AND male) programmed to want, need, crave love and close relationships with other people. It went on to describe recent research that shows how our brains react when we see or perceive the loss of someone close to us. It actually triggers a panic response in our amygdala (the organ in the mid-brain responsible for things like attaching emotion to learning and memory; it’s basically the emotion center). Of course this reminded me of the time when my amygdala panicked because someone close to me actually did leave. So then, I thought about my current, boyfriend-less situation and thought, “Why the hell am I even looking? It’s not even worth it if they just end up leaving and freaking out my brain.” THEN, when I went back to my desk, Garth Brooks’ ‘The Dance’ came on the radio and I had to bite my lip to keep from crying (I know, I know... I'm such a sap). I went full circle. I realized again, that the small moments of happiness in life are always worth it. Always. Living through the pain is just a part of life; it’s a given. But happiness will find us all again. The opportunity for joy is ever-present.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time means nothing.

It’s amazing how long the heart can hold on to love. It’s amazing how it keeps hoping when there’s nothing left to hope in.
Love is not logical, reasonable or understandable. We try to make it fit into theories and boxes and books, but how can anyone objectify something so brilliant, unknown and complex?
Love moves and morphs and ages and changes… Over and over and over, making time and distance irrelevant.
I can't comprehend it. After so many years, I see that since God is love, and I can't understand God, then there's no way I can understand love either.
Love just is. It defies time; It defies logic... Yet we have to choose it every day.
Love is everything.

And the person who loves wholeheartedly feels free. - Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate is deceiving.

I've been suffering from writer's block lately, or at least that's the excuse I use. Whatever the excuse, it's keeping me from the one thing that keeps me sane. Maybe I'm afraid of what's going to appear on the paper once I give myself space to think. Maybe I'm tired of it because when I sit to write, my mind and fingers get disconnected and I stare dumbly at the screen until I give up and just read a book. Or maybe I don't write because when I let my heart in on the writing action, my fingers take off and pretty soon I have pages and pages of things I'd rather not think about.

Just thinking about it makes me stressed. And stress makes me crave chocolate. Speaking of which... I'm an addict to these little Dove dark chocolates that come with little sayings hidden in the wrappers. One piece of "advice" I keep getting over and over is this: "Follow your heart - it will never steer you wrong." Um, yeah. That's a bunch of crap. It's because of my heart that I get into so much trouble and wind up in such existential angst. My heart often has a mind of it's own, and it rarely cares what the rational side of my brain has to say. And since I usually keep my true feelings and thoughts cooped up in my heart all the time, when it does decide to speak, there's no stopping it. My heart is idealistic, irrational, whimsical, demanding, and oh-so naive, which is why I tell it to shut up so often. Maybe too often.

I'm sure there's a lesson in all this, which I'll be sure to mull over some other time. As for now, the only advice I can take away from Dove (and this blog) is this: don't listen to chocolate.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Here comes the sun.

So, it has come to my attention that my blog title is a lie. Most of you who know me well, know that I am an eternal pessimist. If there is a negative perspective on anything, I'll take it. If there's a gloomy book in a 3 story library, I'll find it. If the glass is half-full, I'll empty it out. Eeyore and I could have been BFF's. I have a blackened, shellacked heart that beats in tune to every emo, rock ballad that comes on the radio.

You get the idea.

I used to think that pessimism defined me, that I couldn't be anything rosier. But then I got a clue. Why the hell do I HAVE to be a certain way? Why can't I change my perspective, fill up my glass, flip on The Kooks and rock some rose colored glasses? I can be optimistic if I want, damn it. And I will!

It turns out that optimism takes practice. Since I wasn't born as a Miss Merry Sunshine, I'll have to work at it. Optimism is a daily practice that will hopefully become a habit, which will then become a permanent part of ME. And I think now is the best time to start... With the beautiful sunshine, spring weather, fresh produce and happy people, I can do it.

Bring on the happy!

"I'm only happy when it rains
I feel good when things are going wrong
I only listen to the sad sad songs
I'm only happy when it rains..."
- Garbage

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And it feels like letting go.

The weather is gorgeous today: clear blue sky, whispy streaks of clouds, brilliant yellow sunshine and enough allergens to make your eyes swell shut. (Okay, so it's gorgeous minus that last part.) So naturally, I spent part of today driving around familiar country streets, listening to happy music and basking in the glory of the day. It was fantastic.

But every time I experience a day like today, I always feel a small twinge of something I can't quite understand. Regret? Sadness? Boredom? Congestion?

Seriously, days like today remind me of all the previous times in my life when I've experienced weather like this. Usually these memories entail other people I used to be close to... friends, family members, loved ones... People that have, in some way or another, left my life completely. I think of these people on beautiful days like today, and sometimes I feel them again. I can see their smile or hear their laugh, or I remember a stupid joke they would always tell or song they used to always sing...

Memories are powerful things, leaving behind vestiges that sometimes feel so real you have to double check to make sure you're not actually losing your mind. They bind us to people in ways that don't even make sense sometimes, making us associate them with little, seemingly inconsequential things. For example, every time I drive by this deserted mailbox in Cedar Park, I think of an old friend who I've lost touch with over the years. This person and I never actually visited the mailbox, nor did we ever come close. But when I see that box waiting for mail that will never come, I'm immediately brought back to days when I too waited for them to return. (Or maybe I'm just a romantic, poetic freak who likes to make connections that are just ridiculous and cheesy. Probably the latter.)

In any case, weather like today's is a good chance to practice the art of letting go. Letting go of people, places, memories, feelings, thoughts, confusions... Letting go of things that were once ours but left in the night when we weren't looking. Letting go is necessary and freeing. What, if anything, do we really have control over or possession of in this life? Not much. But hey, that's how it should be. Letting go doesn't mean forgetting or not loving. Letting go is freeing yourself from the pain that comes with missing someone so much it hurts. In this you can forgive yourself, appreciate the memories, and move on a little lighter than before. Maybe those people will come back. Maybe not. Whatever the case, you have those memories of them to turn to on beautiful days. The good memories, the beautiful ones that can carry you through the darkest times, are the ones that will stay whether you hold onto them or not.

Days like today are perfect for letting go.

"The time of departure is not mine to choose; I must find my way alone in
this darkness...
Love likes to wander from one to another,
as if God willed it so. My darling, farewell."
- Wilhelm Müller

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Being Zen in 2010.

In the beginning of two thousand and ten, during the second hour of January the 2nd, a youngish girl sits down to write her first blog of the new year...

And hits writer's block. Ouch.

Hopefully, that's not an indicator of how the rest of the year will play out. I need my brain to be fully functioning this year, damn it. It's going to be a year of change and growth and art and love and peace and faith and hope!


Which reminds me, I'm going to try to be more optimistic this year. And productive. Also, having a mindful, zen-like attitude wouldn't hurt either...

Anyway, since my mind is otherwise blank, I'll go ahead and end this little excuse for a blog...

Here's to an optimistic, productive, mindful and zen 2010!