I want to be in a better mood. I want to have people stop asking me dumb but well meaning questions. I want to hear their dumb but well meaning questions and think of them as only well meaning questions. I want to tell my sweet husband how much I appreciated the homemade fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes he made for dinner tonight. And while I went upstairs to veg in our bedroom playing Words With Friends, I wanted to tell him how awesome he was for cleaning the kitchen, washing the dishes and taking out the trash. I want to stop craving gummy bears and Swedish Fish and be happy that we will be going refined-sugar free in the month of April. I want to believe those people that say after awhile a person will stop craving sugar.
I’ve been reading The Highlights of My Day (via). It reminded me of my tendency to take pictures on my iPod of quotes that strike me. I haven’t looked at these pictures in awhile, but I went back to “Leaving Maverley“, a short story by Alice Munro. I snapped the last part:
He looked at the nurse in wonder. She thought he was asking her what he had to do next and she began to tell him. Filling him in. He understood her fine, but was still preoccupied.
He’d thought that it had happened long before with Isabel, but it hadn’t. Not until now.
She had existed and now she did not. Not at all, as if not ever. And people hurried around, as if this could be overcome by making arrangements. He, too, obeyed the customs, signing where he was told to sign, arranging—as they said—for the remains.
What an excellent word—“remains.” Like something left to dry out in sooty layers in a cupboard.
And before long he found himself outside, pretending that he had as ordinary and good a reason as anybody else to put one foot ahead of the other.
What he carried with him, all he carried with him, was a lack, something like a lack of air, of proper behavior in his lungs, a difficulty that he supposed would go on forever.
The girl he’d been talking to, whom he’d once known—she had spoken of her children. The loss of her children. Getting used to that. A problem at suppertime.
An expert at losing, she might be called—himself a novice by comparison. And now he could not remember her name. Had lost her name, though he’d known it well. Losing, lost. A joke on him, if you wanted one.
He was going up his own steps when it came to him.
A relief out of all proportion, to remember her.
I opted for The Mindy Project and ice cream to yoga tonight. I regret nothing. Also, I forgot to secure the top to my water bottle before I put it in my purse and essentially drowned my copy of Neuromancer that I was valiantly trying to tackle yet again.
I could continue with my list of failures (I probably need to wash my hair) or I could remind myself of this video I watched over the weekend.
My persistent introspection tends to highlight my shortcomings over my achievements. Sometimes the days blur and time, or its passing, starts to feel monotone and flimsy. I write to remind myself. 2014 was a good year. It was a year of exciting changes. It was a year of promises and previews.
I became a homeowner. I turned 30. I convinced my husband to go on a diet with me where we pretended eating fish for 3 days straight and giving up sugar and bread wasn’t the total worst (okay, it wasn’t the total worst). I read some lovely books. I watched some lovely movies. I got a much needed Lauryn Hill do-over. I went to my first Comic Con. I visited Red Butte Garden for the first time. I made my first trifle. I baked muffins and corn bread and French bread and cookies.
I was assigned an actual grown up food assignment for family Christmas dinner that was not a veggie tray or chips. I celebrated six years with my husband. We expanded our portfolio and met most of our financial goals for the year. I tried to ignore all of the times I didn’t quite measure up to my expectations or the personal goals I set for myself. I tried to remember to breathe. I tried at least as often as I stood still. 2014 was a good year.
I finished Matilda by Roald Dahl narrated by Kate Winslet (thanks, Mark!). Surprisingly, this was one of those classic books I never read as a kid. It’s too bad. I gravitated towards books about children, especially small girls that were weird or alone or otherwise misunderstood in some way. I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time over a dozen times and admired Meg Murry. Likewise Jonas in Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
I guess I was the weird kid that held onto her ‘smart girl’ badge as tightly as she resented (and secretly disbelieved) it. I’ve been trying to come up with who I want to be in 2015, what I want to do or how I want to succeed. I’m struggling with the details.
Random from swiss miss, this is gorgeous and lovely:
I’ve been thinking a lot about my 2015 goals, but haven’t committed anything to paper yet. The husband and I will be doing that this coming week, I think. Every year brings a promise of new and exciting things, a chance for improvement. This year will be no different of course. Lots of changes, lots of progressing, lots of regressing, lots of mistakes and messes.
I’ve been slowly going through Joan Didion’s We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. It’s weirdly perfect for the mood I’ve been in lately. Between that and Anna Kendrick’s first few lines of “Still Hurting” in the trailer of The Last Five Years, I wonder how I can pour more of those feelings into the new year. The quiet moments of truth. The bareness. The feelings that feel so universal it expands from those hidden spaces into something sprawling. Something sweeping and powerful. And sure.
I read this article today about “New York essays” which prompted me to read Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That”. My Didion interest is only a couple of years old (I know!). I immediately fell in love with The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. Last year, Lena Dunham talked with Alec Baldwin about the biggest dream from her “pretentious private school” upbringing would have been to become Joan Didion.
Elementary school was a time of voracious reading for me. Writing, too. I would make up stories with Friend messages and read them to my family for FHE. It was also elementary school when I submitted one of my stories to this school district thing. The stories were compiled into a book of sorts and we got to skip school for a day and attend these workshops with actual published authors (several of which warned that there was no money in children’s literature).
But I think I also chose my career field when I was in elementary school. Although, I secretly hoped I would be Jo March from Little Women, I told my family I wanted to go to Harvard, be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and ship my kids off to boarding school. I had no clue what a CEO of a Fortune 500 company did, but it sounded important and I knew that it would mean I was the boss.
Then in high school, I decided I wanted to be a financial planner. Although the last year of college made it very clear that was not in the cards for me, I finished with a finance degree and became an accountant. Almost ten years later and I’m still a little surprised about how I got here. I wonder what would have happened if I had been a little dreamier, braver. If I had paid more attention to my writing than to spreadsheets and financial ratios.
I’m not sad to see that my life isn’t how I thought it would be. My struggle is the feeling like I’m not so confident about where it’s going. I can’t see a clear path anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. Maybe the answer will be somewhere in these new habits I’m trying out. Although, if I could start over, I’d shoot for Didion.
I have always been a habitual worrier. List making and obsessive preparedness helps. Exercise too, when I find the motivation. Hobbies, sometimes. Good chats with friends and check ins with the husband. An engrossing book/tv show/movie offers escape. All attractive outlets, but this past week I’ve found that for times when I need a few minutes to keep my brain from panicking, I’ve been deferring exclusively to the solo dance party. The following tunes have been much needed mood lifters:
Janelle Monae ft Erykah Badu “QUEEN”
Sam Smith “Money on My Mind”
T. Swift “Shake it Off”
Lucy Pearl “Dance Tonight”
From Left to Right: Robyn “Fembot” || Janelle Monae ft Erykah Badu “Q.U.E.E.N.” || Sam Smith “Money On My Mind” || Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” || Lucy Pearl “Dance Tonight” || Sia “Chandelier”
My 30th birthday came and went without much fanfare. I was secretly hoping for a kind of magic Wishing Dust scenario a la 13 Going on 30. I would open my eyes and see what a dreamy life I had as a successful career woman complete with Pat Benatar sleepovers. Instead I was met with my boring, quiet, and mostly wonderful life. 30 means my window for ingenue is closed now. It means I’m not “in my 20s” anymore, whatever that meant. It means I am Danny Tanner’s age from the pilot of Full House. It means I am often wondering what age Anne Welles was in Valley of the Dolls after she realizes she’s wearing makeup for reasons beyond her vocational obligations to Gillian Cosmetics.
It means other things too, exciting things. 30 meant homeowner when I was younger which I checked off this year. It means having a good start on my finances, clearing away my debt, and focusing on true financial independence. It means not being too set in my ways to try new things, but allowing me to linger on the things I treasure. It means I’m not afraid anymore to be a mother. If it happens.
I will always be the occasional neurotic, introspective, dreaming pragmatist, but I hope the coming years will see me happy and improving little by little.