Archive for 2009

Been this way before…

November 7th, 2009 | Josie

“Just because everything’s changing, doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before…” ~Regina Spektor, The Call

I seem to be doing a lot of soul searching these days. I am torn between clinging to dreams that I held onto for so long, even though they no longer fit my life, and embracing the new life unfolding before me.I have always been comfortable in my grand schemes and big ideas. Wearing my heart on my sleeve was like wearing the world’s most beautiful clothing out every day: I may not have fit in at every function, but I felt good, grand even. The problem is that the clothes that I have been wearing my short adult life are turning out to have hidden itches and awkward seams. They just don’t fit right any more.On the other hand, this new life fits like a glove. All these things that I never would have imagined I wanted make me happier than I have been in a very, very long time. It’s like sliding into a pair of pants that don’t look that great on the shelf. They are boring, plain, and I  had to walk by them 6 or 7 times just to talk myself into trying them on. Then I got them on, and they are the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn, and they make my butt look good! But even though they fit perfectly, I’m finding that I have to talk myself into actually buying them, because they are so far from the silks and satins I’ve been dreaming up for myself all these years.This is not about settling…this is about realizing that it is ok to want the little things in life. Figuring out that I don’t have to go to the fancy school to have fun in college…about searching the world over for the things that I want, only to come home and have them fall into my lap, mere miles from home. My life isn’t perfect, and I know that I’m not exactly in the place I want my life to be.  I’ll never entirely give up on my wanderlust, my desire for bigger and better…for that ever elusive more. But I also know that what I’m looking for with all my heart might just be right in front of me, waiting patiently until I open my eyes enough to see it…

Waiting for the questions to my answers…

October 27th, 2009 | Josie

“My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers. “ ~Tom Stoppard

 

I once heard a theory somewhere, I can’t remember quite where, that all the thoughts and ideas that people have exist, have always existed, outside the thinker. They are tangible beings in and of themselves, though perhaps not in the corporeal sense. They just float around the universe, biding their time until someone thinks them up. I don’t really believe this oddball idea, but I will admit that it has a certain amount of appeal to me right now, when most of the “thinking” that I do is sitting around, staring into blank space, waiting for something brilliant to strike me.  I try to look forward, to the next big idea or grand adventure, but instead I am stuck in bygones and might-have beens.

 

I’ve spent my entire rational life, as long as I can remember, trying to plan and plot my way to the life of my dreams. My plans have gone awry; they have crashed down on top of me time and time again. None of my big dreams have gone the way I planned, and I find my life at a stalemate. I am confused by my own wants and desires, because many of the grand things that I have always dreamed of and desired have fallen to the wayside. I’m left with only the bare skeleton of many bygone dreams, and rather than devastation, I only feel a pang of nostalgia for what could have, might have. I am surprised to feel little remorse for the passing of dreams I held so dear for so long. I have spent so many years cultivating meticulous answers to the questions I thought life would ask; I find myself at a loss for words, as my life asks questions I never prepared myself for.  I suppose in a way that these unexpected questions are next step I am looking for. If only I could force my feet to understand that and move!

Letting the moments slip by…

September 29th, 2009 | Josie

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.” ~Vita Sackville-West
For me, there is just the small matter of finding the time and the inspiration to brandish my net.  These days life is so full of everything and nothing, and I cannot seem to begin to get my mind wrapped around my own thoughts.

Refusing to stand in line…

July 21st, 2009 | Josie

It’s not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line.”  ~Ashleigh Brilliant

I have never been one to deal well with a loss of control, with the imperfection that being human inevitabley signifies. From the time I was a small girl, barely big enough to talk, I would script my play. It became such a problem that my own mother refused to play dolls with me, because there was no room for any rule but my own. This problem I have with control, my inability to be a dissapointment to my own ideas of what life should be like, has led to an almost constant scripting of my life. I plot my life out on paper, connecting all the dots until they make a picture that is acceptable to my grander schemes.Subsequently, I don’t handdle it well when that perfectly planned life begins to fall down around my ears.It’s not that I feel like I am always barely one step ahead of my finances. It’s not that I can’t seem to have a civil conversation with half the people in my life right now. Its not even that I lost my first job barely four months in, or that I allowed that job to make me question my goals, my outlook on life, and my faith in people. Even those things, one at a time, might be overcome.Its that all of these things are happening at one horrible moment, drowning me in what is clearly the evidence of my own falibility.  The fact that I can’t tell you where my life is going, or even where I want it to go, frustrates me to no end. I’m not supposed to still be figuring out what I’m going to do when I grow up, I’m supposed to be there already!I’m torn between grasping at the shreds that life is making of my plans, desperately attempting to piece them back together, or simply throwing everything out the window.  I’m not sure if I’m really brave enough to live my life without that plan, but I am sure that if I don’t learn to ease up on my need to control everything (and everyone) in my life, I’m going to push all of the people that I love away. I should have learned 20 years ago that if I refuse to play by any rules but my own, I’m going to constantly be playing alone.

My better kind of fire…

May 10th, 2009 | Josie

“I’ve been quick to love, quicker to tire. I’m looking for a slower burn, a better kind of fire.” ~Meg Hutchinson, ‘I’d Like to Know’

The constant theme of my life is this up and down rollercoaster game I’ve been playing with love, and the idea of love, since I was old enough to understand what it meant. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve hurt others. I’ve even wallowed in what I though was a hurt, but turned out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. I’m jaded, guilded green with the doubt my past encounters with love have instilled. I’ve been too quick to fall in love, or to claim a love that wasn’t true. At the first wisps of what might develop into genuine feelings, I would declare my devotion, verbally or not, and would extinguish the infant flames. Too many times I’ve put out the fire before it even began to give off light or heat. My experience of love has too often left me shivering in the dark alone.I’ve grown more and more hesitant to declare my feelings, even to feel them at all. There have been times I have all but given up on the idea of being lovable, damning myself to an existence of forever unrequited infatuations. As much as I yearned for love, I worried that perhaps it was beyond my reach. I realize now that perhaps what made love so unattainable for me was my very searching. As long as I was looking for it, love was elusive and reluctant to  alight on me. It was when I least expected it, when I wasn’t seeking it at all, that the sparks of what might be love, given the chance, landed on my shoulders. The distance is hard, no doubt about it. but I think that, combined with a hesitance born of years of hurt, the distance has given me the space to avoid smothering the growing flames.Its different this time, not the roaring inferno of teenage hormones, bound to burn bright and die suddenly with lack of oxygen. Nor is it a timid kind of love, that I am always feeding and fostering but it bound to go out from the start.  This time it isbetter, real, solid. While the warmth, this love, is terrifying to a heart used to chill, it is at the same time exhilierating. This is warmer, brighter. More a glow than a flame, the smoldering kind of heat that permeates a room. Or a soul.

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

Where the heart is…

April 1st, 2009 | Josie

“One’s home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening – the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life – and can never find again.  After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.”  ~Lemony Snicket

I came to the realization quite early in life that I am capable of feeling home just about anywhere. With a place to read a book and a few personal affects, I am quite able to apply the word “home,” reserved by some for one special place in the world, to any location that I happened to be inhabiting at the time. A very precious comfort for a child of the military. Home was never for me about four walls, a roof and a yard, but about family. Laughter and tears, fights and cuddling. Those things were home for me, wherever in the world they happened to be.

That being said, by the time I was 18, I was more than ready to get out from under my parents roof. Moving home from college in the summers was tantamount to torture for me. It was a nice place to visit for a couple of weeks, but more than that and I reverted into a whiny, complaining teenager. Not a state I like to resemble. Even as I traipsed around Europe with nothing more to my name than a suitcase and a backpack, I always felt at home in whatever apartment or dorm I stayed at. I always decorated my rooms with pictures and quotes, bits of home and lots of heart. Therefore, while many of my friends reserved home for their parents’ houses, I was always comfortable calling a new place home every couple of months.

When I moved to Ohio, I was excited to be adventuring once again. This was not the first time I had moved away from “home,” and it was by no means the furthest distance that I had wandered. I didn’t think it would be difficult at all, and I was desperate to separate myself from Wisconsin, which had technically been home for 9 years, almost half my life. Imagine my surprise to be now wracked by waves of an emotion that I have never really had cause to claim before: homesickness. I’m not saying that I want to be back in my parents’ house, because that always results in lots of yelling and crowding of personal space. Still, I miss things that are familiar, knowing where I come from. I never in my entire life thought I would hear the words come out of my mouth, and I can scarcely believe my own ears now, but I miss Wisconsin, desperately. Its more that I miss the people there than the place itself, but I was literally ecstatic when I was asked to come back to Madison for work, even if it’s only for 3 days. Being on State Street, where I know what to eat and who to talk to, where all of the shops hold memories, big and small, is something that my heart has been missing. Missing not only for the two months that I have been in Ohio, but for years.

I have so long wanted to “make something” of myself, to be better than the people that I grew up with, that I allowed my heart to harden against the place I was. It is only now, that I’ve left, that I realize what I never even thought to appreciate. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Even though I’m still happy to make my home wherever my feet are, I don’t take it for granted. Home is not where you stand, but where you leave your heart.

“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”  ~John Ed Pearce

Waiting to live…

March 26th, 2009 | Josie

“Waiting for the fish to biteor waiting for wind to fly a kite.Or waiting around for Friday nightor waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jakeor a pot to boilor a better breakor a string of pearlsor a pair of pantsor a wig with curlsor another chance.Everyone is just waiting.”~Dr. Seuss
I’m a bit worried that I am forever waiting for my life to begin, and am subsequently never happy with the life I am living…When I was a child, I always yearned to be older, always thinking that once I was an adult, people would take me seriously, I would do great things, and I would be happy. By the end of high school, it was all I could do not to jump out of my own skin. I’d been popular enough in high school, and busy, but it always seemed that once I got to college, that was when my life would really start. Then I went to college, and it was…not all that I expected. Again, I had friends, I was busy, but things just weren’t…perfect enough. So I moved to Germany, thought that everything would make sense then, and I’d be happy. Wrong again, all I did with my time was drink and make a fool of myself. In Hungary, I got my life back on track. I was heading in a direction that made sense, had found a man that I loved with all my heart and soul, who I was willing to change my whole world for. I thought that maybe for once in my life I was done waiting.When Leo and I broke up, my life derailed, worse than ever. I dug myself into a hole so deep I didn’t think I’d ever claw my way back out. But I did, bit by bit, over the summer. I was almost back to my self when I moved to London, ready for yet another fresh start. It went well, and at the same time, I still felt like I was waiting. When time came for me to move back the the States, I felt no wiser, and more lost. What good is a university diploma if you have no idea what to do with it? Getting this job was a godsend, the perfect answer to my prayers.  Now, finally, I was going to be able to be an adult, live the life I wanted, the world was finally going to fall in to place.Do I even need to say the inevitable? I’m worried that I’m not ever going to be happy, not really happy. I’m terrified that someday I’m going to wake up dead and realize that I never bothered to live at all, trapped in this forever waiting game.
“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”~Thomas La Mance

Topheavy and rootless…

March 5th, 2009 | Josie

“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches,letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”~Pauline R. Kezer If this is true (and I suspect that it is), I’m a bit at risk of toppling over for lack of roots…It is remarkable how quickly a life can change, and then change again. Not 2 days after my last post, I received a telephone call. Now, just over a month later, my entire life is upside down. Or perhaps, for the first time in a very long time, I’m looking at things the right-way-up. It is a bit disorienting nevertheless. The call I recieved just four short weeks ago was a job offer, in Ohio of all places. I was given a week and a half to pack up all of my worldly things into one small trailer and get to Chicago for a few days worth of training. Then, 2 weeks ago, I picked up my entire life and drove out to Colubmus, a city I had never even visited and certianly never thought to see myself living in. My life moved very quickly from a question of “what am I going to do with my life?” to a statement of “this is what.”I am used to being on my own in a new city, of not knowing people or any of the places that I need to be. That all comes fairly easily. But it wouldn’t be my style to do somethng like this without creating myriad complications. I startes seeing someone, a really great someone, just before I got the news, and now I find myself in a situation that I’m willing, but not sure that I’m able, to handle. Its this temping lure of perfection, of happy, and I am a bit of a trapped animal when happy is dangled in front of me. Mesmerized, I’m unable to run away, but terrified, I can’t make the motion to snatch at it. So I freeze caught by the prospect of happiness I’m to scared to wrap my heart around.All in all, this is an exciting and terrifying new adventure. One that I am more than ready to take, if only I could covince my feet to move…

Not done growing’til you’re dead…

February 2nd, 2009 | Josie

“I dread success.  To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth…  I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.” ~George Bernard ShawI think that perhaps the key to living always with the goal in front of you is to always be striving towards new goals. Success in the completion of one goal is not the end of a journey, merely the beginning of a new one. I’m graduatiting in less than a week, which means that, for me, many of the goals that I have set for myself over the course of the past three years are behind me: studying abroad, completing my thesis, graduating with honors. For years, my actions have been centered around achieving the next milestone, with only a vague concept of what the ultimate goal was to be. Through this journey, marked equally by success and disappointment, I have learned that what truly leads to happiness and success is not the completion of a “goal,” but the willingness to always be trying for something more.I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to come to London last summer.  I contemplated pulling my application, or moving it to another semester. But I realize now that that was only me being scared, it wasn’t any real desire to stay in Wisconsin, or in the US. Its been pointed out to me that I am “fickle and negative,” and while I may resemble that statement, I resent it fully, too. You point out to me one 21 year-old graduate who is on top of things and knows exactly what they want out of life. You show me one person in my situation who isn’t trying desperately to hide how much life and growing up terrifies them. I don’t beleive that anyone matching that despriction exists.We all hesitate at times to do the things that end up being the best things for us. Sometimes we hesitate too long, and the opportuinty is lost forever. No one really ever gets over being scared, refusing to apply for jobs that are perfect for them because they are afraid that they aren’t qualified enough, and missing out on a really great opportunity. We all also make decisions on impluse, and later regret being so hasty in changing the lives of us and those around us. It doesn’t matter if you are 21 or 45, those fears and regrets are going to perpetually look us in the face, over and over again. The best we can do is learn from the mistakes we make. No one is ever really done with that learning, we are always continuing to mature and to grow up.I’m growing up, slowly but surely, and of course sometimes I drag my heels, but its happening anyways. Somedays I even embrace it. The people who really love me are frustrated with me, dissapointed, but I hope that they can love me enough to see that I am just scared, and that that’s natural. My life is changing, and that is always scary no matter how brave I try to be.I now understand that success is not the ultimate goal. The learning and the growth that goes into and comes from realizing your dreams is so much more important than any goal could ever be.

Crashing on uncertainty…

January 19th, 2009 | Josie

“Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.”  ~Charles Simic

Somedays, I feel as though I am in the middle of the ocean when I suddenly realize that I never knew how to swim. Everyone talks about it as “the beginning of the rest of your life.” What if I didn’t want a new beginning, because I wasn’t looking for an old end? The past has been far from perfect. In fact, the word “perfect” doesn’t even enter the equation when it comes to adding up the sum of all the parts of my life that I am slowly piecing back together. This conglomeration of broken bits and worn out tatters of the things that I once called my dreams is awkward, its strange and confusing. I often find myself standing with this thing that I call life in my hands, simply staring at it and trying to figure out what exactly it’s supposed to be. It’s broken and I have resigned myself to the fact that I don’t know how to fix it. Nor can I rely on anyone else to come along and construct something beautiful out of these lumps of lackluster life. There is nothing remotely beautiful about them as they are, therefore why would anyone bother? I may not know how to do it alone, but my best efforts, half-assed and inadequate as they may be, will have to be enough.I look at all the pieces, recognizing the beauty that once existed in a bit of shattered hope, a tear of ruined dreams. Can that beauty be, if not whole or same, somehow reshaped, made interesting in all its brokenness? Each time I begin to scratch away the marring and the dust, to reveal the shining possiblities for what they could be, I breathe wrong and the whole thing begins to crumble through my fingers again. I am lost without a map and no one from whom to ask direction. I need a lighthouse of my own before I crash on rocks in this choppy sea of uncertainty with only an empty bottle in my hands.