of questions incorrectly answered 

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”

Why do you ask me unanswerable questions. Why do you ask me anything? 

Why do you talk to fill up the silence? To prevent everyone else from talking?  Or worse, from thinking? Why do you change the subject when I’m being quiet? Why do you write everything down, so that you can contradict yourself later? Call yourself out? Why do you get awkward when you say goodbye? Was it really so hard to be with me in that span of time prior to? 

Why do you get to monitor the time I spend talking, when I rarely want to talk at all. 

Milan Kundera, you’ve given me the knowledge to diagnose my disease. Maybe it was better when I couldn’t say. 

“What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?” 

“His love for [her] was beautiful, but it was also tiring …he had constantly had to hide things from her, sham, dissemble, make amends, buck her up, calm her down, give her evidence of his feelings, play the defendant to her jealousy, her suffering, and her dreams, feel guilty, make excuses and apologies. Now what was tiring had disappeared and only the beauty remained. The future was again a secret.” 

Fourteen pages left in my journal. What have I even said. I want to cover my skin in ink. I want to drown in the memories of the words. The older I get the less I get about the world. Sure the more I know about myself. But it feels like having a key with no lock. I keep trying to fit it into doors but it doesn’t turn. I carry it and wait and wonder. Is there even a lock that was made for this key? Time is all I have and also nothing that I want. 

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Out of my mind

I catch myself purposefully being awkward, purposefully trying to make the situation uncomfortable. Not because I take any real pleasure in discomfort, more like to test myself…how can I manage these waters? These waters of pauses and starts. People tell me not to; “don’t do it.” But I do it anyway.

Why are people so uncomfortable with discomfort? I have conversations with strangers every day and they are so…distant, worried, overthinking our words and actions. Just let me…

Caveat: If I make more of an effort to be my most genuine self in all my interactions, it will include this discomfort with others. It will include these clashes and failures. It will focus on the not-quites.

Reflection essay

I don’t think emotions are bad. Maybe it’s just a part of growing up, becoming more mature, more comfortable with myself. I admit I wasn’t taught how to be emotive in a healthy way. My parents are…more of the somber type, only expressing emotions when they reach their peak. Even my mom, who taught me to love words and analysis, is bad with her emotions. I guess I model them. But I’m trying, trying to learn to express emotions I think are valid, just as valid as my thoughts and words and analyses. Trying to break down the barrier between head and heart. Trying to understand that they’re not separate parts. This is a fallacy we have created out of fear, out of weakness. Out of desperation to be more than…

Well what’s so wrong with what we are?
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My brother found this picture, in his epic struggle to follow his heart. I don’t know what happens when you reach that certain age and suddenly you are so sure about everything and you can’t wait any longer, but it does. It clicks. He’s struggling to pace himself even though he knows what he wants. Why should he feel guilty when he knows what he wants? We spend so much of life not knowing what we want. Those moments are rare, I think, when we’re so sure.

(Omg, President Obama has emotions: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/23/us/politics/obama-lowers-his-guard-in-unusual-displays-of-emotion.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

I don’t know why I wasted my time reading the article. But seriously, why should he show anything? He gets enough shit as it is, could you imagine if he were blubbering around–let’s not pretend he has privilege he doesn’t have. Let’s not forget this is the United States of America. Land of the white man. c’mon. I think he’s quite emotive, but in a different way. You can tell he’s being professionally emotive. Trying to be a leader. Isn’t that what we expect of our leaders? I’ll be the strong one when you look to me. Know that I’m hurting too, but you can feel and I will do. Isn’t that how we work? Isn’t he supposed to be objective and impartial and walk the lines between the boundaries? bipartisan)

I finished Leslie Jamison and her words have been following me around:

“Sure, some news is bigger news than other news. War is bigger news than a girl having mixed feelings about the way some guy fucked her and didn’t call. But I don’t believe in a finite economy of empathy; I happen to think that paying attention yields as much as it taxes.”

And I find myself making a point after someone finishes unloading, just to say, “I’m sorry.” Just to acknowledge their news, “that sucks.” Just for a moment to let them know, I’m here with you, regardless of where I might go next. Regardless of what I decide my next step to be, for the moment, I’m side by side. I think sometimes that is the hardest for me. I’ve been such a transient person. Let me wait a moment here with you. Pace myself.

And also, I’m trying to finally, finally embrace my sentimentality, embrace the confession, embrace the emotion and the empathy and the swirl because of this:

“We watch a character define himself entirely through what he will not claim. If I could choose one item from my entire apartment, what would I disown? It might be my trash can full of ripped paper packets, which might mean that this pile of packets is my most honest expression of self.”

For so much of my life, I put my feelings in a trash can. Locked them up in the closet. Told myself that what I felt didn’t matter, wasn’t important, couldn’t be claimed by just about anyone. But then this seed was planted, sometime in Ireland, when I first began writing for anyone to see, and I received so much feedback. What Jamison calls confessional writing–that’s what I had been doing, that’s what I do. And the people who read through my words, who said them back to me, who thought they mattered, that brightened a bulb in my mind. Oh.

I thought all these feelings were unimportant, but people are just waiting, waiting like fish in the water for the feed to fall. Gimme. Help me. Share with me. I continue to struggle with this, feeling like, is what I’m feeling really shared, really unique, really anything?

“I think dismissing wounds offers a convenient excuse: no need to struggle with the listening or telling anymore.”

I’m beyond selfish with my words and my time and my real feelings. But I’m trying not to be. Or at least to be at more convenient times. At least to acknowledge that I can be later.

“Commonality doesn’t inoculate against hurt.”

If I commit more time to being more open, I think this will build my resiliency. I think this will help with the uncertainty. Like my brother, maybe I’ll work through it to find a sure place. Jamison says something like this, but I’m still struggling with making the meaning: “The pain is what you make of it. You have to find something in it that yields. I understood my guiding imperative as: keep bleeding, but find some love in the blood.”

Desert dreaming

How much of my life has been spent at the side of a pool. As I get older, I see the freckles and lines, the scars of my life from under the sun, beside the concrete basin of chlorinated water. But I love the heat. I love the sweaty feeling on my brow, on the small of my back, the pit of my knees. The smell of sunscreen, the slight reddening then bronzing of my skin. 

When I was a teenager, my girl cousin would come over and we would baste ourselves in a weird mix of sunscreen and tanning oil. We would slide down our jean shorts and stretch out on the lounge chairs, covering our faces with our tshirts and timing ourselves to turn over. Talking about boys, which were new to us then, movies, our skinny bodies. Sometimes we wouldn’t even take a towel, knowing that we wouldn’t be out long enough to get in the water. Usually it was just a dip, just a refresher. It would help with the tanning process, Tanya claimed (not tan-ya, tawn-ya). The sun would reflect off the water on your body. As you dry you darken. 

I would wait for my father to pass by, eventually, wait for him to recognize the reposed girls as his own. Wait to complain about the heat or the pool or whatever. 

It’s crazy to think, to hope, that a sheen of lotion will save me from skin cancer, as it certainly is not saving me from lines and a smattering of dark spots across my shoulders and arms and stomach. But I can’t resist the sun. I can’t resist the urge to sit out and let it soak into my skin. Let the heat quiet my mind as I read or write or sleep with my earbuds in. I love the heat. I love the blindness of summer and the passing of time as the sun moves across the sky. Who am I under the sun? Some lazy white girl. 

Reasons for fight or flight

There’s honeysuckle on the trees and the rain is coming and I want you to know you’ve been wrong this whole time.

Do you believe in intuition? Psychics and all that shit? I do. I inhale it. Ingest it. Suck it up like precious clandestine oxygen. Something strange happened to me today. It can’t be verified yet because that’s how life is, but I know.

The crescendo. The bubble has burst and I feel inexplicably happy. Giddy. I can’t even capture it, but I’ll try.

These are the pieces I built into a jenga tower bound to fall:

-I had brunch with friends. I had two mugs of the cinnamon honey latte (I know, right). It was a mistake, but I couldn’t say no.

-I left my friends for the massage I scheduled weeks ago when I felt like I was suffocating in my skin.

-I lost myself a little during the massage–proof of some talented hands. I think I fell asleep towards the end but I can’t be sure. She said, “you are everything.” I opened my mouth to ask her what she meant but then she was saying thank you and asking me to take my time. I nodded my head, confused, which is waking life and which is real life. I left feeling separate from myself. Head on a string, muscles loose and liquidy. Fluid is how the massage had been described to me. That was the result.

-That sentence stayed with me as I drove home, crawled into my bed and fell back to sleep. I was dreaming about something totally unrelated and typical when I heard a man’s voice in my ear, “you’ve been wrong this whole time.” I jolted awake looking for the source. The post massage ache had settled into my muscles. The caffeine of the coffee was churning through my chest. With nowhere else to go, it had pooled there. My heart was pounding but there was nothing to run from.

-I tried to read but the voice kept playing, “you’ve been wrong this whole time.” It wasn’t a nauseating effect, it was a resolute feeling. Like when you’ve been working a trig problem and it’s not making sense but then you see the error: “you’ve been wrong this whole time.” I tried to read but couldn’t forget.

-I came to the park to write to run to sweat. “You’ve been wrong this whole time.” I chased that voice until I felt it. Life’s not a competition, but I’m winning. I stopped running when I realized: I was right. You were wrong this whole time but I was right.

I knew it.

And then as suddenly as the feeling came over me in my dream it was gone. I felt giddy, relieved, a little shaky but at ease.

I have no idea what the hell is going on, but some day. Someday I’ll talk to someone about 3pm on a Saturday and the gears will click. I’ll get it. I’ll know. In the meantime I guess I’ll be satisfied with this feeling of resolution. Of passing. Of seeing the end. Whatever it’s in regards to.

You said it would be painless, but it wasn’t that at all. Did you know? It’s not even words I can describe. It’s not even thoughts. It’s just a series of feeling that played through my chest like a movie reel. I’m not even sure if it’s real. I’m not even sure if it really happened. How can you be so sure of nothing?

HBD, Richard

Every day.

Every day I think of you. How can I not? Every day, I look at a map of the world and imagine you in it. Every day, I see your face in a frame and laugh a little bit. Tuesday, when I mumbled, “repatriation of remains” to the parents at my info session. Yesterday, when I said, “and Taiwan” to a sociology professor during chitchat.

Morbidly, I’ve been waiting for this week all year. How will it feel; how will I be? I am the same, and I am not the same. I feel the same, and I feel very differently. I’m sad today. I did not think twenty-one would be a hard age for you to achieve. Why would I have thought otherwise? You  know.

“because a powerful rhetoric insists we can only be delivered from our old scars by tolerating new ones.”

You’re not a scar. I don’t want to simplify you with sentiment. I want

“Perhaps if we say it straight, we suspect, if we express our sentiments too excessively or too directly, we’ll find we’re nothing but banal.”

You’re gone and I miss you and I wanted more time with you. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. It’s hard this week, the double whammy, your birthday and the day you died, so close together, back to back, forcing one to color the other, forcing both to rely on the other. I guess I’m glad I knew you, although it doesn’t feel like a badge of honor most days. Most days it feels like a strange strange memory. It feels like I left the theater before the ending credits. I’m hanging and I’ll always be hanging and that’s how it feels. I’m not sad like I was that day. I hope I’m not that sad again for a long, long, long time. Or ever. I know the words to say because they’ve been said before, but they don’t mean anything to me. You mean something to me. I guess that’s all I want to say, directly. I guess even when I’m not saying it, I’m saying it. I want you to hear me say it, even when I don’t. I want you to know, to always know. To never forget, to never assume, to never think it’s better. It’s different. It’s changed, but it will never be better. It can never be better, but it will always be. That’s it–in excess.