Growing up, and the (dis)appearance of loose ends

You know, my mother used to tell me to put things back where I got them. I used to struggle with this as a child. I would take something, do something, and then—nothing. I couldn’t follow my bread crumbs back. There would always be some loose end around the house — scissors left on the coffee table, shoes blocking the doorway threatening to trip someone, a jacket on my bedroom floor… My mother would be a rich woman if she got paid every time she had to tell me to return things where I got them.

Now, in my mid-20s, I am so good at it. I take something, do something, and as if my feet were following some script, I walk back and put this “something” where I found it, exactly how I found it. You would be proud of me, Ma. Maybe this is how you are getting compensated — your daughter’s finally learned her lesson, and is admitting it publicly.

When did I metamorphose into this very tangible adult? I walk like an adult. I talk like an adult. I pay my bills. I work about eight hours a day, but really, only six, because I read an article recently that Sweden only makes its people work six hours a day to maintain that work-life balance, and I fancy myself a Scandinavian. And! I put things back. There are no loose ends — at least, none that can be immediately seen. (And I am slightly despondent to come to the realization that that is an adult — a human with no visible loose ends. Is that what we all are, when we finally “grow up”?)

And yet, there are so many invisible loose ends. In fact, I feel like one giant loose end. I feel like trendy jeans — you know, the type that taper down to your ankle and are frayed oh-so-tidily at the hem? That’s what I feel like. Like trendy, frayed jeans — like, I got popular, but for no good reason.

It feels like the more life I experience, the more I encounter this frayed feeling. And I have this theory for that.

We’re all told to put things back, and not just to put things back, but to put them back the way we found them. So, you spend half your life trying to follow this laissez-faire mentality, of leaving things alone, of keeping things to that baseline, of not rocking the boat—when you finally figure out, mid-way through a stressful, life-changing experience—you’re supposed to rock. that. boat. You don’t just put things back the way you found them. No, none of that passive bullshit.

You’re supposed to leave things better than you found them — be an interfere-er, be an idealist, be self-motivated. 

So, in light of this newly-realized philosophy, you become this walking, talking, “8”-hour-working, bill-paying adult who not only puts things back, but improves them. Or at least, tries to. Because, well, it’s so much more demanding of your time and energy. And the risk for loose ends and frays and all that, increases, as you develop these things for yourself, what do you call them… oh, what’s the word… goals! You develop goals for yourself. And your world gets messier as you try to enrich yourself contrary to your generation’s famous habit for instant self-gratification.

But it’s also so much more rewarding. 

I’m still getting accustomed to the idea. I’m not quite at the “doing” phase yet. But I have to laugh a bit, because wouldn’t it be so much more efficient to tell children, at the advent of their youth, that they are champions, and that they’re supposed to make the world a better place, one little action at a time, rather than waiting for them to figure it out 20, 30 years later?

Rock that boat, kids. 


Daily Post prompt: Champion

My sponge friend

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* * *

I miss you.

I heard a friend today talk about the courage it takes to make that leap of faith of being with that person who loves you and terrifies you because of what they bring to your world.

It reminded me of you, and how you used to tell me that it hurt that I never believed in us enough… That it just hurt because I didn’t reciprocate that hope. I didn’t have the courage back then. I used to wonder how different my life would have become if I’d taken that leap of faith.

More so these days, I am simply missing you and your presence in my life. These days, I am constantly pushing myself to be the best communicator I can be, and this is oftentimes where my thoughts drift back to you — I think, wow, I was always so good at communicating with him. He always helped me be the best communicator I could be. 

When I spent time with you, I felt counted and real. I felt like a sponge, just absorbing all of life and participating in the grandest way.

I miss being your friend, and having someone in my life who just gets it. Gets me. Gets everything that comes out of my mouth. It’s nothing romantic — really, it’s just my soul going, “Huh. Well, there’s that thing missing. Wonder when we can resume that. Because it was awesome.”

So there. I miss you, simply you. I hope your life is copacetic. I hope we can be friends again soon.

* * *

ღ, ts

Letter of apology to my skin & soul

Dear Skin & Soul,

I’m sorry for introducing so many changes to you at a time.

Skin, I’m sorry for getting excited when I get my paycheck and start spending it all on new skin products. I know that instead of blowing my money on such frivolous things, I really should take a preventative standpoint, and buy good and healthy things for my body to consume organic fruits and vegetables, that spirulina shit my chiropractor recommended to me once… and yes, I shudder as I say this, but… even brown rice. Now, you’ll know I’m getting old when I buy that instead of white, which I so dearly love.

But see, Skin, these products you don’t understand! Here I am, my obviously dispensable cash just dragging heavy in my pocket every two weeks, waiting to be spent on creams that could imbue my skin with the dewy quality you so often find on Korean YouTube bitches.

And to add to it, I lug these tubes and bottles home, and expect you to be able to take all of it simultaneously on comes the new soy cleanser, then the new rose petal toner, then the new royal jelly bee night cream. None of that incremental approach. Just a “FUCK YES” in front of my bathroom sink, and away we go. Then I stand there smiling like an idiot, layers of goop on my face, waiting expectantly for my skin to transform, right before my very eyes.

And really, I am doing myself a disservice applying all of it at the same time how the fuck am I supposed to know which product caused my Monday morning T-zone breakout? Gahhh, I’m in IT and I should know this how do I troubleshoot what went wrong if I don’t go about this methodically?

Soul, I know you’re getting impatient and rolling your eyes at me, and believe me, I know I’ve done you wrong. I’ve done you so wrong.

But see, Soul, I’ve always been like this. I constantly put my life (and effectively, you) in upheaval, setting things on fire in yearly cycles. Dumping my boyfriend? Hellll yeah! And while we’re at it, why don’t I:

  • move to a new apartment by myself,
  • and get a new boyfriend who just so happens to be my ex’s roommate,
  • and just multiply my social life by a thousand,
  • and finally tell my family about my history of sexual abuse?

Yeah… that will go over well, right? I’ll become a better, more well-rounded person before I can even blink!

I just get so impatient with myself. I don’t do this in the slow, deliberate pace needed to give you time to heal. I go all in. I put you through so much heartache and loss at a time, sacrificing your well-being for my short term sense of fulfillment. Now, because of what I have done, you think yourself a lost soul, almost comparable to those wretches you read about in Dickens books and the BBC world news section. I’ve put you through a war, sending you off with just a day’s training and a pitchfork as a weapon.

I have to apologize to you. Because of me, you feel like an attention-seeking creature spawned from betrayal, deception, duplicity, impulse, detachment… all sorts of ugly things. I’m really not trying to make an excuse, but Soul, in order to survive, I have had to detach us. I’ve had to keep guilt at an arms length,  so that when I hurt somebody, you are insulated. When I betray somebody, we’ll cry but only for a short amount of time… just enough to give you a healthy taste of that guilt and still walk away intact. What I’ve feared all this time, and what’s been confirmed recently, is that you are incomplete, missing chunks of your flesh like the soldier you are.

I haven’t protected you the way I should have, Soul. Maybe I should  take those preventative measures I mentioned with Skin. After all, aren’t you more important than she is? (Sorry Skin, it’s true, and you gotta make peace with that. Looks aren’t everything.)

But I don’t know, Soul. I can be as disciplined as possible to protect you, but life isn’t supposed to be calculated like that, and as the Shins say in “Girl Sailor”:

You are not some saint who’s above
Giving someone a stroll through the flowers,
You’ve got so much more to dream of
Oh girl, sail her, don’t sink her
This time

Sometimes, change happens quickly and overwhelmingly. That’s how you and I grow stronger. We make mistakes in this accelerated pace. But I think you and I deserve a chance to pursue happiness, don’t you think?

And really, you’re being a drama queen, really you are you’re not as bad off as you think. Your human made a mistake. Other Souls’ humans make mistakes all the time. Aaaallll the time. Sometimes, we make them as a nation, as this year’s election results have certainly proved.

Anyway, I digress. All I can do now is make amends to you, and get you up and hobbling, and work on these ugly things that you seem to think you arebetrayal, deception, etc. and make you realize you are not those things. You’ve definitely gone through them, because your human decided to act that way… but I take ownership of that. You shouldn’t need to.

So Soul, please just focus on recovering, accept my long overdue apology, know that I love you, and know that you’re strong.*

* * *

*Just a disclaimer though, you will be less insulated from now on, because I will try my best not to detach myself from other people’s pain, especially when I’m the cause of it. I know you’re ready for that, and that you’re strong enough now. We both are.

“Quirks”: a laundry list of my flaws

To any future potential boyfriends out there, here is an ad hoc guide to some of my everyday quirks (or flaws, depending on who you ask), to refer to. It’s not by any means exhaustive, and it’s in no particular order:

  • If I wear mismatched socks, the more “feminine”-looking one has to go on my left foot — because at weddings, the bride traditionally stands on the left.
  • I’m scared of the dark. At night, a light in at least one room has to be on before I can go into an unlit room and turn that one on.
  • I get a little too entertaining when I’m drunk.
  • I have a hideous sense of direction and rely entirely too much on Google Maps. I would be useless if we were ever lost in the woods or something.
  • To add on to this, I have never gone camping and have an utter lack of survival skills. I mean, I can probably climb trees pretty well since I do yoga, so I could probably escape a bear. But that’s probably all I could do at this point.
  • I Instagram. So sue me.
  • I am terribly absentminded — I actually have looked in the fridge for my keys, and wouldn’t have been surprised if I found them there. But I am proud to say I have not yet found them in there.
  • And because I’m terribly absentminded, I will constantly rhetorically ask where my shit is, and be pleasantly surprised that you know the answer.
  • Emotionally, I am like one of those windsocks you see at the airport — my emotions will blow in the same direction as the person I’m talking to. I come home exhausted from a “normal” workday just by listening to others.
  • I don’t want a tattoo because I’m a badass — I want a tattoo because I want to feel original, even though it’s no longer original to have one these days.
  • I will not remember the date of our first kiss, what year we traveled to what city, what I was thinking when I made that decision, what I said last month, hell, even what I said last week… but I will remember how you looked when you first kissed me, your childhood stories, your mom’s birthday, your secrets, your favorite songs, how you made me feel, and the first time you cried in front of me.
  • Sometimes, I feel an urgent need to clean everything in sight and reorganize shit.
  • I make random noises all the time — in the shower, or when I remember something embarrassing that I did a few years ago, or during volleyball, or dropping something on the floor, or getting into bed… you’ll get so annoyed by it.
  • I cry very quickly. I once cried over a crab on the beach that was almost eaten by birds. I cry at movies. I cry when we’ve been arguing too long. I cry when people confide painful things to me.
  • I don’t let my hair go down the shower drain. I stick them on the wall and throw them away after my shower. Maybe that’s disgusting, but that’s what I do.
  • Speaking of disgusting, I take 2 hours to clean and cut my fingernails and toenails, because I’m buffing and scraping that dead shit away… 3 hours, sometimes… if I’m painting my toenails.
  • You’ll probably notice that I complain about my closest friends — but please know that even though I’m sick of them, I actually can’t live without them.
  • Please don’t ask me to go running if you have done a marathon, done cross-country, or something equally impressing, stamina-wise. It will only be embarrassing for you and I if I jog at my asthmatic old lady pace. If you ask me to do yoga for 2 hours though, no problem, I’m your girl.
  • I fail at baking. And sometimes I fail at cooking.
  • I will let people walk all over me — so please, I need your help recognizing when people in my life are taking advantage of me. That includes you.
  • I’m socially awkward, and acutely aware of it. That’ll stop me from hanging out with people or trying new things. So please make me hang out with people or try new things.
  • When I am happy, I sing all the time — and eat.
  • I will have at least 3 flavors of ice cream in the freezer at any given point in time.
  • If I didn’t write it down, it either didn’t happen OR will not happen. Grocery lists, errands, favorite songs, gift ideas for people — you name it, I have a list for it.
  • I’m not as innocent as I look.
  • I’m so not good with money. So not good. You’ll be so frustrated that I don’t set aside enough for my savings, or that I have to get my monthly dose of Popeye’s, or that I have to get a new pair of boots for this year’s fall season, or that I got another parking ticket.
  • I’m a people-pleaser, to my detriment.
  • Before we watch a movie or show, I have to absolutely look that shit up on Rotten Tomatoes. If it’s below 63%, I’m either not watching it or already having negative preconceptions while watching it.

I hope this is helpful. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.