Another riveting Friday night

I’m so very spent. Just got home. Made a quick stop on the way to grab cat treats. Oh, about $30 in human treats later (no real food, of course), here I am.

It’s been a very intense week. They all are, though. This one particularly so.

After not eating for most of this week, I went out to grab some lunch today. I was unexpectedly joined by a colleague. The food order somehow got lost and we decided to take it as a sign that I needed to take a bona fide break already.

We had a long time to talk and it was actually very nice. I try to keep to myself for myriad reasons, most of which involve the fact that people take my outbursts seriously and that I am not overly good about faking it when I’m truly out of sorts. But I spent this week locked in a borrowed office, writing my little heart out, and even though I barely saw daylight, I was actually pretty happy.

My colleague asked whether I wrote poetry. I said I used to. He asked if I ever share it with anyone and I said oh God no. But then I realized I lied. It was circa 9/11 when I was told by my then-company that, as an executive, it was mandatory for me to get a master’s degree.

I was in social work at the time (my undergrad is in journalism), and I didn’t want an MSW because, I mean, really. I’m a bleeding-heart, tree-hugger kind of liberal, but as a lifelong career? No thanks. But I did apply to two prestigious schools to pursue a master’s in creative writing with a focus in poetry.

My theory was that if I HAD to spend all that time and money pursuing a degree, why not REALLY get something useless?

Luckily for me, I got rejected for both programs. Nevermind the excellent grades I’d gotten as an undergrad. I don’t know whether it was the poetry that sucks or that I got crappy scores on whatever standardized tests I had to take. I didn’t really care either way. It was a sign from God to get the hell out of that company, which I did about nine months later.

But my friend was really adamant about it — what do I do in my free time? What did I do? What made me give it all up?

I started working, that’s what. I never just did a nine-to-five schedule. Everywhere I’ve been, it’s been an around-the-clock adventure. I don’t know whether I chose to become a workaholic or, after coming from a line of women who ran households, I decided to have a life vastly different from theirs.

I’m having my midlife crisis early. Between the adjustment to a new state, losing my precious kitty, moving to the Amityville Horror of apartments and just enduring a general state of malaise and detente, I’ve been pretty unbearable. I own that right, though. It’s been a shit summer.

I started thinking about all the writing I haven’t done … writing for me, that is. The blog, Twitter and Facebook feeds are too public. I never pick up a phone or return an e-mail anymore. I just don’t have it to give. I’ve had so many half-assed friendships in my day in which I was pulling the load, that I don’t want to be the asshole who calls everyone for therapy and then hangs up because I don’t have the wherewithal to reciprocate.

I was just reading the e-letter from my old church tonight, and my beloved pastor was speaking of the greatest hurt in the world — the feeling of absolute insignificance. That struck a nerve in a way nothing else has of late.

As Pastor Mark said,

“In fact, it’s my observation that most of us will do just about anything to protect ourselves from that pain. We fill our schedules with appointments and deadlines so that we stay busy enough to avoid it. We read and study and try to learn new tricks so we convince ourselves otherwise. We amass new toys, gadgets, shiny things and stuff as trophies in an attempt to prove to ourselves and others that we matter.”

Is that my problem? That I’m so afraid I won’t have a legacy (family-wise) that my relationship is with my career?

Now that I’m *gulp* 35, I’m really re-evaluating my life choices. I never really wanted kids. I never wanted to be dependent on a man like all the women in my immediate and extended family. I never wanted to marry young and find myself having to start over with a brood of rugrats and try to make it on my own.

I always figured I’d have an amazing career and then shit out a kid and maybe have a stay-at-home husband. That was my definition of “having it all.”

I also always figured I’d have a nice loft in a big city, and maybe a little beach house on an island, where I’d write my novels “someday.” So here I am, living on an island smack between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, and where is everything else?

Don’t get me wrong, I never thought I’d get my island life at 35. I’ve worked damn hard for it. I’m OK with having it now.

But is that it? Did I miss all the other milestones that were supposed to come in-between?

I don’t think this is necessarily an existential debate about the “white picket fence” fantasy. Never really had that picture in mind. But when my friend reminded me several days ago that this is a special time in my life and I need to take time to celebrate it, I kind of laughed it off. I’ll celebrate when I have a chance to unpack. In fact, that alone is worth celebrating!

Pastor Mark went on to conclude that

“What if you could stop running scared and live your life with a deep conviction that, not only do you matter, but you matter in an extremely significant way?”


I’d told my friend today that, in 10 years, I’ll pick up that book series I started when I was a wee lass. What’s funny is that I don’t give a shit if I sell a manuscript or whether I publish it and nobody buys it. I want to do that for me. That’s my contribution to this world. Take it or leave it; doesn’t bother me either way.

Of course, he asked what if I got hit by a bus in five years. Which, judging by the fact that I destroyed my vehicle between two incidents in six days and lived to tell, I ain’t going anywhere. 🙂

Why God WHY did I crack up my car AFTER Cash for Clunkers ended?!?!

I’ll take a wild guess that I had to keep denting the car to remind me to get my head out of my ass. I spend my driving time lost in thought, trying to solve problems and get inspired for projects. I thought the second (and worse) damage was to punish me for the first, since I did leave a note on the car I scratched up but they never called.

I’ve tried to slow down more this week. I’m listening to music again. I haven’t listened to my iPod in six months. I have no music in me, no rhythm and certainly no song. I found my mood has improved threefold since I brought the music back. I figure, I’m always drinking coffee, chainsmoking, texting and oftentimes eating behind the wheel; why not get mah groove on, too?

It’s weird to have such a small change be such a big one.

I guess the moral to the story is that I was convinced I’d have my shit together by now. And nothing could be further from the truth.

I always figured I didn’t need the happy family, or the illusion thereof, to make me happy. But as the midlife crisis sets in and the clock starts running out, I wonder whether I’ll be even-crazier if I didn’t give it all a whirl. Although at this juncture, I wouldn’t even know how to slow down long enough to meet someone and even contemplate having a “normal” life.

I wonder whether everyone who told me I was so extraordinary did me a disservice, making me want to live up to that concept. I guess, in my twisted little heart, I just want an excuse to slow down, and that seems to be the most-logical way of doing so.

Perhaps the bigger issue is that I’m afraid that even if I do have an opportunity to slow down, the things I want still won’t be able to catch up to me. Maybe because I want them for the wrong reasons.

I guess I just look at sites like Facebook and wonder how people with half the IQ points got it right. Maybe they did or maybe they didn’t. But I guess I’m wondering why I can’t have it all, and what I have to do to get it, when I have tried my best all these years and I still feel like I’m not grown-up enough to get it right.

One Lonely Response to Another riveting Friday night

  1. Lachlan :

    First, stop comparing yourself to your peers on FB. It ain’t healthy – or accurate.

    You, like me, spend a LOT of time looking back and not nearly enough on the here-and-now planning that has to be done in order to get to where you want to be in the future. It’s SO easy to do that. I catch myself all the time.

    And what’s with the Amityville reference? Are things not well in the new digs?!