Currently // July 2018: Good Food and Laughter to Last

June was a lazy month, laid-back and languid, allowing me time to soak up the first half of the summer at my leisure, but July was very different. July was in a hurry and gave way much faster. More than once I woke up feeling like days had passed while I slept and worried over how the numbers on the calendar had advanced so far without my notice. I simply couldn’t keep up and about halfway through, I gave up trying.

And, now July is over and August is on the way. I’m not really going into the new month with clear goals or any big projects. I plan to just keep doing what I have been doing for these past few weeks, quite work, away from the internet and prying eyes. I want to focus on what is boring about writing, the hard part, the part that is the actual writing. I’m learning to be okay with staying off social media and to love the process. I’m finding my imagination and I’m eager to spend more time with my own thoughts.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing blog posts mostly. I’d like to get back to posting regularly again. I’ll be returning to my old work schedule next week and that means I’ll be able to return to my old writing schedule too. I’ve never been able to write well or consistently outside of the structure of my day job and I’m really starting to doubt I ever will. Maybe I’ll be one of those writer’s that is always something else too. Maybe I’m okay with that. I’m also working on bringing back my newsletter, which was on a weird unintentional hiatus while I figured out what the hell I was doing with it.

Making more found poetry for Instagram. I’m not making them for any reason other than it feels good to find new ways of looking at and using words. The restriction on what words I can use and in what ways I might use them makes me feel, paradoxically, more creative.

Planning my wedding. For my new followers, this year will mark 16 years that my girlfriend and I have been together, but we’ve yet to tie the knot. In our defense, for many of those years, it was illegal for us to marry. Since then the problem has been the confusing gap between the wedding society tells us we ought to have, and the wedding that is right for us. We want to focus more on good food, fun, and natural surroundings but there are so many expectations and outside influences putting on the pressure. It makes it hard to decide what we want.

Anticipating the beginning of the school year. Turns out I was able to get the same schedule and kids I had last year and I can’t wait to see the look their faces when they see me. My job can be frustrating, and the kids can, at times, be tiring but there are days that remind me why I love it here, why I have stayed so long, and why despite the promise of more money and fewer hours spent away from home, I will stay. What I do is important and fulfilling, if I allow it to be.

Reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, still. To be honest I didn’t read much at all during last month. If I wasn’t sleeping I was writing, or watching movies, or visiting with family, or sleeping some more. I took a break from my life, from the pressure of self-improvement and wisdom and learning and found family and sunshine and laughter instead. I don’t regret a thing, but I know it’s time to pick up the task again. So, I’ll finish The Scarlett Letter, and move on to The Iliad, and Emily Dickinson, and Hunger by Roxanne Gay too before September.

Watching Anthony Bourdain’s Part Unknown on Netflix. I’m not sure how long it will be there but I am hoping to watch all eight seasons before they take it off. I have seen some of the early seasons but grew lazy about keeping up with the show some years ago. After the news of Bourdain’s passing last month, I knew I had to finish it. The show was always about more than just good food. Like language, and sex, and politics, the way we eat says a lot about who we are as a species and Bourdain knew how to say that, without saying it. He knew that sometimes the best way to tell a story is to get out-of-the-way and let people tell their own story. He let people deliver their culture, unfiltered, an adulterated, and raw right to the viewer.

As for movies, Sorry to Bother You was amazing, if you haven’t heard already. It’s vibrant, funny, unpredictable, thought-provoking, and…You know what, just go see it already, no excuses! I also recommend Good Time, a heart-wrenching, high-paced crime film with some resemblance to the novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Feeling tired. I can’t seem to go a whole day anymore without a nap or three or four cups of coffee. I feel zombified. I’m out of it, dragging my feet and devouring anything that promises to put some pep in my step, but nothing works. I see other people living easily on 6 hours of sleep, no caffeine, and no time for naps and they seem to be functioning fine. Why do I need so much rest? I know why but it still doesn’t make sense. Chronic illness is the culprit. I guess I just keep thinking it will get better, or that I will find some way to get used to being so tired. I keep thinking I’ll find a way to work and live despite it.

Fearing failure in the eyes of the ones whose opinions I cherish the most. Life is chugging along just as it should so my anxieties are turned inward and hyper-focused on my everyday limitations and weaknesses. My self-esteem has been unusually low. Most days I can fight it. Most days I can find a way to forgive and to love myself but lately, it’s been hard. Lately, I am always the problem. I am the burden. I am the only one who can’t. I am stupid. I am weak. I am angry with myself for not being as smart, as strong, or as put together as those around me and for the life of me I cannot figure out how I will ever get better, be better.

Reflecting on death, or, more specifically reflecting on the lack of reflection on death by everyone else and my own obsession with the inevitable end of life. Recently my mother’s father passed away—No need for condolences. He never considered me his grandchild and the feeling was mutual.—and I found it interesting to get to know the man after he was gone. In addition, I’ve been working on dealing with my death anxiety and found help in surprising places. I’ve learned that sometimes when we are afraid, instead of being told to be brave or to stop thinking about it, we only need to be told that we aren’t alone and that our fear is entirely warranted.

Needing a side hustle! Sure, hobbies are all fun and games, but they don’t offer much of a sense of accomplishment. Big dreams are great but they are so far away. I’m not just looking for a little extra cash here. I need to be validated. I need to brag a little, to be proud and I want others to be proud of me too. I’ll admit, I want to be admired, talked about, looked up to. I want a little power and fame, but just a little. The problem is, I’m not good at anything and I don’t have any good ideas. I don’t know how to code an app and I’m far too boring to be an influencer. I’m bad at art and worse at poetry. I just want to have something that is my own.

Learning how to use my voice. I’m learning to speak up and ask for what I need. I’m learning to express my emotions, to say no, to say yes!, and to say nothing at all if I don’t want to too. I’ve never been very good at saying things. Nothing ever comes out sounding the way I thought it in my head. I’m naturally soft-spoken, easily shaken and quick to shut up at the slightest difficulty in getting my point across. I’m afraid to be accused of meaning something I don’t. I’m afraid of never being understood. There are just too many variables at play! Volume, tone, pace, cadence, inflection, all of these change the way a statement is understood and I’ve never quite understood how to use them, and it shows, but I’m learning.

Loving that my sister and her kids got to be here for a whole week this month. I love that we got to do so much and that there was enough good food and laughter to last us another year until we can all be together again. I love that despite not being the most affectionate family, we know we are loved and that we are wanted. I love having a place. I love that all of us no matter our personality differences, our past traumas, the decisions we’ve made, or the different directions we’ve taken in life, we can come together, fight, and forgive, again and again with love. It’s a beautiful thing to be so known and still forgiven continually for your shortcomings and outbursts. I love how human I get to be when they are around.

Hating the state of the United States. I’m honestly disgusted and disappointed in the entire country as a whole right now, all of it. Every day I turn on the news and nothing I hear or see gives me any hope whatsoever. My heart can’t handle the constant shock. It can’t handle the widespread suffering and fear. I hate all this hating and I’ve all but given up on us all. Most of all, I’m simply sick and tired of being disgusted and disappointed with myself for not knowing what to do about any of it. I’m a part of the problem the same as anyone and I hate, hate, hate it.

Hoping that the recent string of videos exposing white people who call the cops on POC for minor infractions and irritations will change the way we think about our neighborhoods and public spaces. The videos highlight rampant and ingrained racism they’ve also brought to light how much ownership we believe we have over spaces that should belong to everyone, collectively. When you feel like your neighborhood belongs to you personally, you think you can make the rules about who is allowed to be there and what they are allowed to do in that space. But if the neighborhood belongs to us then we make the rules. Our public spaces are no longer public and we have lost something by taking such personal ownership of them. Let’s rethink that one.

All in all, July was a good month. It wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped, and it went by much faster than I’d have liked, but it was good. I feel like I am going into the next month feeling secure in this political climate, this economy, that is rare.

I’m grateful not to be surrounded by chaos and stress. I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about my job, my bills, or my next meal. I figure that makes me among the richest and happiest in the world. My life isn’t perfect and I have some things to work on for sure, but I’ll take it. I’ll run with it.

But, what about you? How did July treat you? Are you tired of the heat? Is your state on fire too? Did you take any time for you? What movies did you see? How has the government let you down?

Let me know in the comments!

“We are now in August.
The first day of fall is September 22.
You can hear it in the distance.”

Michael Wade

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Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash

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Currently // June 2018: I Already Have Everything I Need

June did not, by any means, fly by. It began so differently from how it ended and so much happened, so much changed in between, not just for me but for us all, that I feel as if I’ve lived through two of them.

At first, I felt exhausted by it all. A lot of what happened and changed was for the worse, but, on the other hand, it lasted, and who hasn’t wished for more hours in a day, a little more time, a chance to slow things down? Who hasn’t longed for the feeling of permanence summer used to bring to our childhoods? I know I had no more hours than any other human on this planet, but what a gift it was to feel like I had!

Sadly, I made very poor use of all that time. The disappointment I feel in myself for wasting so much freedom is made heavier, sharper, by the realization that I’ve now only just one month left to make something of the season.

I have a month and a little more left to take some big leap and put myself out there and prove that I am not just me, but a being of potential on my way to achieving that success that will retrospectively prove that all this uncertainty, confusion, floundering, and yes, even the incessant procrastinating was all part of a necessary process on my path to greatness.

One month left to stop making excuses and start working toward the future.

But first, here is what I am currently:

Writing pitches and pieces for paying publications. Blogging is great, but the satisfaction waxes and wanes, and working on a side project is nerve-wracking and too easy to abandon in the dark when I’m feeling down. I need a little pressure, a little bit of accountability. I need clear expectations, deadlines, and topics. I need a clear way of doing things and a clear line between success and failure. I’m hoping to delve into the world of current events commentary or pop culture criticism, connecting larger issues down to the personal and day-to-day from my unique perspective. I’m also looking into writing memoir pieces and poetry for a couple of literary magazines it’d be a dream to see my name printed in.

Making some cut and paste goodness with all the random magazines I’ve started getting in the mail recently. It’s been fun but not terribly productive. I’m not sure what I am doing, and a lot of it hasn’t gone into the art journal I made or online the way I had intended. Like everything I do, it doesn’t feel finished, or good enough yet to share. That’s why, my biggest goal for July is to let myself fail, spectacularly and as often as possible so I might finally purge myself of all my half-assed and half complete drafts, pieces, and projects.

Planning some small blog changes. I’m still working on building that ever elusive daily writing/blogging habit and after the failure of the A to Z Challenge posts (a challenge I still intend to finish by the way!) I’m looking for a new strategy. I don’t think fast enough to write anything long-winded or in-depth every day. Unfortunately, the only way I know how to write is long-winded and in-depth, so I need to write about something else entirely.

I’m planning on sharing some short daily personal updates here every day. I was inspired by a few bloggers I’ve come to admire who use their blogs as a place to store inspiration and connect their passion with their day-to-day lives. The problem is wanted to separate these personal updates from the longer, in-depth posts here but WordPress.com lacks the kind of functionality I am looking for to keep things organized and looking just the way I want them too. There may be a need for a theme change and some cosmetic upgrades soon.

Anticipating my family being back together again! Well, most of it anyway. My sister, her husband, and their kids moved to Texas some time ago, and I have missed them terribly ever since. All my other siblings—on my mother’s side—live here in Colorado and with every new milestone or major event in our lives, her presence is sorely missed. Her children were the first grandkids, and she was my first sibling, one of the few in this world who know me best. It hurts to have her so far away but this July, for one precious week, she’ll be here!

Reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn. I started it weeks ago but have only in just the past couple of days decided I actually like reading it. There is an essay at the beginning, not related much to the story that made the book absolute torture until I realized I could simply skip it altogether. Now I’m breezing through the book and loving the simplicity of the writing and the plot. In July I’m thinking of tackling The Iliad by Homer, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, and Hunger by Roxanne Gay.

Watching Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which continues to be the most disturbing and infuriating show I’ve ever seen both because of its subject matter, and often what it chooses not to address. The latest season of Westworld just wrapped up on HBO. I highly recommend it despite the super confusing timelines in the show. At the very least it’s visually amazing.

I’m happy to announce that I finished binge-watching every episode of The Office and have been able to reclaim a significant number of hours each day. For some reason, I have not been able to bring myself to finish the Sense 8 finale on Netflix even though I waited so long for it. I guess it’s just too hard for me to let go. I’ll just watch the new season of Glow instead.

I finally got around to watching Lady Bird. I thought it was good I don’t get the amount of hype and acclaim it received. By far my favorite thing this month was the newest horror jam to come out of A24 studios, Hereditary. It was so scary I wanted to leave the theater, but it was good for a lot of other reasons too, and you really should see it.

Feeling not as great as I was this time last month, but I’m trying my best to be hopeful rather than worrisome. After my first infusion of the new medication to get my ulcerative colitis under control I felt amazing, but now I believe it was mostly the steroids I was taking. I was instructed to go back to a higher dose of the steroids and have my next infusion a week early. That was this past week. Now I’m tapering off of the steroid again and hoping that in the next week or two nothing goes wrong. I feel…okay. Just okay. I want better though.

Fearing for the future of us all. The retirement of Justice Kennedy and the Supreme Court vacancy is a devastating blow. The realities of immigration policy are coming to light, and it’s heartbreaking. The recent setbacks to gay rights and women’s reproductive rights and the very real rise of the religious right are coming at a terrifying speed. I’m scared, but I’m also very angry. I’m angry that hard-won gains are so easily lost. Most of all, I’m angry at those who can’t see that the world could be so much different from what it is now. I’m angry at those saying “that’s just the way it is” or ” they’re going to do what they want anyway.” I’m angry with those who choose not to know to make it easier not to care. I’m afraid they will never change.

Reflecting on the passing of my mother’s father and how his presence affected the trajectory of my entire life. He wasn’t a nice man. He hurt those he loved deeply. He never—out of ignorance and deep hatred of people of color—treated my sibling or myself as good family, and we—in our need to protect ourselves from the lesson of such rejection, never regarded him the same. But after he passed, we had to go through the items in his home and what I found was a man who, underneath that hate and ignorance, I was very much like. It turns out that where we come from can be just as surprising as where we end up. I come from him, and what is left of him and his legacy rests in me. Neither of us saw that coming.

Needing very little. I read an article recently about the fact that people’s idea of the perfect life isn’t actually all that perfect, and I wondered, if I didn’t have the life I had, would I wish I did? I think so. I think I might have all I need right here right now and if anything ever feels amiss, it’s because I haven’t done the work required the have it. Anything I don’t have I haven’t earned. I’m in need of a change in perspective from one of envy to one of gratitude, from one of wishing, longing, and resentment, to one of focus, motivation, and potential. I have what I need, now it’s time to get what I want.

Learning a few home improvement basics. We’ve owned our home for close to 10 years, and in that time we have done very little to improve the place. There is so much that needs to be done we never knew where to begin. We’ve been overwhelmed, and it’s caused us to ignore problems that have only gotten worse. So, we are learning to start small. We fixed a light switch issue in the upstairs bathroom, and then we replaced a very old and very stuck tub faucet cartridge too. Today we are working on replacing an old kitchen light fixture, and every weekend going forward we will pick either two small projects, or make progress on one big project until this place, the whole place, is functional and livable. Until I don’t feel ashamed to have company over again.

Loving my new early morning jog routine. I’m on a mission to start treating my body better, and part of that means getting up and really moving for at least 30 minutes a day. I’ve always enjoyed running but my “crunchy” kneecaps, as my doctor once described them, kept me from such a high impact activity. But treating the ulcerative colitis has resulted in some relief in joint pain, and my body and I have compromised on a two-mile jog/walk every morning, plus 100 squares on the good days. I’m loving being active again, something I never thought I would. I love feeling stronger and the feeling of accomplishment as I’m able to do more and more every week.

Hating the rise in incidents of white people calling the police on black people for minor infractions and annoyances. I do understand that rules are in place for a reason but calling the police for actions that may be in violation of rules but is causing no immediate harm is dehumanizing and risky. The culture police officers think and operate in is a violent one. Their presence exacerbates rather than soothes. Tension rise and people can be hurt, or even die, over minor infractions. I hate that we are so disconnected from each other that working out our problems one on one, with words, no longer feels like an option. I hate that we don’t feel a part of our own neighborhoods, a place where people can compromise and live, and let live too! I. hate that we are so entitled and self-centered that we expect our will to be imposed on others, by force if necessary.

Hoping for a little hope. A sign that everything, the big scary things happening all around me and the little scary things happening every day in my little life. Some days I’m filled with hope. On those days I know everything is going to be okay. Good is going to triumph over evil, and I am going to be happy, surrounded by love and fulfilled. Other days, I’m not so sure. Other days I can’t find hope. I can’t see that any progress has been made and the prospect of progress in the future feels impossible. Fighting is futile. The opposition is too organized, too cruel, and the universe is too silent, too neutral. The truth is there is no guarantee that good will win over evil, and there is no guarantee that anything in my life will turn out the way I dream it will. How does a person hold on in a world like that?

So yeah, all in all, June was a beautiful month, if not terrifying and discouraging. What I mean to say is, the world is ending all around me, but the sun is shining, and the flowers are in full bloom. The big things haven’t taken the little things yet, and I suppose that is a good thing for now. I’m going to go on enjoying my summer and making it last as long as I can, but I’m going to work harder and fight harder too.

But enough about me, how about you? How did June treat you? Are you feeling discouraged or disappointed? Have you done all you’d hoped to by now? How do you plan to work and fight and hold on to hope through the rest of 2018?

Let me know in the comments!

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”

— L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

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Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash