Tag: Personality

27Oct

Does Nike Carry Antihistamines?

Five weeks ago, my husband convinced me to start running with him. Something about extra energy, sense of wellbeing, long-term health benefits, chance to wear cute workout clothes, no more excuses now that the girls were in school, yada yada yada. He had me at “extra energy.” It was an incredibly sweet gesture on his part as it meant doing his marathon training early in the morning so he could spend half of his lunch break at the park jogging in slow motion alongside a wife who is allergic to exercise. I think I managed 300 meters the first day before I had to stop and concentrate very, very hard on not dying. (Dan kindly refrained from cracking up.)

In the five weeks since, here is what I have discovered:

  1. My body is deeply committed to opposing this silly running venture. If my right side isn’t stabbing me, my left side takes over. If my sides are playing nice, my knees ache. If my knees are on their best behavior, my head is pretty much guaranteed to start throbbing, and when it goes on coffee break, there’s always a big toe or an eardrum or a spleen willing to act up. See? Allergic.
  2. Likewise, my brain is refusing to compute any information that might make me feel positive about the whole experience.
  3. Like how I’m up from 300 meters to 4 ½ kilometers.
  4. Or how my breaks now consist of walking rather than lying on the ground gasping like a chain-smoking fish.
  5. Or how I don’t need that second coffee every day anymore.
  6. No, my brain keeps up a steady stream of complaints about how hard running is, how painful it is, how intensely unlikeable it is, how I feel like poo, how I feel like I’ve been dipped in lead, how I feel like the slug of the earth, how I feel like biggest failure in world history, how much I want to stop, how much I want to pluck out my sides and cast them from me, how much I want to collapse and sleep forever, and how much I hate everything that ever existed, most of all those athletic wear commercials featuring sexy runners smoothly and effortlessly conquering the pavement.
  7. Something about increased blood flow disables the filter between my brain and my mouth.
  8. My husband deserves to be sainted.
25Oct

In Your Face!

The Luna Park below our house resembles a wet dog, and perhaps that’s all the explanation needed about my state of motivation this morning.

We had one of those weekends that feels like seventeen in retrospect. My senses are still full of the happy clamor of house guests, the blur of wildflower lights on the girls’ favorite caterpillarcoaster, and the orchestrated clatter of fifty Perudo dice. We made new friends, including an amazing gal whose background parallels my own, and I wish we had more time together. At the same time, my batteries are so thoroughly drained that the indicator stopped blinking. As much as I don’t want to be a textbook anything, you can find an exact description of me in any psychology manual on the page about introverts. I need frequent breaks, quiet stretches of solitude, and Sunday afternoon naps in order to operate… and yesterday’s nap was trumped by a sick kiddo.

Does Murphy have a law about Monday mornings? Because I woke up this morning to rain, hormones, and an unpleasant substance tracked across the floor that was easily identified once I stepped in it, and I’m thinking Garfield was on to something. Here’s my current workup of a coping strategy: Step 1: Acknowledge that today is out to slay me and will most likely succeed. Step 2: Surrender. Step 3: Go back to bed. Step 4: Wait for someone to bring me a lasagna.

Or alternately, Step 1: Eat chocolate. Step 2: Blog. Step 3: Eat more chocolate. Step 4: Get done what I can get done today and count each accomplishment as a giant “In your face!” to Mondays everywhere.

Including mopping. Sigh.

20Sep

Sockanalysis

These last two weeks… well, I’m not easily finding the words to describe them. Finding out so suddenly that I’m neither alone nor a [complete] nut-job has flipped my perception of life on its head, and I’m still trying to sort up from down. Coming out of a culture specifically designed to make its victims its staunchest defendants, I feel a bit star-struck around other escapees; I had no idea until two weeks ago that there were others. The conversations I’ve been having and articles I’ve been reading have been a form of intense psychoanalysis for me. Oh, so that’s why I can’t decide so much as what socks to wear some days. You mean my discomfort around all things emotional is to be expected? So it’s not some glitch in my system that makes me revert back to a bitter misotheist every few months? My so-very-unwelcome perfectionism, paranoia, skepticism, criticism, defensiveness, insecurity, and proclivity for burnout are natural side effects of that lifestyle; who knew?

I can’t really express (see above re: emotional ineptitude) just what it does to me to realize I’m not alone in this. Up until now, I have literally felt like the only woman in the world suffering under a unique brand of memories. The unshakeable weight of shame was all the more stifling because I was the only one who knew how it felt. But now… to hear that I’m not alone? To discover that my many neuroses are not proof I’m defective but are rather the stamp of mistreatment? To peek ahead into other people’s journeys and see increasing happiness and healing? It’s making my soul feel practically weightless.

My fervent thanks to those of you who braved that hopeful darkness and brought your own painful stories to light, to those of you who wrote me and shared your hearts, to those of you who offered encouragement and love, and to those of you who simply read what I had to say. Almost right could never have inspired this kind of community, and I would love the chance to meet up with each of you face-to-face (let me know next time you’re coming through Italy!). I’ll be the star-struck one wearing seven pairs of socks.

30Mar

Latent Swashbuckler

As my last post made abundantly clear, courage is not something I come by easily. I assume God kept this in mind when he nudged single me toward single Dan seven years ago and then hid conspicuously behind a potted plant singing “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It” just loud enough for us to hear. At least, I fervently hope so. A girl could use a bit of divine reassurance upon realizing her husband considers mountain biking, racing through airports, and eating fist-sized octopi to be marital bonding activities.

Dan’s sense of adventure and gift for tenacity (sounds better than stubbornness, right?) have formed the perfect antidote to my sense of being a delicate flower and my gift for hanging out safely indoors for weeks on end. He brings out the latent swashbuckler in me, and I recognize this as a good thing. Usually.

A little less so two Sundays ago. It was the first full day of our settimana bianca—a week in the mountains nearly as important to Italian culture as a week at the beach in August (and involving nearly as much sunbathing). Some dear friends were chaperoning the girls’ naps, so Dan and I grabbed our snowboards and headed up the lift… straight into a cloudbank. Notably, we had forgotten a map.

“No problem,” said my undaunted husband. “We’ll just had straight across until we find an obvious trail.”

“Straight across the mountain?” squeaked his rather daunted wife. “Without a map? Inside a cloud that fancies itself opaque?”

“Sure. Why not?”

Because I am a gutless invertebrate, I didn’t say.

Twenty minutes later found me clinging to the snowy mountainside with the tips of my boots while trying to keep a grip on my board. Above and below me were sheer nothingness—emphasis on the sheer. In fact, the only things I could see were the perpendicular slope directly beneath my feet and Dan’s vague outline ahead. The rest of my vision had been smothered in whiteout. I hadn’t heard anything for a quarter of an hour besides my own footsteps and that landlocked fish flopping around inside my chest, and panic was turning my tired muscles to jelly. Granted, the circumstances didn’t really warrant panic… but I was raised on Laura Ingalls Wilder stories, and my imagination is nothing if not skilled.

We inched along the mountainside twenty minutes more, then another twenty minutes, then yet another twenty, and I really have no idea what I’m saying because time was swallowed up in fog along with the rest of the world. All I know is that each step was an exercise in panic-squashing bravery. And we took a lot of steps.

Want to see?

Danger Mountain

Why yes, we did cross the width of an entire mountain. In steep snow. Through blinding fog. Carrying our boards. Terrified of losing civilization forevermore and/or tumbling down a precipice onto razor-sharp rocks (this one might have been just me). With no idea that at pretty much any point, we could have snowboarded down easily.

Once we finally got a feel for our surroundings and made it to the bottom, my floppety heart decided it had racked up enough [imaginary] near-death experiences for the week. I was ready to race Dan to the cable car and spend the rest of our vacation communing with our hotel room. But then he got me laughing about our ridiculous mountain trek, and then he got me on my board again, and before I knew it, we were wrapping up a fantastic week on the slopes.

Our last morning, we found ourselves at the same starting point staring into yet another cloud.

“We have to get to the opposite side one way or another,” he said.

“Mmm.”

“And it would be so much easier to just snowboard across the top than to walk with our boards at the bottom.”

“Mmm.”

“And even if it is foggy, we at least know what we’re doing this time.”

“Sort of.”

“Just as long as we don’t lose momentum.”

“Or look down.” Or think about Little House on the Prairie. Or use my memory in any capacity whatsoever.

“So, you up for it?” asked that irrepressible husband of mine.

From behind a ski lift pole drifted an unmistakable “Na na na na na na na.”

Cable car parents

“Sure,” I answered. “Why not?”

6Nov

Tomato Tomahto

One needs quality time to feel loved;
the other needs snuggles and kisses times a gajillion.

One gobbles up the green and leafy;
the other is part T-rex.

One shrinks back shyly when company stops by;
the other races to give out hugs.

One is potty trained;
the other is… not.

One plays happily by herself for hours;
the other needs social interaction like air.

One knows what she likes and sticks with it;
the other likes to try what’s new.

One has a tan all summer long;
the other blushes under SPF 750.

One prefers the color pink;
the other prefers orange and lellow and green and lurple and red and blue… and pink.

One wants to know the hows and whys;
the other wants to make everyone laugh.

One has inherited my bookworm tendencies;
the other shares my chapstick habit.

One is a sweet-hearted, bright-eyed, laughing, singing, twirling, glittering fairy princess at heart;
the other is too.

4Nov

NaI’llHaveToCheckTheCalendarMo

My autumn fantasies have never strayed far from the pencil aisle. As soon as I knew how to put graphite and imagination together, I was writing books… even if they were only a frothy whip of princess lore and Southern Baptist morals (“Thou shalt not smoke”) scribbled on handfuls of printer paper. At the start of each semester throughout high school and college, I read syllabi like campaign promises. (A portfolio of deadline-inspired masterpieces by spring! New skills learned! World peace!) Since graduating, I’ve consistently imagined fall mornings spent at my desk with orange leaves filtering sunlight onto the pages of my half-written memoir.

And now, another November is here—NaBloNoPoWriWhateverMo—and it feels like every other linguistically-gifted person on the planet is publishing daily blog entries and composing chapbooks and penning novels. After getting home at 10:30 last night from piano practice, I washed the days’ worth of dishes and pictured entire chains of American coffee shops swirling with warm cinnamon and the happy clacking of laptop keys. The thought landed in my sternum like a well-aimed punch.

I want to be there too, at the little table in the corner with headphones of my own artsy music drowning out the artsy music on the stereo, a tall gingerbread mocha within reach, my muse at the next table leaning over to whisper brilliant sentences every time I get stuck. I would even be delighted with a few uninterrupted hours each day at my own desk, inspiration venturing out of its hole to see what all the quiet’s about. I cannot quell this longing to write—maybe not for a living, but for a life, yes. However, this autumn seems to have conspired with its last five predecessors to keep me away from blank pages and novelty espresso beverages, and I’m questioning once again if “author” will ever come after my name. The [grossly pessimistic] idea that this dream may never have a fighting chance is a pillow of porcupine quills when I lay down at night.

The glitch in all my moping is this: I’ve been too busy to write because I’m actually starting to have some semblance of a life. A checking the calendar, leaving the house, having actual social interactions kind of life that takes an embarrassing amount out of me by the end of the day. I am forever making mistakes in Italian and having to talk myself off mental ledges mid-sentence (my inner perfectionist can be pretty dramatic), and it takes real effort to stop comparing my clothes and figure to those of my supermodel friends. Plus, simply being around people zaps my energy rather than recharging it. I’ve been ready for bed at 9:30 for weeks now. See? Embarrassing.

 

But as embarrassing and challenging and draining as this Having A Life is, it feels good. Or if not good, exactly, then a step in goodness’s direction… a few more inches up the muddy, rewarding path to relationships. So this won’t be the November I write my Great American Novel, but I am stocking up on real-life inspiration for future stories. And while my pillow may be lined with porcupine quills, I’ve been sleeping beautifully.


Why yes, I did begin every sentence of that last paragraph with a conjunction. Watch free will triumph over the English degree!

8Oct

Lost Balloon

Of the four computers in the house, one — mine — has grown surly and recalcitrant as a teenager. One refuses to work unless the voodoo powers that be compel it. One is actually a television. And the fourth, the sluggish, crumb-sticky laptop that Natalie claims for her video games, is suddenly my best option. It has a backspace delay of several seconds (resulting in frequent retypings and gnashing of teeth), and my word processing program scares it into shock, but it’s the best I have. At least until the savings envelope quadruples in size and I can pick out a machine that doesn’t have peanut butter under the shift key.

But this isn’t really about computers. I am plenty familiar with the lifespan of technology, how it goes from chrome to rust in sixty, how new and obsolete are not mutually exclusive. I can’t really begrudge these indispensable frames of LCD and soldered brains, even while I’m mashing the manual reset and muttering bad words. They’re temporal. I get it.

The problem here is that my mind is treating our uncooperative computers as a roadblock. No, not a roadblock… more like an intruder, someone locked in my house keeping my things hostage while I watch bewildered through the windows. I’m embarrassingly helpless without my dear little organization system, my lists at fingertip access, my photos subcategorized and standing at attention. I hate having to wait when a sentence springs to mind. This, my reason mumbles wild-eyed, is why you don’t have a hope of writing. It’s right. Until I can get into some kind of happy routine, my stories will coalesce in the “Snippets” folder. Until I can confidently delegate minutes to exercise and food and fairy tales and playing author, I will continue to feel shut out of my own head. And until I have a trustworthy set-up for all my niggling technological needs, my schedule will keep wandering in a stupor.

At least, that’s how it seems right now. Inspiration formless and void, drifting like a lost balloon… My words temporarily homeless, carving out awkward niches to spend the night… October a quarter gone, still disoriented and unsustainable… It seems the question for this autumn is not how to adjust to a new way of life or how to recoup my fragmented emotions or even how to keep the kitchen floor clean (I’ve got that one covered for once), but how to stop pinning my writing aspirations on the technology that makes them possible.

Okay, so maybe this is about computers after all.

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