It always end up making you blue as hell

I feel like a failure most of the time these days. Not the kind of failure where you joke and make self-deprecating comments about how you'll just be buying new underwear tomorrow because ooops you're drunk and the laundromat is closed, but the kind of failure where you don't tell anyone and how bad it is and find yourself on the verge of panic attacks at least weekly, if not daily. It's easy to look at my employment situation for the last couple of years and logically know that I keep choosing to work for small businesses that operate on a slim to none profit margin and the economy is still really shitty. To a certain extent I can justify being poor, because I love what I do because I do something that makes me happy that I'm good at. I know I'm a good chef, I don't feel like I'm a failure at chefing.

I feel like I'm a failure at being the person I want to be. I feel like I'm failing at some very basic goals I set for myself a long time ago. I know how little money you have to make to qualify for food stamps. I know I made just enough not to last month. I know I'm terrified. I'm terrified all the god damn time. I know this situation makes me feel like I've gone back to my early childhood and I have no control. No control. It is the worst thing. It is the thing I promised myself I would never ever ever feel again. I broke a promise to myself and that's the worst kind of promise to break.

It's the kind of thing I can't really explain to anyone because it is so completely illogical but so completely my truth right now.

I'm looking for a second job or another job. I have people who would help me if I asked for help (hahahahaha, like I'll ever learn to do that one). Despite strong temptation to just say fuck it and spiral down down down into bad decisions, I've been spending more time reading and writing and strolling in the park. I'm dating a guy I really like with whom things are easy so far instead of dialing up one that would immolate me. I show up for my kids every Tuesday and I smile and we cook things.

I also know I've been self isolating like a pro. I know I just can't explain getting semi laid off again but then also that I'm about to work 8 days straight. I can't handle anymore people offering to help me find my dead goldfish. I don't know how to talk to my really close friends or family about it because it's painful. And embarrassing. And I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed about the state of my life right now. And I don't know how to talk to anybody about anything else because it's the only thing I think about. So instead I just don't talk to most people. I mean, I have a kitten, so it's fine.

I'm 50% doing all the things I should be doing and 50% deep in hiding.

But I guess 50% hiding is better than 100%. Right?

"My new job both exists and doesn't exist. Like a certain cat in a box"

So my new job has both a cafe and a catering company and my main responsible is the cafe. Or was. It was the cafe. It's not anymore because the cafe's last day was yesterday. The cafe is now closed.

Yes, for reals. I'm basically cursed. If you would like your small business to close/downsize, HIRE ME and it will just happen.

So now that my work is just a catering company, the number of core kitchen employees and their hours have been reduced because catering work is not the kind of thing where you can say "I will always need X number of people for X number of hours". Last week was a relatively light week for me but the savory people worked like CRAZY. This week is a relatively light week savory side, but over on the pastry side we have multiple events requiring hundreds of tiny pastries, some show wedding cakes for a wedding expo and the savory and sweet pastries to go with one of our larger catering contracts that is mainly what the savory people are working on this week.

So. Today I got a raise and this week I'll probably be working over 40 hours but next week and subsequent weeks I'll be down to 24. Unless there's a lot of pastry catering to get done, then I'll potentially be working more. But 24 is all I can count on working.

When our catering events need to be staffed onsite (as opposed to just delivering platters to a conference room or baby shower) staff gets paid $20/hr to work those events and it doesn't take away from your other scheduled hours. So, again, potentially, if we have a lot of onsite events, I could make $200/day for each of them. And the idea behind closing the shop is to focus and expand catering. So POTENTIALLY, I could be working full time again soon and POTENTIALLY I could make enough money with the onsite events to supplement my regular production income even if I'm not working full time. I think there are enough events in the coming month for that to work, but then what?

I like my job. It is challenging enough that I'm not bored but familiar enough that I feel competent and in control. The pastry chef willingly schedules around my volunteer hours and managed to get me a raise and at least some guaranteed hours because she wants me to stay. It is very nice to work for somebody who has an accurate appraisal of my skill level. It's weird working for not food people because all they know is that you know how to do something they don't but not how easy or difficult that thing is. I really like working with other people that speak food and technique again.

But I'm not twenty, you know? I have pretty regular bills I have to pay and a savings account that's dying to be fed some money. I'd like to be able to donate to Planned Parenthood instead of using their services. I'd like to see a neurologist about this whole hand going numb business. I don't even want to think about my ramen addiction having to change from pork belly to chicken "flavor". I'm almost out of migraine meds and my inhalers all have that overly medicinal taste that lets your know you're at the end of the canister. I want to take a trip home because I miss the Pacific so much it aches. And I want to take a vacation somewhere that isn't home, a real one, with no real commitments. My shopping and barhopping ways have already been on hiatus for a while (which is fine) but I'm keeping my daily cappuccino (for now).

I don't know what the solution is. I'm not about to make food I don't believe in but I don't really see the point in hitching myself to another small business wagon. I guess in my ideal world, I'd keep my job and find some sort of supplemental income to hold me through until things picked up again. Or didn't. I still would really like to find a way to teach kids but, not to get all Maslow's hierarchy of needs here, I just can't see myself focusing on researching how to start a side business doing that while I actually don't know if I'll make enough money to pay all the money that needs to be paid and feed myself.

I'm going to check out the onsite events calendar tomorrow. I'm going to hope I can ride it out a month without having to take on a second job. I'm probably going to ugly cry some more. At some point I'm hoping to breath.

If you don't understand him, an' he don't die young, He'll prob'ly just ride away.

When my mother left, when my mother came back. Going to live with my grandparents. My father being arrested in front of me. Visits to rehabs. My father's death. Turning points in my life have mostly been things where I feel no control. Turning me from a quiet controlled girl into a contained, obsessively controlled woman. ***

When I kissed him when I shouldn't have because I was committed to kissing somebody else. The kiss that would turn into months of arguments. Of late night phone calls. Of screaming and threatened suicide if I didn't come RIGHT NOW. Of two hour drives and me leaving the peninsula at 6am to get to high school in Santa Rosa on time. Of spiraling down, down, down. Poor grades in eagerly signed up for AP classes and lies to my therapist. Or at least, not truths. Breaking the trust of the somebody else for, maybe, ever. The first proof that for the next six years I'd always find a way to be leaving.

Until that day when I left.

"I don't want you to move in with us"

"Is that all?"

"And I don't think I can do this anymore"

"I was afraid that's what you were going to say"

And so I drove away in tears from the boy I thought I would marry, who put up with panic attacks and days spent crying and that early mistake of kissing somebody else who would only make things worse. Allowing us both to grow up and apart.

Maybe this was my moment of being cruel to be kind.

***

I sat in the waiting room with my grandmother. I hadn't slept for days weeks and so I was here. Therapy, round 2. I guess that first round, when I was a small child, didn't take. The truth was, I needed it more before my father died. Now I had reason to be sad and reason to not sleep, though both those things had been true beforehand. I filled out the forms with my grandmother sitting next to me and though I was fairly certain she wasn't looking, I lied. I lied about the amount of sad, the crying, the thoughts about death and suicide. I didn't lie about sleep habits because that's why I was there after all. Grief and sleeplessness and dropping enough pounds that my pediatrician asked if I had been trying to lose weight. I lied. And I would mostly keep lying. And after a year I would be pronounced fine.

The therapist couldn't have known then that she was the one doing the lying.

***

That time I locked my heart up when my mother told me it was no fun if I didn't cry. That night child me walked herself home in the darkness of the West Oakland night. That first morning I got myself ready for school and attempted to wake up my mother to get her to take me. The habits of self-sufficiency cemented early and forever unshakeable.

***

When I boarded a plane for India. When I boarded a plan for Turkey. When I chose culinary school over college.

When I left my dream job, relationship and apartment to move into a cabin in the woods.

When I was still unhappy two years later and boarded a plane to New York.

***

I don't know that there are event horizons I haven't written about or beaten like a dead horse. I don't know the moments where I truly changed all. I think sometimes I have been the same forever. The happier version or the sadder version or the more honest version. But my core seems the same. The only difference is how closely I have lived in line with it.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. One of today's prompts was What have been the event horizons of your life - the moments from which there is no turning back?

Drive all night just to feel like you're ok

Music prompts are my favorite prompts and also the hardest. Californians love driving like they love a brother. We bitch and moan about traffic like it's our job, but in the end, don't even know how to function without an engine and an open road. I'm from the part of California people come to just to drive. Dark, forested, windy back roads that suddenly open up on top of rolling hills and vast expanses of vineyards. Lush and green in the spring and waves of fire in the fall.  Round the right corner and suddenly your car is hugging a cliff and you're blinded by the sun reflecting off the Pacific.

When I'm stressed my urge is to jump behind the wheel of a car, or when I'm angry, when I'm depressed, when the sun is shining and everything seems right with the world. All emotions lead to California One. Sometimes this is the hardest part of New York, this long separation between me and a steering wheel.

You can't really belt it out and feel your FEEEEEELINGS on the subway.

"Excuse me? Could you round this corner just on the verge of too fast and maybe blast some Ryan Adams over the loudspeaker? It's just, I broke my own heart tonight. Don't try tell me everyone else on this train isn't also sick to death of love and sick to death of trying, we all know what dating in New York is like"

What? You don't feel all your feelings through alt country of the 90s?

Is it because, like me, you have a not so secret love for feeling all your feelings through angry female mainstream country? At least, you do when you're back living at home, in the country and that cowboy Casanova has told another one of his lies and suddenly you're identifying with T Swift? (I'm still bitter I was never allowed to drive that damn truck)

But it always comes back to my favorite song. I've listened to it over and over and over, driving everywhere. I made a tape of the album, back before there were iPods, because my sweet '96 Corolla only had a tape deck. I've mentioned before that it was the anthem of my junior and senior years of high school. The years right after my dad died. The years when I was truly truly a mess.

I didn't sleep much. Sometimes, when I couldn't sleep, I'd layer up and leave my house. I didn't really get in trouble and I didn't have a curfew and my grandparents were usually in bed before me, so I honestly don't know if they even noticed. I'd get in Delilah and pull out of our driveway, turning left towards the road that would lead me to the coast.

Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin.

If it was too cold (which it almost always is in coastal Northern California at night), I'd turn the heater as I obeyed the next lines.

The window down, feel the moonlight on your skin

Desert wind cool your aching head

The weight of the world drift away instead

I'd relax into the seat. Tears pricking the corner of my eyes, quickly navigating the turns so familiar I could still follow them blind folded, turning the heater higher and higher as I got closer to the coast. This was a thing my father and I did, driving. And at once I'd feel closer to him and forever far away.

These days I barely get by

By the time I'd get to Hwy 1, I'd have to rewind the tape to listen to this song over again. Finally, pulled over, I'd chokingly sob along, the crash of the waves slowly calming me.

I don't even try

I don't even try

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. Today's prompt was to talk about singing alone in the car.

Battle Scars

Chefs are inordinately proud of their scars. We all are, in a way, I suppose, but when I say "chefs are proud of their scars" I mean physical ones, not metaphorical. We're the new rock stars, you know - we work hard, we party hard and we burn the fuck out of ourselves with sheet pans hard. Don't act like you're not jealous of our badassery. Chefs without scars are scoffed at, regarded as glorified home cooks. At times my lower arms have been covered with rows of sheet pan burns so numerous and neat they look more like scarring from self harm than occupational hazard. Ice cream making is not a particularly scarring endeavor, so I'm down to three scars right now - an oval where my left shoulder hit a 450˚ sheetpan fresh out of the oven and received a nasty second degree burn, a heart-shaped scar on my right forearm (because of course I would have a literal heart on my sleeve) and my worst, and longest lasting scar, a thin line that travels diagonally from the base of my right pinky and up the inside of my right ring finger, ending just above my second knuckle. A scar that to this day, has made it so I only have partial feeling in said ring finger, either making the fact that that's my finger my carpal tunnel most affects, better (because I'm used to it) or worse (because maybe it wouldn't go totally numb if it weren't already partially?).

I gave myself the injury that would cause that scar six years ago, right before my 21st birthday and about 5 weeks before I was to graduate culinary school. It didn't happen because I was doing some sort of crazy impressive quick knife work or got jostled by somebody else moving too quickly through the school kitchen. It happened at Baskin Robbins. Where I worked as a cake decorator.

Yes, my most badass scar comes from cake decorating. Even for a baker, it's more than a little humiliating.

You see, Baskin Robbins doesn't have premade cakes for every custom flavor you can order, because that would be insane and impossible for stores to stock. They basically make premade cakes in variations of vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip, mint chip or strawberry ice cream with either vanilla or chocolate bases. For every other flavor, the cake decorators have to assemble the cakes themselves. This is done using a tub cutter. The tub cutter has a metal pole with holes and a metal pin to adjust the height of a curved arm that holds the tub in place and the naked box cutter blade that cuts through the cardboard of the ice cream tub. You spin the tub against the box cutter blade, cutting a neat circle around the tub and then pull a thick wire through the ice cream, slicing off a neat layer with which to assemble the custom cake. Pretty genius, right?

Five days a week, I left my house at 10am to go to work for three hours and got home at 11pm after 7 hours of schooling that was essentially working, it was really only a matter of time before my exhaustion caught up to me. For my first hour of the day, I worked by myself because not enough people bought ice cream at 11am to interrupt my cake decorating. That day I cut off a layer of ice cream from the tub, started assembling a cake and then got distracted by a customer. By the time I got back to the tub to put it away it had started to defrost. The icy fuzz that had formed on the outside had even started to turn to slippery rivulets of water and as I pulled the tub away, my hand lost its grip. Tired, I instinctively pulled my hand away, right along the exposed box cutter blade.

If you have never cut your finger, let me just tell you that even the smallest cut bleeds like a mofo. Two deep, inch long cuts? Yeah. I immediately wrapped my fingers in paper towels and applied pressure, afraid to look but knowing it was bad. When I started to feel faint, I raised my arm above my head in a continued effort to stop the bleeding. Finally, pressing my right hand against my chest to not relent on the pressure, I used my left hand to shakily dial my boss (the owner).

"I cut myself on the tub cutter, I think I need to go to the emergency room"

"How bad is it? Did you drive today? Can you drive yourself?"

"I did, but I cut across two fingers on my right hand, I don't think it would be safe"

He picked me up and drove me to the Kaiser ER.

"I'm sure it won't be too bad when you unwrap it"

I looked at him doubtfully, I was raised by a nurse, I had taken my basic first aid classes, I was shaking and the bleeding still hadn't stopped, I knew it was going to be bad.

I bled through an entire roll of gauze before getting stitched up. Seven stitches across two fingers. Seven large stitches my grandmother shook her head at.

"If you were a hand model, they would've given you at least twice as many stitches"

But I wasn't a hand model, I was about to start my career as a classically trained pastry chef and I had just gotten my first battle scar.

At fucking Baskin Robbins.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. Today's prompt was to tell a story about your first job.

I Still Need to go to Al Anon

Here is a painfully honest real thing: When I see things like this, I feel tremendously guilty.

I know that I have worked WORKED for this to not be my life, that my fear of becoming my parents (or the people my parents used to be) motivated everything my younger self did, that I have not come out unscathed.

But my heart breaks and I cannot stop crying because I do not know how to not empathize and I feel horribly guilty about the privilege that allowed me to not have that life. And I feel horribly guilty that I only spend an hour each week volunteering when there is so much to be done in the world. I mean, deep, in my soul, think I'm a fundamentally bad person, guilt.

(I am not writing this in hopes of reassurance or back pats. It is just a Real Thing that I struggle with that I'm guessing other people with similar backgrounds struggle with too)

Bits & Pieces: Feelings and Job Updates

So here is the reality of the last few weeks. For the first week after getting laid off I was nauseous every day. Every. Single. Day. I knew I would find another job but that didn't keep the sadness then anger than anxiety at bay. By that Friday I was actually sick, not just anxiety sick. I basically spent the entire weekend in bed, snotty, hacking, fevery and gross. Even sick I managed to send out a second volley of resumes because sickness does not anxiety cure (unlike having a source of income).

My motivation to show up for work for the next week was pretty non existent, both because I was sick as hell and because I had mostly moved onto anger. I had poured all my creative energy into my job and, in the end, gotten nothing in return. There had been jobs that would've been better career moves for me, jobs that would've given me health insurance, but no, I believed in the potential of Je & Jo and I believed that I'd be working for people just as committed and concerned about taking their business to the next level as I was. And I'm honestly not sure they were. And, fuck, I HAD JUST GOTTEN SALARY AND PAID TIME OFF, which had lulled me into an apparently false sense of security. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.

Look, I've never been much for routine, I'm more of a "running from one falling star to another" sort of girl. I'm used to getting bored and wanting change constantly. When I got laid off last year, I was relieved. I was excited about my new job prospects. This year I was resistant, I applied to jobs because I had to. I took the job I knew objectively made the most sense for me careerwise and for the things I like to do. I'll be honest, I wasn't excited. I wasn't not excited, I just wasn't really anything. For once, I didn't actually want my life to change.

I've now worked at my new job for five days. I'm starting out with a six day week and I've gone through close to 15o pounds of flour in the last five days. This is real baker life and I've kind of missed it. My arms are not as sore as I've thought they would be (today I mixed a batch of brownies that involved 4 pounds of butter and 2.75 pounds of chocolate BY HAND and that's been pretty typical of my week) but I feel pretty physically exhausted by the end of the day. It's a good feeling. I'm using skills I haven't used in a while and using them well. My boss and I assembly lined some galettes today and worked easily and efficiently as a team. I'm starting to actually get excited.

I won't say I'm excited about waking up at 4:45am or going back to working weekends, but I will say that I think the shake up in routine is good for me. My commute is half what it used to be and there are many more daylight hours in my life. They feed me family meal at work. It's a pretty seasonal/California cuisine/nouveau American sort of place so I've been eating pretty clean which makes me crave more clean food and cook at home more. I have a feeling my new schedule might get lonely pretty soon, but right now I feel like I've been given a blank slate. I've been forced to completely reorganize/prioritize my time. Which is nice. Each day I get to say "So what is it I do on <insert day here> at 5pm now?" and do whatever the fuck I want. At 8am, the morning bake off has been picked up and I can walk to get a coffee at Five Leaves. At 3pm I usually have snack time at home. This week has involved a lot of reading and trying to not nap, some cooking, some cleaning and a little pre bedtime yoga. I think the pre bedtime yoga is here to stay.

Also, the coffee break. OBVS.

And I'm frightened by those who can't see it

I am certain. I have great clarity surrounding the things I want. I don't know how to get them all but I feel sure in my likes and dislikes, my values my worth. I am terrified. I know that what I want is to settle down. That I want to date somebody that is in it for the long haul. I know this not in an urgent 'a relationship will make me happy and complete my life' way, but in a calm 'this is a thing I value and a risk I want to take' way. I'm terrified of myself, of my past, of my ability to get lost in another person. I'm terrified of liking somebody before they know that I am flawed. That sometimes I live in the Bell Jar.

I am content. I like my home. I like our window of booze bottle candle holders, our rusty old lanterns, the snow webs and twinkle lights. I like our bar and I like my room. I'm happy with my extracurriculars, ready to get back to the kids I haven't seen for a month.

I am weary. I feel tired, in my bones. I feel the urge to just shout "stop" at the world for a moment. Just stop. Give me one day of frozen time. One day to rest and catch up and not feel behind. One day where I don't dread going to sleep at night because I'm not ready for another day to come.

I am elated. For the first time in years, my New Year's and my birthday were everything I wanted them to be. No let downs, just good good friends and food and music and dancing. I finally have paid time off back in my life. I can call in sick for work. I can actually go home for a week. I can NOT FREAK OUT. I have a Crush. And maybe another one developing.

I am a mixed bag. Life is a mixed bag, it is hard and wonderful and lovely and terrible and calm and frenetic and overwhelming and underwhelming and just right. It is all of those things. And it will never stop being all those things. I will never stop being all those things.

I am coming to terms with the unbearable dichotomy of being.

I was told to go where the wind would blow

I made a decision recently. I pretty big one. A secret one. Well, not really a secret, not an intentional secret, just a decision nobody knows I made. Nobody really knew was being made. It's made me happy and sad. And in a strange way feel like I'm grieving.

I decided not to go home in January.

For as long as I can remember, I came to New York for the holidays. And when I couldn't come for the holidays, I came in January, often around my birthday. New York in the winter is my favorite. New York in the winter makes me so happy I could cry. The warm weather we're having makes me want to cry in the opposite way. Last January I reversed the migration. I went home to California for a little over a week in January. I flew to Vegas for 48 hours 10 days later for my mom's wedding. In May I went to BiSC, went home to California for TWENTY FOUR hours to see my best friend because her father was dieing and then again, ten days later flew to California for 48 hours to see my little brother graduate high school (THANK EFFING GOD, IT WAS A CLOSE CALL THERE FOR A WHILE). So by June I had made 4 round trips across the country. That's kind of a lot.

Most of the practical reasons I'm not going home in January are financial. BiSC registration happens in January. I don't have paid time off, so going home right after the holidays is a little rough. One of my close friends is getting married in Massachusetts in the Summer but the bachelorette party is probably going to be in Vegas or California. I can't afford more than two cross country tickets in one year. And I can't afford more vacations. Either BiSC or the bachelorette party will probably be combined into a longer California home visit but there's no reason for me to go home in January.

I always came to New York in January because I hated missing the holidays here. Because I missed Central Park covered in snow more than anything. Because I love to ice skate and that's hard to explain to people that've only ever done it indoors. I went home to California last January because there was no way I was missing my little brother's 18th birthday. This year he turns 19, I turn 27. Who the fuck cares about that? (ok, I care about the 27 more than I thought I would care about officially entering my late 20s, but whatevs) I don't need to go home for the rain when I can stay here for the snow.

I can go to Sonoma County in the spring. When the weather is perfect and the hills are still green and I can see more stars in the sky than a New Yorker could ever imagine.

But the real reason I'm not going home in January is because I live here now. I don't really know how to explain it. It's just a step. A step in growing up. A step in changing and letting go. I live here now. This is my life. I migrated cross country every winter so I could have a brief moment in the place my soul felt still. My soul is still. I'm settled. Or at least as settled as one can be at this age. I don't need to reverse it.

I'll go home at some point. I'll go home when my heart can't stand to spend another moment away from the roar of the Pacific. When I miss the streak of the Milky Way the way I miss my father. When whiskey at 4am on the lower east side doesn't taste as good as whiskey at 4am in a barn. Or by a fire. I'll go home when I can't stand another moment without being behind the wheel of a car.

I'll go home and my baby cousins will be taller than me. My little brother won't live there. My best friends dad won't ever talk to me about cooking or travel again. The old tiny black Moxie cat I left with Lara held on, snuggling by Lara's father's side and now she's gone with him. The big black dog that was always excited to see me at my aunt and uncle's because he knew I'd take him for a walk won't be there either. I'll have a step dad I don't even really know. There will be a tiny person at the home of my friends whose wedding cake it seems I just made yesterday.

Other things will be the same. The Peet's coffee in my grandparents' house. The charred edges of toasted pain au levain. The milky way and highway 1. The fog rolling into the valley.

I'll go home. And I'll visit. And I'll realize it really isn't home anymore.

Over and over and over again

"I have to have something caffeinated or I'm just going to not function"

"You hit a wall?'

"Well I think I hit the wall like three days ago and now I'm like a roomba trying to get around a corner but instead of going around I just keep backing up at the wrong angle and running into it over and over again"

I've been in the hole. And instead of taking a moment and being kind to myself and saying "hey, slow down," I've just kept going. I've just kept myself all the way on all the time.

To a certain extent, this is how it works, right? This is adulthood. You do the shit you have to do. You keep trying to be the person you want to be. Sometimes you fuck up your priorities and doing the things you "have to do" makes you unable to be the person you want to be and then you find yourself unable to sleep at 2am figuring out the barista schedule for no reason other than your inability to just turn off and let be.

Or instead of walking away 10 times out of 10, it turns into 9 out of 10 and at 3am that 10th person gets all the wrath that should've been doled out evenly. But that 10th person was an asshole and so you're not entirely sure you feel bad and then you feel worse because you want to be the type of person that does feel bad. Because most of the time you are.

I've added 4 to 5 hours of volunteer work to my life each week. It's teaching kids in after school programs/weekend programs in the Bronx, Harlem and Long Island City how to cook. I love it. It's what I wish I could get paid to do.

That's the person I want to be. I want to be the person that prioritizes giving back. The problem is I didn't really think about the commute to those places. I didn't think about 3 hours in the Bronx really eating 5 or so hours of my Saturday. Or another hour getting taken away on Tuesdays to get myself from work to Harlem or LIC.

So I need to sit down, right? I need to sit down and figure out what needs to give for me to be able to prioritize volunteering without going insane. Because this is actually why I went to culinary school, so I could always have a practical skill and do all the volunteer things that I can't turn into a career. That was always the plan. It wasn't that I wanted to be a chef. It's that I couldn't major in the things I wanted to major in and ever be gainfully employed. So I need to make this work. I figure out what gets sacrificed. I figure out what needs to make it in. I stop holding myself to standards that are impossibly higher than I would ever set for others.

I slow down for a minute.

I try this new thing called "sleep".

But my grandparents get into town tomorrow.

So i'm probably not going to try any of that until next week.

Bits & Pieces (the fourth)

August isn't my favorite time of year. It's well documented. I haven't been writing about it, because there isn't anything to say that I haven't said before.

I had a nasty Summer cold earlier this month, the worst deathaversary sick I've had in a couple of years. I wasn't prepared for it to happen so early. After literally spending 48 hours in bed over the weekend, I was still sick enough on Monday that I would've called in sick if my assistant were actually a baker, not a grad student who knows how to work the ice cream machine. I never call in sick, it's just not done in the kitchen, but I would've called in sick.

I over schedule myself to the point where I even thought I was over scheduled. Over scheduling is my thing. I love it. But this month I looked at the calender and thought "Seriously, Alana Margaret? Are you trying to kill yourself?". Nope, just keeping busy.

Busy busy busy.

My brain is on overdrive. I think I've probably written ten blog posts in my head but never let myself sit down to write them. I got in a rut at work and then suddenly thought of all the new recipes I wanted to make at once. That's how it goes. The recipes leave and come back. It's overwhelming sometimes, I never know how to explain it. Once I'm in that mode, I'll literally stop a conversation to work out a flavor combination out loud. I haven't shut down for a while. Quieting my mind during yoga this week was an extra challenge.

My life, it seems so full of possibility right now. My lease is up at the end of November and I'm constantly thinking about what next. It's crazy that I'll have lived in the same apartment for a year and ten months when I leave, I tend to pack up and move, to run onto the next thing more often than that usually. Do I stay in Astoria? Can I somehow afford Manhattan? Do I give in and move to Brooklyn to be with my hipster people? Do I leave New York? (I'm not leaving New York, I'm too happy with my life right now, but the point is, I could. I'd come back, but I could leave for a while).

I love my job and I really believe in the product, but once again I'm not sure what the next step is careerwise. I think the next step is to do what I've been doing and create a life outside of work while I have a job that allows me to do that. Maybe the next step is just sticking around for a while.

Politics are making me rage-y right now. Just a rage bubbling up inside me that I haven't felt for a while. I told somebody the other day that I had such a hard time taking Mitt Romney seriously as a candidate that I keep forgetting it's an election year. WHEN I WAS IN INDIA I READ ENTIRE DEBATE TRANSCRIPTS ON THE INTERNET and this year I've been like "wait, we still actually need to vote on this bullshit?". At least that's how I was until Republicans started saying really REALLY stupid things about rape and then I mean, RAGE. Just, rage.

I guess I feel like I'm finding myself again with the yoga and the volunteering and the rage. I don't know when I lost myself. Or if that's the right phrase. I feel like I'm turning into the version of myself I want to be. I wasn't lost. I just knew I could do more. There still much more to do, there's always more. But I'm growing again. Growing and stable at the same time.

Happy and sad at the same time.

Lara called to tell me Moxie Crimefighter died today. It finally made me pause long enough to feel the sadness that's been lingering around the edges this month. Sadness for her dad's passing, sadness for my own's and now sadness for the loss of a tiny black cat named after pub trivia had a celebrity baby names round. While Lara's dad was sick, Moxie slept curled next to him every day. You were the best, Moxiecat. The best.

I'm currently simultaneously annoyed with myself for being irresponsible and going out and drinking for EIGHT HOURS last Wednesday and had such a good, crazy time, that I can't be. It was just one of those nights that I think can only happen in New York where one minute it's 5pm happy hour in the UWS and then it's 11 and somehow you've ended up in Brooklyn, developing a small surprise crush on somebody that wasn't even really eligible in your mind before. The crush has stuck with me sober. Have I mentioned how much I hate crushes? It's basically like when somebody tells me they have a surprise for me. Either just surprise me or tell me what it is. I don't do well with anticipation and not knowing. Seriously, I hate this feeling. Will it develope into more of a crush? How does he feel about me? Why am I even thinking about this that much? What's my next move? Do I make a next move? Why did I hide in the kitchen when he came into work the other day? What if he has no interest in moves? WHY CAN'T WE JUST HAVE ARRANGED MARRIAGES STILL?

I'm going to lie in a dark room and just listen to the Good Old Wars and The Avett Brothers endlessly now. Also, the Lumineers, still. And the Milk Carton Kids. I'm back on an alt country kick and a buying all the music kick. I'm still so happy to have gotten back this part of myself. I miss my records, though. I want those when I move.

I think maybe my brain will be quiet for a second now because how can anything be left after that outpouring of gibberish?

I've been living a lonely life

I’ve been off the whole “love” thing for a while. I think it might be a thing New York does to you. Your life becomes full of rotating cast and crew with few permanent additions. I’ve had three friends move out of the state since December. My schedule hasn’t been the same for more than two months for the last year and a half. I haven’t had a single relationship with a guy I wouldn’t describe as “ambiguous” except for with Trouble. I suppose that relationship was the opposite of ambiguous. Mostly because it was the opposite of a relationship.

Needless to say, if you think immersion therapy is a good idea for dealing with your abandonment issues, come hang out with me in New York. We’ll be great friends until I leave you before you can leave me.

At a certain point, dating just didn’t seem worth it. Sometime around the time I freaked out about a guy wanting to hold hands in public on the second date. A friend pointed out that if it was the right guy, it probably wouldn’t bother me. I was like “yeah, sure” and then proceeded to go on another date with too much PDA dude. I’m not sure what my logic was. I guess I’ve never been much of a “when you know, you know” person. My longest relationship was with a guy that was a goofy 15 year old rocking an awful Prince Valiant hair cut when we first met in 10th grade honors English. I mean, I knew. I knew that while Jacob became a great friend, I had no interest in dating him. Until the next fall when I knew I did. I guess I thought if I went on enough dates with Mr. PDA, he might grow on me.

On that next date we were talking about our somewhat incompatible schedules and he said “Working out our schedules would be hard, but for this, I think it would be worth it,” and I just kind of nodded. And I knew. I knew I had absolutely no interest in dating him. I also knew I had no interest in being friends with him.

That’s when I knew I just needed to back away from the dating for a while. I consoled myself with the 5,000 online articles about how dating in New York is actually impossible for everyone. I focused on my relationships with friends. I worked on getting my food blog back up and running. I didn’t fool myself into thinking I preferred singlehood but I convinced myself it was ok for a while. One day I realized my singleness had stopped being something I constantly struggled against. I even had moments where I thought about losing my freedom and it didn’t seem worth it.

It was nice while it lasted. I guess.

A few weeks ago I fell asleep holding hands with someone. (Hi SOMEONE! FEELINGS. I kind of hope you're not reading this) I had Sunday brunch and lazy afternoon cuddles. I went on a walk through the park after dinner. I shivered each time he kissed me. And before I knew it, my bed that I never let anybody in, suddenly felt awfully big for one. It was all A LOT, very fast (err, feelings-wise, just to be clear) but it didn’t seem too much. And I remember thinking “This would be hard to figure out, but it would be worth it” and then “Fuck!” because my friend was right, because I once again knew what I was missing, because I was fairly certain I had put myself in a situation with high potential for heartbreak.

Because I knew I wouldn’t settle anymore.

Because the heart wants what it mother fucking wants. And my heart is an all or nothing kind of girl.

I thought I was on a “no kissing guys that don’t want to date you” kick but now I’m pretty sure I’m on a “no kissing guys that don’t give you chills” kick.

Which would’ve been a lot easier when I thought I was content with not kissing anybody for a while, before I was reacquainted with the terrifying but sweet vulnerability of kissing somebody you really like or the thought that the risk could be worth the reward.

I want it all.

I kind of hate this feeling.

Fuck.

(P.S. I have a kind of personal meets professional post over on the food blog today, go check it out)

My Own Personal Fillory (Part Two)

In my own personal Fillory,

Bartenders stop taking your money but give you booze for free.

Sugar snap peas grow year round in massive piles everywhere.

It's always pool day in Vegas.

It always smells like the California coast and redwood trees.

Teleportation is real.

In my own personal Fillory,

I'm never nervous about talking on the phone.

Either eating an entire avocado (or three) or an entire pineapple as a meal would be a nutritionally valid choice.

Concerts would always be scheduled around when I had time and would never ever be sold out.

If it became clear during the course of a date that either party wasn't interested you'd just be magically teleported out.

Flour and sugar bins would always refill themselves and everyone would always use real butter.

In my own personal Fillory,

Time could be suspended for the purposes of finishing a book. Or to be able to spend enough time snuggling in bed.

Also, I'd have somebody with whom to snuggle in bed on the regular.

You would never have to wait more than a month between seasons for tv shows.

I could control the weather. It would mostly be 85 with no humidity. Or snowing. Except when I'm falling asleep and want to listen to the rain.

There are 2am yoga classes.

In my own personal Fillory,

Contentment is enough, life isn't hard and every risk taken is only met with reward.

(Also, kittens. Lots of kittens. Everywhere. Nobody is allergic. Puppies too. AND WE COULD ALL HAVE BABY POLAR BEARS AND BABY PENGUINS AND THEY'D BE FRIENDS. OH MY GOD GET ME TO FILLORY NOW)

Struggling

It was Sunday afternoon (East Coast time) when Lara called me.

It was about half a second before I thought about just going to the airport and seeing if I could get on a plane and a few hours until I forced myself to admit that I couldn't really do that.

Five minutes until the break in her voice "how do you deal with father's day?"

45 minutes until I called my grandma

3 more days until the ball of anxiety that's been living in my chest for weeks now finally went away because it was still 3 days until I finally broke down and sobbed. Oh I wanted to before then. I wanted to in the middle of the kitchen at work. I wanted to on the train. But I knew once I started it would be a while before I stopped. So it took three days.

My mental health has backslid ten years at times this week. I guess that's how these things work.

Life seems easier right now with a little something to take the edge off. Or rather, life seems bearable that way.

And I guess that's how you end up lying on your yoga mat on a Saturday afternoon drinking a sauv blanc that was possibly made from grapes grown on your ex's ranch listening to country music (THE MUSIC OF PAIN) wondering what the fuck is wrong with you that you prefer to live where the grapes aren't grown and highway 1 isn't a 7 minute drive away and you actually can't be there for your friends.

This is probably the point where I should turn this post around and give you the shiny side or the learning and growing side. But there's no shiny side today. Because I'm just so sad.

So very very sad.

Untitled

I've been saying "life is hard" a lot lately. In the moments when life isn't hard. The moments where I have the windows down and am blasting a little Dirt Road Anthem on a perfect West Sonoma County Spring day. The moments where I've been forced to eat artichokes from the garden. Or spend the whole day eating and drinking with two amazing friends. I say it jokingly in the happy moments to mark it as a moment to remember when Life Is Hard.

Because life is pain, Princess. Except when it's not.

Why let them be happy now when they're going to be sad later?

The answer, of course, is because they're going to be sad later.

I remind myself because one moment my life might be joy and sequins and the next my heart might be breaking for my best friend as I struggle to find the words to console when I know I'm dealing with a situation for which there is no consolation.

I remind myself because in the morning I happily skip around New York with my bag of farmers' maket produce that I get paid to turn into delicious pastries and at night I might watch a tv show with a car crash and surprise myself when I need to curl into a ball and make a conscious effort to breath.

I remind myself because I get older and I realize how young I am. How dramatic everything seemed yesterday but how it hardly matters today. That often the little moments are what build or break a relationship or a life.

I remind myself because I want to recognize the sadness and the hardship but I don't want to wallow in it. Life is good and life is hard and life is unjust and sometimes that works in my favor and sometimes it doesn't. These aren't amazing new revelations, they're just truths to acknowledge every now and then.

They're truths to acknowledge when you spend a year and a half pretty fucking closed off and end up deciding to give on dating for a while altogether and then find yourself terrifyingly, unexpectedly opening up. When waking up one morning wondering why suddenly your bed feels so big with only one person in it and you roll over to find a text from the somebody that's missing.

And they're truths to acknowledge when you flinch at the sound of every late night text message or alert terrified of what it could say, what it could mean for someone you love and that there is not a thing you can do about it.

Life is hard.

Exhaustion

Las Vegas and California. Waiting on the plane to get home. Las Vegas was AH-MAZING. I'm still surprised at how little attachment I feel to California. It's familiar and full of things I love but it's not home. Given my constant desire to leave it, I don't know if it ever was. But the people I love are there and there is a very happy thing and a very sad thing happening right now and I could really use a teleporter.

Exhaustion

Exhaustion

Timshel

I'm finding one of the products of getting older is being able to distinguish between the different types of sad. The hurt sad. The bell jar sad. The grief sad. The grief sad and the bell jar sad used to be indistuingishable, interwoven, one always seemed to create the other if it went on for long enough.

I am sad and I have not been sleeping well but the world hasn't closed in yet. I have no problem going to work though I am a little spacey and easily frustrated. So far, I haven't even had the urge to cry on the train. I am sad. Grieving. But is tolerable and it will pass. That's what I can tell you ten years after my father celebrated his last birthday. Ten years, and I can finally tell you, I can finally believe, this too shall pass.

May, 3rd 2002, my father turned 38 and it's strange because now 38 is just far enough away that I can't picture it, but close enough to understand how young it really is.

My father was a good man who made bad choices. He was without pretense. He was caring and loving and compassionate. He was a drug dealer and a drug addict. He never hid his choices from me, but he never wanted my choices to be the same. I think a lot of his choices were built around making sure that my choices didn't have to be the same. He wanted the world for me. I was the world for him.

But sometimes in my heart of hearts I still think "You loved me more than anything, you loved me so much that friends of yours I'd never even met would come up to me at the memorial to tell me, to ask me about things in my life I'd barely remembered telling you but it wasn't enough, it still wasn't enough was it? Not enought to pull yourself together. Not enough to walk away from that high".

And I know, I know that's not how addiction works. And I know he died in a motorcycle accident. But I know he was driving that motorcyle too fast because of other poor decisions. And I know that he rarely did anything without the best of intentions. I know he made the choices he felt he had to make. I know he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders, I know the depression, the anxiety. I know the things that have been passed from generation to generation. I empathize too much to be angry. Maybe I'll never make it through all the stages of grief. I am a sad person and I am a hurt person, but I am almost never an angry person.

I miss you, daddy. There were always other choices. I didn't need the whole world, I just needed you to be happy and safe in it.

I don't even try

I don't know what I'm passionate about right now. I feel hollow all the time. I'm never hungry but also never full. In February I decided to stop fighting everything all the time but I guess in my case that just makes me apathetic. Or numb. I can't even tell which.

I've been trying to learn to sit with my feelings more. Or rather, just to actually feel them. To be able to say to myself things like "I am sad that this boy doesn't like me even though it's not logical to be this sad about it" or "even though I completely understand and agree with the reason I'm losing my job it's reasonable to be sad and scared and anxious". Maybe this is the way you feel feelings all the time. This is not the way I feel feelings. Look, there's a reason Spock has always been my favorite. However, you'll be shocked to know I am not a Vulcan, even though I sometimes often act like one. The problem is that by the time I actually let myself feel things I'm feeling this huge reservoir of feeling and I can't identify where each one is coming from.

So I can tell you right now that I am sad and bitter and disillusioned; that I just suspended my OkC account for the eleventybillionth time though in truth I've been on an online dating hiatus for a month now already anyways; that none of the job listings I've read make me want to send in my resume; that I made out with a boy I had no intention of ever making out with again and I honestly don't know how I feel about it, I want to say I feel nothing about it but I don't think you can actually make out and cuddle with somebody that you like and not have feelings about it and I think it's actually that the feelings are too complicated and too many things and so I'm not sitting with those ones yet* and that I'm well aware there is some major grammatical craziness going on in this post but I just don't give a fuck.

But I can also tell you I've had moments of peace and serenity lately. That walking around in Central Park with the sun on your skin and new friend is happiness. That nighttime rambles with a flask size bottle of whiskey and friend you haven't seen in a while are kind of great even if they unexpectedly kiss you later. That I do have one single job interview lined up and it looks perfect for me. That I spent yesterday at my pastry cook's friend's home out in Fresh Meadows and got to hang out with her siblings and large friend group and remember what it feels like to be part of something stable and solid. That I have a week packed full of social activities with other BiSC goers who are fast becoming my close friends.

I can tell you that I've recently realized that I'm angry at myself for letting go of and being less vocal about things I care about to make myself more palatable or to fit into groups better. That I've taken my philosophy of "pick and choose your battles" a little too far. Hi, I'm Alana and I am a feminist and I probably don't think any of your sexist/homophobic/racist jokes are funny and yeah, I'm generally ludicrously PC and I'm ok with that. JUST SO WE'RE CLEAR.

So maybe it's not that there isn't anything going on. Maybe it's that there's too much going on. Too much swirling around in my head for me to sort through it and feel any of it. Today I decided I was just going to fake it until I make it. I cleaned my room, I did some yoga, I ate an entire pineapple and also quinoa, poached chicken, black beans and avocados. Fine... also an entire bag of cadbury mini eggs.

Baby steps back to caring people, baby steps.

*This is how I feel: I feel sad and a little angry because it was nice and it was comfortable and making out and a cuddle buddy were exactly what I needed this week and it wasn't expected so it was a nice ego boost but it wasn't with somebody with whom I am actually ok with casually making out and cuddling. So, I'm sad that it's not something I get to do in a non-casual way and a little angry with both of us for doing it. And maybe a little angry at myself for not being over him even though I said earlier it was ok to be sad. God I hate feelings. THEY DON'T EVEN MAKE SENSE A LITTLE BIT, CAN I PLEASE BE A VULCAN NOW?

Bits & Pieces (the third)

I mean, THIS WEEK, y'all, this week. Or two weeks? I don't even know. I don't even know where to start. This is going to be a little brain dump-y. Ok, a lot brain dump-y. (read: hilarious/ridiculous/rambling)

I didn't finish Scintilla because I had a carpal tunnel flare up, probably from Scintilla. What I learned from Scintilla: I actually, physically cannot write every day. So there's that. That's pretty shitty. I mean, I probably could if I didn't get paid to squeeze piping bags and shape tiny pasta but I do, so writing every day is out. And no, I couldn't really hold a pen by the end of the day either. With a break from writing and "sleeping" with a wrist brace for a few days, I seem to be doing ok. This makes me really happy because a) I can stop sleeping with the motherfucking wrist brace because sleeping with a wrist brace is more like "wake up every three hours and groggily wonder why the fuck you have this uncomfortable torture device on your wrist" b) I was freaking out because I don't have health insurance and I'm ok with paying the $100 for an urgent care appointment if it's for getting antibiotics or some shit, but carpal tunnel isn't really a "here take this things and it's fixed" sort of problem and I have no money for tests or physical therapy or, god forbid, surgery and the freaking out probably didn't help with the wrist brace induced insomnia and c) now I can write again.

And I need to write again so that I can tell you about how I haven't slept longer than three hours in one stretch EVEN WHEN I DRUGGED MYSELF for like two weeks and I am really really glad I finally have two days off IN A ROW tomorrow and Monday.

Also, I need to talk about how boys are confusing.

I suffer from chronic bitch face, my mouth naturally turns down when my face is relaxed, while this doesn't seem to really bother other women, it means I get a lot of those annoying commands from men to smile. It also seems to mean that men either think I'm a bitch, or if they've gotten me to smile, that I'm flirting with them. I either apparently have "bitchface" or "flirtface" on because apparently I unintentionally flirt A LOT when I think I'm just making conversation. (Sidenote: Yes, I am also a flirt, but when I'm intentionally flirting it's usually pretty obvious, there's a lot of smirking and eyebrow raises and taking advantage of my shortness) And then I'm too nice and I give people my number EVEN THOUGH I DIDN'T THINK WE WERE FLIRTING and then I feel awful but most of the time this isn't too much of a problem because I can just be that awful girl that ignores your calls. However, it is a problem when my drunken coworker kisses me and I didn't even see it coming a little bit.

Drunken coworker.

Kissed me.

Not the one I slept with forever ago when I wasn't working there. A new one. Like, not just new to kissing me, but new to working there. Oh, and did I mention he has a girlfriend? And I've barely every spoken to him? Except for making polite getting to know you conversation at the other sous chef's going away party, I'd pretty much never said anything other than "Hey, how are you? Which breads are you low on?".

But we left the party at the same time and we were waiting for the train and he kissed me and WHAT? So I told him it was a bad idea and then he said it was a good idea and then he looked me straight in the eyes and told me I was beautiful and I was so caught off guard (see also: drunk) that I didn't dodge a second kiss. And then he fell over, taking me with him. And then he vomited.

So here I am, in the train station, with a guy I've known two weeks and have had maybe a total of thirty minutes worth of conversation with who is falling over, vomiting, black out drunk. Sober me realizes he might've hit his head when we fell and that maybe I should've taken him to a hospital. Drunk me went into crisis mode and decided to get him in a cab and get him home.

He's a foot taller than me and does not have a small build. I have a bruise over half my right ring finger from the pressure of the claddaugh I wear from trying to pull him up by his hands. I succeed in getting him up and out of the train station. With much effort I get his address out of him and get us into a cab. Not thinking about the fact that his address could be construed as Brooklyn or Manhattan and assuming that the cabbie would stay IN THE BOROUGH WE WERE IN if I didn't specify, I focused on making sure new coworker was alive and ok and not on the fact that OH HEY WE'RE IN MANHATTAN NOW, also please pull over because new coworker needs to throw up more. So then I had to go back to Brooklyn. Most expensive cab ride ever. Fuck my life. But, I mean, what the fuck else am I supposed to do?

We finally get back to his house and the effing effity eff keys keep sticking in the lock and it's freezing and it's 3am and it takes like twenty minutes of us passing the keys back and forth to each other to get in the god damn house where we proceed to go upstairs to his bedroom and then I go to the bathroom only to find he's disappeared while I was peeing. Fuck. I find him downstairs in the other bathroom sitting on the toilet with his head in the sink. I mean, hey, I usually prefer to use the toilet for vomiting and the floor for sitting on, but at least this way he can't choke on his own vomit in his sleep. He vaguely wakes up, throws up some more. I try to force some water into him, he doesn't keep it down. I consider sleeping in the bathtub because I am a crazy person that thinks that somehow by sleeping next to a black out drunk person I'll keep them from injuring themselves. I try to pull him up and get him upstairs. No luck. Finally, I give up and let him fall asleep, head in the sink. I go up to his room, curl up on the bed, completely clothed, jacket still on because it's freezing and set an alarm for twenty minutes to go check on him. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually he makes it into bed.

And that, was how this week started. I left before he woke up. I know he knows I got him home because I overheard him telling my other coworkers that he blacked out and I got him home but I have no idea what else he remembers.

So I'm pretty much just pretending none of it ever happened and he hasn't said anything about any of it to me (either the kissing or the me getting him home) but he has been really friendly and look, HOW THE FUCK DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION? Because I'm at work, I have a professional relationship with him. I barely know him. I don't want to kiss him. But I spent multiple hours wiping vomit off his face and I've slept in his bed so it's weird. It's really fucking weird. I don't know what to do, so I'll probably just keep pretending nothing ever happened except it makes me kind of feel like a bitch to be like "hey, I've seen you crazy vulnerable and in need of help but now I'm acting like I barely know you". But I barely know him.

So anyways, apparently I have no idea how to read men because I really didn't think we were flirting but he really was determined to kiss me. Also, he was really drunk so I'm assuming it has no bearing on how sober him feels about kissing me. At least I'm hoping that's true.

Boys Are Confusing Part Two:

This past Saturday I think I almost got into my first fight with Trouble. (Pro Tip: You're not supposed to get in fights with somebody with whom you're just sleeping and have no emotional involvement, because I think that's a sign of emotional involvement. Oops.) We were in a cab and he mentioned how his new subletter was a really great guy and HE SAID "not like my other roommate" so I said "who hates me?". He again clarified that his roommate hates everyone and I again stated that I didn't really care if his roommate hates me because he was kind of a jerk.

"Really? Because he's one of my really good friends, y'know we grew up together, so his opinion really matters to me"

And then I changed the subject because a) never try to reason with drunk people especially if you are also drunk and b) why does it matter what his best friend thinks of me if we're not dating?! What?

We are talking about a guy here who once pointed to the ring on my finger and said "Are you engaged? I mean, not that it would matter if you were, I don't believe in the whole marriage thing". I thought we were firmly in this is not a relationship land, not ambiguous relationship land. Ambiguous relationship land is my actual least favorite.

Why am I meeting his best friend?

Why does his best friend's opinion matter?

Why are we seeing each other (slightly) more often?

And why is he doing cute things like pushing my hair out of my eyes and telling me it's a good to see me?

And I AM A GIRL AND I NEED TO ANALYZE ALL THESE THINGS TO DEATH BECAUSE I HAVE ALL THESE FEEEEEEEEELINGS.

Unrelated to all these things, I worked 13 hours today even though it's the day my pastry cook came back from being on vacation. I don't know either. Also I had potato chips for dinner even though I'm starting a juice cleanse on Monday. The world has been muffled all week. If you understand that statement, I am glad for the company, though also sorry. If you don't, I can't explain it. My room is a mess. I misread my DIGITAL scale all week and thought I had gained back five pounds instead of losing five pounds. I will clean my room tomorrow and I will pay to have somebody else do my laundry and I will have dinner with my family and I will start drinking all the juice on Monday and life will come back in focus again. I think. I think that's how it works.

But now, it's time to go the fuck to sleep.

The parts of me I've lost.

Sidenote: I feel like this post is only grasping at what I want to say. It's not quite there yet.

Vulnerability. Oh I am vulnerable. I am oh so so so so vulnerable.

It hurts, living, it hurts constantly. Like my skin is being rubbed by sandpaper. Except for the moments it doesn't, the moments of sitting on my roof on a warm Spring day eating pineapple until my lips bleed. If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

You will never know this.

I am a feelings person. I feel everything, dramatically, immensely, personally. But I am (mostly) a quiet, contained person, a tense person, a small, apple cheeked, dimpled woman with a sharp edge.

I loathe innocence and softness in others. I don't relate. I resent it. "Don't you understand?" I want to scream at them, "Don't you understand that the world is a cold, hard and lonely place, there are beautiful people in it, but even the beautiful people leave at some point, somehow, always. I should know, I don't think I'm a beautiful person, but I know I'm always leaving, be careful of people like me. And some people, most people, they're just masquerading, don't ever EVER be the first to show your soft underbelly".

What is it like to not feel like that? What would it be like to gain my vulnerability back? I don't know. I lost it so very long ago. I think it's somewhere in West Oakland, between a fence I climbed and a bedroom I was thrown across. Don't ever ask me for memories of your father, little brother.

It's a catch 22 you see, I would trade the loneliness of this impenetrable fortress for things like snuggles on the couch at the end of a long day and nightly shared meals if you proved you were trustworthy but would you take the time to prove you are trustworthy to a woman who only ever offers vague glimpses of who she is?

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project, prompts can be found here.