When It Gets Real

Flower in sun and shadow, August 2015

There are times when I find that I get so fixated on a dream of the future that I completely forget to live in the present.

Months and months go by, fading quickly into years, and my dreams glows brighter and brighter in the sky, illuminating the world around me and chasing away the shadows of the days that drift by and away. And I am happy for a time because I cannot see a reason to be anything but. All is golden in the light of the sun, and the pains that would otherwise cripple me barely seem to faze me. For I see what I want, where I want to be, and where I am matters little and less.

Until the light pulls back.

In the dimness, everything is clearer. I am no longer blinded by what I want, nor am I darkened by what I have not got. I am wholly, startlingly aware of what I have. And I am terrified. Because when the light of the sun fades to a gentle gold, my present unfurls and I see myself as I am. Scared and aware and far too young to be this old.

And it gets real.


My little blog turned one year old today!

On the advent of a momentous occasion, which starting a blog may or may not qualify as, I believe it is customary to get a bit sentimental. My typically collected disposition is leaning far too close to the edge of sentiment for comfort, and I cannot imagine wanting to read such reminiscence any more than wanting to write it. So in the spirit of brevity and empathy, I will spare you the worst of the sentimentality and jump straight to the essential points:

I started this blog last year because I was feeling stuck in a very decided rut, unsure of what I wanted to do and even less sure of what I could do. But I knew that I needed to write.

Even if what I said was simple, ephemeral, and un-profound.

Even if I wrote in fits and spurts, unsure of what to say or wanting for anything to say at all.

I needed to get the words out of my system.

Thank you for being here to read them when they come. It is nice to think that even one person cares enough to take a look.

Black Unitards In Technicolor: “What Do All The People Know?” by the Monroes

In getting into the swing of summer, I invariably wind up listening to a disproportionate amount of 80s music. Because the days are long, the weather is fine, and it is impossible to feel anything but upbeat when listening to a chorus of drum machines and synthesizers.

At the moment, I am favoring a track by the Monroes called “What Do All The People Know?” And when I refer to a track by the Monroes, I mean basically the only song ever released by the Monroes. If you are not familiar with the Monroes, you are in good company. A standard one hit wonder band whose only single of note is featured on every compilation album they were ever a part of, the Monroes look rather like the guys from Sprockets and sound like every generic sythpop bad to ever arise from the vibrant oddity that was the 80s. And although the song itself may be slightly nondescript, almost as if it were lifted from the blueprint of every basic 80s pop track every written, it is undeniably irresistible.

Even if you are not quite ready to bust out a black unitard and boogie against a purple backdrop, if you have any affection for the more modern “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, then “What Do All The People Know?” by the Monroes is definantly worth three and a half minutes of your time. And as long as we are on the subject of “Shut Up and Dance,” I would just like to point out that I lived about five months of my life without knowing that song existed, and I will always hate myself just a little bit for having missed out on five months of an excellent dance anthem. I would absolutely be somebody’s discotheque Juliet, provided we did not have to come to some sort of tragic, Technicolor end.

Ten Tips For Staring A New Job

  1. Arrive early on the first day

Thinking of leaving the house ten minutes early? Add an extra ten or fifteen minutes to that. You do not want to be late on your first day. Lateness is among the worst first impressions you can possibly give. Allow yourself time to get your appearance in order, navigate constantly fluctuating traffic, secure a sweet parking spot, and find out where your desk actually is. Worst case scenario, you get there too early and wind up sitting in your car, flipping through your phone or the pages of whatever book you may have thrown in the passenger seat.

  1. Bring a book

You will probably have some downtime on your first day or two. You do not know what you are doing, your boss probably has yet to figure out what you are doing, and thus much of your time will be spent sitting and staring off into space. At least if you have a book, you can look busy whilst simultaneously keeping your mind off of how out of place you feel.

  1. Wear sensible clothes and comfortable shoes

If you are unsure about whether to go with a casual, dressy casual, or full-on dressy look, always air on the side of looking more formal than less. You will get an immediate sense of the office dress code after your first day and can adjust your outfit choices apparently. But it never hurt anyone to make an extra effort for that first day. Also, wear comfortable shoes. You will almost assuredly be walked around the office and displayed like a prized horse, and you do not want to be waltzing in on your second day covered in blisters.

  1. Make friends and do not alienate people

An office is kind of like high school with a bit of money thrown in. There will be people you like, people you do not like, people who like you, and people who would rather you had never been hired. This is the way of the world. But although a certain subsection of the office may not like your face, you must give them no real reason to dislike you. Be polite, be respectful, and remember that a smile can be the best form of armor you will ever own.

  1. Make extra special friends with the secretaries and the IT people

On a basic survival level, you need to be kind to anyone you might need help from. The secretaries are often the least respected people in the office given that they are at the bottom of the totem pole, but they control your meetings, your messages, and the office grapevine. Make sure you stay on their good side—always be friendly, never take your frustration out on them, and they will think well of you. The IT people are essential to keeping the office running, and those with eyes to see are always sure to be on good terms with them. If you need your computer fixed, you want to have a good relationship with the IT department. Otherwise, you could be waiting all day for tech support and will almost assuredly miss your deadline.

  1. That person in the office who hates you probably hates everyone else as well

There is always one person who is determined to be unpleasant. This is as true of the office as it is of life. And you may understandably think that their hostility is directed at you specifically, but generally that person hates everyone else along with you. Some people are just disagreeable by nature. Maintain your smile and your positive attitude. And whatever you do, make sure that you do not respond in kind. You will find that kindness is almost always the best response to hostility.

  1. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself

People will push your buttons to see how serious you are. Hold respectfully firm. You were hired based upon your perceived ability to do your job. Understand that you still have much to learn, but never forget that you are capable. If someone pushes you, do not be afraid to hold to your principles. When in doubt, go to your boss for some subtle backup. People may push your buttons, but they are unlikely to push your boss’s buttons. And remember that although you do not want to make waves, you are entitled to be treated with the same respect you are showing others. If someone is being disrespectful on a continual and prolonged basis, a discrete word to your boss might be in order. Use your best judgment and do your best to diffuse the disrespect before seeking help from the mother/father figure of the office.

  1. Even if no one else likes you, your boss has to

Ingratiate yourself to your boss. They had enough faith in you to hire you—remember that faith and do all you can to live up to it. At the end of the day, your boss will decide whether you stay or go. Work hard for them and do everything humanly possible to make their job easier. Also, make sure your boss always looks good to their boss. Make sure your boss looks good to everybody, really. And never complain about your boss to anyone in the workplace—loose lips sink ships, and you do not want your ship to get sunk.

  1. Remember that all things take time

You will learn, you will get to know people, and you will grow to feel more comfortable—give yourself time. Nobody is expecting you to be perfect or to fit right in. But tolerate the initial awkwardness and you are sure to get better at your job and make a place for yourself. Do not put too much pressure on yourself to succeed right off the bat, and you will be more likely to bat above the average if you allow yourself some time to plant your feet and wait for the right pitch.

Sugar Bowls And Broken Things

Potted plant in a sugar bowl, May 2015

I have a soft spot in my heart for broken sugar bowls. I see them all the time at thrift stores, chipped around the edges and missing their lids. They were a part of a tea set once, blending in with a familiar pattern, standing resolutely beside the cups and saucers that matched it perfectly. But somewhere along the line, it got a little banged up. Maybe the English breakfast tea was made Irish and one of the lunching ladies flipped the lids onto the floor. Or maybe the same interdimensional goblins that steal socks out of the dryer saw fit to steal the lids as well, scraping off the paint as they teleported back to their den of knee-highs. Either way, the sugar bowls are deemed incapable of holding sugar, be it cubed or finely grained, and they are separated from their compatriots and thrown into a donation bin. And after a time, they come to rest on a dusty shelf beside knickknacks and bric-a-brac, alone, forsaken, and without purpose.

I have never been the sort of person who can look at something like a broken sugar bowl and walk away while it gathers dust. If I can manage to use it for anything at all, be it to store jewelry or to house a potted plant, I am determined to give it a second life. Because I think that a forgotten thing is better off being repurposed into a new kind of living than left forever to gather dust and watch the world pass by.

I guess that I see broken sugar bowls in the same way that I see broken people—just because somebody is banged up a little bit does not mean that you just give up on them. We all flip out lids from time to time, and given half a chance, life will take the paint from your ribs and leave chips along your shoulder. And after being banged up a bit myself, I suppose that I would not want anyone to give up on me anymore than I would give up on a chipped sugar bowl with a missing lid.

Notable Quotables #8: Wilde—Waiting

Notable Quotables - Oscar Wilde -- Waiting

One of the benefits of moving from your teens into your twenties is getting a greater, far more embittered perspective on young love. I would like to say that I was the sort of adolescent who appreciated sappy teen literature with a distinct sense of irony, but I have always been predisposed to the kind of heart that rests on marshmallow fluff, so my appreciation for irony intermingled with a depressing amount of sincerity. Not too much, but enough to make me cringe in hindsight.

No matter how aware you may thing you are about the pitfalls of young love and the dubious idea of endless devotion, when you are in your teen years, you do buy into it to a certain degree. Young love seems to spring eternal, and waiting your whole life for someone to love you seems a small price to pay for the love you will receive. Because you have not yet learned what it truly means to wait—you are young, love is new, and you have your whole future in front of you.

But once you get past the idea that you are going to be forever young, and you come to find that you are closer to thirty than you are to fifteen, you have to let go of your adolescent concept of waiting and embrace the inevitability of the passage of time. You may have understood that the years would go by, but you did not know how quickly they would come to pass nor could you know how each would come to fade into the other with little or no momentous occasions to mark them. And as the years go by, you learn that the rest of your life is already upon you and you are better off planning than waiting.

It is hope, not love, that springs eternal, but hope cannot be fostered by the tapping of feet. Sooner or later, you learn to let go of the notion that you could wait for anyone forever. Because although it may seem that you will be forever young and willing to wait, that willingness gradually fades into a greater appreciation for the passage of time and what it means to make every moment count. Because at a fundamental level, no one is worth that many wasted moments—anyone worth waiting for would not make you wait in the first place.

Holding The Storm

Stormy spring

Head held aloft

Eyes set to rights

I face the dawning of a new day

The sun that rises red in the sky

Warning all those beneath it

Of storm clouds

And dangerous hours

The clouds coalesce high above

Shielding the red sun from the rain

And the sky grows cold and heavy

As the rain falls to the ground

I tilt my head toward the grey

And taste the pouring rain

Catching droplets on my tongue

Holding the storm

Never bowing beneath it

My New Hopefuls

Potting plants in May , 2015 3

Having lived too long in a house that seems to be perpetually cast in shadow, I began to give up on my dream of keeping a gaggle of plants alive for longer than a year. (Sidebar: while I don’t think that a group of plants can reasonably be called a “gaggle,” I am at something of a loss as to what to call such a group and I am correspondingly making do with “gaggle” in place of “herd” or “flock,” both of which are considerably more ridiculous alternatives). But I have moved into a new office, one which is bathed in a considerable amount of light from the myriad windows that cover nearly every angle of my building, and practically every cubicle is adorned with its own thriving gaggle of plants. Emboldened by a new environment which might actually prevent a little family of plants from dying at my own hands despite my best efforts, I went to my local nursery and procured four plants of my very own…well, strictly speaking, I was acting as a surrogate mother for one of the four given that its new plant parent was not overly enthused about the planting process, but as it is going to be fostered by my father, I still consider myself to have some rights of ownership over it.

There is nothing better than planting a group of new hopefuls on a warm spring day. The plants are still full of life, undaunted by my undeniable black thumb and my tendency to personify them to within an inch of their lives. I am temporarily impervious to the reality that one or more of them will likely die within the next two months, falsely assured of my meager capabilities to sustain any form of plant life when my ability to sustain my own life remains somewhat illusive.

But maybe this time, for the first time in a long time, I will keep my plants alive for a full year. Maybe if I don’t drown them in water or excessive affection, they will thrive despite my black thumb and general ineptitude. I have every hope that my newest gaggle will succeed where others have failed, that each of my plants will grow and prosper in the intermingled natural and florescent light of my office and that I will finally prove to myself that I am actually capable of helping fledgling plants toward anything but an early grave. In any event, I suppose that faced with reality of either being adopted in love or dying unnoticed in some sad plastic pot, these plants are better off being given a chance at a life by a caring, somewhat incompetent would-be gardener whose hopes rise higher than her abilities.

Potting plants in May , 2015 4