Saturday, April 14, 2012

Home Alone

I love Saturdays around here because I am allowed to be alone in this space, to get a better feeling of what it all means these days. It's not that I haven't enjoyed the company of my family in the last month. That actually couldn't be further from the truth. But there's something different about the place when I'm the only one here. It's like it can tell me things that it's afraid to say in front of anyone else. It may be that I have a very good memory and that I experience intense visceral reactions to just about everything I feel, so being here alone lets me feel what's going on in the place (and what has gone on in the past) rather than feeling the energies of the people around me. I know this sounds a little crazy to some, but this is my experience of the world.

On Wednesday, my mom said my name for the first time, at least in my presence. It was so unexpected, in the tanning salon when she was telling the woman behind the counter whom to look up in the database. I think the most wonderful part of all this was that it was ordinary.

And I am now slightly disturbed by the spider chilling on my ceiling.

I am both excited and terrified by the possibility of graduate school. I shouldn't even say possibility at this point. I've made the decision to go for it without looking back. And I am also pretty grateful that Pitt will accept my MCAT scores so that I don't have to take the GRE. I'm trying not to worry too much about the specifics because they haven't even given me the application yet. If I were to give a name to this chapter of my life, I suppose it would be "Practicing Mindfulness."

Oh, this has nothing to do with anything, but I won a hundred dollars at the casino last weekend. I still have the hundred dollar bill. I feel silly that there is a part of me that wants to keep it because of the significance of that evening, only a fraction of which had to do with the actual cash winnings. But I do need the money, so a photograph should probably suffice. Still, it's been quite a long time since I've held a hundred dollar bill in my hands.

I feel that the regret that I can't seem to leave behind involves where I am at in my life. I didn't expect to be alone at almost 24. I didn't expect not to be able to take care of myself financially. I didn't expect to have to look for a house and do all this planning for my future all by myself, and I didn't expect to have to go to sleep with my arms around a cold pillow instead of a warm body. I am happy with myself, for the most part. I'm not where I expected to be at all, but I wouldn't change a thing because some recent events back here have led me to believe that this is exactly where I need to be right now. It's just a little lonely. One of the strangest and most isolating feelings in the world is having great news and no one with whom to share it. It's worse than not being able to have someone to bitch with. I do miss intellectual conversations and dreaming about the future and all of that mushy crap. No, I don't feel that something is missing, not anymore. It's not that simple, and unfortunately, I'm having trouble saying exactly what it means.

I'm reading a book about the co-evolution of language and the human brain, and I'm quite surprised by a lot of the author's theories, though they all make sense. It's given me a new perspective on the whole problem, and it directly challenges a lot of the assumptions made by Pinker and the like.

I love being able to read for fun again.

I have been sleeping so well for the last week or so. I don't think it's ever been this easy for me to fall asleep. Ever.

It's not any easier to find a job back here, unfortunately. I might be here until I can get myself into school. While I am missing everyone, I'm less inclined to believe that staying here would be catastrophic. If it were permanent, I would be worried. But then I would remind myself that the future doesn't exist anyway, and it's silly to get so worked up over fantasies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Due to the nature of my job, I've been working towards understanding and really experiencing all that the practice of mindfulness-based stillness meditation has to offer. I'm at a stage where contemplation overtakes me, so it's a little difficult to reach the point of stillness right now. But instead of burying my thoughts and fears inside of me, I've accepted the challenge of experiencing them to their fullest, merely observing, being aware of them. I wouldn't have let myself think these thoughts before. I would have been too ashamed of them. I'm not a bad person for having these thoughts and concerns, and I know that no matter how difficult it might be, I'm going to have to face the issue. I know it's okay that I feel this way. Maybe there is something standing in the way, or maybe this is just how things were meant to be. I'll never know unless I talk about it. But I am prepared to do that now, or at least I'm working towards it. I believe that things will happen when they need to happen, to an extent. This is not something about which I can go into too much detail, but the reason for that has to do with the fact that I want to be the person to make the first move in this situation. I don't want someone else to take that away from me.

However, there are other things that I need to put down. And I'm not afraid to put them here. I think that fear has been a large part of my problem. I had a fear of articulating anything because doing so would have made it more real. The flaw in that argument is that feelings are always real, regardless of whether there are words attached to them. Letting myself experience these feelings has helped a great deal, and now I am ready to say some of the things that a lot of people probably assumed anyway. But the particulars are going to be a little different, as you'll soon see.

I feel the emotions most strongly at the base of my sternum, but there is a slight feeling of heaviness behind my eyes, as well as a tingling sensation starting from my shoulders, but that happens with almost any really intense emotion I feel. It's a heavy, sinking feeling all around, like the life is quite slowly being sucked out of you. Hopelessness and regret, maybe. Perhaps a little bit of anger. Grief. Everything is rolled into one, and I wish I could throw it all up and be done with it.

The above starts out one of the contemplation exercises I have been learning. I needed to locate the emotion first, then describe it and try to give it a name. There are a lot more questions in the exercise, but not all of them are relevant to this point. Basically, having gone through all of this, I can say what it is that had been bothering me and a little bit about why.

I saw that my ex-girlfriend was getting married, to someone she has known for a shorter period of time than we were together. I think I cried because reality finally caught up with me. I'm not saying that I had secretly hoped that she would come back to me or anything like that. It's more like I never allowed myself to think about a future for either one of us, at least in terms of relationships. When people leave our lives, we tend to think that no other life exists beyond that. We may know otherwise, but it doesn't feel real, experientially. I began to FEEL reality. That and reopening the line of communication sparked a few memories. I thought of all the good things and feelings I never thought I would have with anyone else. And that was very painful. Part of the pain also came from my belief that her partner and I are actually quite similar people, though he was obviously more mature and more in control of his own life than I was. I miss her, for sure, and the love I have for her will probably last forever, though it is not romantic love, and of that I can be sure. It is a protective, familial sort of love--the love of a friend with whom you have shared so much, a friend whose every vice and virtue is intimately known to you. In response to another of the questions in the exercise (What am I afraid of?), well, I was afraid of never being able to share in the joy of my friend's life anymore. I miss having those experiences. It is that connection that I miss more than anything. I remember how good it felt to hang out together and just be stupid, and then I also remember enjoying being smart together, and that's something I don't get much of anymore, sadly.

So, I'm not a creepy stalker ex-boyfriend. The announcement of her engagement just made me think about what love really means to me and all of that good stuff. I've always known that there are different types of love, but I never quite understood that love is different from relationship to relationship. It sounds dumb, but I always expected that you were supposed to feel the same way in each one. And I suppose that thought comes from having expectations that carry through from one relationship to the next, both good and bad.

But I do have needs in a relationship, even after letting go of expectations. And this is why I worry, and I know it's something I need to talk about. I don't think I'm finished pondering everything, but too much of that at once can really screw you up. Not like I know from personal experience or anything...

I don't what I am going to be when I grow up. But I know I can't just sit in one place waiting for something to happen. Since I started writing for Moodtraining in January, I've experienced something completely different--actually enjoying my job. Right now, I don't get paid for enough hours to sustain myself, but I can get lost in what I'm doing. I enjoy the research, and I enjoy writing about it. I like writing about science. I like writing about things that can potentially help people. Now I do feel like everything is coming together. I love science. I love health and fitness. I love writing. I'm never going to be 100 percent sure about a career path, probably because I love doing so many different things. But I at least need to get on with something. After being kicked out of Pittsburgh, I had to move back with my parents for a little while. I made the promise to myself that I would do a few things with my time here: (1) take the GRE, (2) get my name changed, (3) learn to drive, (4) and save enough money to go back to the city that has become my home.

About that whole not-Pittsburgh thing...I don't hate it here back in Larksville. Not at all. I actually really enjoy the time I'm getting to spend with my parents, and I know that I am going to miss it whenever I leave. Things seem much different now than when I was younger. They actually seem much different than just a few years ago. Some things are still the same, but we've all grown quite a bit. I feel loved and accepted. Things aren't perfect, but they are damn near close enough for me, and I know I have a lot more than many other people in my situation.
I suppose I'm just a little lonely. I miss everyone in Pittsburgh. I miss all the other people who have spread out to different places around the country and around the world. And I'm not the best at making new friends or even figuring out how to go about it. If I'm put in the right situations, it's easy. But getting into those situations or making them happen is what I just can't figure out. I desperately want to hang on to the connections that I have, but I've been sucking at that lately too. Part of that probably had to do with the severe depression. And things aren't perfect with that either, but they're getting better. I can't ask for much more.
I want to be able to reach out to new people and let them into my ridiculous life. But maybe I am still a bit afraid of getting hurt because I haven't always handled it well.
I don't know how long I'm going to be here. My original plan was just a few weeks, but those weeks have already passed. It looks more like it's going to be a few months, and that is if I get this wonderful job at Hollister. I wait for that call every day because it would be unlike anything I've ever seen before in terms of money. And I wouldn't have an issue with being out to the people I work with. I did have a job with Bed, Bath, and Beyond for about two days, but there was the situation of expired they fired me. I ended up getting a new ID that same day, but it was too late. That's when I ran over to the mall and applied to about 10 different stores. Hollister called me back the next day and interviewed me for the Manger-in-Training position. It was one of the best interviews I've ever done, and I was actually able to ask decent questions at the end. I'm seriously praying to get this call because it would pay twice as much as any other job I'd be able to find right now, and that isn't an exaggeration.

My thoughts are starting to blend together again, so I know that means I'm done for now. And sleeping before the sun comes up is always a good idea. :)