Monday, March 30, 2015

Ode to Waking Up Crazy Again

This coming Friday, Extra Good Friday, will be my first day off in nearly three solid weeks of working. So obviously, I haven't had a whole lot of time to think, but I've been riding this roller coaster of emotional bliss versus shut-down. I've entered the hysteria, and on the other end of the spectrum, I've been sent home on my twelfth hour because I couldn't stop my midnight from coming, and I had basically turned back into a pumpkin, leaving one of my silver wedge sneakers on the steps of MOSI. Steampunk Cinderella covered in bloom sauce.

I am exceptionally tired. And when I get a moment to reflect, it's rough. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the black spots are back.

And I have every opportunity to finally start taking care of things, but I feel as if I'm on my way out of here too soon. I like my jobs and I like the people here, but I am having trouble existing where I am. There is still some part of me that believes that this is all just a dream. This isn't real. It isn't real. It's not real, because it isn't how things were supposed to go and I can't let myself fail like this, I won't. I'm not even doing anything. I don't want to be a Human Being. I want to be a Human Doing. 

As I type this, though, I can hear every ounce of sharp-tongued advice that I would relay to anybody else saying these things to me. So, it's not the way you planned it. Big deal. You're a gypsy. Move on. Adapt. You're not done yet. You're fine. 

Still, some days greet me with grief. Clemson University, having siphoned its last bullshit dime from my teasing pockets, will hopefully leave me alone now. I don't want much to do with it for the foreseeable future. Regardless, I'm left with the glaring reality that I probably can't ever let go of it. I fell deeply in love with everybody there, and I miss you with the searing desperation that I feel when I miss a step on the stairs in that sinking, sickly sharp, deceitful millisecond of panic.

I peaked early without knowing it. And now, everything else is a joke. On my good days, as I've mentioned, I'll make plans and I'll get excited and I'll trace the roads on the maps in my head and in my heart. I'll praise my wild spirit. I'll thank the good Lord for the Sun and everything that life-giving star can do. But regardless of the ways by which I know I'm blessed or the opportunities for growth that I have, it isn't enough. It's an awkward break, and I do not take breaks. It's an admission of defeat. It's unacceptable. I want more, and it's not coming fast enough. I don't know what I'm doing; I can't do anything. It's the fucking end, that's all. I burned out and I've fizzled out and I'm already gone.

Sometimes I'll close my eyes, driving in post-rush Tampa, to feel the wind wash over my entire self. And if one evening I crash into steel and concrete under the sparkling lights and the settling sunset layers and the silhouetted palms, I'll just wake up from this haze. I'll be me, rewind four years, secretly insane on the floor in my room with a hammer and all of my rage in shattered pieces surrounding my shaking body. I'll prove myself right. It was all just a dream.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Know My Weakness, Know My Voice

I was thinking about Babel today. Like, the Tower of Babel from the story in Genesis. It all started at work, when a sassy little gem of a tiny human came into my corner of the museum, and I pretty much decided right then and there that she's going to take over the world someday.

Possibly, today.

She came over to play with the blocks and the balls and the velvet and nylon scraps of fabric, and asked me if I could speak French.


Could I speak Arabic?


Only English?

...pretty much.

And then I was pretty ashamed of myself, because for as much as I love to make my words dance, I've limited myself to one language and, admittedly, I haven't really explored the depths of English as ferociously as I could. Additionally, for someone who believes in the importance of communication and collaboration, I've therefore senselessly limited myself to English-speaking people in English-understanding nations.

Like any typical American, I suppose, I shook my fist at the system. Language barriers are so unnecessary and reductive. Just learn another one. Or two. Or three or six or fifty. But my brain is 24 years young and on track to solidify a bit at 25, and I have yet to dedicate time. Real, solid time.

But I cannot change the world if I cannot speak to the world, or allow the world the opportunity to understand my words. Words are powerful, but they need to be selected carefully.

"If I interpreted gone as dead I'd be out of the job; if dead and gone were the same thing, there'd be no UN." -The Interpreter (2005)

Subsequently, my Sunday School training kicked in, and I thought of the story of the Tower of Babel. And since I've been away from church for a while in an effort to actually discover the spirit behind this beautiful life and the people in mine (or, more likely since I'm probably a piss-poor Christian but Jesus is cool with it, okay) I couldn't find my goddamn bible in order give the story a thorough re-read. Obviously because I'm a millennial, I consulted my Bible app. Thanks, technology.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, I will sum up. No, actually, I'll post the entire Tower of Babel story from the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis, because it's a measly 9 verses long:

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. TheLord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

The point of the story, as I recall and as is presented in the text, is to condemn greed. That's how I remember it, anyway. And as archaeologically inaccurate as this story may be, I remember taking it completely at face value and seeing the architects of the tower as selfish fools. As a child, I remember feeling some hardcore fremdsch√§men (hah! A German word!) for the architects, because it was a serious no-no to think that you could be as great as God or that a mere mortal would be capable of building a tower to heaven. And superficially, the lesson is fine enough. Greed leads to disaster. But does it? And if it does, does that really matter? What if there is a deeper problem with this story?

Excuse my role as the Doubting Thomas, but this time, I think that there just may be.

First, I was a little disappointed with the re-read. In all honesty, I was expecting a little character development, some back stories, some motivation, and maybe some foul play and drama. Perhaps some metaphors for corruption in major corporations, or foreshadowing for a nation with a preposterously imbalanced distribution of wealth (ahem), but no. This isn't really a story. At best, it's a few teasing, provocative sentences that leave room for enough interpretation to fill several hundred dissertations in Theology, but I digress.

In the text, the Lord is quoted to allude to the fact that given a proper amount of communication, the members of the city of Babel would be unstoppable conquerors of everything, ever. However, without any evidence to the contrary, these architects seem to be simply looking to achieve something great; something of which they could be proud. In order to stop them from achieving this momentous goal of theirs, God was willing to take away their access to communication and collaboration. Excuse my French (or, apparently, lack thereof) but, what a load of garbage. In my life, the ways by which God has been revealed to me indicate that God is, at very least, not as insecure as a this high school freshman version of God that is depicted in the story. More accurately for me, God has gone in the opposite direction, and has blatantly paved the way for close knit friendships and relationships; most of which were given to me outside the walls of a church. An ethereal entity who delicately weaves people closer together, differences notwithstanding, and encourages that collaboration for the achievement of a common goal for my uncommon growth.

I understand that the point is to discourage greediness and pride. The idea is to remain humble and firmly in one's place in the hierarchy of the universe. To assign glory where glory is due. But why would anyone want to teach that lesson at the expense of collaboration, or really, at all? Why would we limit ourselves, or more importantly, why would we place limits and project insecurities onto God? 

That seems silly to me. This is probably one of those instances during which the New Testament looks like a serious apology for the Old Testament. But, either way, I'm no worse for wear. I'm okay with questions, doubts, and growth; indeed, that's how my spirit learns how to grow. And I don't think it's much of a stretch to suggest that that's how all of our spirits learn to grow. 

So regardless of my silly language barriers, Babel be damned, I'll keep searching for things in this life that are actually genuine enough to transcend those barriers. And keep celebrating the ones that I have found.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

It Must Be Night

In the morning while I'm in the bathroom getting ready, I leave the door cracked for the dog. This is our morning routine. He spreads out on all fours on the floor like a giant dog rug, and he watches my shadow intently. Obviously since I am not Peter Pan, I have no qualms with my shadow. But the dog is an adorable simpleton, and if my shadow seems like it's going to attack one of us, he attacks it.

Every morning starts with a fight, and hopefully, a strategy.

My strategy has been to keep myself busy. As long as I have something to fill my time, I am fine. Better, even; I'm happy. I love my jobs, and the people there, and my everyday life is ridiculous and bubbly and carefree and filled with dancing and singing and laughing and driving, all of my things. I smile on my way to a double shift, and I'm laughing on my commute home even when it takes an hour and a half. I want to keep doing those things, constantly, forever, because if I slow down, I start to sink. It's like I've been water skiing, but I let go of the rope. I can gracefully glide across the glassy water for a few seconds, but as I lose momentum and start to break surface tension, I succumb to gravity and sink.

And while my life is perfect and lovely up above the water, there is heaviness that demands to be felt down below. For a girl who loves the sun so much, I sure do feel like the night. Or, perhaps it's the contrast that I love so much.

Regardless, there are still many of you who have sent kind words of encouragement and solidarity; encouragement and solidarity, two of the themes of this season, heaped on me and somehow I feel the need to dodge it. Not because I don't appreciate it, but because I don't expect it. I've been remarkably, ridiculously praised since the day I was born, and yet, every time it comes as a surprise. A strange surprise, because I have nothing to do with my existence, nor was I particularly invited into it. I suppose it doesn't matter, but for whatever reason I've bought and owned that complex and I've built myself a fortress so that, whenever something adverse occurs, I can hide behind the fact that my entire life is actually a giant mistake. I'm not real. None of this is real. So it doesn't matter.

But here's the scary truth that has to be faced: it does matter. I've been told that I matter. And since matter is anything with mass and volume, I can at least start there. Despite the fact that I can't put much of a dollar sign on my value, I matter. Regardless of the fact that the law does not recognize any crimes against me, I matter. When I feel invalidated, I wish I could always remember that my responses and my efforts and my self care regimen is valid. It matters, I matter.

And I'm glad that all of you are spread all around the world. Distance feeds me, because I can eat up the miles like the ravenous wild that I am, with your smiling faces at the end of the journey. Graciously on your part, this gypsy always has a place to land. Some of you love my wild almost as much as I do, and some of you know me deeply enough to recognize its flaws; nevertheless, it probably won't last forever, so nobody need worry. This movement is just that: a movement. A movement in a symphony that I am actively composing. And as much as many of you seem to admire the idea that I apparently appear to have little regard for the opinions of others, it just very recently occurred to me that everything I choose to do, regarding my health and safety and life, is up to me. I do not require permission from anyone, but I've spent years of my adult life waiting for it. It won't come. It's something that I must give to myself.

That, and grace.

As much as I am thankful for and depend on your grace, it is something that I must give to myself. And I crave even more grace in the process of finding it for myself, as I do not see myself the way you do. It's pure, simple optics; even when I look in the mirror, everything is always backwards. 

Backwards or not, as always, I love you all very, very much. And hopefully, I'll extend the same to myself, soon.