The Things We Save

This year has been a really big transition year for me. I’ve mentioned that like a million times so I think you all get that by now. Well a year ago I was planning on spending the rest of my life with the man I was with in our small town. Now I’m no longer with said man and I’m moving 8500 miles away. Still not sure that’s enough separation for him or not. I now find myself purging pretty much all of my belongings. Three categories: save, sell, donate. So I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the things we acquire over time.

I started my chapter in Texas with not much more than two suitcases of clothes, toiletries, accessories, etc. I now have no problem fully furnishing a 1200 square foot apartment. Obviously, there’s been some acquisition over the last seven years. The furniture is all expendable to me… it’s the small things that have me really looking back at the last seven years in a bittersweet way. All the candle holders, thrifted crystal champagne flutes, the nice knife I saved up for… all of these things seemed like investments in the future I was working towards.

So what do you do when your plans change? Well I’m a pro at adapting to changing plans. I’ve “rewritten” my story a number of times. I use quotes because these last few weeks I’ve really come to the conclusion that we don’t rewrite our stories. We can’t change what’s in the past. Every new start isn’t the start of an entirely new story. We don’t get to press the backspace or delete button on life. We do get to add new chapters. So what do we take with us from one chapter to the next?

 

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The Things That Ground Us

It’s almost 5AM on a Monday morning in late July. Seems like a normal Monday for everyone else, but for my class and I, this is our last day before we take the Texas Bar Exam. To say it’s been a rough few months is an understatement. We’ve been studying for the bar, finishing up classes, applying for jobs, and in my case getting ready to move halfway around the world. It’s been stressful, humbling, soul-crushing, confidence breaking, and for me, the best seven months of my life. I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve literally set things on fire. I’ve also learned how to laugh in the dark moments, the ones that made me doubt who I am and what I’m about.

So a little background about my job and chosen profession. I am currently a law student. That means I basically survive on coffee or other caffeine sources, haven’t read anything other than newspapers and law books in two and a half years, and get compulsively specific with language. Case in point… the other day my non-law school friend said that he felt a tweet “conclusively proved something.” I corrected him saying, “well I wouldn’t say conclusively but I would say the tweet was suggestive.” I rolled my eyes at myself. I haven’t really had a full night of sleep in two and a half years, and this year with all its twists and turns hasn’t really improved that front. So why go through all this horseshit? Why put up with the constant bullshit of getting yelled at by professors, feeling embarrassed for not knowing an answer, denying ourselves sleep, and becoming more obnoxious versions of ourselves? Well for some, the median salary of an attorney is worth it. And I guess that’s nice. It’s nice to know I at least have a fighting chance at financial security. For me the money was never the draw.

I’m not proud to admit that I went to law school because I wanted justice for myself. When it really came down to it, I didn’t give a flying fuck about other people. I went because I was denied the opportunity to get on the stand and point at the men who sexually assaulted me and force them to admit that they did it. I wanted justice. I am proud to say that, that need hasn’t driven my actions for years. As soon as I got to law school, I fell in love with the law. I see the law as a vehicle for helping people, a vehicle for justice for others, not myself. I know that sounds nauseatingly douchy, but it’s true. Throughout my time in law school I’ve been given opportunities to help people through the worst times of their lives: facing the prospect of jail time, trying to get their university help them recover from an on campus assault, helping an abused wife get out of her dangerous situation. I have a gift for helping people in these moments.

I am cool under pressure. Supervisors ask how I do it. Lawyers have notoriously high rates of alcoholism, drug addictions, extra-marital affairs, divorce, suicide, depression, anxiety, anxiety-induced health conditions like heart attack and stroke… the list of how our job is ruining our lives is seemingly endless. The past seven months have really shown me why. My class was put through the paces of humiliation and despair, the usual hazing ritual of Baylor Law School. I’m definitely not claiming to have been perfect. I survived. And that is enough.

I’ve been through some serious shit. I’ve been through things that made me think that it was the end, that I didn’t have the ability to make it to the next day. I’ve had the thought that life wasn’t worth living anymore, that being dead was better than my current existence. I’ve felt like a waste of space and oxygen. I’ve wondered, quite often, why I was even put here on this Earth. I’ve known the soul-crushing disappointment of losing a life dream. I’ve known the uphill climb of reinventing myself over and over and over again. Exams, even the bar exam, have nothing on the experiences I’ve had. And that’s how I knew I’d make it, regardless of how ugly and tumultuous the process was.

Not every memory is a good one. We all have the things that keep us up at night or pain our soul to think about. We have moments that are so painful, that our minds have worked on complex ways of avoiding thinking about them. But these bad times of our lives set us up for what we are born to do. The bad times are the ones that harden our skin into armor. The uphill battles are the ones that make us truly believe we can do anything we set our minds to. Whatever you are currently going through, I want everyone to know that it isn’t the end. You will come out the other side. You might come out with scars and battle wounds. You will be stronger. You will live to fight another day.

You Win Some and Lose Some

Sometimes life can be so delightfully dysfunctional that all I can do is laugh. So right now I have a lot on my plate. In fact it’s been that way for a few months…. seven months to be exact. My 2017, as mentioned earlier, began with me making a really big life decision. I am a firm believer that New Years means blank slates…. or at least I say I am but every year I tend to do the same thing over and over again. But this year was different. I was starting with a truly blank slate. I had recently broken up with my long term boyfriend and consequently gone back to score zero on the whole life plan thing. Spending the rest of my life in a small town where the biggest event is the Saturday Baylor Football Game didn’t seem as charming without my born and raised in Waco boyfriend. In fact, I’d rather set myself on fire rather than spend one more minute than was necessary here. Some might see that as running from my problems, but as someone who’s actually done that before I can confidently say this time I’m running towards something. I wish I could tell you exactly what I’m running towards, but I can’t and maybe that’s the beauty of my current situation.

So anyway, today’s real topic is dating. Everyone loves to bullshit with their friends and bitch about dates that went well and dates that blew up so spectacularly you almost want to book another one just to see if the last one could be topped. Well since December 16, 2016, I’m all about experiencing new things and trying to put myself out there. I made a Tinder and to be honest I’ve met one of my best friends and best lovers on there. I’ve also gotten the dudes who call me ugly when I don’t respond or send a dick pic once I’ve gotten ballsy enough to send them my phone number. Somehow none of those hold a candle to how I spent the last few days.

I met this man… let’s call him Russ… and he seemed pretty awesome. Smart, British, successful, attractive. I didn’t bat an eyelash at spending the night after our first date together. There were already cons, to be sure. I mean he’s a vegan and I am pretty enthusiastically not. But that seems pretty small when I’m coming from a relationship where the big arguments were about the hidden safe full of other women’s lacy panties or whether to have kids or not. First date and first sleepover went great! Making out and you know the stuff you did in high school where it was all fun and teasing but nothing serious. When he asked me to go away with him for two days I said “fuck yes.” I even invited him to spend the night before with me. And that is where the trip went off the rails.

Our first time was…. AWFUL!!! I want to believe that I am a big enough person to say that sex doesn’t matter. The truth is I am not. Sex is how I connect with someone. It isn’t just about the physical act. It’s about trusting someone enough to let them that close to me. I’ve been blessed with some amazing sex with amazing people with whom I am still very good friends. This was far and away the worst consensual sexual experience I’ve ever had. And it colored the rest of my time with him. Every little thing he did suddenly wasn’t cute. It was annoying. I was counting down the hours I had to spend with him. I know I’m superficial and awful, but after spending the last few years not living the life I want, I just have a greatly reduced ability to put up with bullshit.

I guess like my other post, this turned into a rant about one seemingly insignificant thing. However, for the first time ever, I’m saying no to something that isn’t perfect for where I am. I’m unwilling to compromise things that are important to me. I’ve gotten to this place where I love who I am and believe that despite my eternal status as a hot mess I deserve to have awesome people and awesome experiences in my life. When I look back to even seven months ago, when I was ready to spend the rest of my life here in Waco, I didn’t believe that. I didn’t believe that I was good enough to have great things. I was wrong. All of us deserve to have amazing and great things that make us feel undeserving. Those things aren’t reserved for perfect people because newsflash there are none. All of us have something that keeps us up at night, those things that make us think we don’t deserve the great things that come our way. It simply isn’t true. I really challenge anyone who reads this far to reflect back on your life. What are the things you’ve been through that at the time made you think you wouldn’t make it? What are the experiences, good and bad, you’ve had that you think have shaped who you are? When were the times where you didn’t see a positive ending in sight but you pushed through anyway? As imperfect as you probably are, you are still an amazing person. I firmly believe that all of us are amazing in very different ways. So stop settling for what you think you deserve. Instead go for something that humbles and scares you.

The Beginning

So the idea for this blog started when I admitted to my friend that I am a hot mess and that’s okay. It’s true. I am a certifiable hot mess. Tonight, a Saturday night in summer and the day before my birthday, I drank a bottle of wine, ate champagne flavored gummy bears, and watched 30 Rock in bed. Yep. I did that. No shame. So this blog is about me and all the things that have made me who I am. Some of them are lofty, meaningful experiences. Others involve eating sushi in bed by myself. The point is most of us are hot messes. People who look like they have it all together generally don’t. Some people choose to lie to themselves about having it all. I’m being honest with myself. I don’t have it all together. I’m still figuring out how to fix the power in my apartment.

So I guess I should start with some brief introductions. I’m from NJ, but I guess I’ve been on a seven year vacation in Texas. Up until six months ago, I was pretty sure I had it all figured out. I had a guy who was objectively great, and who I saw myself marrying after being together for 3 years. I had the prospect of a good job as a prosecutor in Waco, the land of Chip and Joanna. And yet, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I was putting on a good face, but I wasn’t happy. Neither was that guy. After three years we hit that point where it was either time to commit to forever or time to break up. And ten minutes before we were supposed to host a dinner party for my law school class we pretty much decided it was time to break up. We lied to ourselves and each other for another month about how this break up wasn’t forever. It was just a break. After six months, this isn’t a temporary break. This is a life changing break up.

I can safely say that right now I am more myself than I’ve ever been. I’ve spent the last seven years recovering from PTSD and fighting to figure out who I am. And yeah, I’m a hot mess. I care about other people before myself. I fight for the people I love. I’m addicted to alcohol flavored gummy bears. I treat my cat like my child. I make impulsive life changing decisions. And the real truth is I can actually do anything. I’ve proven myself wrong time and time again. So this blog is about my life. I’m not particularly interesting, but that’s almost a little needed in this day and age. Hopefully I can make someone laugh or realize that it’s okay not to have it all figured out.