Apr 20 2010

Gratitude Journal #1

A friend noticed that my last few posts have been about “dealing with issues.”  I declined his very generous offer to come to Austin and “kick some ass,” but figured that now might be a good time to post something a bit more lighthearted.  More optimistic.  Or not quite so weepy, at least.

Thus begins my Gratitude Journal. 

Yes, there are days when it all seems like too much, when I would prefer to curl up under the covers and forget the world, but what about the other days?  The days when I can see the forest for the trees?  The days when I get some perspective and see the beauty all around me?

Today I’m grateful for….

…Cold spring days in Austin.  (Such a pleasant surprise!)

…Experiences that remind me how valuable my job is, and help me to believe that I’m good at it.

…Hey Cupcake.  My favorite is the red velvet.

…Leftover Indian food.  Mmmm….

Apr 18 2010

The Words

“Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.”

–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief (p. 80)

I have some amazing friends.  Truly loyal friends.  Hilarious, intelligent, call-in-a-crisis friends.  Friends in Massachusetts, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Austin, TX…

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get lonely.

In fact, there are times when I hit dark patches, and even my oldest, dearest, best friends can’t pull me back out into the light.

So as lucky as I am to have these friends, and as grateful as I am for them, I feel lucky as well to have words.

Because my pen and my journals saw me through years of adolescent angst.  Dog-eared pages in my favorite books (and even my not-favorites, at times) talked me through college homesickness.  Now my laptop is getting me through…well, life.

Words are my lifeline.  They’re my friends when no one is around, or when I can’t face even the people who know me best.  They’re the best therapy that I know of. 

The quote under my senior picture in my high school yearbook is by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls:

“Would you trade your words for freedom?  That’s the barter for a blind man.”

(This is also the quote below my email signature now, twelve years later.)

And of course the answer to Amy’s question is, unequivocally, no.  It goes without saying that I never would be free–much less happy, or comforted, or fulfilled–without my words.

Apr 11 2010

Texas Thunderstorms

When I was a teenager, my dentist noticed that I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. 

            “Why?” I asked him.

            “Probably stress,” he said. 

            At the time, all I could think was that he was telling me I was stressed out at the same time that he was diagnosing me with a condition that was doing permanent, continual damage to my teeth. 

“Great,” I thought.  “Tell me more things that are wrong with me.  That will cut down on my stress.”

I didn’t think I was anxious back then.  I didn’t feel like a worrier.  In fact, I was surprised by my dentist’s assessment.  I honestly thought that I was pretty carefree, despite the fact that I often struggled to fall asleep.  (When I was eleven my dad suggested that I say Hail Marys to combat my insomnia.  Gee, Dad, thanks for that sound advice.) 

Then one night, after college, I was so overcome with frustration and tension that I went around my apartment slamming doors as hard as I could.  I suppose I could have gone for a run, or bought a punching bag, but slamming those doors just felt so satisfying.

Roughly a year after my door-slamming incident, I moved to Austin.  And here I am still. 

I remember being so startled by the ferocity of the thunderstorms here.  I’ve always loved thunderstorms, and there’s nothing like a late-summer T-storm in New England, when the clouds roll in like gangbusters and the sky opens up with thunder and lightning. 

But let me tell you, the storms in Texas put them to shame.  Here, they’re just so loud, so sudden, so angry.  We don’t get much rain here in ATX, so when it storms it’s like the skies have been holding in all of their fury and their rage and their blustering, and then just poured it down on us all at once.

I guess, in a way, they’re like me.

Because when I was in high school I dealt with my stress with some teeth-grinding and trouble falling asleep.  I wasn’t outwardly expressing it, aside from through my writing.  But now, as a grown woman, I’m so painfully filled with anxiety all the time that I spend most of my life stewing inside my own head.  And once in a while, I turn into an all-out wild-and-crazy thunderstorm.  (And not in a Girls Gone Wild kind of way.)  I suppose it’s fitting that the most impressive storms I’ve ever seen have taken place in this city, at this time of my life, when my own emotions are raging out of control.

So maybe there’s a reason why I’ve always embraced thunderstorms.  Maybe it’s because I see something of myself in them.  I just wish I had a better raincoat.