When You Jump the Gun

If you would’ve asked me in September if I thought Paul would still be in Pennsylvania and we’d still be together, I probably would’ve said no.

He interviewed for a job with U.S. Steel that would’ve had him training here for a month then in Illionois for three, rotating like that for a year. It was a good job and a job he needed, but we had just come off being long distance–and a big part of what I think carried us both through long distance was they knowledge that it had a definitive end, a kind of payoff where we’d actually be within reasonable driving distance.

He was excited about it. I wasn’t–at all. Not only was I not excited, but I was bothered that he was so excited and willing to just truck it away for months at a time, far enough away that me visiting wasn’t an option because no way can I afford it. We later came up with a visiting plan, but in retrospect, there’s no way I could’ve actually afforded to fly there. So in retrospect, we probably wouldn’t have lasted if he got and took the job. At the very least, I would’ve wanted a break until he was home for good. I didn’t have it in me to do long distance again, not for a year.

Had I been in his position, I wouldn’t have even interviewed for it. When I was looking for jobs, I never once looked away from the Pittsburgh area because I didn’t want to leave him.

I took his willingness to leave as a willingness to leave me, and he took my resistance as holding him back–all before he had even gone on the interview.

When I told him I was upset, he ignored me. He never does that. So I matched his stubbornness with my own, and we spent almost a full 24 without speaking. We never do that. And I knew I was being ignored, which made me furious instead of just a little sad. I caved and said something like, “Well, either you’re busy or you don’t care.”

Funnily enough, I don’t remember most of the details anymore. We both cried. I felt like I wasn’t worth staying for, he felt like he wasn’t worth waiting for, and in the end he had ignored me because his dad suggested it, because that’s how his dad handles his mom’s temper. I’m not his mom. Giving me a day to cool off really just makes me truly stew in my fury, and you get it a lot worse than you would have had you just dealt with me from the start.

He came over that Friday night, prepared for anything, and I cried some more. We worked it out somehow. We had rough make-up sex, except apparently everything hadn’t been resolved because we had more talks afterwards. That pissed me off pretty seriously, too, but we still worked that all out somehow, too.

Eventually, I was mostly okay with him going but he’d also said he wouldn’t take it. And like I said, in retrospect, it probably would’ve ended us, and he even asked me that straight out.

He didn’t get the job anyway. We put ourselves through all of that bullshit for nothing, all because his excitement got the best of him and left me feeling unimportant. Lesson learned, kids.

And somehow, here we are some months later, talking about moving to Erie together–and again before he’s even got the job in question. Some things never change.

But I think we both need to get out of this damn county.

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Stephanie’s Wedding

So, I’m finally back on track and set to time travel to fucking October and talk about Stephanie’s wedding, although I don’t have much to say.

I was late, as I am for everything, and this woman that other guests later referred to as “the wedding Nazi” held everyone back from sitting because the mothers were lighting candles or something. Paul and I sat with Leah. Oh, and this was the first time I’d ever seen him in a suit, so I loved that shit.

The ceremony was very nice and relatively short–not the behemoth mass you get when both parties are Catholic, AKA the wedding I am doomed to have and be bored by. That’s right. I expect to be bored during my own wedding ceremony.

Anyway, the whole bunch of us killed time between the ceremony and reception by hanging out in some bar the St. Vincent students knew, which was admittedly a nice dive. I had some sort of blue drink that was delicious. Typically, blue drinks are electric lemonades. That’s not what this is, but I don’t care.

Nolan was in. It was a little awkward. We didn’t speak but made awkward eye contact a few times.

Everyone bailed when Aunt Gina texted about the coctail hour, which I kind of wanted to go to in the first place. So here’s a preview of my New Year’s resolutions I’ll probably get around to talking about near my birthday in June–I’m done doing something or going somewhere because everyone else is. Not that I regret going to the bar because I don’t and did have fun and had good chats with Leah, but I would’ve rather had hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

Speaking of talks with Leah, she was in the midst of basically a text-message breakup with this guy she’d been seeing whose ex came back into the picture. Paul and I read the texts, we all talked, and we all came to the same conclusion–he was keeping his options open in case the ex shot him down. And that’s how I became one go-to girl (temporarily) with relationships for the night and next few days/weeks.

While everyone headed off to cocktail hour, Paul and I went to check in to our hotel room. Hell if I was attending an friend’s wedding an hour away from my apartment and then driving home, especially when they shuttled people between the hotel and reception. Besides, hotels are fun! And this one was nice. It had a big, comfy bed and free breakfast and you know that’s 90% of how I judge my hotel experiences.

By the time we were checked in and got the shuttle, we missed hors d’oeuvres. A tragedy, indeed. But everything else was great–the food, music, dancing, everything. Fun times were had by all. Erio did some glorious dancing photobombs during “Gangnam Style,” I partied with friends, and Paul and I got some good slow dances in. He’s so damn tall that I actually put my high heels back on for those. But he’s a terrible dancer otherwise. He has no rhythm. His rhythm is so lacking that when we went to a Beatles symphony tribute around the same time, he was clapping off beat and it annoyed me so much, I had to make him stop. Fortunately, he can be taught–he just needed to count out the beats. Later attempts to help him with his dancing have led to some slight progress. We have another wedding coming up in two weeks, so my goal then is to have him watch how other guys dance–especially with a partner because I think he’ll do better that way–and then mimic it. But I digress.

Now, Emily had since broken up with Joel and brought a new boyfriend with her. He looked really, really familiar, and I was going crazy all night long trying to figure out why. Late that night or maybe even the next day, it hit me–he once befriended me on Facebook and hit on me on occasion, but I was told by mutual friends he wasn’t the kind of guy one should date. When I realized that’s who he was, it was a huge “HOLY SHIT” moment.

The reception was over by 9, at which point many of the groomsmen headed to a bar across from the hotel. Sarah wanted to go, too, and wanted company, but I was the only one willing to go. Paul would’ve but got a bad headache. I kind of wanted to stay out and keep having a nice time, but I also didn’t want to leave her in a bar by herself, especially due to lots of people lusting after each other. I wanted to serve as a voice of reason and I guess babysitter of sorts. In fact, as Sarah kept drinking, one of them said to me sarcastically, “I bet you’re having fun tonight.” I actually didn’t mind to much. Sarah drunk always entertains me, even though I was exhausted and the night started to drag. I think I’d woken up strangely early for a Saturday–around 7 or 8–and didn’t leave the bar till something like 1:30.

When we did leave, I escorted Sarah back to the room she was sharing with the Craigs who were staying, and after some chat in the hall, I went back down to mine. Paul was asleep and looked very sweet and peaceful, and I remember wanting to take a picture but crept around the room putting my jammies on first. When I crawled  into bed, he woke up and still had a headache. And then he got nauseous and decided to take a shower, thinking it would help. It didn’t. I use this night to sway him against showering while nauseous, in fact.

I woke up about an hour later to hear him throwing up terribly in the bathroom. I checked on him, got him water, and went back to bed. So, most girlfriends would probably panic and dote, but what was I supposed to do? I know from experience that the only reason someone should be near you while vomiting profusely is to bring you water or hold your hair. I took him water and he has no hair to hold. My work was done. Staying would’ve been rough for both of us, so I went back to bed. He came back eventually.

He blamed alcohol, I blamed the fact that he smacked his head off of a bell, and my dad blamed possible food allergies when the same thing happened again a month or so later when we went to dinner with Terra and her mom (minus the shower and not-so-doting girlfriend–we were at our separate residences).

We ate that free hotel breakfast, which was pretty impressive, with Sarah and Marion the next morning. Not willing to just go home, Paul and I decided to adventure around Greensburg and Latrobe, so we checked out the art museum I never made it to in college and had a nice time admiring art. He reaches his limit with modern. I ogle.

Then we went back home for sushi and called it a day/successful weekend.

Top 5 on Friday: Warmth

Top 5 albums that warm you up

 1. The Rent soundtrack I’m on a kick. I happened to play (read: CRANK AT FULL VOLUME) in my car not too long ago, and it’s a classic example of something that warms and breaks your heart many times. Overall, though, between the songs about Christmas and New Year’s, the love stories, and the epic rockness (and, you know, the scene in the movie where they set shit on fire and even sing about setting shit on fire), it’s warming.
2. Theatre Is Evil by Amanda Palmer If you didn’t see this coming, you don’t pay attention to most of my Top 5s or even what I write about. Rock warms me in general. Amanda warms me through being badass and like a best friend I’ve never met or even talked to (outside of Twitter–she has retweeted and replied to me more than a few times). The lyrical content does it (except for when it breaks my heart), and rocking out does it. It’s an uplifting album, for all of its highs and lows.
3. The Jersey Boys soundtrack/Frankie Valli’s greatest hits I’ve included them both due to lots of overlap but yet not enough to not lump them together. Really, they enhance each other in terms of definitive Valli, and the sound quality of Jersey Boys is good enough that unless you’re intimately familiar with Valli and the Four Seasons, it almost sounds like you’re listening to a really good remaster. Now, the songwriting and songs included on both make for more highs and lows–which all albums on this list so far do–to the point that just listening to Jersey Boys occasionally leaves me feeling emotionally drained, and on my way home for Thanksgiving in the midst of drama with Paul and his mom, I started crying a few songs into the greatest hits and I did not stop and could not stop until basically the CD was over. That’s something like an hour’s drive and 20 songs. That said–and this is partly why I cried so damn much–is Frankie Valli has written some of the best love songs music has ever seen. Ever. Period. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” obviously, but even the bittersweet “My Eyes Adored You” or “Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got).”
4. The Across the Universe soundtrack Beatles covers are usually sacrilegious, but Across the Universe did them justice and is similar to Jersey Boys in the sense that you’ve got some of the band’s best songs with some epic musical arrangements. Rocking out to love songs. Aww, yeah. Hot.
5. The Essential Elvis Presley Come on, it’s the king. One of the frontrunners of rock (I can’t let him claim it–that goes to Buddy Holly), so you’ve got that solid early songwriting plus all the pizazz and pep he brought to things. All that hip-shakin’ is bound to warm one up, even if Brandon does insist that Elvis was America’s rebound from Buddy Holly. 

Friday Five: Unusual

  1. What’s the most surprising or unusual thing to be found in your wallet, purse, or backpack? Probably ticket stubs. It’s not unusual for me or to people that know me, but I feel like most normal people don’t have ticket stubs from events of the past few months lying in their bags.
  2. What’s the most surprising or unusual thing to be found on your computer’s hard drive? Probably a copious number of Skype screenshots of Paul looking ridiculous. Nothing nude or naughty, just silly. He hates silly pictures of himself, so when we would Skype and he’d do something silly to make me laugh, I’d screenshot it as fast as I could before he stopped or caught on.
  3. What’s the most interesting thing hanging on your walls? I don’t have anything hanging yet! The adhesive hooks aren’t working like they’re supposed to, so I need Mother to bring her drill for me the next time she comes over. But one of the things I’m anxious to hang is calligraphy I bought at Geibel’s auction. It’s a quote from Henry David Thoreau that says, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
  4. What’s the most uncharacteristic thing in your fridge? Almost everything, especially things like ketchup and iced tea.
  5. What’s something you’ve done in the past year that you thought was going to be awful but turned out pretty good? Probably most of my social interactions. Plenty of times they were awful, but ironically, just before things exploded, they were actually really peaceful, which made the explosion all the more shocking–at least from my perspective. I was being shit all over behind my back in the meantime. Also, I started to hate State College a lot less, though those bros will never totally win me over.

A Quick Update

I think I un-broke the blog. Pretty sure. Yep.

So. part of where I’ve been this week is this: my great-grandma died at the glorious old age of 98. I think we can all agree 98 leads to a good, full life, but what really put it in perspective was Aunt Gina’s eulogy. Grandma Pawski was born in 1915, first of all, and saw 16 presidents in her lifetime, lived through two World Wars, the Depression, all the wars in between, Civil Rights, and inventions like the toaster and Scotch tape. She outlived two husbands, plus a daughter and her husband.

She died a week ago tonight, almost a week after she turned 98. She even did a shot of whiskey for her birthday. They suspect she got sick sick and just couldn’t get over it. I wanted to try to see her over that weekend, especially since the family seemed to think she was near the end, but I didn’t make it. Her viewing was Sunday with the funeral on Monday.

Brandon, Kelly, and Paul came to hang out and have an impromptu sleepover Friday night, so Brandon and I downed a shot of rum in her memory. And then I got out of work Monday, spent most of the weekend in my apartment with Paul, then went home for a few days.

It’s really nice to see all the awesome relatives we have that are spread out all over the country, and I wish they’d come in more.

Mourning a 98-year-old grandmother I wasn’t particularly close to is strange. I didn’t cry for a while and had to keep telling myself that not everyone grieves the same way and my lack of tears was completely okay, but still.

Seeing her was surreal, as viewings always are, and the viewing was tiring. All of the family spent the whole afternoon and evening at the funeral home. It’s exhausting. I don’t remember Grandma and Pap Pap’s funerals being that tiring, but Mother insists it’s because we had one in the morning and one in the afternoon separated by a break. It’s just all so draining.

I was truck by two things this time: one, she’s with Grandma and Pap Pap, and two, one of the greatest tragedies of a death is the stories and memories that go with them. Usually when we mourn the dead, especially the old, we mourn for the way we knew them and the role they filled in our lives. I would love eternity with both of my grandparents because they were amazing people and although Pap Pap’s death especially was sudden, they lived long, full lives. My dad doesn’t understand this. He sees them as being in a better place, which I believe, too, but grieving, to me, is more about the void that’s left when they go. It’s everything from the big things like the role models they were to the little things like the way Pap Pap would scrunch his nose at me when I walked down the aisle getting ready to serve mass or the way Grandma answered the phone.

We remember those things and we miss them, but what we lose, too, that maybe we don’t think about as much is their own stories. One of Grandma’s teachers was shot by a jealous lover outside her third-grade classroom. Pap Pap’s mother was institutionalized, so he dropped out of high school to work then later got his GED and took college courses and stressed the importance of education of all of his descendants. Grandma Pawski was dragged around by the cow and still hates the name Molly because of it.

I’ve got all sorts of ideas running around my head now about family, death, and writing about it. And one of them is how very, very slowly, my drive home is becoming like a drive through one very long, winding cemetery. Gradually, people are dying, leaving landmarks around them that are just memories to me now and will mean nothing but stories to my own children. I pass both cemeteries. I pass roads that take you to their houses, their churches, where they spent their lives. I remember them, they’re significant to me, yet now they’re changed without the people that created them for me. They’re somehow empty now.

Friday Five: Celebrations

Real quick: I changed the blog address to keep bitches off my tail, then stopped caring, but now can’t figure out how to transfer all the old posts back to this URL. I broke my blog, guys.

  1. When did you last blow up a balloon? I really have no idea. It’s easily been years.
  2. Whose house is especially well-designed for parties, and why? The actual layout of my parents’ house is nice because everything is on one floor so it’s convenient, but it’s too small to properly host anything. My apartment is similar–it would probably be pretty good for parties if it wasn’t for size and neighbors. Meri’s house in Pittsburgh is probably the best, but then you have the issue of finding street parking on Mt. Washington. Sigh.
  3. If the party starts at seven, what time are you there? That depends on the festivities, people, and what else is going on the day, but typically, between 7 and 7:30 but closer to the 7:00 end.
  4. Who brought the best thing to your last potluck? Aunt Gina made cottage-cheese noodles and Sammi made Grandma’s potato salad for Christmas. They win.
  5. Now that the holidays are over, what (besides a birthday) might be the next thing you celebrate in the company of others? I have another wedding to go to in mid February! And Meri will be graduating college sometime in the spring.

The Angel Ladies

My mom and I have always been fascinated by psychics. Brandon has a kind of fringe interest in it, and my dad just completely dismisses all alleged psychics as frauds who are using probability, the power of suggestion, and trickery.

My mom has seen a few psychics, some she thinks were frauds, including one she thought picked up on her desires at the time and told her what she wanted to hear (she wanted to live on a beach, psychic told her she would, my mom lives in Pennsylvania). Meri and I gave in to a palm reader in Pittsburgh who told us all sorts of things, like she’d have four kids and I’d marry a man in a suit. She got a few things right–Meri is no longer dating the guy she was then and some conflict friends were involved in did get resolved in the timeline she predicted, but I wasn’t actually impressed.

But my mom also used to see an astrologer, Claire, and I used to love when she would come back and tell me what Claire told her. I still love hearing about things Claire told her, especially things I’ve forgotten about. In an early session with Claire, my newly single mother was told that she’d be married within one or two years. It happened. Claire also predicted both Brandon and I, as well as my dad’s deployment. My mom even suspects she knew my grandfather was going to die–she’d mentioned heart problems she thought my maternal grandfather would have shortly after my paternal grandfather had a heart attack while visiting someone else in the hospital. Claire also told my mom things about Brandon and I. The one that stands out most to me was when I had a heavier interest in pursuing music or theater–Claire told her my star sign (I’m on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer) meant I would be a good performer and that my mother shouldn’t stop me from pursuing it. My interest shifted to writing.

My Aunt Regina was the one who heard about the Angel Ladies, two women in Pittsburgh who claim to communicate with the Other Side. She was pleased with her reading, although I can’t remember the details. I remember, though, they knew things about my grandparents they just couldn’t have known.

That’s common–they know a lot of things they couldn’t–too much to be frauds. And they didn’t know anyone’s names or anything about any of us before any of our readings, so they weren’t looking us up.

Aunt Gina had them at her house. You can book them for an evening, and they’ll do private sessions about a half-hour long each. I went straight from work on a Friday night. I was nervous but excited, and I knew a lot of other people cried during their sessions. My mom’s coworker Tina was there, had just finished her reading, and was impressed by what they knew. My mother was in hers at the time. I ate some soup and waited. My mom came out crying but pleased. I forget most of hers, too, but they talked about my grandparents. She was disappointed that they talked more about me than Brandon, and this focus on one child is what’s led other relatives to not share their readings with their kids. Brandon didn’t really care, though, and went for his own reading anyway a few weeks later.

As for mine?

They were set up in my aunt’s little private living room, smaller, cozier, and separate from the larger family room that ended up being a waiting area for everyone else. They had three chairs pulled very close together, a table, and incense burning. One was taking a bathroom break, but I sat with the other and she immediately started listing names. I didn’t recognize any but said I didn’t know a lot about my dad’s family. She told me they were strong with me anyway and follow me. She also knew they were German and later that my mom’s side has Polish.

I started recording about then, so I have everything on tape–at times strangely garbled and distorted, and I used this same recorder in an animal shelter full of barking dogs for an interview. Sure, I couldn’t hear over the dogs in some sections and lost some good stuff, but I don’t remember the sound quality itself actually being poor.

Moving on.

I can’t give them too much credit for some things. They did know my mom was there, although they didn’t know initially she had gone before me. Interestingly, the first woman started by asking my name and when I told her, she said, “Did you just tell me that before?” I hadn’t. But when she asked if my mom was there and found out my mom was her previous client, she said, “That’s why I know your name.” They knew my job, too, but they’d also heard that from my mother, so I can’t let them have it.

When the other one came in and started, they noted very quickly that my grandmother was “on the other side.” Now, both of my grandmothers are dead, but I didn’t want to give too much away, so I just said, “Okay.” Later, one of the ladies said, “But you don’t know which one I’m talking about.” That hit me.

They chatted a bit about the spirits in my aunt’s house, then opened with a prayer.

They gave me lots of names–Seth, a cousin’s name. They got Michael, which is Brandon’s middle name, but Michael has also come up in discussions of my guardian angel. They knew my great-grandma’s name but strangely kept talking about her as if she’s already dead. My mother said they did the same with her. This makes me nervous.

They picked up on my dad’s mom almost immediately, too. She died when I was almost two years old, so I don’t remember her, but I was really hoping to hear from her. I inhaled sharply when they brought her up. They told me she knew my grandfather had another lady after she died and said it wasn’t a big deal, though in retrospect I’m not sure if they meant his current wife, the woman he was seeing at the same time as this wife, or a possible affair he was having. He did have at least one. Later on, they picked up his dead sister, but they kept getting things wrong about her. That said, she did during childbirth. They also picked up on an alcoholic in the family, but addictions don’t follow me.

They knew my maternal grandma’s name, too–Eleanor–and said she was beautiful. She was. Apparently, she also said I should have taken up piano. “You could’ve done that,” she said. There’s still time. She also says I could use my creativity more–we’ll get back to that. They knew I dream about her sometimes–and whenever I dream of either of them, that’s them communicating with me–and said she tucks me in at night. I wish I’d remember this when I have bad, hard nights.

They talked more about my job and mentioned a New York connection. The company doesn’t have offices in New York, but they see work taking me there or moving me in general and said, “The house that you live in is not here.” They also saw a California connection, including a possible move to Los Angeles and working in production. They actually called Los Angeles my “first stop.” They also were picking up offices in four different states–technically, we’re in three but bought out a smaller company in a fourth state.

Within the first five minutes, they brought up marriage. I didn’t mention Paul, but they did later–and they knew we’d been together for two years at that point. “What are you waiting for?” my grandma says, but Pap Pap said we’ve already discussed it and are just waiting. We’re going to get married, we’re going to have a boy and a girl, and they see me living in a cottage, perhaps in a past life in England. He wants to marry me bad, he’s crazy about me, I love him, and they were relieved that we’re not living together–grandma would be upset. Pap Pap would be, too, but Pap Pap doesn’t come through much for anybody and wasn’t really brought up until I asked them what he thinks of Paul.

Paul also has a good intuition, they said, and I should listen to him if he feels strongly about something being good or bad (he’s already kind of proven himself here). They also said he’s a dreamer. Paul also comes from a good family, but Grandma isn’t too sure about his mom–she says she’s “odd,” “hard for her too read,” “not always friendly,” and that I don’t know how to take her even though she’s a very nice woman. This will become relevant later when I talk about the epic frustrations and pain she has caused me.

They say Paul’s a hard worker. They also say he’s not where he wants to be (he’s not) and talked about job prospects. They gave us advice, which we followed, but it has yet to land him anything. Pap Pap thinks he’s wonderful and likes his determination to do better, and the fact that Pap Pap was a machinist and Paul’s involved in that field is a compliment to Pap Pap’s energy. He’s not lazy, and if he were, Pap Pap “would’ve kicked him out of” my life. Pap Pap also knew his grandfather.

As for Pap Pap, he was like a father to me, especially according to him. Funny considering I think of him as one of my strongest and best male role models I ever had. He also said I don’t put up with much. They knew I’d cut my hair, which Pap Pap doesn’t like, but they say I’ll grow it long again and will have it long when I get married.

The fact that my dad and I don’t get along is “his stuff,” not mine–his personality and how he looks at things. He’s very opinionated, even when he’s not right. I shouldn’t feed into it, but Pap Pap told them I do anyway.

They told me lots of other things. I’m healthy. I have a lot of angels around me. Spirits from the other side help me so that if I want something and visualize it, it’s attainable, and I’ve already proven this in my work by already accomplishing things I was afraid I wouldn’t. I get goodness and calming energy from my mom’s side. They picked up something to do with special-needs children, and the only thing I could think of is some kids Terra has worked with. They said I’m my mom’s best friend. I have a good heart and light around me, and as long as I keep that, no one can interfere with my energy. I try to love everyone. I tell it like it is, and Grandma likes that. Sometimes when I look at the sky and think it looks heavenly, it’s my grandfather giving me a sign, especially because he’s with me when I drive. That’s when he can get my attention–he can’t do it at work, he says. Grandma thinks my friend Bobby is cute. I do remember her liking him when we went to prom. They knew about Pap Pap’s skill at gardening and said he’ll pass it on to me if I ask him, plus I’ll be a “back to nature” girl.

As for that creativity? I have a lot of it, with lots of colors around me, and I have a gift for writing. Pap Pap thought my college manuscript was very good and I could and should make a living writing, which is the long-term goal. They say I’ll publish a book.

Moving Forward

Sometimes in my college writing classes, we’d talk about the damage writing can do. I find most writers value truth over anything, or at least the truth as they experience it. You can point to almost any writer, I’m sure–especially memoirists–and hear stories of ruined relationships because someone told their story. Interestingly, it’s usually petty. (I’m also fascinated by the fact that fiction writers aren’t safe because sometimes people in their lives see themselves in a character and think it’s a jab at them.)

I own my experiences and I tell my truths. I get angry or hurt or upset or sad and I talk about it. Technically, I do this publicly–and in a way, this is like training for when I’m published. But I feel this blog–which I don’t publicize, focus, or tend to particularly regularly, which breaks all rules of successful blogging–is a bit like me screaming in a crowded room while no one in the room is actually listening. Social media, however, is more like standing at a podium with a microphone with almost everyone’s attention–maybe someone wasn’t listening or was talking or distracted or left them room, but for the most part, everyone’s there. And there’s a difference between me in the middle of that crowded room screaming that something shitty was done to me and someone else at their podium attacking me as a person in the meantime.

Except I haven’t screamed in a month and to even hear me, you have to find me first. Someone did and then told other people where I was.

I’m not sure what the desired reaction was or even what the actual reaction was. All I know is I got a message Saturday night (order of events: I see rude Tweets Monday, get pissed and fire off some of my own because at this point I’ve nearly stopped caring, someone finds this Tuesday, I don’t notice the extremely high, suspicious number of hits until Thursday when I post about Monday’s events) from a neutral party more or less saying if we’re truly done with each other, be done and don’t drag it into the internet. Points were made that I really couldn’t argue with, though I did clarify that no one’s paying attention to this while the offending Tweets are just the opposite, plus I’d already decided and even stated here that I was done with focusing on the past.

I must’ve felt frustrated and overwhelmed because although everything was handled excellently for once, I got upset. I planned to go to a party, but I was at Paul’s and wanted to stay as long as possible. He had to serve mass the next morning, so I couldn’t take him with me, and he lives at home, so I can’t just crash there when I want. In fact, he was almost kicking me out for fear his mom would think we were getting down and dirty when everyone went upstairs. The last time we were there alone, his mom accused us of taking advantage of the empty house for sex, but that’s another story for another time. The point is I was trying to let him know I needed a little support without saying it in front of his entire family. So when he walked me to my car like he always does, I ended up crying in the middle of the driveway while he held me for about an hour. And that’s why he’s a saint.

I owed this person an apology for that one night in Mexico, so I took the opportunity. By Saturday, it was appreciated and accepted, and she admitted to having taken part in talking about me behind me back and teasing that crossed lines. She apologized and hoped I could forgive her. And I did. And then I received another apology from someone else later in the day. I’ve never felt actually wronged by her, but I appreciated it nonetheless. The ties I’ve cut remain cut and probably will for a long time to come. Very little can change that. Even if either of us were to have regrets or apologize, I still don’t feel those relationships would be beneficial or healthy to maintain. Unfortunately, sometimes people just have to go.

It’s the opposite of what I thought would happen, whether or not my expectations were reasonable. In fact, my expectations were part of why I spent an hour crying Saturday night, plus when I’m frustrated I feel helpless and just cry. I also rambled and don’t actually remember a solid 99% of what I said.

Now, part of the point of the first message on Saturday night was “let it be” and positivity. Ironically, I made a step towards that last month (another part of my frustrated tears was probably feeling like every time I think things are calm, they’re not). Beyond that, Amanda Palmer’s series of bullying blogs pushed me even further. First of all, every human should read all of them (there are three) and all of the comments, even though that’s basically impossible because there’s just so much. But there’s a lot to be gained and learned. It was a safe space of sharing and healing, and a couple of sort of weird things happened.

First, all of the discussion led to lots of insight about why people do the things they do to people, and the overwhelming understanding was that when someone is constantly making fun of someone, putting them down, and attacking them, it’s due to problems the attacker has that are often unrelated to the victim. At a certain point, perhaps way earlier than I ever considered, things said to and about me reached that point. I’ve been talking about things that hurt me but have been attacked for completely unrelated things in the meantime.

Second, some of those lovely people were able to be amazing in the midst of pain. Everyone was expressing love and support, but some were going beyond that and talking about putting as much positivity into the world as they could to counter the negativity thrown at them and others. Some even had these amazing stories that gave me chills about how they stood up for kids when they witnessed bullying and ended up being best friends or saving someone’s life. Seriously, one person shared a story about seeing a kid being bullied, reached out, they became friends, and learned later that the kid was going to kill himself as soon as he got home. I literally had chills. I physically shivered when I read that. Strangely, I only cried once when I was reading all these stories, and it was partly because I was already halfway there.

So.

I decided that whenever I see someone being hateful, I will counter it directly. I will take not just what has been thrown onto me but what people throw onto others and maybe even take what I’ve thrown onto others and turn it around and be the biggest source of beauty and light in the world I possibly can. I know I won’t always succeed. I won’t always be positive. I still feel damaged, and I’ll carry that with me for a long while, maybe forever, despite having forgiven. But I can try.

As humans, we’re often understandably afraid to step in. We don’t know what will happen. It can be weird and awkward. We think we’re better off minding our own business and maybe most of the time that’s true, but sometimes the stakes are too high. I can’t read someone’s story about how someone is alive because they intervened and keep sitting on the sidelines hoping people know they’re loved and deserve better, no matter what, and yes, that goes for every single person who has wronged me, even if I don’t feel we should be in each other’s lives.

I started, in perhaps a strange, silly way, on Tumblr, which can be full of as much hatred as it can be cats. Somehow, I ended up following a fair number teenage girls’ blogs because we have similar interests and they post content I like. Because they’re teenage girls with their own problems and enemies, they get anonymous hatemail. Tumblr lets you post your messages and respond to them publicly, which is pretty cool for public figures who get asked lots of questions but not teenage girls, who get messages about how terrible they are or how no one likes them or how they’re ugly. Ugliness was the subject of one such post I saw on my dashboard one evening early last week, and without hesitating, I clicked the little reply bubble and basically said, “Fuck that guy. You’re beautiful.”

She thanked me the next day.

I haven’t seen much negativity since, but I’ve tried to reach out to people who are obviously in pain or struggling or feel bad about themselves or are having hate thrust upon them. And I’m not doing it to make myself feel better (although it has) or for my self-image or any other selfish reason. I’m doing it because it’s what’s good and right, because I believe in the power of positivity and always have, because I want to change the word and believe (perhaps naively) that I actually can and that all it takes is trying to pull someone out of the same emotional and psychological damage I was in and showing them there’s more, because that’s what we all need. I’m not talking about it to get attention or kudos but rather because this is my blog and I talk about my life and what I’m doing, good or bad, and this is what I’m doing. And for once, it’s good.

I want to be a source of light, positivity, and beauty in the world, and damn it, I will be.

Friday Five: Hurried

  1. When did you last find yourself in a real hurry? Saturday morning for Terra’s church wedding at noon. I actually stayed at my parents’ Friday night, thinking it would make it easier for me to get there on time since it was a shorter drive than from my apartment. It would’ve been fine if Brandon wouldn’t have stolen my spot in the shower. So he set me behind, making me late picking Paul up, making me late for the ceremony. I was only two minutes late and it was such a low-key ceremony they were down with waiting for me anyway, but still.
  2. Often, when we’re in a hurry, we make stupid mistakes. What’s an example from your life that supports this, and what do you do to prevent such things from happening again? When I’m writing and not paying attention, or even just typing fast and stumbling, I make more typos, sometimes terrible and ridiculous and silly. I’m usually late for work, so I often drive too fast when I shouldn’t. That’s about it, though. I seem to fuck up on bigger levels when I have plenty of time on my hands.
  3. Why are some people so loud in places where quieter voices are usually appropriate, such as this cafe that’s closing in a couple of minutes, where these high-schoolers are being so loud it’s difficult for me to write these questions? I think it’s an issue of groups most of the time, especially with high-school and even college kids. Groups get rowdier more quickly and more easily by nature, plus I think you end up having people competing for each other’s attention, whether they realize that’s what’s happening or not. And then some people just have deep loud, voices–Paul is one and I often find myself telling him to take it down a notch depending on where we are. Brandon’s voice isn’t as deep, but it carries in the same way.
  4. How’s 2013 treating you so far? Tough call. Overall, it’s been good–just the past week, really, has blown, but that’s half the year so far. I found some shitty Tweets, someone found this blog and seemingly sent it to everyone else, and I was confronted about talking about things with Brett though strangely by Marion. Now, only time will tell what, if any, fallout will happen, but I was more or less told to let things be–after I’d already stated on here that’s exactly what I was going to do, at least prior to Monday. I will say there’s a vast difference between talking about my personal experiences here where no one’s really paying attention and him more directly attacking me as a person where people are paying attention. But then, also ironically, Marion and I exchanged apologies and forgivenesses and seem to be moving toward a resolution and repair. So the good has come with the bad. But I did cry for an hour while Paul held me last night.
  5. Are you more of a December person or a January person? What does this mean, anyway, and why are you whatever you are? Initially, I thought I was more of both, but I think I’m actually more of a December person. I love the New Year and the automatic fresh start it brings, but that’s really only the fun of January, especially in Pennsylvania. January means it’s cold (except for this weekend with record-high temperatures in the 60s), and New Year’s is the only holiday and fun we get. We’re all confused and still write 2012 on everything and it’s still getting dark early. But in December, especially since I’m such a fan of Christmas, we get to decorate and prepare for Christmas and see family (in my case, this is actually a good, happy thing) and shop and everything is decorated and pretty. It’s still cold and it still snows, but with holidays and decorations, it has more romance to it. January is more harsh.

And the Shit Pot Is Stirred Once Again

One of the uplifting trends on Pinterest and Tumblr is the New Year’s jar–all year, you write down the good things that happen to you and stick them in a jar. On New Year’s, you open it and read all of them. It’s a great way to see one year out and another in with some positivity and reminiscing rather than the typical, “I can’t wait for [insert year here] to end!”

I started one when I came home New Year’s Day, except I don’t have a jar. I have this little bank with a crab on it my mom and dad bought me on a trip to Anapolis a year or so ago, but it works.

My most recent addition read, “Severing ties with Nolan and Brett.”

Saturday night, I braved a cold to go to Uniontown’s new Olive Garden with Paul (just the thought of wedding soup almost relieved my scratchy throat and sinuses). Uniontown has been waiting for an Olive Garden for at least 15 years. Ever since I was a little kid, people would say, “I heard we’re getting an Olive Garden!” Never happened–until late summer/early fall. When the Olive Garden opened in mid-December, and it was a big deal. That place has been packed and busy every single night since it opened. With an hour to kill while Paul and I waited for a table and in the midst of Fayette County’s finest, I decided a very silly, entertaining thing to do was liveblog to my Fayette County blog from the corral that was the Olive Garden lobby.

The humor must’ve been lost on Brett–and I suppose it would be if your humor is almost entirely crude humor and making fun of just about every person around you–because he fired off a series of tweets mocking me. He thinks I can’t see them. I can when I choose to.

They were tame in terms of content, but technically, they were numerous. They started with “SHE LIVEBLOGGED HER OLIVE GARDEN EXPERIENCE,” followed by that sentence repeated but one word in one tweet at a time. He ended by mentioning his parents were visiting and he would blog about it or just string words together that sound smart (in reference to my writing tweet back in August, which he assumed was about him and used as a springboard to attempt to rip me a new asshole and blame me for his problems). He also had plenty of commentary about things like political Facebook posts, but it’s hard to distinguish what’s a dig on me and what’s general angst or even if there’s much difference between the two anymore. He does harp on certain subjects, and I am one of them.

This is especially interesting since he accused me of being passive aggressive, immature, attention-seeking, vindictive, and a bully and insisted I leave him and Nolan alone. I was already doing so, and I’ve continued to do so. Yes, I blog, but I talk about it in terms of what I’m going through and how shitty this has all been for me. And I average about four hits daily on this blog. Regardless, there’s a huge difference between me saying, “This is what’s happening and it sucks” and him mocking me.

Except I don’t really think it sucks anymore. I think this was probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

I was naturally upset and angry at first, but then I thought, “This is pathetic” because it’s all so hypocritical and sad that he has to tear me down for amusement and his own benefit. And I thought, “You’re almost obsessed with me.” I’m aware that this blog contains a lot of similar focus, but even I reached the point where I said, “I’m tired of this, and I’m moving on.” It’s also pathetic because Brett’s statements have surpassed the point of being angry with me–at this point, this is more about whatever issues he’s projecting onto me than it is what I’ve actually said and done to him. I’m just a target, and I have been for quite a while. It just took me until now to camouflage myself and get my ass out of the archers’ paths.

And then I immediately removed and blocked both Brett and Nolan from every single social-media account I have on the internet–Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, even Pinterest and Foursquare. I deleted Brett’s number from my cellphone contacts. I even left the Facebook group the Craigs had set up for ourselves. I’m done. Out. I quit. “No mo,” as Terra and Dom say. I am so done that I’m already thinking about covering up the little heart tattoo I got with Nolan and Marion (Emily has one, too, but the heart is different), and I already know what to cover it with and who I want to do it. I’m so done that I have accepted (partly out of necessity) that this may damage other friendships or at least result in distance from some friends, but son of a bitch, it’s time I do something for me fully. I deserve better out of friends. Shit, I deserve better out of strangers. I went through four years of high school with a few guys who completely hated me who gave me less grief than this.

I have multiple reasons. First and foremost, I don’t need that shit. Sure, I could always keep myself from looking, but that’s hard to do when you know someone keeps talking about you, especially when they think you don’t know. But if I completely remove them, I’m cutting myself off. And when they figure it out–if they figure it out, and I’m sure they will when they go to see what I’m up to and find they can’t access me at all–it’ll show that I’m totally serious about having no room for such people in my life. Furthermore, by restricting their access to me, I limit what they can see, meaning I limit what can be used against me. By blocking both of them–because I’m more okay with Nolan than Brett right now–one can’t use the other’s accounts.

When I told Paul, all he said was, “Good.”

Ironically, I’ve been thinking a lot about things like bullying and the ways people inflict hurt on each other and why, thanks to a blog post by Amanda Palmer on internet hatred that went up days before this happened. I got very reflective–and we’re gonna come back to this later–and actually started to reconsider my role in everything from Mexico up to now and wondered if perhaps I was too harsh, too defensive. I’ve even thought about how painful it must be for Nolan and Brett to know I want them out of my life. But coming home that night to find several tweets devoted to me–unprovoked, mind you–undid any progress I might’ve made. In fact, they only reaffirmed the decision to the point that I don’t think repairing these friendships is possible let alone worth it.

Even before this, I was unhappy with the way things were going. I was regularly being mocked, made fun of, put down, disrespected, and disregarded. My aforementioned reflection led me to realize–finally–that every single time this happened that I can remember, I was being singled out for something I did different. Almost every single thing I was targeted for was something only I did–vegetarianism, writing, the music I liked, the clothes I wore, moonlighting as a music journalist/editor, different interests. People–even college-educated adults–attack differentness.

I reached a point where I didn’t trust Nolan and Brett–if they were at our house on Mt. Washington when I wasn’t, I was worried what they might do to or with my room and my things. When they used my computer in Mexico, especially when I was asleep, I worried they’d go through or mess with things. Hell, before we even left for Mexico, I started to think my going was a bad idea. I told Paul last night if I could do it all again, I wouldn’t have gone and I’d have sent Sarah in my place. Right after that, though, I said that probably wasn’t true because I needed something to push me over the edge, something to get fed up with. I know myself well enough to know I would’ve most likely kept putting up with whatever abuse was hurled at me indefinitely, and I’d rather be here and moving on than trapped where I had been off and on for years. I think we all remember my last summer of blogging.

We could be cordial and civil but not best friends. In fact, that’s what I intended, but things blew up on me and we’re not at that point. We could be one day, but I think the friendships themselves are trashed. For one, I’d be a dumbass to go back into a close friendship with people who were regularly terrible to me, which was rationalized because of a grudge. Now I know I’m being talked about and made fun of behind my back offline, I know I’m being tweeted about, and I know my previous attempts at even a partial resolution went ignored. So why should I want to say, “Hey, guys, let’s be best friends?” This is not how considerate, mature adults solve conflicts, and this is not how considerate adults mend or maintain friendships. I won’t go back to being someone’s punching bag or punchline. I’m not gonna mend something and return when I know doing so means returning to shit. If Paul spoke to me the way Nolan and Brett have, his ass would’ve been dumped long ago with no regrets.

Now, my self-esteem and self-worth are still damaged, and they need fixed. I can’t fix it by myself, and I can’t fix it with a professional when all the professionals are far away or don’t take my insurance. So I turned to the next-best thing.

Nothing is coincidence. The day I was reexamining what happened before I saw Brett’s tweets, I also randomly thought about Mr. Mac. Some may remember Mr. Mac from my old high-school blog–he was our beloved religion teacher and movie-night proctor and kind of a mentor/spiritual guru for me. I was at my best emotionally and mentally when I was going to movie nights. My dreams of being a published writer are accompanied by dreams of what I’ll write as a dedication to him.

So I dug out his home e-mail address, explained I’ve been having some troubles and unloaded them on him. I don’t know what I expected, and I told him that–any words of wisdom would’ve sufficed. He replied much more quickly than I expected. I mentioned talking to a local priest who will be marrying Scott and Terra on Saturday, and he agreed that would be a good idea and also proposed meeting up.

He also said the following:

“Keep this in mind…you are a wonderful person who has been blessed with unique gifts that need to be celebrated.  You have been an outstanding friend to Leah as well as others.  Hang in there!  You are infinitely loved by a God that has great plans for you! (Jeremiah 29:11-13  Read and take it to heart!)”

I cried. And then I was (mostly) fine. And I (mostly) still am, though I’m trying to train myself not to dwell on this.

I haven’t read the Jeremiah passage, but that’s only because I have no idea where my Bible is. Most of my books are still in boxes.

I’ve mentioned Amanda Palmer’s blog already. A massive discussion ensued where people shared their emotions and stories, uplifted and advised each other, and expressed more love and support than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. It was/is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I’d be doing so well right now without that and John McFarland. In fact, the blog and comments–both the good and the bad–had a profound impact on me, but that’s for next time. It is, quite literally, a whole new chapter.

Nothing is coincidence.