I love chaos

So, I started a new job and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve missed working, if I’m being honest. Or maybe it’s just that I miss making money – I’m not even making a lot of it, but the regularity of a paycheck is incredibly comforting. I like feeling like I’m providing for myself, even if I don’t make enough to live off of yet. (Or…again?) 

But the thing I missed the most was having the incredible chaos of juggling projects, learning new skills, and interacting with people. I love the days when I am going straight from one thing to the next to the next, answering phones and talking to guests, all while making sure everything gets taken care of. (I’m still learning, so not everything gets taken care of perfectly, but my teammates are great about answering my millions of questions, so that’s helpful.) I love finding ways to make things better, to make the guests’ experience just a little bit smoother, to go beyond expectations. 

It’s also an interesting experience because I’ve only ever worked in one other job this focused on image, and it was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. There I looked like a camp counselor, a trusted friend for the kids that came into the shop. Now I get to glam it up a bit: do my hair, do my make-up, put on a pretty dress. I love it. 

Chaos is so energizing. I need half an hour to be able to talk at a normal speed after I finish a shift because my mind is going a thousand miles an hour and if I’m talking to somebody I have to tell them how this and this and this and this and this and this and this andthisandthisandthisandthis happened. 

But today is a pocket of calm where I will clean, climb, and write. And procrastinate all of these things by writing a blog post.

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Scotland, I like you best in the rain

Dear Scotland,

I loved you from the moment I met you. The sky was late-winter grey and it was a kind of cold I’d never felt before – the kind that settles in your bones and makes every joint in your body move just a little slower than it should. But I walked out of Waverley and thought, “This. This is my place.”

I’m glad it didn’t rain on that trip. I’m glad that it was just overcast, because if I’d seen you in the rain I never would have left.

You’re best in the rain. You’re best when it’s sprinkling or drizzling or pouring or just plain dreich. You’re best when I’ve spent 45 minutes getting my hair just right and you start to rain five minutes into my half hour walk. You’re best when my world narrows to just the space under my umbrella and everything draws close.

Sunshine is nice, don’t get me wrong, and I miss it often – but sunshine here is different. It’s exhausting, if I’m being honest. Feeling like I have to be outside, like I should be soaking up all of the Vitamin D I need…well, it’s tough. It’s tough because I want to stay in, get work done, read, and you tempt me outside. And so I follow your lead, but I forget sunscreen. Or a blanket. Or anything else that I might need. I don’t know how to function in your sunshine.

But when it’s wet, we understand each other. It’s a grim understanding, sure. I am happier when it’s sunny, it’s true. But it’s the put-your-head-down-and-get-though-it-ness of things that I love. It’s what makes a pot of tea such a relief, or a bookstore such a safe place. This is a country to be inside and dream, or to be outside and toughen up. To realize that nothing could possibly stop you from doing what needs to be done, and to accept a haven wherever you find it.

So, it’s true, Scotland. I like you best in the rain.

This bottle of beast is taking me home

A few years ago (okay, okay, 10 years ago) my friend Nicole made me 4 mix CDs of songs to get me through the summer and the start of college. They were pretty typical of that era – Dashboard Confessional, The Starting Line, The Used, etc. – and I listened to them so often that I heard them in my sleep. They got me through what still goes down as the hardest break up I’ve ever been through (sad, but true) and I can still remember the first time I could listen to “Best I Ever Had” without crying. It was a moment.

I’ve been in a weird place musically, probably because I’m in a weird place emotionally. I’m all over the map, listening to blue grass one day, folk rock the next, rap, alt-rock, late 90s girl bands, and, of course, mid-2000s pop-punk. I’m remembering North Carolina, I’m remembering Virginia, I’m remembering Singapore, I’m remembering Thailand, I’m remembering California. The good, the bad…mostly the ugly.

The dissertation is going well enough. I’m on track, but my characters need depth. They need emotion. And because of how I’m telling this story, that requires remembering – vividly – what it was like in all of those phases of my life. It’s unpleasant sometimes, to remember what it was like to be awkward and nerdy and bullied and nervous. But it’s also weirdly empowering. I got through all of that, I get to own it. I get to take it and make it work for me. Take that, middle school!

I’m trying not to think of the hard things. I’m good at pushing them out, at ignoring them and trying not to feel them. But this story demands them. My writing (and in my writing, my life) demands them. It is a greedy beast, it wants to feed on everything. It wants to make a seven-course meal on my emotions, with misery as the main course. I can’t starve it, but sometimes I think I won’t survive. It’s my writing or me. We are the same and we are mutually exclusive, and somehow we’re both at the same time. Just try to wrap your mind around that.

But instead of contemplating this, I’m going to dive back into my story and see what happens. Because if it has to happen, it might as well happen quickly and late at night, right before bed, when I can go into my big, empty bed with nobody to snuggle or make me feel better about things.

On second thought, I could have planned this better.