I have a new therapist and she is…ME

Hey strangers. Soo…how’s life? Good? Good! I’m so glad. Oh, me? What have I been doing? Well…

Law school. Yowza. Where to begin?  Back when I was applying to schools, a bunch of people warned me not to go to law school; and while I am not even remotely wishing I had listened, I understand why they did: law school is NOT EASY. Is it the hell people made it out to be? Far from it, but that’s probably because I am certain that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life. So if you are pondering taking the LSAT, maybe shooting out a few law school apps for the hell of it, ask yourself, “Do I really have any interest in the law/being a lawyer?” Because if the answer is NO you should NOT go to law school.

Just saying.

What else is going on? There’s some light tutoring, a lot of being stalked and nuzzled and stared at by my dog, the occasional kitchen foray, and a boy occupying my time. (Like, the best boy. The weirdest, dorkiest, sweetest, adorablest, smartest, funniest, wonderfulest boy. Just saying.) Oh, and sometimes I sleep. Every now and then.

So with all those things on top of endless reading/writing/research/studying/confusion, I am midway through my first semester of law school and I am starting to lose my shit.

I admit it. There’s stress and then there’s STRESS. I am not yet STRESSED, but I’m getting there. I’m stressed.

I have sought various methods to healing with this mounting stress level: healthier eating, allocating more time for drowsy resty sleepy time, running, vitamins, less caffeine, etc. I’m even debating maybe taking advantage of the counseling offered at school. But you know what has worked most effectively so far? Reading this here blog.

Yeah, I’m my own therapist. It’s weird. I know.

Seriously though, rereading my own musings and mullings and meanderings has given me so much perspective. Comparing where I was then to where I am now helps first and foremost: I’m moving up in this world. I AM! But also, I was a smart cookie with some damn good advice: e.g. “The more good you concentrate on, the more good you see. Building momentum in a happy, hopeful direction can only make your life better.” Helpful, that is!

I’ve kept a few journals in my day, and when I look back at them I never fail to squirm and loathe who I once was. But reading this blog makes me feel…better. Healthier. Less…stressed. My 2011 self is giving my 2012 self advice…and it’s improving my quality of life!

It’s like time travel!

Hey, I am not trying to toot my own horn here. I’m neither a mentor nor a wizened soul. I am just a lost and loopy twenty-something who occasionally babbles in a public forum. And once in a blue moon, hidden in all that babbling, there is nestled a nugget of wisdom that resonates with those of us having quarter-life crises. This week, reading my own words has brought me some solace and sanity that I really really needed. I can only hope I have similarly helped anyone else who has had the misfortune to be sucked into my ramblings.

My craziness…bringing sanity…I never thought I’d see the day.

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And then…one day… she got on with her life

Once upon a time, a girl newly relinquished from her undergraduate career started a blog in which she rambled about the piteous happenings of her small and empty existence. She had no career, no credit, no future, and very little hope of changing her situation, but goddammit she had a place to bitch about it. And because she had a modicum of humor and a rather wide lexicon, people read her writing. And she would write a lot and then not write at all for months, and then return here and there to comment passionately, albeit shallowly, about some little tidbit of her little world. And people would read it.And she’d think, “gee, why don’t I do this all the time?” But inevitably, she’d fall off the map again.

Well, the last time she fell off the map, it was because she was FINALLY GETTING HER FUCKING SHIT TOGETHER.

Yes, my friends. I, Pamela, have decided I do not wish to stay eternally condemned to a life in limbo and have gotten on with my life. I am no longer a nanny. I am no longer living with my parents hating every moment of my existence. I am no longer dating someone who I feel little to no real connection with. I am thrilled to report that I have–dare I even say it?–the beginnings of a LIFE.

This week, I started law school. For the first time in nearly three years, I am feeding my mind, bettering myself, electing to live up to my potential. Good lord, does it feel good to have a purpose again! To get up early and gogogogogogogogogogogogo until late at night! To feel, at the end of the day, that I have earned a beer or some chocolate or–gasp!–some wonderful, glorious rest!

I feel alive again.

Praise EVERYTHING.

I’m not saying this isn’t limbo. I’m not saying I have everything figured out. Nor am I saying watch-out-world-because-Pamela-is-coming-for-you-and-she’s-got-her-ass-kicking-shoes-on. But I am saying, that things are changing.

Also, I’m done beating myself up for the last few years of aimlessness and depression and spending too much time watching the days pass; I’ve chosen to love myself enough to accept my later-than-I’d-hoped development. I think I needed those years of aimlessness to get me here. I think I was chronologically an adult but mentally still an adolescent. I think we all grow and change and evolve at our own pace, and, maybe, I just evolve in fits and starts, leaps and bounds, rather than gradually and steadily. One day, the sun set and I was afraid of everything and imprisoned by my own inertia, and when the sun rose the next day I was done being afraid and ready to build some momentum.

And now, here I am, gaining speed.

I just might one day get out of Limbo after all. What a feeling.

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The Writing on this Wall

This evening I had a very brief but very meaningful exchange with a dear friend. He said, “I’m not a secretive guy, so it’s hard for me when everyone is secretive.” And in a fit of unexpected honesty I replied, “I’ve always had issues with owning my life. Like, I’d rather not apologize for it, so I hide it, which ends up sucking for me and, more importantly, for those around me. I should grow up.” And while he kindly made excuses for me, I realized that what I said was so so right and something I had thought for a long time, but never said. And in saying it, I felt it–I felt ashamed.

I have, too often, been incapable of owning up to my own choices. Even when I feel not at all misguided or unwise in my decisions, even when I would have no problem defending my path should I be confronted, I go to great lengths to avoid such a confrontation. Like, when I decided to move in with my significant other (*cough* in hindsight maybe that was a misguided decision, but at the time it seemed like a good plan. Sue me. *cough*) all those years ago, I tried to keep it from my very Catholic family for a long time. As a 21 year old woman who had willingly entered into an adult relationship, I shuddered at the thought of my family judging me for it. Judging me for what? Being human? Being *gasp!* normal?! I felt that there was nothing wrong with my actions, yet, because someone else might, I tried to keep my life under wraps.

How. Fucking. Pathetic.

I admire so much the people I know who are unapologetically and unabashedly up front about their lives (like her, and her). Having the confidence and the courage to say, “Yeah, this is me. This is my life. Not everyone is going to be OK with all of it. So-the-fuck-what?” is so incredible to me. I want to be that awesome. And I am going to be that awesome. Starting now.

I have wanted to write this blog for months, but I kept talking myself out of it with really weak ass excuses. So I am done.

This…finally…is the story of my tattoo.

First, if you don’t either know me personally or have never read this blog before, you might want to brush up real quick and read this post. But long story short, last fall my asshole father told me to get the fuck out of his house. So I did. It was really really scary to grab my purse and walk out the front door with no idea where I was planning on going or what I was going to do the next day…and the day after…and the day after…but I did it. I left. When, after several weeks, my father ate crow and said, for the first time in my life, “I’m sorry,” I was a little surprised but not impressed or moved, as he had so clearly expected me to feel. So when he said, “Just come home. Do it for your mother,” I surprised both of us by saying, “Don’t you dare tell me what to do for my mother. You want to do something for her? Quit drinking.” It was the bravest and the most self-assured I had ever felt in my entire life. And, needless to say, I didn’t move back in.

It is quite nerve-wracking to turn down a roof over your head and free food for uncertainty and homelessness, but, in that moment, the truly frightening thing would have been to be back under the roof of the man who tormented me most of my life. In that moment, I was fearless. And as I rode the high from that burst of bravery over the following weeks, I wanted nothing more than to feel that sense of sheer unstoppable courage in every aspect of my life. So, though I had not ever really thought of myself as the type to get a tattoo, I decided that that was just what I needed: a permanent and tangible something to remind me, every single day, of the bold, unafraid person I can be.

So I had “without fear” inked into my left ribcage…right next to my heart.

Every day, when I get out of the shower, I see those words on my skin, and they remind me that I don’t have to be intimidated by life. Life leaves its scars (I have 98 visible ones so far, and many more invisible), but worrying about the pain that’s to come hurts just as much–if not more–than the actual pain when it happens. I will live a much fuller life if I hope and love and experience as much as I can without fear.

Now, I am in no way saying I am fearless. LORD, no. But I am a less fearful work in progress. When I start shying away from good things, simply because they might go away at some point, I give myself a shake or a slap and say, “HEY! You’re wasting time being afraid. Knock it off!” and then I try to forge ahead with a little more courage and a slightly higher held head. And when I step outside myself and do things that are foolish or risky and then suddenly feel a little more alive, I know I am becoming the kind of person I want to be: the kind of person who has “without fear” scrawled across her ribs.

Have a problem with what I just told you? Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

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“Holy shit, she’s trying this AGAIN?!”

That ^…up there…that’s what I assume you two people who subscribed to this blog months ago thought when you got an email announcing that this post exists.  I’m not going to even bother apologizing for the absence. I’m just…not.

Sooooo, hey there. Hi. I, pathetically, don’t have a purpose for this here blog entry other than to say that, with any luck, I will be doing this regularly. Again. I hope.

I’ve been feeling…slightly overwhelmed the last few weeks. I’ve had a few tragic/tragically comical mood (down)swings–one that caused an ill-timed emotional explosion that left a very sweet boy blinking in the aftermath–and quite a few literally sleepless nights. And though I turned to my old friends Diet and Exercise to balance out the weeble wobble that I had become, and while they helped, I still felt like I was missing something. Like there was a simple solution dancing in front of me wearing nothing but a Dr. Seuss hat and I was just missing it . Finally, it came–first, as a whisper in the back of my mind, then a low drone, and, finally, an air horn–to me: WRITING.

Yeah. It took me a while. I’m a dumbass. I know.

Approximately, oh, 6 minutes ago, as I lay on my bedroom floor feeling rather more alone than usual, and recognizing the familiar tug of sadness, I sat up and said, out loud, “Blog, you spaz.” And thus, here I am. Saying nothing of meaning or use to anyone, but feeling better because of it.

Why, gods, why does it always take me so long to come back to writing?

Here’s the brief lowdown, friends. Last time I wrote, I had just been kicked out of my parents’ house. That was back in…October? (Fuck me, has it been that long?) Since then I have moved into my own place, done a 180 when it comes to my plans for the future (pssst…these plans might actually happen!), lost all love I once had for my job, got my first ever gym membership, and started drinking with a regularity that rivals my undergrad career. And I might have an ulcer. Aaaand I’ve rediscovered my weirdness. You could say we have some catching up to do.

So, I hope I actually keep writing for a while. And I hope I actually have something to say that has worth to someone. But if not, at the very least typing these 400ish words actually made this night a little bit better. And, fuck it all, that has very real worth to me.

 

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I Suspect This is What Real Life Feels Like

When I ended my relationship 5 months ago and chose to “temporarily” move back in with my parents, I complained that I was retreating deeper into my own hellish limbo and ever farther from the “real life” I’m supposed to be living. Well, I suppose that means I should be thankful for the healthy dose of the-shit-just-got-real I received just a couple days ago.

My father, on any given day, is playing one of, say, a dozen characters, and there is no warning signs for which version you’ll be dealing with: dancy-and-goofy-and-creepily-tickly Dean; long-winded-lecture-that-has-no-point Dean; sullen-and-wordless Dean.  Frankly, none of them is pleasant. Or tolerable. Or vaguely mimicking normal human behavior. But when his manic-depressive tendencies take him on a downward trend and he’s had a few too many Budweisers and a very fickle blue moon hangs in the sky, you get irrationally irate Dean, and he is the worst. He is the version that screams with rage at my mother about such earth-shatteringly important topics  as loading the dishwasher and overripe fruit. He is the version that shatters the glass fronts of the china cabinet and breaks the framed wedding photo of himself and his wife over his knee. He is the version that strangled me when I was 17.

This is the Dean that makes me wish I was adopted. I don’t want to believe I share any DNA with a man that psychotic.

Well, that Dean made an appearance Thursday. I knew I should have just gone for a walk when I could almost hear the spit flying out of his mouth as he yelled at my mom about nothing of significance, but I did not. I stayed in my bedroom, stupidly believing that if I just stayed quiet I would be left alone. Alas, I was horrifically wrong.

Dean came into my room to talk to me about the new tires I was going to purchase for my car. And though I knew, I knew he was not going to be capable of an adult conversation, I did my best to stay calm and have a discussion with him. But every time I tried to answer one of his (increasingly aggressive and loud) questions, he’d bellow, “Shut the fuck up and answer my question!” I made the mistake of pointing out that one cannot at once shut up and answer; trying to use logic with Psycho Dean is NEVER wise. This lead to…ugliness. The fine points of what was said are irrelevant, but, basically, he screamed, while red as a wine stain and wild-eyed, that I am a bitch and a mooch and I will never become anything and I will not take responsibility for the pathetic excuse for a human I have become.

And then he said he didn’t care to have me around.

So I left.

And I am not going back.

I am now, for all intents and purposes, homeless.

OK, now, fear not: I am not sleeping in my car. I have been overwhelmed by the willingness of my friends and family (and my ex-boyfriend and his family, even) to take me in for a night, a week, or an extended period. I am clearly, clearly loved, really and truly loved by many, and I am crying just thinking about it. I have some extraordinary people in my life.  As I type, I am sitting on a stool in my aunt and uncle’s kitchen, because before I could even ask for a place to crash, the bunk bed in my cousin’s room was offered to me.  And I know I have shelter for at least two weeks, with many offers of couches and spare beds for the time following. So everything will be fine.

But GOD. I was kicked out of my HOUSE.

This, I believe, is what we call a shitty situation.

And it also feels very very real. Like the sort of “real life” you’d see on TV. Or read about in a women’s magazine. This is a whole new kinda limbo in that I seriously don’t belong anywhere, which makes me feel like it’s at least a legitimate form of limbo, which thus makes it more real. The more fucked up your life is, no matter how lost and aimless you are in the process, the more legitimate your existence. Life is hard, but at least I am legit. Like I have street cred or something.

Haha,  just made a joke. In this midst of this clusterfuck that is my life, I am still laughing. Because even though this pretty much sucks, it could be worse. That’s called perspective. That’s called growth. I must be leaving limbo if I’m acting all adult.

Whoa.

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A Beautiful Disaster

[I know, I don’t write enough. But I won’t start each few and far between post with an apology anymore…after this. Sorry.]

Once upon a time, at a sketchy university health center, a psychologist tried to tell me I was bipolar. The quack was wrong–I was merely going through puberty–but if she tried to diagnose me similarly right now, however, I might not think she got her doctorate from a correspondence school.

I have been a walking rollercoaster as of late. I feel so happy I could just die…and then so sad, and so very very lonely, I could just…die. It’s funny, I have some wonderful people in my life constantly trying to boost me up, but the higher they get me, the farther I fall.

The health nut part of me keeps thinking if I just get enough folate, keep exercising often, go back to yoga, then my mood will even out. The female part of me blames my uterus, my hormones, and my very chromosomes for making my batshit crazy like every other woman that ever lived. But the wise and the realistic part of me just knows that this manic-depressive/riotous laughter vs. heaving sobs/wide smiles and sullen frowns kind of existence is all part of being more myself.

Yeah, it’s an Amp thing.

When you take risks, when you go with gutsy truths over easy falsities, when you decide to actually live instead of merely survive, the stakes are significantly higher. So, naturally, the wins are all the more satisfying, but the losses get you where it really hurts. But no matter how much I hate moments like this–when I feel like I’m playing the fool in my own life, and I just want to become a permanent addition to my mattress–I know this is a much better life than the one I was living half a year ago.

So, yeah, I didn’t feel nearly as lost or confused then as I do now, and I had a certain amount of security in the day to day, and I even occasionally convinced myself I was “content,” if not happy–but I was a zombie. I was a stranger in my own life. Now, though I sometimes still look around and wonder where the hell I am and how I got here (metaphorically and, sometimes, literally), at least I am alive and feeling my way through it all: feeling so stupidly happy with friends I am tremendously lucky to have found; and feeling less than stellar emotions (sometimes with or because of those same friends, sometimes because I had to leave those friends, and sometimes for no reason that I can pinpoint) that bring back memories of an acne and misery riddled adolescence. My emotions are on hyperdrive and it’s exhausting and annoying…and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I look around at my current state of affairs, and it’s just a wonderful kind of chaos. Even when I am feeling down, I still can’t help but realize that I have it alright. There are people–real living, breathing people–who desire my presence in their lives. I have a future ahead of me that might not totally suck (as long as I stay strong and keep fighting for it); a future that will get me out of the suburban hell hole to which I always thought I was doomed. I have perfect teeth. I have parents that are misguided, and tragic, and so very stupid sometimes, but who still manage to make me feel loved (even though I try to hide from them as much as humanly possible). I have a decent sense of humor and an unmatched ability to laugh at myself. I have a brother for whom I would do anything, and who I hope is proud to say he’s related to me. I have the world’s best dog. I have a head of hair that’s finally thickening (thank you, iron supplements). I have more pairs of Converse sneakers than anyone in the world should own. And I have a wee, helium-y little optimistic voice in my head that insists that everything is going to be just fine.

And even sad Pamela knows that foolish little voice is probably right.

OK, most certainly right.

This life is a beautiful disaster…and it’s mine. I find myself so often glancing around at my little slice of the world with a smirk, a deep sigh and an eye roll. It’s absurd and silly and messy and stunning and pathetic and adorable and ridiculous …and I love it.

 

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Sometimes I listen to people. It’s rare, but it happens.

For the 3/4 of a person that cares, I am once again quite sorry for disappearing for the last few weeks. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say or the time to say it, I’m just a horrible horrible person.

I kid.

No, it’s just inertia working against me. The less I write the harder it is to get back into the proverbial saddle and wride on (get it? get it?).

But, anyway, I’m here now, trying to get my mind-at-rest to stop staying at rest. I’ve been struggling for an hour or so to organize my thoughts and decide what to say and what is unimportant, and then I remembered that once upon a time, I had readers; and once upon a time, one of my readers gave me some advice. On one of my lazy posts, someone left a comment saying:

“You should write in bullets more often. They’re much more entertaining.”

Well, I aspire to someday be considered entertaining, so reader and friend, these bullets are for you.

  • Several weeks ago I retook the GRE (Graduate Record Exam for those of you lucky enough to not have taken it on yet) and improved my score since the last time I struggled through that POS test, so I am now one step closer to going to graduate school. About. Fucking. Time. Now I just have to apply, get in, get grants and financial aid and loans, and actually GO. Not exactly a done deal. But this will all happen eventually, I just know it.
  • September 2nd officially marked my last day as a nanny. The babies are growing up: Edy started 5-day-a-week preschool this week, and Graham will be entering Montessori in just a few months. It’s bizarre and sad not seeing them everyday, but this change was very very necessary.
  • After fearing that I’d be unemployed for weeks after leaving the kiddies, and going so far as to start planning a road trip that would fill a month’s time while I waited for new work, I landed a job before even saying farewell to the babes. Last week I began working at an after-school Academic Center as a “Coach” (a.k.a. tutor). I’m working with younger students on math and reading, high schoolers with writing essays and the like, and I’m also an ACT prep coach. It is a job vaguely in my field (Praise Allah!), and I also feel like I’m doing something good for the world: in a few weeks we start working with children in the No Child Left Behind program, and I’ve already been assigned one very troubled student who just needs someone to push him, yet be patient with him. I already feel so much more fulfilled doing this than I did watching Sesame Street with the babies, and it’s only been one week. This is where I’m meant to be for a while, I suspect.
  • I hate, so much, living at home. I have officially reached my breaking point with my parents and thus try every waking moment to be…not here. The hours of this new gig (11AM-7PM) are awesome for avoiding the parentals, but I’m still constantly looking for reasons to escape the homestead: drinking on a Tuesday, eating sushi I cannot afford, visiting my BFF in East Lansing literally every weekend, working to have walked aimlessly around every Target in Southeastern MI, etc. I really like my new job and don’t want to leave it for a while, but I am still applying for any and all work that requires me to make Billy Joel proud and declare that, “I’m movin’ out.”
  • My self-esteem, for several weeks, was taking a sharp nose-dive, and I was having difficultly stopping it from just crashing completely. But then I realized that the magical thing that got my self-esteem high a few months back–high enough to, say, walk away from a bad relationship and to wear a roller derby outfit in public so as to catch the eye of the lead singer of my favorite band–I had forgotten altogether: my mantra– BE BRAVE. I was caught in a vicious circle: the less brave I behaved, the shittier I felt about myself and thus the less brave I wanted to act…and so on and so on…but I think I finally got myself out of this negative feedback loop and my confidence is on the road to recovery.
  • After bemoaning for weeks that I was emotionally broken and all I wanted was to feel something, now I may be experiencing feelings again and it’s freaking me out. I don’t know if I should be happy that I am fixed (or, rather, getting there) or if I should just re-break my emotive bone to keep from doing something stupid…like maybe being happy. GASP!
  • I am getting back into Paleo pretty hardcore. All I want to eat is tuna steaks and salad anyway, so why ingest other stuff that’s bad for me, right?
  • I feel pretty good right now. How often can I say that?

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