musing

1, 2 i buckle my shoe

Year One:
I met a girl named Kate. She was a petite firecracker of a woman with wild red hair and a thin angular face. She shook her raised fists when she spoke and folded them to pick at the cuticle on her thumb when she talked about wanting to die. She taught me to show up. She taught me that if I don’t fight for what I want then I won’t get the chance again.

She fell in love over coffee with three different men while I knew her. I watched her move away from the curly haired boy who thought law school was something to be done alone and with quiet solitary conviction. I watched her tighten her jaw and lift her head after being left by a boy who didn’t understand that people like Kate are once in a lifetime.
(more…)

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Sunday

“I want a baby more than anything in the world. I’ve wanted to be a parent as long as I can remember.” It’s a Sunday night and I don’t want a baby. Cars hum over the pavement and my shoes have a hole in the toe. The glossy black patent leather is gnawed, fraying just to the right of my big toe and colored in with sharpie. Travis is a barrel chested gay man sitting to my left, hands laced over the breadth of his stomach as he narrows his eyes at the night sky. He nods once. “I’m not in a relationship and I don’t see myself being in one, but I know that I want to be a Dad.”

“You’ve got all the time in the world, man,” I reply. My nose wrinkles as I stub out my smoke and it’s sensible to turn the conversation away.

“That’s the only thing that L— and I ever talked about you two dating. If you want kids you have a time clock.”

“Yeah.” It’s not like I can forget. It’s not like every time it gets quiet my age doesn’t settle like afternoon sunshine around my head. I’m not old. I don’t feel old.

“I mean, you’re looking at like five years tops if you want kids. That’s a lot of pressure.”

“Yeah.” I shrug, I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to talk about the fact that I don’t know if I want kids. I don’t know if I’ll ever want kids. I don’t want to talk about the fact that sometimes I’m terrified of the way my brain compartmentalizes so specifically that I worry I’m sociopathic. I never worry about loving the idea of the possible kid I could make from scratch some day, because love comes easily.

I worry about not being present. I worry about resenting them. I worry about rushing into having one because it’s my last chance. I worry about single parenting. I worry about co parenting. I worry that I’ll be just like my dad- or sometimes worse, just like my mom.

I want to build a home and a life for myself and I think that maybe I build walls to keep other people out and the possibility of being a mother locked far far away. I loved my ex husband, but I didn’t want to have children with him.

There are moments in my memory that have this golden topaz colored skip jump photography. They’re round as river rocks and drop to make waves in my present. I remember the way my Dad would pick Gingko leaves, twirling them between his thumb and forefinger like a flapping yellow fan to batter against my nose. I remember the way he smelled like cigarettes and scratchy beard. There’s a specific noise that I can only find in playgrounds, the slow cry of metal on metal from a swing hitting that perfect epogee and apogee of my childhood.

There are trees that I pull myself into because there’s no one to lift me up anymore.

I watched myself hit an age that was unimportant to my Father. I watched my brother hit it. Then my half sister. I watched him go from completely entranced and wondrous of the life he can hold between his palms to the man who missed my birthday at 28… 29… 30… older and older and less and less important. I know the way a basketball court feels empty and waiting to be remembered and how the pause of nothing to talk about sounds over the phone and states in between us. I remember the feel of hugs when I was special and the feel of hugs that happened as I became an adult and no longer deserving of that glowing yellow cake batter idolatry.

I think about my mother and her 16 cats and three dogs holed up in a house that’s dusty with litter and a phone gone quiet. I call, but sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in the loneliness she chose, throat sore with swallowed words of: is this what happens when we choose to be alone? Do we just get smaller and quieter, joints aching as we fill our lives with fur and something to feel warm against our skin- something to make us not feel so utterly and completely alone?

Travis is nominally handsome and kind of an asshole. He talks about children and long term with L. He talks about how important family is. I think about how important the people I’ve picked as family are in my life. I think about the breathless wrung out beauty of my best friend as she met her first son. I think about the heavy curtain of privacy we put up between ourselves in a relationship and the people we love. I think about how two women could be so miserable and so silenced. I think about how I feel trapped by tiny chuck taylors in stores or the way a six month old baby looks in the arms of a new twenty something mom. I think about the girl who took fertility drugs so when my ex husband was an idiot who couldn’t operate a condom she could catch him and a child.

I wonder if I could ever do that. I know that I couldn’t.

“I just really want to be a Dad.”

I nod. I’m sitting outside a Starbucks in Tampa on a Sunday night. The air is orange with that buzzing streetlight shine. I’m an endless array of moments of people falling in love that led to me. I’m a perfect storm of paranoia and pride, ego and emotion. I’m thirty five and I have five years.

The world tells me I have five years.

I think about the last five and I wonder how in the hell anyone can ever be sure enough of who they are and what their life is going to be that they can bring a whole life into the world and know that no matter what they’ll be there.

“I think I just want to be me.”

Mulish

I’ve spent the better part of the week being momentarily grumpy over people telling me about me.

You deserve better. You should get a real job. You should go back to school. You should settle down. You deserve a good man. You would be a great mom. You should. You are. You. You. you.

Here’s the thing:

I decide who I am now.

Give it a minute to sink in. I had to. I looked at that statement and balked immediately on the idea of how selfish it is- how self serving. I’ve been told my entire life that relationships are about compromise. Meet them half way. Give of yourself to others. If you love someone, you do what is necessary to make it work. I’ve been working my entire life to be a better person, to be likeable, generous, and humble.

I sat on a couch on Saturday listening to someone earnestly break up with me (my first foray back into the dating world since my divorce). My knees were bent, legs folded under me with bare toes and a raw uncomfortable feeling welling in my chest. I notched my chin onto my palm and watched the shapes his mouth made when he couldn’t look me in the eye. The small divot of fabric over the dip of his collarbones shifted as he wet his lips, punctuating the faltering half prepared emotionally honest statement:

I’m not in a place where I can give you the kind of relationship you deserve.

I must have made some noise of distaste because he paused, brought short by the way my mouth twisted sideways on sour bitten back words. I thought for a moment about the last time someone told me I deserved better. It was a similar moment- sitting quietly curled on a couch as someone walked away.

My ex-husband moved out on Valentine’s day after a month of half heated arguments and new car payments. Everything he deemed worthwhile could be neatly packed into the dove gray Honda Fit.

I was leaning a shoulder against the porch rail; there wasn’t room for me.

He packed his records, his khaki pants, and his inability to compromise away as he told me I deserved a husband who could provide the kind of life that could afford a family. He gave me a hug, fingers digging into the doughy skin over the small of my back before squaring his jaw before driving away – complacent yogurt flavored happiness left me soft and mushy. The dogs were strewn around the living room the way we used to discard clothes. Now, the laundry was started once a day and his shirts never got softener.

J is a kind man, but selfish. L is a sweet earnest boy, but naive.

Neither of them knew me. Neither of them really tried. I was a convenience and an interest to be appreciated, enjoyed, and set aside.

Today I woke up and slipped on my shoes, unreasonably pleased that for the first time in my life my “skinny” jeans are too big. I’m not losing weight for any other reason than I’m happy. I’m not waking up in the morning for any other reason than I look forward to seeing what happens in my day.

I don’t kiss people I don’t want to any more. I don’t sleep with people because “no” seems like such a hard word to say when someone wants something from me. I don’t have to be anything but completely content with the state of my life as is.

I looked up at L, tilting my head and catching a glimpse of the black and white tiled kitchen out of the corner of my eye, only half paying attention to what he said next.

“I don’t see this going anywhere. I can’t be the kind of boyfriend you expect. I can’t be in the kind of relationship you deserve-”

“That’s great, however-” I remember how he looked at me for the first time then when I held up a hand to stop him. He really looked with soft brown eyes and a half scared breath. He saw me, that 35 year old woman who was leaning into the comfort of that brown couch. He saw the way my jaw went tight and I lifted from that core lace inside myself that knows when something is not quite right. I listen to that voice now. I respect it. I want to encourage it because that voice is the basis of my self worth: ignoring it says I can be ignored. I never raised my voice. I didn’t snap. If anything I smiled the words out like a sigh tasting of warm lazy sheet mornings. I spoke from a place of love, because no one loves me more than me. “You don’t know what I deserve. You don’t know what I expect. If this was about me in any way, then this would have been a conversation. This is about you. I’m sorry that I’m taking away your ability to feel like the good guy here, but please, leave me out of your excuses. You already left me out of the decision.”

I shrugged and pulled my sandals back on. I wasn’t going to argue. I can’t fight the way someone feels any more than I can fight the fact that it rains sometimes. I will admit to being annoyed that I’d shaved my legs and that my skin was soft to a touch that wouldn’t come. I was annoyed that something I had been enjoying on a moment by moment basis had been extrapolated out into the future and therefore to a place of uselessness. I was hurt, embarrassed, and horny- never a good combination.

What I wasn’t? Devastated. Overwrought. Depressed. Raging. Thrilled. Broken.

I gave him a hug at the door, his fingers pressing against the back of my neck and the curve of my ribcage before exhaling on his front porch- happiness burns spicy inside me and melts away the grayed layer of soft over my bones. I took a moment to rest my head against my steering wheel and just feel the loss of a small bit of something exciting and simple- the feel of a smile pressed against my temple or the touch of his forehead to the nape of my neck. I breathed in and told myself, the only person who has to live with me on a daily basis, what I deserved:

You deserve to live your life for you.

Disney!! OMGJ@JKEJ@!!

I’m sitting outside a Starbucks right now.  It’s strange how much of my life revolves around coffee and the procurement thereof.  It’s overcast today, that sort of damp chill that settles on my skin like a wet dog nose.  It has been a truly surreal whirlwind of a week for me.

See, when I started the journey to sobriety, there were certain things they told me to do. Get a sponsor! Get a home group! Read the book! Keep coming back! WORK THE STEPS!

So I did.  Then all this other craziness started happening.  I started getting… dare I say: Happy.  It is still one of the strangest feelings in the world to wake up every day and not feel sick and green and hollowed out from the inside.  It’s always a surprise when people like me for me- not who I thought I should be.  I cleaned my house, then moved, then moved again, and again, and oh yea, two more times.  Each time I had to go through the mantra again: get a new sponsor, get a new home group, get plugged in to the fellowship.  Each time I can feel that part of me that wants to feel cool and accepted start to rear it’s ego laden head, and squash it down firmly.  I’m terrified of crowds.  Really.  I always feel like someone who I think is cool is going to look over at me and point:

You! You don’t belong with us!  We are the cool kids, and you- you are so not cool.  You are a poser! You are a geek, and awkward, and fat.

The list goes on.  But.  It never happens. They laugh at my jokes.  They give me nicknames.  (Dude, nicknames- I am so totally a fourth grader who always wanted one.)  Going to an AA meeting is like pushing yourself face first into the waves.  The ebb and flow of humanity is awesome- in the actual literal sense of the word as well as the slang.  They’ve probed and pushed and pried down my walls.  I can catch myself out in a lie now.

Which I totally do ALL THE TIME.  Example: I was going to stay in a hotel room with Jacob (the ex not ex it’s complicated guy) the night before Disney, but I found myself telling Maria that we were going to meet up the day of and head  up. Weird, right?

Well, it’s like this.  I have arguments and conversations with people in my head that I think would happen if I told them the truth.  It’s always completely incorrect, because yea, I am so not a mind reader.  Also, I am really bad at gambling and guessing.  But the arguments go the way I think they would in the WORST possible scenario.  Which convinces some part of me that I shouldn’t tell them what is really going on, that it would be easier for them (HA!) and me, if they thought something completely different.  I should also mention that I am a terrible liar.  Much like Simon.  I can’t make eye contact, I hedge, and I usually do it over the phone to avoid them seeing the visual tells.  It’s a terrible thing, but now- since AA- I can call back, or own up to the lie, tell them the truth, and feel better.  Which I did.  It’s still hard to own up, but it’s definitely worth it.

**

Now, Disney.  Huh.  It was insane!  Got there the night before and stayed in the Saratoga Springs Resort Hotel.  Jacob is a total hotel snob, I’m perfectly fine with a thirty dollar a night flop, but he apparently needs something closer to luxury.  As he was footing the bill, I saw no real need to argue the point.  It was AMAZING.  Soft beds, great water pressure, folded point toilet paper, and towels crinkled like origami fans waving hello in the morning.  There was a balcony that overlooked a golf course and I totally felt like a rebel smoking in Disney.

We met up in Downtown Disney, which is a very strange place if I might add.  It’s this semi circle boulevard of shops and bright shiny lights that made me feel like I was in a carnival.  They seem to pump the smell of fried onions into the air to cause massive cravings for deep friend anything.  There’s a circus like building that holds the Cirque du Soleil which I totally want to see, and a dinosaur popping out of the cement with blinking red eyes.  We met up, giggled, walked around and took it all in.  Then the food was needed.  Everything was closed by this point, so we ended up forced to attempt to eat at Planet Hollywood.

I’m a food snob.  Really, I am.  This was sub par.  Rubbery chicken something and overly loud music.  The pasta carbonara was good, but I seriously felt ill at the amount of butter and grease that was pushed bodily into two portions.  The decor was kick ass though, and we spent a good half an hour pointing and awwing as we meandered through the THREE levels. (Which makes the server in me cringe at the ability to keep food warm when trying to manuever up stairs or whatnot.)

So, then back to the hotel, which was confusing.  But we survived and set the alarm for 9:30 which is godawful early to this single/no babies chick.  We ended up talking until 1am however, thus negating the idea of going to bed at a decent hour.  I will cover the odd relationship status thing in a later post.

Morning arrives to coffee and a decision not to plan.  Ditch the electronics at the hotel room and take off for MGM studios.  Started on the Aerosmith rollercoaster.  Um yea.  I hate rollercoasters until I am actually strapped in and moving.  It’s weird. Every picture of me they take on rollercoasters is like OMG I IS DYING!! then I’m laughing my head off two seconds later and loving every minute of it.  Then Tower of Terror.  Once again I maintain that Rod Serling is the closest I’ll come to knowing the voice of God. Wash rinse repeat.   We ate lunch at this 50s diner place that was phenomenal.  Included kitchy decor and black and white predicta televisions.  Our waitress was surly and fabulous.  I had pot roast of awesome and Jacob chowed down on meatloaf. I loved it. We spent most of the meal giggling over old TV shows and plotting to see if we could really do four parks in one day. The meal was large and the day looked like it was going to be just about perfect.  I briefly considered doing the American Idol experience, but just as quickly decided not to.  I loved the little street performers who meander about and accost people with acting.  They were super fun.  I actually remembered to bring the camera this time, so bonus. We then wandered around MGM before deciding to move on to Animal Kingdom to see the fuckoff large fake tree.

If you weren’t aware, there is a fuckoff large fake tree:

It is made of something not tree and has all these animals carved into it.  We were right in front of an entire paddock of lazy kangaroos who would not bounce no matter how many times I attempted to show them what bouncing looked like.  I’m sure I looked insane, but dude, BOUNCING KANGAROOS!

We had just wandered past a couple of seemingly empty um, cages? Before being accosted by an anteater.  Seriously, and anteater.  They are LARGE! with tails like dusting fans.  Jacob casually mentioned at this point that he’d been sort of mugged by one in Peru.  I wanted to kick him, but settled on just listening to the fact that he’d been in Peru, and mugged by an anteater.  Apparently they just walk around and stick their long noses in people’s pockets looking for ants and leave anteater snot in their wake.  On second look, maybe no anteater peru stories for me.  Yet.

And then the rain hit. We bought what basically amounted to seven dollar condoms of useless.  They ripped, the hoods did not stay on, and there went any attempt I had made to keep the hair looking shiny and nice.  But, on the upside, everyone cleared out and we got to ride Everest and the Dinosaur trail ride of dark and explosiony with only a five minute wait.  There were otters doing cute otter things and huge fish.  Also, my digital camera ran out of juice right after this picture.  Lame.  So we bought disposables and I am waiting for them to get developed.  I always forget how much fun it is to have no control of how a picture turns out.  There is no delete on a disposable.

First thing to do at Magic Kingdom was change our reservations from 5:30 to nearer 9pm.  Pot roast takes a while to digest and I needed room for the delicious French food that Epcot had in store for us.  It was surprisingly easy.  We headed directly to Future Land, do not pass go, do not collect 200 bucks.  I love future land.  It has space mountain.  Which is terrifying in that “Oh god we just derailed for realz” kind of way.  By this point we were holding hands and being obscenely adorable.  It’s different in Disney, there is no eye rolling, just happy smiles from onlookers and hordes of babies to play peekaboo with.  We romped.  We rode the teacups.  We rode the carousel.  We ate funnel cakes and licked powdered sugar from our fingers.  There were pictures in front of the princess palace and the feeling that everything is wonderful.  At least for right now.

Disney really is a magical place.

Finally we moved to Epcot.  I love the monorail, my inner five year old thinks they are badass.  We were stuffed in with an entire troop of toddlers and strollers and Jacob got teary eyed at the idea of kids.  I think it just about made my heart break with happy.  Then we wandered epcot, poked around the Wall-E toys.  (It was our semi official first date movie after all, the first time around.) And rode the space flight ride that made me feel like the kid who went to Space Camp was still alive and well inside of me.  Then we travelled the world and I almost bought an obi from the ridiculously adorable japanese girls infesting the japan store.  Seriously. ADORABLE.  Then we were mystified by the bag of salted dehydrated crabs before moving on to France.  I had a dress, in a bag, with shoes.  They’d been carried around with me all day waiting for the Ally Sheedy moment from the breakfast club.  He went to see if the upstairs fancier place could take us while I changed.  I came out and it was worth every moment to see his face.  There will be a picture soon, I hope.

Dinner was amazing.  The whole day was amazing.  I’m not doing it justice right now.  Really I’m not.  I had blisters on my heels and wet jeans.  I had sore cheeks from smiling so much.  It was just about the perfect day.  We both thought so.  I can only hope that this is just one point, not the high point, of things to come.  I’ll keep everyone posted.

**

Also, I am ridiculously pleased that I blogged when I was happy.  Wasn’t sure I could do it.

Bonfires and characters

I used to have people living in my head.  Supposedly, they were just characters, but they never just stayed on the page.  They used to talk to me when I was having breakfast.  They laugh with me at the bar.  They’d love so hard it broke my heart. I miss them.

It’s been quiet in my head for almost three years, hell maybe more.

Writing is really difficult for me now that I’ve quit drinking.  It was like the alcohol tapped directly into that part of my brain that was wild and poetic.  I know this isn’t true, but it feels that way a lot of the time.  I was insane and the characters were a vivid manifestation of my insanity.  They were where I told the truth- wrapped in layers of lies.  They were all little parts of me that I fleshed out and gave names.  My sex drive, my insecurity, my ability to love, my bitterness- each had a place in the apartment building in my head.  The weirdest days were when they talked to each other.  I’d be sitting somewhere, faraway look in my eye, and just listen to my head talk to itself and entertain me.

But now it’s just me and this empty building full of bits and peices I’ve slowly started to collect back into the whole.  It’s like picking up a deck of cards that has been flung around and slowly trying to get them to fit back into the box.  I worry that the best work of my life is behind me.  That I’ve already written it.  I want to drag it out and show it off, but that part of my life is over.

So now I just have zygotes of stories and quiet.

The scariest part of all of this is that I wonder ALL THE TIME if I need to be miserable, to hate myself, to make something visceral and beautiful with words.  When Jacob left me, I wrote.  When my friend needed to walk away from me because I was killing myself, I wrote.  The pain was impetus.  It’s hard to write when I’m happy.  It’s hard for me to explain the beauty I see in the world when I’m content because I feel so FULL now.  I’m not empty anymore and I’m not scribbling imaginary friends onto the page because I need something to make me feel complete.

**

I went to a bonfire last night.  Boys were tossing around a football and lounging against each other’s shoulders.  Two girls sat to my right, bickering in high laughing voices about whether or not the darker haired one was dating her ex.  Across the fire sat a guy whose face had been beaten over the years by wild irish rose and crack pipes.  He smiled crookedly at me and I wondered if his gums got cold.  I curled up onto the bench and just watched them float around me, sparking with the fire and breathing in smoke.  I kept my voice low, quiet, an unconscious ploy to make them lean in to hear me.  I was stealing moments of togetherness and laughter.

“This is Meagn, she’s new here.” I’d nodded my hellos and stood solidly in my Chuck Taylors as each person shook my hand.  I kept looking around for my friend Kate, but she’s in California now.  I didn’t have Johnny G and his moutainous shoulders and wide thick palms to pat me on the back while I struggled to find balance.  There was no Jacob to curl against and hum quiet nothings against his jaw in the firelight.

I grinned at the stories.  I walked to the store and talked to the new boy with his twitchy little walk.  I kept reminding myself that these people knew my story, without me even having to tell it.  Some of them went further into the dark hole of addiction and some got out much earlier.

I’d listened to a complete stranger tell me his story only a couple of hours before. “All I’d ever wanted was to be loved and understood.  AA gave me that.  You people love me.  You people understand.”

So sitting with my feet propped against the bricks circling the fire, feeling my toes grow toasty while my nose was cold.  I relaxed, just a little bit.

**

One day I’ll tell my story.  One day I’ll write it all down and I won’t be afraid.

Poisoned well water and self doubt taste the same.

Warning: This is a weird post and I totally almost deleted it because I was all UGH you’re gross.  Then decided to let it stand because fuck, it’s the truth- and I’m here to be honest.

**

Okay, here’s the thing.

I have deep seated self image issues just like almost every other girl I know.

When I was a teenager, my father bought me dresses- yellow flowing dresses with pastel flowers and a delicate neckline.  I liked baggy t-shirts, flannel, and loose jeans.  He would suggest I wear makeup.  I’d throw my hair into a ponytail and slouch into class and try to hide.  The first time a boy asked me out on a date, it was a joke.  I shaved my head in college, because I didn’t want to have to buy shampoo.

I lost my virginity to a drunk guy I picked up at a bar.  It was unspectacular and embarrassing.  He smelled sour like old rum and could barely get hard.  I spent years wishing I’d lost it to my first boyfriend who thought I was beautiful and wrote poetry on my arm.  He’d been extraordinarily tall and sweet, with soft hair that fell to his shoulders in loose curls.  His smile was crooked and his body was warm.  I remember making out with him in the back of his Jeep Cherokee and the feel of his erection through his jeans.  It scared me.  I broke up with him in a hail of insults and spectacular self loathing.

Later, I wondered if he would have held me like something special.  If he would have touched me like I was fragile.  I always thought it would have been a better first time than the drunken pawing I threw it away on.

But there’s this part of me that always believed I wasn’t worth much fuss.  That I was bland, average, and pudgy.  That I wasn’t funny or intelligent.  This small voice that told me that I was unworthy of love.  I listened to it for decades.

It was alot like drowning.  I’d crest for a moment: driving and the sun would come out from behind the hill just right to backlight the leaves on the trees and make the whole world glow with this absent minded beauty that would take my breath away.  I’d think in those split seconds that I needed to remember this- to hang on to that moment because it proved that there was something vibrating in the heart of this world that loved me enough to let me glimpse it.  Then the car would turn and the glow would fade along with the moment.  I’d get distracted by someone picking their nose in traffic and laugh.  The world would lose enough luster that I felt normal again.

I started drinking and that feeling got worse.  I’d drink to feel normal and happy at first, then it would sort of spiral out of my control and suddenly I was doing something disgusting and heartbreaking.  So I had to drink more to forget what I’d done, and it would start the whole cycle over again.  I stopped trusting women, because I knew what I was capable of- so fuck anything that could do the same to me.  I started sleeping with more and more people, hoping that they would love me enough that I could maybe love myself.  I confused sexual intimacy with love.

I’d move, change bars, change scenes, change my hair, my clothes, my drink.  Nothing worked.  I still hated myself.  I ate too much and started believing my own hype.  I went for weeks without showering, just so I could feel as gross on the outside as I did inside.  It was like I was trying to encrust myself in a warning label.

People would slip into my life- unexpected people who kept trying to get me to see how beautiful I was.  They’d just clamber right over the walls I threw up around myself.  Sometimes they walked away when I cut them.  Sometimes they cried.  I pushed and pushed. Only one ever stayed- but at a distance.

It was like being in the bottom of a well.  I could see the light, the ropes people were throwing me to climb.  I just didn’t think I was worth saving.

I wish I could say that one day I just woke up and it all changed, but that would be a lie.  It’s taken years of tears and hard work.  I still slip and I still feel uncomfortable in my own skin.  I push for compliments.  I’m needy.  I work myself into a spiral of self doubt that plunges me back into self destructive habits.  It’s a constant fight.

The only difference is I take the hands.  I try to let down the walls.  I try to talk about how I feel instead of bottling it or drowning it in booze.

It’s like going to sleep at an awkward fourteen and waking up thirty and still feeling the same way.  My ass is too big, my thighs slide together when I walk.  I have a pudge under my chin and around my hips.  I don’t like being naked.  I don’t like being seen.  But now I’m willing to admit it.  I’m willing to say: “I don’t feel pretty yet, but I know that I should.”

So, I’m terrified to meet a guy I think is hotter than me.  I’m terrified I’m going to see disappointment in his eyes when he realizes I’m not a size six- not even close.  (Well, maybe closer if I’m shopping at Anne Taylor because GOD BLESS HER she sizes large.)  I’m nervous and that brings all of these ugly insecurities right to the surface.

So yea, just thought I’d share.  Cause the more I talk, the less it’s inside me and the more I can face it.  Someday, I hope to be able to stand in front of a mirror and feel content.  Not happy, or thrilled, just content to be me.  I think that’s when I’ll really start to shine.

Meet my muse.

I’m forcing myself to write tonight.

**

When I was in the eight grade I won a national writing competition.  They announced it over the intercom to the whole school and everyone congratulated me.  I felt like a cheat. What they didn’t know was the first line of the story was totally plagiarized from Dean Koontz.  Hell, I think the concept was too.  I’d just needed something to start from.

That’s one of the major problems with my relationship to writing.  I have trouble starting.  I over think it.

I imagine my audience bored.  I imagine them reading something I put down and cringing- wondering why the hell they bothered.  They scoff at my word choice while deconstructing my terrible grammar.  They pick out the comma splices.  They know what a gerund is and frown on my pacing.  But worse? Worse is: “Oh, this is nice.”

I think y’all get it.  So I’m terrified of being a failure.  I’m frozen in place most of the time with the thought of just being average.

**

Sometimes I imagine my muse is a drunk like me.  She shows up with grass stains on the knees of her jeans and Chuck Taylors that are held together with Duct tape and pure will power.  She hasn’t shaved and the dark dusting of hairs under her arms are visible when she yawns and lounges back on my couch.  She has a beer gut and dirty hair.  She’s always wearing a faded grey t-shirt that rolls along her collarbone from when she ripped out the neckline falling out of a tree.  It also explains the bruises on her biceps, but not the ones on her hip. Her mascara is slept in, flecks of it freckle the bags under her eyes.  She’s loud.  She’s crass.  She makes people think she’d fuck like a rockstar, but mostly she’s just bored with someone on top of her.  Of course, she’s slept with more people than I have.  Every guy I’ve looked twice at she’s had stretched out and whimpering.  Every girl that I’ve noticed has begged with a soft mewling “please” with their fingers locked tight in her hair.  She’s my id.  She’s fun, but trashy.  She’s witty, but not very nice.

She’s who I was when I drank and I haven’t seen her in a long time.  I think she’s been crankily sobering up with me.  She’s the one who imagines the whirlwind tours of the Cote du Rhone region in france.  She’s the one sipping gruner vetliner while licking the citrusy ceviche from some hot Argentinian’s fingers.  She’s been angry at me.

But screw her.  I can do this.

Each time I stop myself mid lie she stamps her foot like a two year old in the back of my head. (Which oddly enough looks like my kitchen.)  We argue all the time.  She wants the old routine:

Grab the bottle of Jameson, twist the cap, grip it tight and swig.  Then light the cigarette, inhale, exhale, and start to write.  Write vivid poetic things that taste like those sticky honey colored sunbeams that slink in through my window in the morning.  Write haunting heartbreaking things that catch in my throat like cat’s cradle.  Tear things apart, rend them limb from limb.  Bite, claw, chew!

She wants me to delicately eviscerate myself in my characters.  She wants me to bleed out, gasping at the power of words.

She has an angular walk, like she’s going to knife someone.  She has full red lips and one crooked tooth.  She sings and the world goes dim.  She makes the colors brighter, the focus grittier, and gives me a soundtrack.

She’s not satisfied that I’m just the girl on the couch.  She’s not happy that I’m not perfect.  She points out where my bra cuts into the flesh on my back and pokes me in the side right where she knows the skin will give the most.  She keeps me insecure, because that makes me vulnerable.  It makes my skin itch and my stomach turn when I hear someone laugh. They’re laughing at me.

She sits cross legged in the corner of my living room and thumbs through my books.  She laughs at my jokes and makes me coffee. She’s the boys that made fun of me in middle school and the boys that walked out of my life.  She’s the friend who grabbed my hand in high school and made me feel a part of something bigger than myself, and the one who closed the door in my face while I cried.

She’s the five year old girl inside of me that just wants to be loved.

**

My muse is a drunk like me.  She is me, and I’m working on getting better at knowing her without becoming her.