forging metal from water {freewrite}

I’ve been telling myself “forge ahead” lately.

It’s my new refrain. Why? Because life is upending, and things rarely stay the same. There is a new crisis every week — personal professional private — something to strain my mental and physical resources.

So we forge ahead. We do the best we can until we hit a lull in the flood and then we breathe deep until it all starts over again.

It’s been an avalanche of upset and sadness and stress, mostly stress. Mostly things that are out of my control, but that I still care deeply about.

“My problem is that I give a shit.”

You’ll hear me say that a lot. Caring is rebellious in life. It is vulnerability to the aches and pains of disappointment in yourself and in others. It’s leaving yourself open. It’s all slammed me at once.

Trying to focus on the light at the end of this and what I do have to be grateful for, which is hard because I give a shit. My love of what I’m doing overshadows everything and becomes all consuming. Letting go is not an easy option. So if I can’t let go, I might as well push as hard as I can and see where it gets me. We’re our own salvation in the end anyway.

It could be worse, but it coud always be worse and it could always be better. It sometimes just is.

My mind is racing

and nothing is right. I’m going to write just to get it out of my system and hope that it’ll feel a little bit better after this, but it’s highly doubtful. There are clouds overhead, but all I see is the glare of florescent lights and the smell of my tea getting cold. I don’t know what wrong, but something is because it doesn’t feel right. I think I’m breaking again. I think the cracks are showing and I’m not sure how long this is sustainable.

Take a breath.

I’m trying to hear nothing but the music and the sighs in and out but to-do lists and goals and needs are creeping their way into my left ear, taking root near my left eye, between that and my temple. It’s raining outside, and it’s cold in here, but I’m not shivering, I could be sweating, I’m not sure anymore. A team of one is soon to be a team of insanity if I don’t get a break, but the pressure is on, and everyone was worried but me. Until now. Perhaps it was holding out until the last minute, a pitch hitter for insanity. Everything is rough, and I just tried to swallow but it was harder than usual, not more difficult but harder, rougher, louder. I don’t think there is any softness left within my body, just rope wrapped around itself. I’m going to have to stop typing because this is bringing it all to the surface and I can’t look like I’m working if I’m….

In bed on a sunny Saturday

I could not want any more for this to be any different, for these states to disappear completely and leave me to what little happiness I’ve clung to for 28 years.

But this is not the case and there is nothing to be done about it, but lay in bed, with the sun highlighting my keyboard and the birds and the city outside chiding me for wasting a day like today on this, wasting a day like today indoors, when we intended to be outside, enjoying the sunlight while we have it and pulling in all the Vitamin D that I can.

It is a trick of the mind, to shut the blinds and push the world away, to roll over next to the cat and take a nap at noon when you’re not tired, but I won’t do that because there is nothing worse than lying to yourself, instead I’ll lay here, words slipping into memo talk from the office work I’ve done this week, and let the sunlight tease my skin and the cat stare at me incredulously for not getting her a bird from outside. I’ll lay here, under the covers even though I’m slightly not because this is the state and this is what happens — writing and wishing I had the willpower to fight myself and the weight of everything to joie de vivre.

I will find reasons to waste more time, picking at my cuticles, playing another game on my phone, reading some more of my book, not because I want to do any of those things but because the state dictates it so. If I lay here without occupying myself I slip further into the state and then it becomes unbearable, the weight of everything — the demands, the expectations of each person and each commitment and the failures of doing any of the above well enough to get away with it long enough to avoid this state. This place. This dark hole I slip into, afraid each time that I cannot find my way out…walking in the caves without a flashlight or a granola bar, unready for the darkness I’ll find that will take the last piece of humanity left in me, the last remnants of the smile and laughter of last week. Will it eat me alive this time? Will I succumb to the thing I still fantasize about as an adult? Just giving in to everything and letting it take me, wandering the dark and becoming part of it finally, adjusting my eyes to something that isn’t there, but is.

No, I’ll stare at the sunlight on the cat’s fur, on my keyboard and I’ll let the state have this time, but no longer.

talking about it without talking about it

I am entirely aware that I have not published any chapters for awhile. I need to take some time out and do some writing. I know.

I have never entirely been sure how I feel about all of this. I am not the bearer of my own fate.

And it could be that I am afraid of letting go. Letting it all take its own course to where it will go. But the fear and the thrill of flying through it all is frightening. I let go before, you know. I let it go as far as it could, full well knowing that it would hurt later. Full well knowing that I was speeding to my defeat. But I wanted to try.

And you have been there. You have been there waiting every step of the way, waiting with laughter and everything I could have needed. Letting everything go is frightening because who knows where it will end up and that last time ended worse than I could have ever expected. I cannot be the bearer of my own fate but of how do we wish that we had the power to change everything we wanted. To have an inkling of everything that mattered.

I want to tell you and I want to tell fate that this is not the right way. It is supposed to stay here, not go over there. We are supposed to go this way. THIS way, the way I had charted in my head and planned for. But the signs are pointing that way. That way over there.

But man, that is not the fate I had intended. At all.

Mail {free writing}

I sent it back
I sent it back to you

I sent it back because the other day I found it in my bag and it hit me like a train. The anger and sorrow associated with it was too much. So, I sent it back.

I didn’t sign it. I could have, but I couldn’t sign the note.

Why? Because of the flowers at my door, because of the self-centered need you had to keep part of me, even when you wouldn’t have all of me. The words came out of your mouth slowly, like a dying man’s spittle. They still fucked me up beyond recognition.

I am only as beautiful as I imagine and my self portrait will never be the same. The older you get, the more you give, hoping, just hoping, that this time, this time it will stick. The more jaded we get with age, battlescars from trying to love the unlovable, the ones who deemed themselves unworthy to love others, but could not keep themselves away from someone warm next to them at night. I cannot change what has been undone, but I can build another sandcastle, one where it’s OK to take a day off and lay at the beach and OK to work until midnight because it makes me happy. A castle I can live in by myself. Or with someone who sees everything I am, yet wants me to be my version of better.

I sent it back because it hurt to look at it and realize this is what I’ve done to myself. Knowing it would work out like this, but willing to risk it anyway. For what? Exactly for what do we take the risks for? You asked me to bear my soul and took it for granted. So strange, the things we do to ourselves, pushing ourselves over the same cliff over and over again. Is this heartbroken? Or is this the worst sense of regret I’ve let myself feel in ages?

I am not in love with you. You shouldn’t feel smug in knowing that you have ruined me for others, that you were the only one who could break me like this. Life breaks me like this. I break my like this. I am not ruined. I am beautiful, intelligent and everything you never saw, nor took care to keep safe. You were reckless with the gifts I gave you, yet I am gentle with what I am sending back. This is not forever, and I know by sending it back that this is it. I am happy. I am happy in a storm.

It will be in the mail tomorrow. Sent to somewhere you might be. It might get to you, it might not. But it doesn’t matter.

I sent it back.

finding grace

Not poetry, not a short story, just me writing for a minute.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately trying to find grace – that place where everything is perfect, even for a moment. I feel incredibly lucky that I have many of the things that should and do many me happy – a few good friends, a job I love, a place to live that I like.

It’s not that not being in a relationship is ruining everything, but there is some connection to the outside world I’m missing. It’s that grace I find in yoga class, that moment when you’re dancing and it feels like the whole world is dancing with you, the view from the peak that puts everything into perspective. It’s been awhile since I’ve been there.

I’ve been reading this book on finding happiness. It says there are few things that universally can change your level of happiness – relationships, work, a few environmental conditions, and finding flow in life.

I’m in South Dakota today, a place I’ve wanted to go to my whole life (more on that somewhere else). We were driving and I was reading a Kerouac short story and I looked out the window. I felt this yearning to disappear into the fields and lay there until night time, just to see the stars and breathe the air. The vast flatness made it more compelling, as if when I laid down I would be part of that flatness, that nothingness, folding into the earth where people belong. We drove through a former mining town turned tourist trap and I saw a man smoking from a balcony I’m sure held prostitutes or something of the kind once upon a time. He had a long swirling mustache and he smoked a cigarette like only a man in Carhartt and boots can. It was a beautiful picture. He was staring at us, at the wide open, at the sky, at nothing in particular, cigarette smoke escaping his lungs into the chilly air.

What is grace anyhow? Is it finding a moment like my Midwestern friend, to see nothing and everything in particular? I’m not sure.

It’s missing. Something is missing. Something that makes for completeness. It could be a person, but I’m not going to rely on that – being heartbroken yet again (even when it’s your own doing) does nothing for trusting others with filling the space. It’s not simply that I need to learn to love myself or any of that crap. The missing is something different, maybe a viewpoint, a perspective I’ve lost along the way in my depression and ambition. (The ridiculousness of the words depression and ambition next to each other is not lost on me)

There is no conclusion here for me. I have no answers, just a search for whatever I lost in the last man I tried to love, or maybe before him. Maybe I just lost it now, I have no clue. But it’s gone.

meditations on journalism, buddhism and the future

So, I’ve been pretty quiet about where I work now.

I’m not sure why. It could be slight amounts of shame, it could be that I’m just not ready. But, for now, I’ve made a move away from journalism. It wasn’t really planned and I’m not sure it’s forever, but I’m certainly learning a lot and trying something new.

I’m working as an editor at a online marketing company. That’s as specific as I’m going to get now, though it’s not hard to figure out where I am if you do some sleuthing.

I think getting the boot two journalism jobs in a row has put a slightly sour taste in my mouth. If I do go back to journalism, it’ll be with the satisfaction that I know it is what I love.

Journalism and Meditation: Leaving the Door Open

I’ve been struggling a lot with dealing with that. I’m very career oriented, always have been, so a deviation of path is frightening to me.

This is going to sound off-topic, but stay with me here. I went to a mediation session on Monday and sat for 30 min, with lots of thoughts about my future, my life and my job in my head. There was a short dharma talk after, but the best part of the night was a conversation with my friend.

Another friend of ours is amazingly successful at what she does. But the thing that was brought up to me was that most people who are extremely successful leave the door open to possibility, while making the most of where they are.

I have not been doing that.

It’s Not Time Now

Lately, I’ve been working with journalism organizations on the side, ONA and AAJA, as well as co-founding #wjchat, a weekly web journalism Twitter chat.

I’ve stopped looking for freelance work (although I’ll take it if it comes along).

I’m a fountain of advice that I rarely follow myself, and it’s high time I stop that.

Journalism is still my first love, and always will be, but the door is open. Maybe this is a new path for me, maybe a slight divergence. Regardless, I’m 27 and there is plenty of time to figure it out.

Gen Y, as amazing as we are, is a little…..impatient. I’m impatient. I want the best of my career, this second.

It’s not going to happen. The people I admire most, my friends who have accomplished so much and who I model myself after, they are older.

It’s hard to remember that I’m young sometimes, oddly. I feel like a curmudgeon. My cynicism has gotten away from me.

Going With it

So, I’m resolving to go with it, from this minute. Social media is fantastic. I love it. I love editing, I love web production, I love data visualization, I love journalism, I love pushing boundaries.

Where does that get me? God knows.

But we’re leave the door open and maybe the path I’m on will lead to something great. If not, I’ll take a shortcut through the woods.

It’s OK.

generation gap

I’ve been reading a lot about Gen Y having issues with work because we were brought up to believe that we can do anything and the world is at our fingertips. These ideals, supposedly, make us far too idealistic about work.

I disagree. The world is at our fingertips and we can do anything. It’s our choice to work for it, though. The idea that all of that would be easy was false, yes, but the idea itself is totally true.

It is this generation that came up with Facebook and Twitter. We are starting successful businesses while still having personal time. We are learning that life and work can be balanced and we can have immense pride in both.

I remember graduating from high school. We had one of the most academically gifted classes ever, and I went to a pretty good high school.

Some of those gifted people are working at insurance companies or elected to be a stay-at-home parent. Nothing wrong with that.

Others are being kick ass. They are changing the world. The sky is the limit and we chose to reach for it.

Let’s remember that.

once, i was a nerd

I’ll keep it private for now, but the job search and such has led me to a lot more thinking about who I am and what i want to do.

Strangely, since this is the second time around, there are more epiphanies. You’d think I’d had enough of them last year, but I guess not.

As I visit different offices across town and meet new people at events, I’m starting to realize where I want to be and what I’ve learned about what makes me happy.

(This all sounds very narcissistic, but this is my personal blog and having one of these is pretty self-centered to begin with, no?)

When I was growing up, I loved science. Still do, in fact. I read Ebola and the Andromeda Strain and Outbreak. I loved tiny things that could kill. I also loved big things far away. I was an environmentalist from age 6, when I used to pick up trash from the creek behind my house. My mother was not pleased with my muddy self.

I loved writing and kept journals and journals full of poetry and thoughts. I blogged when OpenDiary was still in existence and before anyone even used the term blogging. Anyone remember that?

My life has been an open book for years. It only makes sense that i do what I do. If I had actually understood organic chemistry, I’d probably be writing about patients and lab results right now.

However, I’m not. I’m here and I’m very happy where I ended up.

I’m still a nerd. I still love technology. I still get tech toys as soon as I can and I’ll always be an early adopter. My love of science has morphed itself into a love of reading fantasy and sci-fi, but that can always change. I do have a friend going back to school for medicine.

I love what I do. I love my job, even though I haven’t found the right place for me yet. I had a emotional moment the other night, wondering if I had done something wrong. I’ve been laid off twice. Was it my fault at all? The Boy kindly reminded me I worked for companies that didn’t understand the Web, social media and blogging like I do. They didn’t want to continue spending money on it, when in reality, they should have been pouring more money into it.

I like saying that I want to be on the cutting edge. if you ever interview me or read any of my professional statements, cutting edge is usually something I allude to. It’s not me being false. It’s true. I enjoy learning, I’m an autodidact. Everything I do right now, I’ve learned myself with little aid from classrooms and homework assignments.

God, I want to change the world. I really do. My senior year of college, I got obsessed with leaving a legacy. I worked long and hard on two ideas for the student newspaper that didn’t end up being used. However, It was the things I did out of love, like my column and my solar car series, that ended up leaving a legacy. I won a national award for the solar car series.

How nerdy is that? I wrote a series about some geeks who drove around the country in a solar car. They didn’t even win. They didn’t even come close to winning. But they were people, with stories. I told those stories. I loved telling those stories and putting the project together.

Stuff like that, that’s what makes me happy. Doing something awesome that was fun. I can do it again. I just need to find somewhere that will let me do it.

5 things you can do to help me (and other laid off folks)

There are plenty of lists out there about this, but I swear mine is original. I’ve been laid off twice and am an expert in this by now.

Buy me lunch, dinner, a drink…

This sounds silly, but when you’re laid off, a large amount of your time is spent wallowing on your couch, thinking about being laid off. This is also probably done in pajamas.

I am uplifted every single time I get an offer from a friend for something as simple as Red Baron and stale chocolate at their house.

It means a lot to get dressed, get out of the house and laugh a little. It’s good to forget for a couple of hours, and pretend that it’s any other day or night. I would probably be pretty depressed if not for my friends.

Listen, and tell me when I’m being stupid (nicely)

Advice is something I get plenty of and while I appreciate it, what I really need is someone to listen to me whine. My dream conversation goes like this

Me: whine whine whine no job whine whine no money whine
You: Man, that really sucks. What do you think you’re going to do?
Me: whine whine bad idea whine whine
You: That’s a good idea….in theory. But I had a friend that tried this instead…

Let me wallow a little. Then tell me what’s a better idea without making me feel worse about my pathetic self.

Give me your contacts. Send me jobs of any kind

Send me every single lead on a job you have. Even if it’s a rumor you heard on the bus.

I send out about 10 applications a day and right now, it’s the only thing that makes me feel somewhat accomplished. It gets boring sending out nameless applications, so helping me out by attending a lame networking event with me or sending me your cousins neighbor’s e-mail (no promises they have a job) helps wonders.

Help me further my skills

One of my good friends is my savior. Between him and the boy, they have saved my blog from turmoil more times than I can count.

Not only that, but they push me to learn more tech skills. Java, jquery, whatever. they send me tutorials on how to set up stuff and walk me through it when I have no idea what I’m doing.

I will never say it out loud, but it’s really helpful.

Got a good deal? Tell me.

I’m trying to reduce my costs as much as I can, so any tips about how to get my cable bill reduced or whatever helps. Ways to get cheap books, movies, etc.

Need to get something? Buy it with referral credits and help me get some money. Know someone that needs a TV? I’m selling mine.

Any other tips? Let me know in the comments.