Two wheels.

There’s moments in our lives that change everything that will come after that moment. And that’s all it is, a moment. But yet the ripple effect that it leaves on our lives changes everything. One second everything is one way, and the next second it’s completely different and altered the world that is your universe leaving you feeling uneasy, and not all to sure of how to move forward or where to go next.

When I was six I was hit by a car. I’ve been saying that sentence to a select few for over seventeen years, and it’s seldom that I really go into the details of exactly what that means. When I was six, I was riding my bike and eating a popsicle and not wearing my helmet. I don’t really know what happened. My guess is I lost control of my bike and ended up in the street. And a car hit me. When I was a kid, the neighbors would tell me how they say me go up in the air. Others tell me it was the scariest day of their lives. I never know what to say. Should I comfort them and apologize or let them feel pity for me? When I was hit by a car, I was a left handed kid. However. The car hit the right side of my brain shaking things up a bit, and thus, paralyzing the left side of my body. There was something in there about a seizure, I’m not exactly sure how long all that lasted.  I broke both the bones in my lower left leg, cracked my skull, and had a collapsed lung. I see six year old kids now, and can’t even imagine what I must have looked like. The doctors told my mother at one point, that they weren’t all too sure if I’d ever wake up. I did though. But all in all I was left with a traumatic brain injury. And when I relearned everything, I did it with my right side.

I had to relearn everything. How to talk. How to eat. Who people were. The alphabet. I even remember when I was finally able to walk by myself again, taking unsteady steps at first. But in all the things I had to relearn, I never exactly got around to relearning how to ride a bike. And I’m sure you can imagine why. Even now, I can still count on two hands the number of times I’ve ridden a bike since all of that happened.

We’re raised knowing certain things. Knowing things that form who we are, and what we do. I grew up knowing I can’t ride a bike. And I never really let it bother me, I mean it’s just a bike. No big deal. But everything else I’ve never been able to do has been centered around the event that left me not able to ride a bike. I’m not coordinated. Not so good with sports. I suck at math. My memory seems to suck the older I get. The list goes on. But still I’ve spent my whole life letting my bike wreck define who I am. As I’m getting older I’m starting to realize that there’s a lot of people who are not coordinated, have crappy memory, are really bad at math, and not athletic, that have never even had a head injury.

And once upon a time a family member challenged me to do a half marathon. Honest to god. In the back of my head, never really thought it would happen. I mean I’m not athletic. Athletic people do half marathons. Yet fast forward a few months, and I’d done a half marathon. It got me thinking. What else can I do that I thought I’d never be able to? And thus I started looking at bicycling. Now I wasn’t looking at it with my direct vision, but kind of out of the corner of my eye. Acknowledging that it was there.

I had a friend loan me a bike not too long ago. I got the tires changed, and tuned it up a bit. I didn’t want to invest too much into something that might be a total flop. But finally it was ready to go, and I hopped on. I was nervous to see what would happen. I put the feet on the pedals and began to move them, and what do you know. I didn’t fall. I mean I was a little wobbly at first. But I didn’t fall. The world didn’t end. And even though my mother tells me I’m being overly dramatic, I felt a huge release. Everything insecurity I’d ever had about not being able to ride a bike was gone. I could ride a bike.

I honestly don’t think anyone will ever be able to understand how freeing it was. It wasn’t even a matter of being on the bike. I mean I have a car. And I don’t mind walking places. But it was me proving that I really could do anything I wanted. I just had to get out of my own way. And for the first time I honestly feel like something that happened such a very long time ago, no longer has such a tight grip on the life that I’m living now.

Don’t blink, or you might miss it.

This past spring and early summer has led me to places I’d never thought I’d end up. Mostly I’m referring to a mental state. I’ve been stretched beyond my means only to realize just how easily I fall back into shape, still a little stretched out but able to function all the same. And all of it has led me to right now. Big things are days away and I am ever so very much excited.

May grabbed my heart and jerked me around by it, seeing how far I could go before I would come close to breaking. And I’ve got to tell you, I can go pretty fucking far. 8 hours by car from home to be exact. I went to visit friends twice in May, both times in the same city. The second time however sent me running back to Austin with the feeling of having been punched violently in the stomach. When in all honesty, I’m willing to bet that getting actually punched would have hurt less than the feeling I had when I drove back to Austin the second time in May.

Just the same though, it was those two trips away from Austin that made me realize something about my little city in which I live. Something I think I’ve known for awhile, but wasn’t really willing to look at and acknowledge, at least not look it in the eye. You know how you’re on a date with the perfect man, he’s everything you’ve ever wanted, and he is charming, cultured, gorgeous, smart, etc but yet you are kicking yourself because you just don’t feel that spark. There’s a lack of butterflies in the stomach. And while it’s easy to shrug and say “I don’t need butterflies” eventually boredom sets in and you realize that butterflies in the belly really are the bees knees. Well both trips from Austin made me realize that Austin was lacking the butterflies in the belly that I had been missing.

With that said… I made one last trip from Austin, looking to confirm what I had feared to be true. But just the same I wasn’t all that afraid of not living in Austin. I was excited about what would come next. I’m excited about my new apartment. I’m excited about the new people I’ve already met in this city that has already shaken, rattled, and rolled me. It’s all falling into place, and sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I’m living it, but instead just watching it all happen. Sitting back, smiling, and enjoying it all.

But for now. In this moment. I am in Missouri. Sitting on my childhood bed, typing these words. Waiting for laundry so I can pack my suitcase to go back to my home in Austin one last time. Tomorrow night I’ll get back to Austin to pack. And by pack, I mean pack really fast. Because boys and girls, come Wednesday, I will live in New Olreans, La.

Funny the way things happen.

Something about windows

There’s a wise old proverb about windows and doors. It’s something to the effect that the universe never closes a door without opening a window first. The hard part about that is though, when the door closes, it’s usually in our face.  And if there’s a window open, it’s probably letting the cold in, while we’re stuck staring at this closed door, fuming in anger at the fact that it is closed. So while we’re focused on our closed door, and getting cold from the draft of the open window, I usually can’t even notice that there’s a window in the room.

When I’m given bad news, I’ve found over the years that I prefer my bad news the same way I like my tea. Strong, but with sugar to sweeten it a bit, and a splash of milk to add a thickness to it. But just because that’s the way I like it, doesn’t mean that’s how it always is. Usually it’s blunt and hard. And usually I let it ruin me, defeat my entire being and purpose. It takes days to bounce back from it.

Lately though, things have become different. Bad things still happen. I’ve noticed though that my reaction to them have been drastically different. My car had been broken into over Christmas, broke out the passenger side window and took my GPS. I didn’t care that they took my GPS, I just hated that it had happened. Usually in matters like this, I hyperventilate and break down sobbing, feeling violated and victimized. This time though I just found myself staring blankly at my car with one word in my head. Fuck. Not fuck in anger. But as in a way that is simply understanding what has happened. The only thing I could think to do was to have the window fixed and not let it ruin my day. So that’s exactly what I did. I had a new window put in within three days. I was not forced to go through my everyday with a constant reminder of what happened to my car. And when it was all over, I couldn’t believe how easy it had been to handle all of it.

A door closed recently. Or, it’s going to soon. At least that’s what I was told yesterday. I knew it was going to close soon. I could feel it. It was just a matter of whether I was going to pull the door knob to shut the door myself, or let the door slam in front of me. So sitting in this little room with a closed door, I’m excited to look around me and see all the possibilities of all the windows. All the places that they will take me. I’m curious to find out what the open windows will make me do, and how it will change my life.

So I think I’ll just get in my car and drive. And feel the breeze from the open windows, waiting to see what they mean and what’s on the other side of the window.

A little Christmas past and present.

Every year for Christmas, my mothers friend has a big Christmas party of Christmas eve. There’s food, and drink, oh yes, lots of drink. And then everyone goes to church only to congregate back at the party. Every year since I was 18 or so I have gone to this party, and had the food, and the drink just as everyone did. And I would go to Church with a buzz that left me feeling good enough to sit through the same Christmas sermon that I had heard since I was a kid. Well. Last year, things may or may not have gotten a bit out of control. Maybe. Ever have one of those moments after a few drinks where you can’t stop laughing. Or at the very least, giggle? Well last year that is exactly what happened to me. I got a case of the giggles. In the middle of Church. Sitting directly in front of my mother’s boss. And my step dad was so angry, being the mildly not all that dedicated Catholic that I’ve come to read him as. Apparently Christmas Eve service is the big pubah of church services. Not Easter, not baptism Sunday, but Christmas Eve service.

This year things will be different. Am I still going to drink? More than likely. Am I still going to get the giggles? Without a doubt. What’s so different this time you might be wondering. Well, let me tell you. I’m staying in Austin. I’m spending my Christmas eve with my big brother and the people down here whom I have come to know as my family. New traditions are being made, and a new kind of fun is to be had.

I hope for everyone that they are able to spend Christmas as they want. And that everyone may be so lucky as to have people to be around them whom they love, and are loved by.

Good (or bad?) grief

What’s with so many sad movies lately? Seriously. In November I got a free pass to go see a movie. I went to see 50/50, because the previews made it look like a good movie. Sitting through it though, I couldn’t help but break into tears. For those of you who don’t know, 50/50 is a movie about a young man battling cancer, and 50/50 are his odds of beating it. During good movies, people think about things, think about the movie they’re watching, and how it relates to their current life. While watching 50/50, all I could think about was my grandfather. A year before watching the movie, we didn’t even know he had cancer, and a year later, well, a year later, and he had been six feet down for almost 7 months.

Not long after 50/50, I went to see Restless. It was an independent flick about two young people who become friends. It says nothing in the description about the young girl having cancer. So what do I think about during the movie? The fact that it took a mere six months for cancer to take away yet another part of my family. Thus come the tears, and the ultimate shitty feeling of leaving the theatre feeling an immense sadness.

And then that brings me to last night. I went to go see The Descendants. I hadn’t been all that turned on to it, and couldn’t even really tell what it was about. I had heard good reviews though and it seemed like the kind of movie that could maybe get an Oscar nod come February. So I thought I’d check it out. It was a free movie pass and I had nothing to kill but time. SPOILER: In the movie George Clooney spends the whole movie trying to prepare for his wife’s passing. They take her off life support and wait for her to die.

This was another movie where I left the theater not only wanting to not be alone, but it sort of made me want to take something and sleep for a very long time. The movies above left me with an impending sense of sadness that I really can’t shake. I mean by the time I get home and finally go to sleep, I feel fine the next morning. But the night, oh the night of, it’s something different. And I can’t help but wonder if this is my bass akwards way of grieving my grandfathers loss.

Grieving for me has always been a tricky little mistress. When I was fifteen and my grandmother died, I was just sad. I was sad for a long time, until one day I wasn’t. In a perfect world, that is exactly how grief should work. It should come with a simple beginning, middle and end. Yet it doesn’t. As I get older and am forced to face overly sad situations– that I only wished to avoid—it’s never an in your face type thing. It never announces itself and comes in, and then politely leaves after due time. It comes in and becomes the big elephant in the middle of the room also known as life. It’s never how I feel it should be. When my grandfather passed I was taken back by how deep my sadness didn’t run. Sure it sucked, and made things gloomy, but going on with life was easier than I had thought it would be. I loved my grandfather and didn’t need months of depression to know that. But just the same, I was bothered by the lack of massive sadness that I felt. But then grief decides to show up. It’s in the moments when life is happening in the little moments. It becomes one of those things that sneaks up behind you in the Wal-Mart parking lot while you’re sitting in your car. One minute you’re going to go buy milk, the next minute you’re hyperventilating and sobbing your eyes out in the driver’s seat of your car.

Life continues to go on, and everything is fine, until you hear or see something that reminds you of a gap that’s been left in your life, and as fine as you were before, now you’re not. Luckily, however grief works, my moments of sadness are easily out measured by all the other moments. Whatever reason I have to be sad about anything (truly, there’s not much), they are over shadowed by all the good things going on.

Soup for the soul

When I’m sitting around in conversation with people, sometimes people will begin to reminisce on the food they had growing up. One girl will talk of how her mother made the best (insert what your mom cooked here). It’s usually at some family get together or something when this is brought up and I generally respond with “yeah my mother never really cooked too much”. Now I’ll tell you this. My mother is never in the room when I say this, but somehow she always finds out that I said it. And she always gets offended. Later when it’s just me and her she will say something along the lines of “I cooked. You just don’t remember. I always cooked for you guys (meaning my brother, sister and I). You don’t know how good you had it growing up”. And she’s right I probably don’t. When I tell people my mother never cooked, I only mean it jokingly. I guess I just assume everyone is in on the joke.  In all reality, my mother always had a meal on the table at dinner time (or we’d go somewhere), but… I guess when I say my mother never cooked I always mean my mother never baked. But that’s a whole other subject.

So even though I claim out loud that my mother never cooked, she does make some damn good chicken and dumplings.  Now these are from scratch. So when she did make them, it was kind of an afternoon type thing. I’d walk into the kitchen and pick at the chicken she was pulling from the whole bird she’d just boiled. She’d swat at my hands and tell me to go away. I’d come back later, and there would be dough rolled out on the table, cut into strips. I’d pick one up and eat it, and as before. She’d tell me to get out of the kitchen. Finally, late in the evening, the family would sit down to a bowl of chicken and dumplings. So good.  It’s the kind of thing that warms you from the inside out, heats up the soul. So even though we didn’t have it often, when we did, it was good.

Fast forward several years. I’m living in North Carolina and up to my ears in school work. I’m so stressed over whether or not I’m actually going to pass my college classes. What if I fail my test? What if I flunk a class? Can you flunk out of a Community College? I needed a break. I needed something to escape to. I wasn’t sure what though. I’d never been into the idea of hard drugs, and I didn’t have enough money to buy the amount of alcohol it would take to get a good enough escape. On top of everything, not only did I need a break but I had a nasty cold coming on. I called my mother, craving her chicken and dumplings. I’d been getting better at cooking and figured I could make a pot and things would be better. I scribbled down the instructions as she told me over the phone. It sounded easy enough.

I set out to the grocery store to buy the two things I would need: a whole chicken and a bag of flour. Walking into my kitchen after visiting the grocery store, I took out the biggest pot I had and filled it with water.  I cut open the plastic bag and shook the bird out. It felt into my kitchen sink, and sat there. I looked at it, not exactly sure what to do next. I picked it up by the leg and it swung to the side. This is so weird. I couldn’t get over how I was just going to shove a whole bird into boiling water. Something that had once been a living breathing thing. I mean I’d cooked chicken and such before, but never resembling the form in which god had made it. Once the chicken was cooked, I took it out of the water that had now become broth. Once the chicken was cool I pulled the meat off the bone and giggled like a prepubesant kid “I’m deboning a chicken. Hehe”. Once the chicken was off the bone, I measured the flower carefully into a bowl, and did the same with the broth, mixing them together. Rolling out the dough I cut it carefully and placed it back in the boiling broth for them to cook. And then I added the chick. And there it was chicken and dumplings.

From then on, it became something I did regularly. When life was becoming too much to handle, I would go out and find me a chick (okay it was in the poultry section at the grocery store, but whatever) and pull out my big pot. Making chick and dumplings I learned was a great escape from life. It was something I could focus on, step by step. And in the end, I go to ignore the rest of the world for about four hours, and I had an amazing meal.

For me. Chick and dumplings was unplugging my life and focusing solely on the task at hand. Making sure the chicken was done. Picking the chicken off the bone. And not fucking up the dumplings. It was existing temporarily in a world where I could control everything going on, while the rest of the world was not only out of my control but out of my mind. It was holding the bowl of broth, chicken, and noodles and letting it warm not only my hand, but my soul. It was an easy and delicious way for me to forget about the rest of the world.

And to think. I got all of this from a woman who I claim doesn’t cook.

In the mess of it all

I spend so much of my life worrying if what I’m doing is the right thing. And even if it’s not, will it ultimately help me get what I want. If I do X & Y, will it help me get Z? I’ve never really known what I wanted to do with my life. I mean maybe when I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a writer. But other than that, I never really knew what I wanted to do. I never had one college major in mind. I honestly think I changed majors three times my first semester in college. I never could have known then that it didn’t really matter. It always left me kind of feeling like I was either really lost, or going with the wind.

I did a year of film school in college, and actually got a diploma from that. I thought that if I could dedicate myself to one thing, maybe I’d like it and it would work out to be something I could live with. And so far film is really one of the few things in my life that I keep trying to get away from, and it keeps finding its way back to me.

When I was living in North Carolina, I had my whole life planned out. The next two years would go exactly as I planned. I had several intricate steps planned out to perfect timing. Each step would help me succeed in what I wanted to do. Regardless of whether or not I even knew what that was. I was going to go to Mexico for five weeks. And if I got back in Raleigh at this time, and then I had my friend pick me up before 1 am, we’d get back to Wilmington by 4 or 5 am, I’d have enough time to change clothes, stop by my apartment, and eat breakfast, before the last mandatory transfer orientation at 8. Then at 3 after the orientation I would go to the DMV to get my suspended license back. Then the next day I would start class. Taking 15 hours, so I could graduate after 4 semesters at the University. It was all planned out so perfectly. It would all happen. Now if only I’d planned on things not going exactly as I’d planned them. Funny how that thought had never entered into my head. It was only after I’d made so many exact plans that the rug was pulled from under my feet. I hadn’t gotten into the University. For days, I was stuck with this question of “Now what” and I honestly had no clue. My mother wanted me to stay in North Carolina and work until I got into school. I wanted to move somewhere new and work. But I also knew I wanted a college degree. And I felt like the two options I was seeing couldn’t give me anything that would make me happy.

So out of simple curiosity I called the University back home that I’d started at. And they said they’d be glad to have me back, just have my transcripts sent over, and I could apply for classes the day they got my transcripts. It sounded so easy. And it really was. All I would have to do is pack everything I had into a truck and move it home. Except it wasn’t that easy. I’d built an entire life that I was just going to leave behind. But I was doing it because I knew a college degree would make me happy. And I knew I wanted a college degree, sooner rather than later.

Even being back home, I wasn’t happy. And I hated school. I hated that I was there. More often than not it was hard to remember that I’d chosen to go back there. But I did finish. And the feeling I did have when I FINALLY graduated was happiness. I’d done it.

Now I’m in Austin, looking for a job. I know that having money coming in will make me happy. I also know that I’m a writer. Lastly, I know writers don’t always make much. So do I write? Or do I get a real job? I know people say you can do both, but I have my reservations. I think to really do something; you need to dedicate your entire being to it. Easier said than done.

I’ve been feeling kinda crappy lately. No job. Not a lot going on. I spend a lot of time bored. But last night, on a whim. I hit downtown Austin, I drank margaritas in the company of people. And even did a shot or two of tequila. Tricky little devil that drink is, but just the same it was good. It was nice to spend a few moments not worrying about whether or not me being downtown was a good idea. Or whether or not my shirt was too low cut. What would the people thing? Not worrying about any of it, made everything so much easier. I think I just need to stop worrying about what’s going to happen to me. I mean I really can only do so much to change a current situation and that’s the only thing I can do. Focus on me now. What am I doing now and do I enjoy whatever it is that I’m doing.