Life · Personal · Ramblings

Choosing Joy?

Who knew such a little thing could set me off? It was a piece of yellow construction paper with the words “Choose Joy” scrawled across it in blue crayon, pinned up in one of the offices. I was sitting in an armchair, staring at the offending paper, contemplating the existence and futility of mankind, when the annoyance finally boiled over.

“That’s just stupid.”

Zach, our office manager, looked up from his laptop. “Am I missing something?”

I pointed, and he followed my line of sight to the sign on the wall.

“The paper?”

“Yes. Do you realize how absolutely dumb that is? Anyone who’s suffered from depression knows exactly how impossible that is.”

Zach stared at the offensive paper for a second, then turned back to me. “I think it’s actually more about attitude and head space, than emotion.”

“Yeah, but joy isn’t something you can just turn on like a light switch…” I trailed off, annoyed that Zach was right and I was just being a grump.

“I think the ‘Choose Joy’ phrase is actually a lot more about finding the good within the bad, and not letting the bad suck all the goodness out of life. Choosing Joy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re choosing happiness or choosing to suddenly be fine, but instead choosing to see the hope, or at least choosing to search for it.”

If I haven’t mentioned before, Zach is a very wise man.

The sign (and ensuing conversation) got me thinking, though. I was so quick to find fault in something so simple, and so slow to try and see the good just because I was in a low spot. Sometimes you have to look for your joy, search for it in the midst of stress and emotional dehydration.

So, I started making a list. I’ve realized that I really enjoy lists. Having them all down in an easy tangible form is helpful, and I can continue adding to it without feeling like I have to remember everything. At first, the list began as something of a “to-do” list of things that I needed to work on that might bring back a little of the joy I was missing. I present it to you now:

  • Work on your herb garden. You saved a pin about this. I’m thinking basil, rosemary, and mint for starters. Put them in mason jars, or some fancy hipster thing like that.
  • Blog more often. You should write more. Writing gets you out of a funk.
  • Be a better wife to Allan. He deals with all your crap and your whining.
  • Finish Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.
  • Finish Worm by Wildbow.
  • Start A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.
  • Compile a good reading list for the year. You need better reading goals. You always surprise yourself with how happy reading makes you. Dumb bunny.
  • Think about a five year plan. Also maybe a ten year plan. Or just a plan.
  • Finish playing Bioshock Infinite
  • Start a bullet journal. Your inner scrapbooking queen is screaming to be let out (just a little bit).
  • Cook for people. This is your love language, and since people need to eat, this is pretty convenient.

As you can see, the list doesn’t really have any real thought process to it, other than being a bunch of things I’d like to do regularly. A couple goals thrown in, and voila! A partially functional list. A couple joy things, a couple goal things, and a couple life things. Now, some of these I can’t really work on at camp (like the video game and cooking), but other things I’ve already started. I finished reading Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, (which was, by the way, absolutely amazing and blew my freaking mind all over the place), and am already half way through A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I’m almost 1/3 of the way through an audiobook of Worm by Wildbow, (and considering the book is approximately the equivalent of 6 War & Peace books, I’m quite proud of my accomplishment thus far). I’ve started trying to write in my spare time, jotting down bits and pieces to later weave them into something coherent. As for the “being a better wife” part, I consider that an ongoing project that I shall continue to master until my death.

I had a conversation with my boss, Tim N., a couple days ago, and he brought up something I hadn’t thought about before. He mentioned that I seemed unhappier this summer, and that (since he had read my blog) I seemed to really be struggling more so than the past two summers. He guessed that it might have to do with my lack of people-ing. That’s not the word he used, but you get the idea. As an extrovert, I get energy by being around people. And not just being in their presence, but interacting and having an impact. As photographer, I am around people all day, but don’t have the time or opportunity to interact on a deeper level with the campers. I think he might be right. Yet another insightful piece of information to help me locate my joy.

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Life · Personal

Happiness vs. Joy

If you didn’t already know, I’ve been struggling this summer. I’ve gotten easily frustrated and fed up with processes that work too slow, and wind up feeling defeated and deflated. Here’s an excerpt from something I jotted down while in a serious decline:

“What am I doing? I feel like I ask myself this question a lot. At the moment, I’m a photographer for Camp Sandy Cove. While I love being back at camp, I’ve found myself already in a rut of “in-between”. What is an “in-between” rut? Well, sit back, grab a drink, and I’ll tell you. An “in-between” rut is when you hate everything. You shouldn’t, but for a split second that makes absolutely no sense, everything is useless including yourself. You hate the grass and the pavement and your own shoes and people in general. You mostly hate yourself though, because everything seems to have come from nowhere and it makes you tired and sad for no reason. It makes you question everything you do. Those of you who might confuse this with depression would be wrong. Depression would be when you question your very existence and when this feeling continues for longer than a few hours. A rut usually only lasts anywhere from 60 minutes to 24 hours.

I’m tired. So incredibly tired. The kind of tired that seeps in through your lungs and grabs you and rips you to shreds. I have no problem admitting any of this. I’m tired. But it’s not that kind of physical exhaustion you get from running around all day and taking pictures of small children. And pretending to have the energy of ten people that you obviously haven’t had in quite a while.

It’s a mental and spiritual exhaustion. A soul exhaustion that feels like everything good has just been completely wiped from the planet. All you can hope for and all you can pray for is just to make it back to your bed. I’m at a point where I just don’t care. And caring usually keeps me alive. I want to lay down in the wet grass of the soccer field and just be. Who knew I would miss the freedom that comes with being able to even do that much? Working six days a week at camp doesn’t really allow that behavior, because even on your off day, camp is thrumming with children. Compete with their whining and their screams and their “you’re in my personal space” banter.

Maybe the sun is sucking it all away. Maybe the heat and the exhaustion mix to form a messy cocktail of emotions that leave me tired and aching for something else. I keep waiting for the eminent breakdown, with tears and some horrible mental break that drives me off the edge. It hasn’t come yet. The waiting is almost as bad as the break.”

If that doesn’t give you a hint of where I’ve been at this summer, I don’t know what will. Feeling exhausted even after a good 8-9 hours of sleep, waiting for impending break down. As the summer has sprawled on, my emotional state hasn’t gotten better.

Since Chesh is my boss, that means he walks and talks me through my mid-summer evaluation. Over-all, his comments were that I was doing well at my job but needed some tweaking in certain areas. One of those things was my attitude. His comment was that while around the campers I was high energy and high smile; a good attitude and engaging. As soon as the office door closed, though, I became a grumpy, sassy, complaining person that was downright depressing.

“We need to work on that.” He said.

“I’m exhausted,” I admitted, grumbling my way into a slouch on the armchair. “And I don’t want to do this anymore. I feel worked to my limit and even though we get a day off, it never feels restful. I don’t feel re-charged. I keep waking up tired.”

“That’s what I mean. We need to work on finding something that makes you more than just happy, but gives you the re-charge you need to get through the summer.”

After a while of contemplation about this (I ended up being placed on the shuttle that Sunday, which meant a solid 8 hours as co-pilot to think things through and mull over possible ideas), I figured out it was my joy. I was certainly happy on my day off, and happy when the wifi worked, and happy when I got to use a golf cart to get around camp, but there wasn’t joy. I suppose I should say there still isn’t joy, since as I write this, I’m still working it through myself.

What brings me joy? I’ve been trying to figure it out. I think there’s a difference between those “little happys” and true joy. A little happy would be a surprise oreo cookie, or a late night trip to IHOP. These are beautiful things in and of themselves, but they offer a happy relief that usually doesn’t last very long. I need to find out what brings me joy and not just happiness.

If you have any ideas, let me know. This is a journey, after all!

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Life · Lifestyle · Personal

Calling All Mermaids and Camp Counselors!

The same way an ink spill pools over everything it touches, hair dying does the same. I came to camp this summer sporting beautiful locks of bubble gum pink hair.  Halfway through training week, I was approached by not one, not two, not three, but nine people who wanted me to help them dye their hair. Everything from natural blonde and auburn with black tips, to purple streaks, to flaming red, to purple with orange tips, to peacock ombre. I was excited to say the least. If there’s something I love to do, it’s dye hair. Let me repeat: I LOVE DYING HAIR! I think that using your hair as a canvas is an extremely fun way to show off your personality. Getting to transform your hair into something exciting, is a way for me to be a part of that “unveiling”.

As someone who dyes hair a lot, I have tried a lot of different brands and colors, compiling a lovely little list of what works best. I rate hair dye on vibrancy, fade, and bleed. Vibrancy is the color you get right after you dye it, fade is how your color fades over time as well as washes, and bleed is how much rubs off on clothing, pillow cases, and in the shower.

DISCLAIMER: The products mentioned are purchased (usually) through Sally Beauty Supply, which I am a huge fan of, and can easily be found in just about any town. I don’t receive any compensation for the products I recommend. I recommend them because they’re good products that I’ve tried that I love. If I haven’t tried a certain product, I’ll give no comment. There is a very long list of things I want to try that I just haven’t done yet. I promise that as I learn new things, I’ll edit this post, or maybe write a whole new one!

Moving on.

First, let’s talk Hannah’s hair.

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For me, the most important part of getting my hair to the color I want it, is bleach. I don’t mean the bleach you keep in your pantry. I mean hair bleach. I mix of powder and volume 30 developer. I use that combination because that’s what I’ve tried on my hair and what seems to work well for the level of lift I want.  (If you want some more info on bleaching, read this lovely article. Usually it takes me 2-3 bleach jobs to get the right amount of lift. As you can see from the picture above, my hair is a pretty white-ish blonde. Since I knew I was going for an orangey-pink color, I probably would have been fine with just once or twice instead of the three times it took me to get this.

Now onto color. In the second picture (the one with the strawberry vanilla caption), I used Ion Color Brilliance in the shade Flamingo. Now, I was really excited about Flamingo, because I was hoping it would give me the right kind of pink that I wanted. I didn’t want bubble gum pink, and I really didn’t want that bright Barbie hot pink either. Unfortunately, Flamingo came out more like melted ice cream, and since that WASN’T what I was looking for, I tried again.

Next I used Flamingo mixed with Ion Color Brilliance Brights in the shade Magenta. This gave me a little bit of an in-between that melted ice cream and Barbie pink.

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Thus, my third picture. I wasn’t sure about the fade, but so far I like it! The top fades first (since it’s closer to my scalp, and is what gets washed the most), and melds into a blonde color. Here is an example of that fade.

I really love the Ion brand, and have found it the most flexible in hair colors. They have a lot of options with not too much fade, and very minimum bleed. Also, one box/tube of Ion costs about $6, which is perfect for my price range. It takes about a tube and a half to do all my hair, which means I can redo my color for about ten dollars, which I redo every two weeks. The key to good fade is cool showers. If your color fades super quickly, and you’re so surprised that your hair is fading, understand that the hotter your shower is, the faster your color will fade. Now, in the summer, I don’t mind taking cool showers. But once we kick into fall and winter, all I want to do is slip into a hot steamy shower.

Another thing I want to mention is Overtone. Overtone is a conditioner that has color in it, and every time you wash your hair and use the product, it adds color back into your hair.

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I bought myself a bottle of daily conditioner in their Vibrant Pink and have been using it every time I shower. The best part is that they encourage you to shower with warm water instead of cold. YAY! After using the product (and hearing so much hub about it), I have to say I was a little disappointed. It kept the color even, which I appreciated, but didn’t keep the vibrancy. In the picture with the sunglasses, you can see the color is an even light pink (which is CUTE!) BUT I isn’t that bright pink I wanted. If you want a pastel color, this stuff is awesome! You can purchase the conditioner through their website, and the bottle is around $17 for 8oz. “Use our Daily Conditioner every time you would normally condition your hair in the shower, especially after shampooing. These mild formulas will deposit just the right amount of color while moisturising your hair to help it healthy. Some colors might stain your hands a little, so be sure to look for our “wear gloves” warning in the product description.” (Overtone.co)

As I’ve researched dye, I’ve developed a long list of colors to try next, and I’m “booked” for color all the way through next spring. As I try new products I’ll write about them and figure just WHAT works best in my opinion.

Farewell, my fellow mermaids!!!

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Life · Personal · Ramblings

Aaaaaaaaand She’s Back!

Who knew that the month of your wedding would be so stressful, eh? I mean, I had figured it would be, but had kind of hoped I would have some time here and there to do some writing. Unfortunately for my blog, the little pieces of time from “here and there” ended up being spent going over arrival times for the wedding party, planning out exactly WHAT I was going to do with my hair, and lying in bed till 3 am worrying about the weather.

The only comfort that remained (as the wedding date loomed, and my blog began to accumulate dust) was the thought of our two week honeymoon after the wedding. A cabin in the woods with plenty of books to be read, stories to be written, and wine to be sipped (in the hot tub). Cheshire and I planned on doing a ton of writing. There were, after all, no distractions in Blue Ridge, and we could get a lot of work done. Thank God I married an introvert who’s idea of fun is to seclude ourselves from people for two weeks solid. (I say this with absolutely NO sarcasm. After having a million people to talk to and hug and interact with at the wedding, two weeks of foresty silence has been the BEST.)

There are, I think, a couple things I have already realized about married life, having been married for a grand total of one week and one day.

  • The bed will not often get made.
  • Cheshire and I will not go to bed at the same time.
  • There’s never enough milk in the fridge.
  • It takes a while for the “wife” title to really kick in.

Allow me to explain.

I, much like many other women of all ages, love Pinterest. I can create my perfect board with my perfect pictures of my perfect house of my perfect life. And Pinterest, my lovelies, can be a beautiful pedestal of happy thoughts that NEVER come true. Take, for instance, my favorite picture in my “Dream Home” board. This photo is of a beautiful bed with cute, comfy looking pillows and a throw that is carefully folded at the foot of the bed. The headboard, the rug, and even the hallway, look beautiful and clean and cozy. It’s lovely. I want to crawl through my laptop into that photo and curl up with a cup of tea on that bed. But. It has occurred to me (7 days into my honeymoon), that having a made bed will not be common. If ever. I have made the bed once. No, actually twice. While I am not opposed to having a made bed, I don’t think I really want to do it every day. I would just rather go drink coffee on the couch and watch Cheshire play (insert game here). Does that make me a bad wife? I sure hope not.

Another connection to the “made-bed-thing” is the “going-to-bed-thing”. Cheshire is a night owl. He doesn’t like to lay around and let his mind wander. Sometimes it goes places he doesn’t like. So instead, he’ll stay up and do something else until he gets tired enough to go to bed. I don’t mind. My dad does the same thing, and it makes perfect sense to me. You go to bed when you’re tired, not when it’s “bed time”. I, on the other hand, can get tired at 10 pm and have no problem announcing that I’m tired, and doing just what I mean to do: SLEEP. I heard once that couples should go to bed together because then they can talk to each other about their day before drifting off to dreamland. To me, that seems strange since the question arises of “what have you been doing all evening?” You should be talking to each other WAY before “bedtime for Bonzo.”

Thirdly, we’ve gone to Walmart three times to get more milk. Three. We’ve only been here 7 days and have scored through a whole gallon already. Not really surprising though, if you consider all the cookies we’ve dunked, and all the hot chocolate and coffee we’ve slurped. As someone who has been dubbed as the “baby cow” for how much milk I consume, it really should be no surprise that the two of us (the baby cow and the cat) could drain through all of that 2%.

And lastly, but not leastly: It really DID take a bit for my new title to sink in. The morning after our wedding, I found myself muttering to myself: “Wife, wife, wife. I’m a wife. This is my husband. I’m his wife. Wifey, wifey, wifey. Weird….”
And it still is weird.
BUT. It’s kind of an awesome feeling. Cheshire isn’t just my boyfriend or fiance anymore. He’s my HUSBAND. And I’m a WIFE. Makes me really happy thinking about it. Every once in a while, I’ll catch Cheshire staring at me, and when I give him a look that says, “What are YOU staring at??” He just smiles and says, “Just looking at my WIFE.”
I think it’s still kicking in for him too.

Well, now that it’s OFFICIALLY time for me to sleep, I’ll leave with this last word: Life is awesome. Freaking awesome. And the things you do and the choices you make, can really make life awesome. But honestly, it’s the people in your life that make life worth living.

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Personal · Ramblings

Stream of Consciousness

There’s something burning in me. Something burning wanting to burst forth and incinerate the whole world. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for so long and I still don’t quite understand it. I don’t really like fire. Mostly because of the damage it does when it touches the skin.  I’ve seen what it can do and how such a small flame can destroy so severely. And yet….

The metaphor of fire is burning in my brain and I want to use it. Our lives come in snapshots and moments and sequences of events that weave together to form the days that turn into years. Maybe it’s because I’m getting married in 25 days and I want that new chapter of my life to begin. Maybe it’s because I hate routine. I like it at first because it gives me structure to who I am and what I’m supposed to do, but then somewhere along the way I only end up feeling trapped by it. It’s the excitement of shopping for school supplies but dreaming for Christmas break only a month later.

I’m supposed to be doing something with my life but I don’t think I know what it is anymore. I’ve had dreams and plans and actions I want to take, and like waves plowing into the sand, new ideas sweep the old ones away. What if I am never satisfied with where I am, constantly shifting like the flickering of flames? What if I will never be satisfied with the me that’s under my skin. That scares me most of all. I never want to look back and hate my life or the decisions I made. Life it too short to live that way. I want adventure but I’m terrified to take it. I want normalacy, but am  too afraid I’ll be trapped by it.

That fire in me leaves me tapping my foot impatiently for something, ANYTHING, to happen. If a bear walked by my window, I’d go outside and hug it. I feel like a hot-headed Disney princess singing about wanting more than this “provincial life”.

What am I doing? What do I want out of the world? Why do I hate walls and ceilings so much?

Being mediocre at most things leaves no lasting impression on the world. The things that make me stand out like a sore thumb only make me angrier. Having pink hair and a nose ring doesn’t change the world. Wanting to write, yet never writing, can achieve nothing in retrospect to the giant globe we’ve been thrust into. Going to school to be a designer means nothing if your talent is next to nothing. Coloring doesn’t make you an artist, and answering the phone with a smile in your voice doesn’t make you a good person. Copy and paste has no meaning in a world where your own ingenuity can make or break your career.

The ticking of a clock can be so slow, and the pounding in my head can be so fast- there isn’t a good medium for the two. My fingers don’t type fast enough and my brain can’t form coherent sentences fast enough.

The thoughts jumble together and i don’t know what they even mean anymore. what if they stop making sense to you and me and the world and everything crumbles into…..

I have to stop. Go back and fix my capitalization and spell check the mess I’ve just written. Because one misspelled word can be the difference between “a beautiful stream of consciousnesses from a brilliantly jumbled mind” or “the rant of a whiny lower-than-normal woman”. I should go back and read what I’ve written before sending it to the void. I debate it even as I write this sentence. If I do, I might just erase it all…

 

 

 

Am I even allowed to want something more?

Everyone everywhere wants more. Does that make it selfish? or human? To yearn is human; to lust is hypocrisy. I thought in writing this, I would be able to work through my own thoughts. In the end, I’m only more frustrated with my own inability to make sense of the jumble in my mind.

I had dreams of different things at different times in my life. Each one has been pushed away be the understanding of how the world works. Reality is a painful mistress. I’m not talented enough to grace the stage. Not driven or disciplined enough to be a writer. Not smart enough to be a veterinarian. Not artistically inclined enough to be an artist. Not adventurous enough to be a world traveler. I used to feel like I had purpose. A goal I was striving towards. Now I feel like a ship with no course, a car with no tires, a flame with no fuel. My dreams are fading away. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Blog Challenge · Personal

Childhood Memories (Day 4)

My childhood is a combination of pictures scrunched together to fill in the holes of what I remember. Sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing between pictures I’ve seen and memories I remember. But there are memories that I have never forgotten. Things from my childhood that I think about all the time. I remember them so clearly, it’s like I’ve been thrown into a time machine and hurtled back to watch it all again as a bystander. Silently watching it happen again and again. 

I’ve never thought myself to be a particularly unusual child. The same things every normal child loved, I loved. The same things every normal child feared, I feared. The toys at my house were just as good as anyone else’s, and the ghost’s under my bed just as imaginary. Though there is one place, to this day, I have loved with not a quite full understanding. It’s as if my brain shut down the moment we sold her house, and remained that of a child’s; lost to the reality, and ever alive to the stories that were woven between those walls.

Many a time in my adult years I have found myself passing the exit and wondering if I went back there, would the new family let me in? I’d heard they had changed a great many things in that house, and perhaps it is the possibility of change that keeps me from going back. If it remains cemented in my mind’s eye a certain way, then perhaps I shall keep it alive in an alternate universe of my imagination.

It stands, quite nestled in fact, at 305 Lamplighter Lane in a beautiful little neighborhood called Fox Hills. I have never in my life seen a better example of a simple southern American picturesque view of “home.” It was the home of my grandmother, mother’s side, and they were much alike. I do not remember her much, and I wish I had had a better appreciation for her then as I do now. Marion Crick babysat all the children in the neighborhood, and while she was strict with her kids, she was loved by many.

The driveway was always the first thing you noticed about the house. It sloped down from the street, creating the perfect hill for bikes and roller skates, wagons and big wheels. If you don’t remember big wheels, you’re either too young or too old. Big wheelers were plastic tricycles, with a massive wheel on the front with pedals sticking out the side. The seat was low to the ground, and you pedaled like mad getting up that hill, and then stuck your legs out the side to coast back down. No brakes really, and so we used the pedal our way to oblivion and line up at the top. Us kids would eye each other until someone would decide to screech “GO” at the top of their lungs, and we’d all lunge down the hill, screeching like banshees until we plowed into dry pine needles at the end of our “highway of death.”

They, (don’t ask me who), say that smells stick in your brain somewhere, and it only takes one trigger to send you spiraling back to where you began. I am not a great scientist and can’t tell you exactly how it works, but I’ve seen, or rather smelled, it first-hand. One second I’m walking out of my apartment and the smell of fresh fallen rain hits me square in the jaw and the next second I’m zapped back to sitting on that back deck at 305 Lamplighter Lane, listening to the pine trees setting into the soft earth.

And cookies too. Something about molasses. They take me back to her kitchen. Marion had four walls in her kitchen, like most kitchens do, but one of hers was a massive window overlooking the backyard and multiple bird feeders she had. I distinctly remember sitting at the kitchen table as she passed me a cold glass of milk and a fresh sugar and spice cookie straight out of the oven, watching the little birds flit from feeder to feeder. Simpler times, I suppose. Her kitchen always smelled of something heavenly, and it was usually bread. And boy could that woman bake! What my mother lacks in technology, she makes up for in cooking. And she learned every single thing from Marion.

There were exactly two things every child who visited her house faced, and each as terrifying as any child could imagine. The first, I understand now as an adult to be a perfectly simple and uncomplicated request, which was to stay out of the music room. The music room was kept to perfection. Antique Tiffany lamps, and a piano whose lid was always closed, combined with the perfectly lush avocado green carpet and a couch I believed no one had ever sat on in the history of all mankind. This made the room an off limits area to kids, and the most perfect temptation. We were not allowed to step even a toe into that room, and certainly not to run through it playing hide and seek. The wrath of Grandma Crick reigned most supreme on this matter. It was to no avail though, and when we knew she was otherwise occupied, we would slowly walk through the room, in one doorway and out the other, as if treading within a den of lions. The wrath one faced if one were caught was horrendous indeed, and the punishment most severe. I very distinctly remember being whipped within an inch of my life for my act of treachery, though in reality, I believe it was only a swat on the behind, as I ran out the backdoor to safety.

The second thing every child faced, and I suppose in a way, feared, was the closet under the stairs. The closet held all manner of childhood fancy: all the puzzles you could possibly dream of, every type of tinker toy known to man, woman, or child, Lincoln logs, ball and mallet games, and books. Yet, even through the euphoric haze of childlike perfection, there was a witch’s hat in the far corner that scared us all silly. That hat, without question, was the scariest thing I’d ever seen in my life, and I was solidly convinced that that hat belonged to the wicked witch of the west, who had taken up residence under the stairs. In actuality, the hat had belonged to my Aunt Amy and had been a piece of a Halloween costume. But, I suppose, to a child who had never been allowed to participate in Halloween, and to whom witches seemed a great and horrible thing, that hat was a symbol of the unknown and an emblem of sorcery under the stairs. This was only enhanced by the magic that seemed to encompass the closet itself. Whenever the door was opened, a light would come on. No switch or string was ever to be found, yet surely enough, the closet would explode with light when the door was opened, and then extinguish itself when the door was closed. The first time I noticed this, I stood outside of the closet for a very long time, wrenching the door open suddenly over and over as if to catch the darkness in the act before the light came on. In my small little head, the conundrum of a darkened closet was something I had never faced, and so I resolved myself to catch the darkness in the act, and close myself in. This act was of course the obvious solution, and it never once occurred to me that maybe the darkness just wanted to be left alone in the quiet peace of the closet. 

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door in its shining brilliance of light, walked in, and closed the door firmly behind me. I instantly regretted my decision. Pitch black, and trapped in the closet with the witch’s hat, I now understood in full why the darkness was better left alone, and the closet merely accepted with its faults. It was then that I understood the mortal terror of every mouse caught in a trap, or a cat locked in the bathroom, for I was, indeed, locked in. The door, much to my sickening dread, did not open from the inside. No matter how much I turned the knob, it simply continued to turn, keeping me trapped in the dark, within the bowels of the stairs, left to the impending doom within the clutches of the closet witch. I wish I could say that I had kept my head, evaluated the situation, and then calmly and quietly dealt with the imprisonment at hand. I wish I could say that I faced the witch herself, fighting her off with a weapon made of tinker toys, and came away with a battle wound to carry my legend into history. The girl who fought the witch under the stairs, and won. Unfortunately I am neither heroic nor brave, and my Irish heritage failed me. There would be no fight today. I instead screamed with all my might until I was rescued minutes later that felt like hours. I had a very decent respect for the closet’s darkness after that.

Pumping my legs back and forth, knuckles gripped white on that chain, it was easy to pretend you were flying. Whether it was the happiest day of your life, or the storm clouds of life had rolled in, that swing my grandpa made was the perfect escape. He’d strung it up between two giant trees in the backyard, facing the house, and the chain went so far up the tree, it gave the illusion you could swing yourself right over the house. I used to climb up onto that wooden seat, gripping the chain, and would beg dad to push me. Braids flying and all smiles, knees scraped up and cookie crumbs still on my face, that swing was the best thing in the world. I could close my eyes and lean back, wishing my hair to drag on the ground. I’d come in looking like a savage and mom would grin like it was usual for her own little girl to look as wild as in Indian. I was always too far off the ground to succeed, but the idea of coming inside with a beaming face and leaves tangled into my brown hair seemed perfect. I was a wild Indian in my own mind, too, a noble explorer who stared death in the face and shouted “NO!” as I fought off evil villains with a stick that doubled as the great sword, Excalibur. Behind that perfect swing was a patch of woods that became all sorts of glorious lands. One day it was Sherwood forest, and I was the brave Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The next day I was a hardworking lumberjack, fighting bears and mountain lions. I could be a princess running from the evil Jafar, or a spy stealing blueprints. It didn’t matter. I was the hero, and I always won. But my victories were never without a price, like chopping off my own hand to remove it from a trap, or pulling an arrow from my side.

Imagination could run wild there. I think back on those times with a smile on my face. If I could go back, I would. I didn’t worry about life back then. I cared only for the next thrill that childhood could offer. The next cookie, the next game, the next big wheel ride. Did it matter that the world slowly shrunk as I grew? Did it matter that as I outgrew my childhood, I saw the world a little clearer? I would like to think that 305 Lamplighter Lane remains the same, despite who I’ve become. I grew and changed, and after grandma had her stroke and moved up north, we sold that house in Fox Hills, and I’m sure the house probably changed too. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to bring myself to go back. I wouldn’t be able to stand seeing the differences. A new deck, or the missing birdhouses. Perhaps the witch under the stairs has moved, or maybe, and this is the saddest thought of all, that grandpa’s swing was unstrung, and the trees cut down to make room for something else.

I realize, it’s just a house, and that the memories are the important part. I realize that people have to change, and move on, and new people have to take their place. I have to “grow up” and put childish things away. But maybe I don’t want to. Maybe to me, that house is a symbol of a piece of my ever fading childhood. And maybe, just maybe, it was more than just a building on a beautiful street in Georgia. Maybe the house at 305 Lamplighter Lane was, really and truly, home.

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Life · Personal · Ramblings · Writings

Lines

 

Sometimes I don’t know how to deal or how to function. It usually hits me out of the blue and I don’t really have it calculated down to an exact science. I wish I knew what could trigger it. I wish I could know why lines are so important or why I crave them. Isn’t that weird? I guess it only needs to matter to me that I think lines of red are so beautiful. But I’m selfish in my thinking. I hate them on others and want to kiss them away. But red lines on myself? Quite promising.

I wrote the above paragraph while trying to make sense of my brain. I still have yet to discover the key to unlocking my mind’s clockworkings, and yet the above paragraph helps. Even if it’s just to me.

I really do wish I knew what started me feeling a certain way, or what made my feelings vanish all together. I remember when I first tried to explain to my parents what my depression looked like. To them, Nothingness isn’t an emotion. And they’re right. It isn’t an emotion because you don’t feel anything. It’s the lack of emotion; the lack of all feeling whatsoever.

My dad asked if it was like a nothing box.
No.
But nothing boxes have nothing in them, right? And that’s what you’re saying, right? That you don’t feel anything. Doesn’t that just mean you aren’t thinking about anything?
No. You aren’t listening. It’s not that I’m thinking nothing, it’s that I’m feeling Nothing.

It’s like when the sun is suddenly covered with a cloud even though there’s been a cloudless sky all day. Or when you drink your coffee and discover it’s ice cold even though you JUST pulled it out of the microwave. It’s like when there are less steps than you thought, and your foot comes to contact with the ground out of nowhere. Or when you reach for a hand that you expected to be there and it isn’t. It’s like talking to a loved one and then realizing they’ve been gone for a week now, and you’re left picking up the pieces all alone.

You could be sitting in traffic, thinking of nothing in particular when you suddenly seem to wake up to discover how alone in the car you are. How still the air is. How meaningless the radio is. You aren’t sad or lonely or angry or happy or tired or excited or bored or annoyed or hurt or forgotten or anything. Just Nothing. And the Nothingness scares you. And just like attempting to wake from a nightmare by jumping off a roof or laying down on railroad tracks, you draw lines. Somewhere that no one can see how scared you got. Because pain is better than the Nothing. Anything is better than the Nothing. In that moment, driving your car off a bridge is better than the Nothing.

I wish I knew what triggered it. But I don’t. It helps to talk about it with people, though. Later, when I can feel things again, like shame and sadness, I feel like I can talk about it. But by then, usually I’m much better. Back to normal, even. Sometimes the Nothing lasts 30 minutes. Other times the Nothing lasts for weeks. My friend Jacqueline was great at helping me hide my sharp things when the Nothingness lasted for weeks. She saved me from a lot of lines in college.

Chesh hasn’t really had to deal with it much, because for some beautiful reason, the Nothing doesn’t come around like it used to. I think it has to do with feeling safe with Cheshire. Nothing can’t hurt me when is arms are around me and everything smells like applesauce. He helps me feel less alone when I re-surface from my Nothing. He calms me down and helps me breathe. And I am so thankful I have him.

I don’t have a conclusion to this post because I haven’t found a conclusion to my Nothing. Just more lines and less alone.

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