Life is Busting out ALL Over!

Archive for the ‘deep thoughts’ Category

Somehow, during last 12 months, which have been the most changed filled of my life, I found myself.

I have also found my way home, this life. My heart is full, my cup runneth over. I am content.

For all of it, I am thankful.

Wishing all a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

3336432680_22c0a185d92Another Austin Sunset from Pennypacker Bridge – photo credit

The week before last I hit a wall. My breaking point, if you will. After almost exactly 4 months in a new city in a new state (which feels like the other side of the world), in a new job in a new environment and going from corporate to a government employee (in the crudest sense of the word, but it’s so evident in how different things operate not to mention s–l–o–w), my brain went on strike. All the new information, the new faces and names, my brain had reached it’s capacity.

This week, the semester is over, save for finals but as far as I’m concerned, my semester ended for me when I hit the wall. It was as if all the information I had consciously and unconsciously absorbed since 2009 started was swirling around at such a fast pace that there simply wasn’t enough room for anything else. The effect on me, was one I felt deeply, as I desperately wanted something, anything to find a tether and bring it back down to settle, at the very least so I could get used to it.

It was also during these past few weeks that I have longed for Chicago. I think missing is too soft of a word. I would have typed ‘desperately missing’ but I’m trying to keep my use of desperate to once a post – lest I need to create a category for it (but there’s 3 so far, bygones). It’s not a new feeling, I have missed it greatly since I’ve left and tried to push it away.  But as my lifeline to the world, others call Facebook, kept commenting how great the weather has been, I could feel my heartstrings pull north.

The weather is great in Texas as well… for August as I know it to be. It has been no less than 95 degrees with such humidity I have to check with others that Houston in fact has it worse, so I can be grateful for something. I don’t hate the heat but fall has always been my favorite season. It’s really not the heat (and I know I shouldn’t complain) it’s the lack of build up to the heat that has thrown me and made me homesick. I loved this time of year in Chicago, when the weather, for however many glimpses, allowed us to shake off the hibernation and start to venture outside for walks on the lakefront or gather together for grilling out, when the sun shone just long enough to bring out the skirts and if it was too cold by the end of the day leaving work, it didn’t matter because we knew of what was to come. And it’s why I loved living in the city. The heartbeat that maintained a steady pulse throughout the winter months so that the build up of energy could explode in the summer.

I suppose that the winter months in Austin could represent the same thing but having experienced for the first time, my natural biorhythms were not used to it yet. The strangest thing has happened, though, since I’ve hit that wall. I’ve really started to enjoy myself, and enjoy Austin tremendously.

I’ve forged a strong friendship with a co-worker in which has taken me to the most beautiful spot to watch a sunset in Austin, a long night of talking and sharing and relating even though we are in two very different stages of our lives, and I’d never thought I’d say it: a fantastic old school Texan honkytonk. A great bond with her daughter, the cutest 3.5 year old on the planet, who shares my love for belting out The Sound of Music, who runs to me for hugs, was the first one to notice my new hair cut and who won’t leave me alone, when she comes to see her mom after day care, until I promise once again that “Yes, I promise to watch Bolt with you.”

I have made amends with a relationship that was very hard to let go, endured an ongoing saga with the one who let me down only for him  to realize that I was indeed that One, something I had known in my heart all along but could never trust that feeling enough. I somehow found the strength that words were just words and follow through was just more important and all of it was no longer what I, the one who had waited to hear it, wanted. I finally realized that letting him go was the best thing I could do for me, even if it meant hurting him, something I did not want to be responsible for after he had had a lifetime of hurt. But not being honest with him would have cut his scarred wounds even deeper. I knew I loved him enough to let him go and when I finally saw through the smoke that he didn’t love me enough to do the same, I closed the chapter. I am someone who can find a way to make anything work , and on the eve on what would have been our 5th anniversary, I forgave myself for exerting so much energy on something that would not, or was not meant to, work. Months of not knowing which was the right thing to do, showed itself when all I felt was relief once it was all said and done for good.

I have found a new hair stylist, in the cutest little yellow house in South Austin, who is honest and promises on what she delivers and whose cut does not stop receiving compliments. I bought tickets to a music festival I can NOT wait for, even though I might have to tolerate more heat than I want for October and still am trying to figure out how to get there without driving. I think 5 months is enough time to figure it out.

I hosted my mom for Mother’s Day this past weekend on her very first trip to Austin. I dragged the poor woman through hikes and outdoors in blazing heat and she still couldn’t find relief in my car which holds the little air condition that really could not hold up (fingers crossed for the summer!). With all the tours and the restaurants I’ve been dying to try but had not yet, I realized how great this part of the country I live in really is. And how lucky I am to be here. When I hugged her goodbye at the airport, I realized that the only thing I wanted to do was get back in my extraordinarily hot car, now blowing hot air instead of A/C, and get on to work and at the end of the day, back home, yes home, to my apartment. I smiled the whole way.

I ended my first semester with more relief than I thought I’d feel. I received thank you notes from students for whom I only did what I could, just trying to get by on my first outing. I became a mentor for some, and found mentors in others. Even if their phones are fancier than mine and they are on the brink of I life I wouldn’t choose for myself, I have learned far more from them than I had hoped to give to them. I have had little signs along the way that wink at me letting me know I’m headed in the right direction.

I am happy. I think I was afraid to be happy here, where my connections are few and my roots are struggling to break through the thick, thick Texan limestone. But they will. And I’m ready to be present through every experience that those roots’ struggles and eventual successes might bring.

That wall, the one that I hit where I threw up my hands in frustration, broke me. But it also broke my expectations of how I should feel and through it I found a way to climb over the wall and now can see over the other side.

Three weeks ago tomorrow I moved into my apartment. It seems like a lifetime ago, but I can articulate each day I’ve been here and it doesn’t feel that long. I’m having a hard time keeping up with this blog, which is sort of an oxymoron (my blog doesn’t move) but at times I feel so much change that I have too much to say but when I just try to Keep It Simple, Stupid – it doesn’t feel like I have enough in my life to really even talk about. I know this will change and it will feel easy again, and just like change in this country, I suppose I just don’t want to wait for it.

One of the things that has surprised me most about this move is the loneliness I feel. I say that with confidence because it’s not the loneliness that drives really great writing, or songs, or fills the depth of a character in a good movie. It’s not dramatic. It just is.

What shocks me most about this is that it’s completely unexpected. You’d think when getting a job 1200 miles from home and making a permanent move that you know involves changing your license plate, one might consider that he or she is moving somewhere with no immediate family and friends, no network. But for some reason, I never did.

I’ve always done “alone” really well. I was relatively alone/single for the first 26 years of my life practically sabotaging any romantic relationship that came my way during that time, just to stay that way, because I knew how to do it. I’m one of a handful of women I know who chose to live alone when years of roommates organically moved on. I’m a stubborn son a bitch who would chose living alone moving forward because it suits me and I like my own space, even if that space meant a shoebox or pushing my budget rather than live with roommates again. I traveled alone for a year for a job, I went to grad school alone, and sadly I even spent much of my serious relationship alone, I’d be kidding myself to think there was a true partnership there.

So I get it, I understand it. Why would I worry about it? I didn’t and now I really feel it. I think part of this is just the transition of it all, new job, new city, new everything, and not knowing any of it or understanding simple things like the fact that the proper pronunciation of a word is the best way to point out the fact you are an outsider, because it is not  how the Texans pronounce it (Guadalupe = Guada-LOOP). It’s just growing pains. I am loving my new job but it’s overwhelming, I’ve never done this position before, I’m constantly learning, I’m trying to find my own rhythm, waiting for the months to pass by when one day I wake up and realize, “Hey, I actually know what I’m doing and I don’t have to overthink it”. That can make you feel alone, even if you are fortunate to have the nicest group of co-workers who do things that you wouldn’t even think to do for a new member of the team.

I think I’ve said before, if not here than to others, that I don’t need a new job, a new city and a new group of friends all in one month, I can slow down a little. Slowing down isn’t something I really know how to do. I pick up things fast, I talk fast and almost demand everyone else pick up the pace to keep up with me. I think, in realizing how lucky I am and to not take it for granted, I have become aware of more things that I otherwise would just not pay attention to in my former/still effort to become an expert on everything as quickly as possible.

In this effort, in the smallest of moments, when I remember to give thanks, I also realize that loneliness. I know it’s not going to be there forever, and maybe I’m meant to feel it now because it won’t be there but be replaced by love and community and it will just fade into an ancedote I tell to someone who is feeling that same way someday too.

I also think about how interesting it is that something – to be by myself, to find comfort in not solitude, but being the short straw – is now something that feels uncomfortable.

Tonight I went to a Book Club I joined last week. We are reading a really decent book and I’m enjoying the book far more than I thought. I went to the hostess’ house way, way, way on the other side of town for our meeting and I met 7 women I had never met before. There was an ease into which we all welcomed meeting each other and telling stories and then discussing the book. It wasn’t until after we finished talking about the book that we decided to go around and really introduce ourselves and say what brought us to the Book Club, but also to our city. It was pretty amazing. All of us had moved here within the last year, many of us from outside of Texas, one even from Chicago, like me. And all of us realized that we wanted to branch out a little bit more and find some friends. 4 out of the 8 of us that met tonight are pregnant (NOT drinking any of that water, thank you) and all due within a month of each other.

Off the bat, I don’t really see any of those women becoming a close friend of mine, although they seem like wonderful people and I certainly can see some of them becoming close. But you never know. When I met my best friend in the world, in college, her first impression of me was that I was a bitch. Two months later we were thick as thieves (I’m not sure I like that simile, but I like the way it sounds).

I guess my point is that I don’t know what to make of this unexpected uncomfortableness with being alone, but it was nice to find others who might just find the same way. Maybe this loneliness is just a first impression that won’t hold true at all.

One of the mental switches I’ve made in this new year is how I think about my life. Upon reflection, I view my life as pre-life and post life. This really doesn’t make much sense because I’m actively living what I reference as “post-life” but I like balance so I guess the terminology works.

My pre-life refers to basically my twenties, after college up until grad school. (Grad school I really struggled personally, although I was empowered in so many ways, because it truly felt like my life was on pause while I got my degree and awaited the changes it would bring – for someone that needs to know what’s going to happen next, it was almost torture). Much of my pre-life was very fast paced. I was young but never felt  like I was aging, even as I got on in my twenties. I lived with roommates in Chicago, I worked in account management at an ad-ish agency, which the nature of that job moves you at a fast and furious pace all the time, not to mention that most of your day (12 hours at least) is spent at the job so it’s just move, move, move for the majority of your day. My down time moved similarly only it’s pace was drink, drink, drink. It was great fun and I enjoyed every second of it except when I didn’t and then quickly moved on to the drinking portion of my day.

The only problem with it was that because I was so career driven, and the agency world forces you to make it your life because the hours can be very long, I never really paid attention to myself. Those years felt like college, in the respect that I never felt accountable as I should have at ages 23 – 27, only that I had a paycheck. After I moved to a different company and got out of that rat race, I had more hours outside of work, but I also was in a serious relationship so you can see what I replaced with what.

Needless to say, during my year long + “pause” I had a lot of time to reflect on what had led me to my “do over”, the career change. I battled a ton of regrets, like what if I only had the self-awareness when I was younger… then I would have gone to grad school earlier and I wouldn’t be starting my career out at 30 and would be well on my way already. Then the relationship fell apart and there were even more regrets.

What I realized is that everything else in my life took priority over me. I never took the time to really mature if I’m going to be honest, I never took the time to find out my likes and dislikes, I never took the time to be quiet with my soul, to listen to my own heart’s desires.

So, the “pause” I took, if for nothing else, helped me realize that I needed to put myself first. That I needed to truly learn to live with myself, to accept myself for what I can bring to the table and to forgive myself for what I can’t and also for any missteps along the way.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because Jan 1 is my birthday and well, it feels depressing to make some sort of deadline on my birthday that I won’t end up keeping and honestly I’m just thinking of other things. However, given that my move to Texas was the week of my birthday and that I spent New Year’s Eve alone (well, with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin but they couldn’t talk back) and was so overwhelmed with all that I had wanted to happen actually did, it made me really reflective. Soon after midnight, when a new year was ushered in as well as another year in my life started, I promised myself that I would put myself first and with not having friends (yet) or family (at least the ones who I feel an obligation to) here, I knew there wasn’t room for any excuses.

In my pre-life I always ate breakfast at the office. This was due to either rising early to hit the gym before work (it was near my office so it was just like going to work but way too early) or I snoozed to the last possible minute that it left no time. I’d bring a packet of oatmeal and heat it up in some communal mug and eat it at my desk as I started my work day. I thought it worked well. No time was wasted and I still got a meal in.

Now, in my post-life (or current one, I suppose), I eat my breakfast before I shower and dress in the morning. I didn’t do this with intention other than on Monday, which was my first day of work, I didn’t think I’d have time to eat breakfast with all the hoopla (and man, was there hoopla!) and getting settled with the new gig. The other issue is that since I’m following a gluten-free diet to make my tummy feel better, I’ve started eating eggs (the kind of oatmeal I used has gluten in it and the non-kind would require me to boil water, which I wasn’t going to do in the break room). While I have these special Ziploc bags I can throw all the eggs and fixins in and heat up in the microwave so it turns into an omelet, that just seemed too much to do on that first day, and at work in general but I thought it would be an option. After my first day, I learned my hours are much earlier than what I worked in my pre-life (and also this Austin isn’t Chicago but the traffic sure is. Jeesh!) but also that since I meet one-on-one with students, I wasn’t going to have much time to check my email, let alone try to eat breakfast before I’d have an appointment.

The rest of the week I followed suit and fixed my omelet before I showered and ate at home. And you know what? It’s kind of amazing, how one little thing can really improve my attitude. I don’t eat for very long, maybe 10 minutes tops, but sitting down and catching the news and just to fricking think for that time makes me happier. I feel purposeful, and as silly as it might sound coming from a 31 year old, I actually feel like an adult. Maybe it’s that protein that nourishes me better than breakfasts of the past, but it’s something. I feel like maybe it’s really just about the small things we do for ourselves that make a difference.

So I’ve altered my New Year’s promise to myself: I’m taking time to do the small things.

After taking the time to move myself down south and get settled, with some hiccups (what’s some driving through tornado warnings and thunderstorms or movers showing up two days late?), I’ve made it to my new city.

And as of today, my new job. Things are overwhelming, I don’t think I’d anticipated how much it would be, but it’s still all very exciting and I remain thankful, which I think is a positive thing.

My internet is installed and I’m once again back in the land of the living. I had no idea how much I relied on the internet until I didn’t have it. And while I’ll never be able to quit the internet, I have to say it was somewhat of a relief to be off the grid and a tad unreachable. Kind of felt like I was back in 1993 or somewhere thereabouts when I did not have the internet at all. Except I didn’t have Smashing Pumpkins or REM on non-stop, like I did then.

I’ll be recapping 2008 in the coming days but since I last posted we have entered a new year and I have entered a new age. (Is it me or is 31 just an ugly number??) I have great hopes for 2009, the central being that I hope to continue my feelings of thankfulness and my growing self-admiration for taking my life back and putting my needs first. I promise to tone down the ego but I wish nothing but love, health, happiness and lots of laughter for all of you.

But it’s a small world after all.

Tonight I found out that my past is directly connected to my present, and starting in 2009, what will be my future.

I don’t mean this to be cryptic, and it is much less important in words than in meaning. It has to do with people in my life who are connected to each other, unbeknownst to me until I reconnected with the past someone to let her know about my future.

But more than anything that has happened to me in the last 10 days. My faith is fully restored at levels I didn’t expect for a very long time. It is like I’ve been looking at my life as a map, with roads all over the place, smaller vessels intertwined, connecting the direct cause and effect of past actions. Except there is one major highway, it starts from one side of the map and curves into the middle and its’ mirror image from the other side, neither connecting but they look like they fit together. Tonight, I realized that final bridge, connector, what have you, was put in place and the road is complete.

I’m no longer selfish enough to think that the world revolves around me. In fact, one lesson I’ve learned is that perhaps I should give myself a little but more promenence than I have before.

But tonight, if for just one moment, even if it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, I feel the world’s rhythm in sync with my own.  I look forward to more of my major highways on my journey finding their missing connection. I now know they will.

I wouldn’t have changed anything, and that finally, is the point.

Greetings from O’Hare airport, where I am sitting here WAY too early for my flight. (After spending a year traveling via air for my first job, I mastered the 30 minute arrival before flight, through security and on board strategy. Alas that was before 9/11 but I still don’t show up before the preferred TWO hours, I mean really. But living with my parents, I’m exposed to their philosophies and getting to the airport before anyone else seems to be one of them). Anyway, I’m travelling to the warmer south for a big interview little trip and so here I am. Excited, nervous and happy to get the hell out of the biting wind and snow flurries.

imagesI love coming to the airport, any airport will do. Always have but I think the true enduring love came from my year a sorority consultant, when I discovered if I fibbed about my departure time being earlier than it actually was, I could spend HOURS at the airport ALONE and MUTE. Trust me, when spending 20 hours a day peppered with questions and always being the new guy and an official visitor, being alone and mute was amazing.

Today, I’m flying United and was pleasantly surprised I got to make the exciting trip to Concourse C. In order to get to Concourse C, you have to basically go down into an underground walkway (underneath where the planes sit for Concourse B). Walkway is pictured above with fancy smancy neon lights in fun shapes and colors. Enhanced by new age music, the lights are timed and reveal literally a rainbow of colors.

When I was a kid, I remember when this opened and my parents took us to see it. We spent time just standing on the moving walkway, fascinated by the lights and the moving walkway. I’m not sure if we had to pick someone up and my parents turned it into a field trip or we just went for the hell of it. It was the 80s, if anything goes was ever an edict in airports, like almost everything, it probably did then.

I remember being so thrilled by this neon lights walkway and the music, it was like an experience for my senses I had never seen (I also can’t remember if I had already visited Epcot, which would make sense if I did because it’s all very Epcot-y, those lights and sensory things). But I do remember how special I thought the walkway to Concourse C was that day.

I’ve been back through occasionally, I seldom fly United and therefore haven’t been numb to the experience although with technology and flashy lights that make up our day to day lives now, it’s easy not to pay attention. Today as I was entering the walkway, I was struck by the memory of seeing it for the first time. I listened to my emotions, soaking it in again, trying to remember what was so cool about it now. It doesn’t appear to be as dark, therefore the lights aren’t as startling as I remember and the music is barely a whisper.

But as I stood on the moving walkway, I smiled at the memory, thankful that I was once so entranced by  something benign as an underground walkway in an airport, and grateful for the journey has brought me back to see it again.


Synopsis

musings and panic attacks of a Chicago girl embarking on a new life in Texas. Only it's not always June and it's not in song.

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