- I have no idea.
- Most of the scientific evidence is bad, scientifically: small sample sizes, short study duration, so many confounding factors, so little rigorous data validity.
- You can go low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, high-fat, high-protein, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, primal, raw.
- You can try Atkins, Dukkan, 21 day fix, Weight Watchers, Keto, OA, WOE, South Beach, calorie counting.
- They all work, if you can do them.
- Most people can’t though, not long-term.
- And whatever you do to lose weight, you’re going to have to keep doing, more or less forever.
- You should exercise, although exercise alone probably won’t help you lose weight. But it’s good for you.
- Every piece of advice you will read will be contradicted somewhere.
- Fruit juice is natural and healthy. Fruit juice is full of sugar and is basically just pop with vitamins.
- Diet drinks will kill you. Diet drinks may help you control calorie intake.
- Too much meat is probably bad for you? Too much of anything is probably bad for you.
- Calories don’t matter.
- Calories definitely matter.
- Organic is better
- Organic is nutritionally identical
- Free range
- Cruelty free
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- No artificial colours or flavours
- Don’t eat processed foods. Chopping vegetables for a salad is a form of processing. Olive oil is processed. Processed is a meaningless word.
- Which makes me start to wonder if maybe everything is meaningless, if this nameless weird obsessive desire to be one size and not another and one weight and not another is somehow a common contagious madness, a group psychosis we have all agreed to, something utterly without rationality, something malicious and twisted and useless to boot.
- But then I am in my body, I alone, and I know that moving makes me feel good, and I know that eating certain things makes me feel bad, and others better, and really it’s amazing how much better I’ve felt since I switched out sugar for Splenda in my coffee and started going to the gym, so.
- It’s more than what you eat and do, though, because it’s what we see when we see ourselves, and how our choices reflect (literally or figuratively) on that vision, this idea that I don’t just want to be healthy but that I want to look like the kind of person who drinks green smoothies and wakes up glowing because those kinds of people don’t have my kinds of problems. Those women wake up glowing and have deeply rich satisfying relationships with their equally glowy spouses and they have jobs they love and clean houses and they never come home after a bad day at work and fight with their mom on the phone and then eat a packet of ramen and drink half a bottle of wine because they have this effortless perfection all around them. These glowing green-smoothie yoga women with their clear skin and bouncing ponytails have risen above the dark and dreary, the mortal grumblings of mortal women with stretch marks and cellulite and difficult bosses, and these green-smoothie women hold this perfection between their perfectly manicured fingers like it’s nothing. They’ve Got It Figured Out. They’ve done the impossible: ascended past unending housework and petty office politics and the need for a beer now and then, for fucks sake. These perfect, slim, smiling, healthy, lovely, effortless women make cashew milk from scratch and are never stressed. Their lives are filtered through soft, diffuse lenses; light caresses them. They don’t squint. They’re infallible. They are post-human, post-woman, post-blood, post-suffering, post-toil.
- And perhaps that is the secret behind Ten Foods You Should Never Eat if You Want to Lose Weight: this scriptural idea, this set of commandments so that we, too, though we are tempted and though we sin, can get beyond the mortal and suffering and become glowing perfect women in matching running gear. Life is hard, after all. Who wouldn’t want to ascend, if they could? Perfection is maddeningly alluring.
- But I think we can do better, I think we can find a middle ground, I think we can have our cake and smoothies too. I think we can go for a run and eat Doritos. I think we can forget this perfect woman, and we can be mortal and happy and run and jump and eat and live without her specter glowing over us, condemning us for our human weaknesses. We can be “bad” and do yoga. We can drink beer and lift weights. We can be a million individual flickering points of imperfect humanity and we can light up the whole sky, despite pizza or missed workouts or muffin tops. We can be healthy and we can be whole and round, perhaps not glowing but drenched in sweat, muscled and dimpled and strong in our own way, and we can go home after a bad day and fight with our moms and do whatever the fuck we want. Because that perfect green-smoothie woman is a myth like so many before her: designed to sell us a nirvana we can never reach, so that we will keep striving forever. But I think we can do better. I know it.
- Drink plenty of water.
There is a quote that I love. I can’t remember the poem that it came from, but the words come back to me at specific times. It’s the sadness of a moment leaving, even a moment that has to leave. It is the sadness of an ending, even a great ending.
“I am nostalgic for now, for now as it goes away.”
I am almost done my undergraduate degree, and I am closer to 29 than to 28 and I am happy, I think, and healthy and whole and somehow very far away from youth and also very far away from age and I feel like I am finally, finally hitting my stride.
I have been waiting and working for years to be almost done with this degree. I have resented every moment of it. I have railed against it, fought against it, dragged myself kicking and screaming through every minute of it, and now it is almost done.
And suddenly I am sad.
Suddenly I think that maybe something special is almost over and it will never come again, this specific experience in this particular time, and this part of my life is almost gone and I barely noticed. I was too busy counting down the days to enjoy them. I so ready for it be over, I almost missed it happening.
And even though I hated much of it, there are things I will miss. I may have hated dragging myself to class, but I did learn things. I hated having my schedule changed wildly every four months, but it taught me to be adaptable. I resented the money I poured into the black hole of this liberal arts education, but it forced me to appreciate how lucky I am.
This is the first time in my life that I’ve been smart enough to be sad at the ending of something. This is the first time in my life I have slowed down enough to even notice.
I will miss the people, as much as I made fun of the kids I went to class with. I will miss the rhythms, the noise of campus, the library; I will miss professors and exams and assignments, not because I especially like any of them, but because it became a part of me. I have been a student of one kind or another since 2012. What will I be when that is over?
And what if the me that gets left over after all is said and done isn’t particularly spectacular? What if I take this degree and three years of my life and I don’t do much of anything with it? Starting in January, I will be free in a way I haven’t been for years. I have time to play, to learn, to create and to work, and I feel obliged to do all of those things and more. I feel like I owe – myself? the Universe? – 110% of the best of me, all the time, from now on. Why would I need to relax – all I do is work! Why wouldn’t I write a book? I have evenings and weekends free!
I don’t have any excuses anymore, except my own limitations, and I hate them in the way only a very, very spoiled person can hate their human weaknesses. I am not kind to myself. I have high expectations – so high, I am sure to disappoint myself.
Today was my very last class and it was kind of boring, of course, but also sad, and I wonder if maybe sometimes boredom is a defense mechanism to keep me from feeling the sadness of the ending.
So many things have ended, lately, and I have taken so little time to be sad about them. Who has time to be sad? I’m too busy. I have too many important things to do. Of course.
But I am sad, and happy, and relieved and worried and excited and everything all at once. I am never ready for any endings, happily-ever-after or otherwise. I keep marching forwards; I have things to do. I’m too busy for goodbyes. I barely stopped to say hello.
“I am nostalgic for now, for now as it goes away.”
- Newsflash: You are old.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been out of school for three years or thirty, it will soon become crushingly, achingly clear to you that You Are Old. Somehow, the people in University just keep getting younger, and you are already out of the loop. There are at least two new forms of social media that you do not understand and should not attempt to participate in. There are dozens of new slang terms that you should not even try to use, because the only thing worse than being the grownup in the classroom is being the grownup who is desperately trying to be blend in. Have some self-respect.
- But also – congrats! You’re old!
Suddenly all the wisdom you’ve acquired in your years of being a Real Human in the Outside World will come in handy. You’ve been through breakups, moves, floods, toxic friendships, transit strikes and plagues of locusts. You will chuckle when the kids in class freak out over a particularly difficult assignment. You can help the youths when they need guidance and you can provide perspective on the trials and tribulations of University life. This will make you totally insufferable. Try to keep it to yourself.
- You will be angry all the time. This is because you are old.
Attending classes with young people will constantly fill you with rage. You will resent their Macbooks and wonder why they can’t sit through a lecture without scrolling through Tumblr obsessively. You will sneer as they browse Michael Corrs watches and then snap at them when they ask you a question the prof just answered. You will roll your eyes at their ripped jeans and oversized sweaters and cute little crop tops. You will do all these things because you are a jealous old troll – you feel dumb in crop tops, you feel dumb writing in a notebook, you feel dumb because you don’t understand Tumblr and you hate being the grownup in class that everyone can rely on. Do not let this jealousy ruin your time in University. It’s not your classmates’ fault that you are old. Blame God.
- Now that you are old, your grades will be better.
Whether you’re finishing your first degree or going back to do a Masters, you will be amazed at how much your grades have improved. You aren’t staying out drinking all night long and your organizational skills have no doubt improved. If you have a semi-professional job of any description you will be too busy to leave assignments till the last minute and you will have a much better understanding of what the professor actually wants. You’ll actually read the assignments and ask questions ahead of time if you don’t understand something. You’ll make time to study, usually, and your studying will be more productive, probably.
- Do not let your time at University be defined by how old you are.
Remember when you were young and filled with hope and optimism? No? Well, your classmates do, because they are living it. The whole world is open to them and everything is Very Important. Don’t make fun of them! They are better at computers than you will ever be and they believe that all their dreams will come true. That’s a beautiful thing and it’s worth being reminded of. Let them inspire you. Be kind and be open to their influence, even if sometimes you just want to shake them. Before long you’ll go back to being the youngest person in the office and Marlene from purchasing will be making snarky comments about how you don’t know anything because you never lived through the Thatcher years. These are not the best years of your life, but they are worth embracing and they will never come again.
No matter what, don’t let yourself join the ranks of the Marlenes of the world even a day earlier than you absolutely have to.
Hello friends and neighbors.
Today I thought I`d take some time to talk about something very embarrassing, which given my history should be a surprise to exactly no one. Specifically, I want to talk about fantasies.
Not sexual fantasies – please, try not to be so pedestrian. I have been on the internet, and I have to tell you that unless your fantasies are particularly violent or cruel, they really aren`t all that embarrassing. There are only so many ways to put so many tabs into so many slots and I promise you someone has already thought of all of them and dedicated a webpage to it. While we like to pretend that sexual fantasies are embarrassing, most of them aren’t even original. You have a geriatric Pokémon fetish? You get a boner every time you hear the theme from Seinfeld? Bo-ring! Yawns-ville!
No, the really awful fantasies are the emotional ones where we create an entire romantic subplot in our heads and desperately hope nobody ever, ever finds out. We populate these love stories with absurd details and painstaking justification because even though most romantic fantasies never come true, they have to be just a little bit believable to really get our motors running.
The two most common fantasies, as far as I can tell, are the Highly Unlikely Acquaintance Crush and the Mortifyingly Contrived Celebrity Romance. I’ll go over both in detail, because I know that’s what we all came here for.
The Highly Unlikely Acquaintance Crush
If you are alive and living in society, there is approximately a 100% chance that you have had a crush on someone who, for probably many reasons, is entirely not right for you. Maybe they’re too old, or too young, or gay, or straight, or married, or a jerk, or your boss, or your mom’s jerky gay married boss. Maybe they have a debilitating personality flaw, or they’re some kind of service person whom you see semi-regularly but have never had a real conversation with. Whatever it is, you already know that you must never, ever date them. You know it would never work out. Despite these realities, you find yourself sustaining a crush on this person who may or may not actually know your name.
Here enters the fantasy: what I suspect is your brain trying desperately to justify what your dumb heart is doing. Soon you’re constructing a scenario in which you finally end up with your dreamboat. He leaves his wife, or, better, she dies suddenly and you comfort him and that’s when he finally changes his bad-boy ways and even though he was always kind of a misogynist and never worked very hard he finally gets his act together because you saved him. Or that good-looking guy at the coffee shop finally asks you out (even though you are 99% sure he’s dating the blonde girl who also works there) and you just get along so well and it turns out he likes all the same music as you do and you talk late into the night and he teaches you to play guitar and you teach him…to love. Maybe you get a new job and that hot girl who is not-quite-but-almost your boss runs into you at a conference three months later and you’ve lost weight and her husband has run away with the au pair and you spend the weekend making hot, sweaty love in the hotel and your girlfriend never finds out because magic. Or maybe she dies tragically too? Sure, that works.
These fantasies are dumb, obviously, and especially embarrassing because after spending the night hoping someone’s wife gets cancer it is really, really awkward to run into them at the vending machine the next day. It can be tough to attend a meeting or buy a coffee from someone you’ve masturbated to, and it’s even tougher when part of your one-handed waltz involved you imagining them telling you how you’ve got the most beautiful eyes. Meanwhile, they’ve misspelled your name in the mass email they sent asking you for a donation to their wife’s rowing team.
For all the trouble with an acquaintance crush, at least it’s someone you know. You’ve talked to this person (presumably), and there is something about them that you are actively attracted to, even if it’s a bad idea. Arguably, the acquaintance crush isn’t nearly as bad as what’s behind Door Number Two.
The Mortifyingly Contrived Celebrity Romance
It seems to be pretty normal to have a crush on a celebrity, even though most of them seem kind of weird to me. That being said, I still have a list of celebros who are high up in my fantasy life, and sometimes it’s also fun to fantasize that they just like me for who I am. The celebrity fantasy is embarrassing on so many levels, of course: it’s something stereotypical tween girls do, it’s about someone you have never and will never meet, and in order to make the fantasy stick you have to create a storyline that borders on the pathological. None of these things stop us.
First you have to pick your famous person (bonus points if you have a crush on someone from a few decades ago, ie. Michael J Fox from his Back to the Future days). Then you have to imagine a personality for them, one likely pieced together from interviews, tabloids and social media, all of which are definitely honest portrayals of a human being and not highly scripted and filtered PR tools. The next step is coming up with a way for the two of you to meet, despite the fact that they live in LA making movies and you live in Sleepytown, Nebrahoma making toilet paper in the toilet paper factory.
The “filming on location” is always a good route to take at this point, although of course you have to try to figure out why anyone would ever chose to shoot a film in your shitty town. Maybe you have big gorge nearby or something. This step is easier if you live in New York or London or any decent-sized city where a camera crew might actually show up. Then you have to figure out, in minute detail, exactly how the two of you will not only run into each other but also have a long enough conversation that your celebrity crush realizes that he/she can’t live his/her life without you.
The coffee shop meet-cute is always a reliable choice, although the odds of this particular person being in that particular coffee shop at the same time as you, and then willingly making conversation, are obviously astronomical. You might have to make up a whole new career for the fantasy to work; so, you’re a hairdresser, in New York for some reason, and suddenly Brad Pitt walks in and needs a haircut. And you find out that he and Angelina are secretly separated but it hasn’t made the papers yet. And you have a long conversation, which is a real and believable thing that happens in haircutting shops, and afterwards he offers to walk you to your car because it’s late (why is it late? Who gets a midnight haircut?) or it’s not late, but it’s dark out, because it’s the winter, and New York is dangerous, so he walks you to your car, right? But then your car won’t start! Because it’s winter! So then he offers to drive you home…
Actually, you know what? I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. You can fill in the rest. I will give you one spoiler though:
You live happily ever after, and you never go back to Sleepytown or the toilet paper factory, except to gloat to fucking Marlene in purchasing.
You may have noticed, if you haven’t unfollowed me from Facebook yet, that I have lately become one of those insufferable running people. Hey, did I mention I run? I am a runner. I do runs. Just, in case you missed it. FYI.
Well, let’s start with an apology. I know it’s pretty boring to just about everyone except maybe my mom. It also sounds like bragging (because it is) and bragging is irritating and, again, boring. A dude once dumped me for being boring, and he designed waterslides, so he would know.
The thing is, though, that getting fit (barf) is not even close to a straight line, and even though I am only taking the first steps in my fitness journey (double barf) I wanted to share with you all the weird, convoluted and mildly psychotic methods I’ve employed to stick to my “lifestyle change” (oh god I’m sorry).
- Motivation through subterfuge and guilt
For every run I go on, I have planned two. I am too goddamn lazy to get off my ass about 50% of the time. The same goes for workouts of the gym variety. Basically, I have to trick myself into working out/going for a run through a series of complicated equations where I take the number of workouts I’ve planned for a week, divide by my exhaustion, multiplied by the exponential nature of my guilt and then something something remainder. Okay, I don’t know anything about math, but I do know that if I plan two workouts I will go never, but if I plan five I’ll go twice. Maybe.
The other thing that works is spending money and feelings. I keep signing up for races in part because the fear of being fucking embarrassing is sometimes enough to get the running shoes laced on, and the shame of wasting money means that I probably won’t bail at the last minute. I go to softball because somebody is going to be sad if I don’t and I am crippled by the fear of disappointing people. Just kidding! I’m about as sensitive as a bag of hammers, but I can trick myself into thinking that it’s a Big Deal if I let the team down. Just to be clear, I’ve never been on a team where letting anybody down would be a Big Deal, but a little bit of creative cognition is enough to get me on a softball field. Lying works.
- Keep healthy food in your fridge so you can watch it rot
I like to make a meal plan, quickly check the calories so I know that my stir-fry isn’t secretly a Big Mac, buy healthy food at the grocery store, cook and pack some healthy meals for the week, and then go out for wings instead. Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration – I do eat pretty healthy pretty regularly, but I’ve also thrown out enough untouched half-liquefied cucumbers to last a lifetime. And frankly, I eat what can best be described as an “ungodly” amount of wings.
This is, once again, a numbers game. If I have healthy food in my fridge (especially if it’s already made and all I have to do is shove it in a microwave for a minute and a half) then there is at least a chance that I will eat it. If I don’t plan and cook in advance, “dinner” usually looks like a bag of Original lays chips, a bottle of wine, and a handful of deli ham. Sometimes it’s four Reese Peanut Butter Cups and a bowl of half-thawed shrimp. I’m just saying, planning is important.
Another thing to keep in mind: if “health” isn’t enough motivation to eat the healthy food in your fridge, try finding something that you actually do care about. In my case, if I’m staring down the barrel of yet another spinach salad and the siren song of cafeteria burgers starts to get too loud, I remind myself of how much I hate spending money on mediocre food (which caf burgers definitely are) and also about how much I hate wasting money generally. Basically, I’ve learned that I’m cheaper than I am healthy, so I lean on my cheapness when the going gets rough. Maybe for you it’s laziness, and you can convince yourself and you just can’t be bothered to go all the way to Wendy’s when you have a chicken wrap in front of you. Do what works.
- Fitness models will make you feel like garbage but if that works for you, roll with it.
Social media is a great way to make yourself feel like a failure. There are people on my Instagram feed who are made up of nothing but muscle and hair and fake tan. I don’t want to look like that, but c’mon – if that chick can get down to 2% body fat, can’t I at least do some jumping jacks while watching the Simpsons? People like to talk about positive thinking but positive thinking is why I ran out of pants. If feeling like crap is what you need to feel better, I’m not going to stand here and spout some new-agey rainbow nonsense about loving yourself as you are. Having a positive outlook is not necessary to get shit done and even if you don’t “love your body”, you can still do something decent for it.
Listen, I recognize that disgust and shame are not great long-term solutions, but I’m not talking about long term solutions. I’m talking about that moment when you come home from work and all you can think about is the cold beer and takeout Chinese in your fridge and playing Candy Crush for the next three and a half hours. In that moment, as you reach for your phone and tell yourself that squeezing into a sports bra sounds like the worst idea you’ve ever had, take a minute to give yourself some inspiration. I don’t want to be able to crack pistachios with my abs, but it helps to spend two and half minutes begrudgingly staring at people who can.
- Remember that in the end, it’s all pretty much pointless bullshit.
This is the cognitive dissonance at the heart of my relationship with fitness: I think it’s important to stay active and eat well, and I also think that it’s completely dumb and a waste of time. You only live once! Eat that cheeseburger! You’re going to die no matter what! You’re not going to be on your death bed wishing you’d done more burpees!
That’s the balance: life is short, and I don’t want to spend it never eating alfredo, but I also want to spend it being able to run around and feel good. I really enjoy physical activity, even if it’s totally meaningless. Having a toned butt does not make you a good person. Going running is not a moral act. There are definitely more useful/profitable/charitable ways that I could be spending my time, but I still like my running and biking and softballing and walking and skiing and whatever else I can think to do. I like how I feel when I DON’T eat Ramen four times a week. I also realize that nobody (not even my mom) cares how fast I ran that 5k, but pretending to care has saved me from buying new pants.
That’s all the advice I’ve got for you, sadly. As you can see, it’s not very good. The truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing. None of us do.
Let’s start of with this: I work hard. At least I try to; I read emails all the way to the end and use numbered lists. I try to make things easy. I try to do what I’m asked. I keep a to-do list. Crossing off all those tasks – how satisfying. Need a meeting booked? Want to get 17 people in a room together? Come to me. I’ll make it painless.
I plan out my days carefully. I have goals, milestones, timelines. I live my life organized. Want to see my five year plan? I’m moments away from writing a Vision Statement or making a dream board. My childhood self (arrogant, moody, and often filthy) would be amazed. I bought a dust-buster yesterday. I’m still excited.
I’m finishing my undergrad, cleaning up the messes of a younger, less responsible self. One of my classmates said it best: “I keep forgetting you’re a grownup!” Am I really? News to me. Although I can’t for the life of me remember to call any of them “classmates”. I keep saying “colleagues”, or worse, “co-students”. Is this what growing up feels like? Inventing terminology that nobody needs or asked for?
So here’s my problem, fellow grown-ups and co-students: what the hell do I do now?
I have oodles of self-esteem. I’ve got it in spades, maybe more than I should. My generation invented “everybody gets a trophy” culture. We tore down all the dangerous play-structures and replaced them with humourless plastic monstrosities. I got plenty of praise for frankly mediocre performance but slipped through right before cyberbullying became a big problem.
I like me.
My problem is not a lack of desire or capacity or confidence. My problem is that I have no idea what I want.
Well, that’s not strictly true, but all the tools that I have to get what I want seem patently useless in the face of my desires. What I want is a life full of happiness and satisfaction and free time and creativity and love. What I have is a Google Calendar and a tendency to double-book myself and probably a bit of carpal tunnel.
I want to enjoy going into work every day. And I do. But could I enjoy it more? Am I succeeding at this particular amorphous goal? How do I measure it? Where does it live, so that I can observe it in its natural habitat? Will I enjoy this in three years? Five? Ten? And if I don’t, how do I get back to enjoyment?
I want a life full of love, but how the hell do you get that? By being nice to people? But people are jerks! Lots of people will take advantage of you! How do you balance kindness with self-care? When am I being justifiably selfish and when am I just being a jerk? Is there a Geiger counter for toxic people? WHERE DOES THIS GO ON MY VISION BOARD?
It’s like trying to find the Northwest Passage with a map of Disney Land.
When I am overwhelmed with the big question – What the Hell am I Doing? – I retreat to the safety of concrete metrics. I am can bike x kilometers. I saved x dollars this month. I got x grade in the course. I line up all these neat little facts as if they will protect me from the bigger questions, but they are umbrellas in a hurricane. When you ask how to measure love, the number of pennies in a jar is irrelevant. And that’s what so many of these lists are for: counting pennies in a jar.
I believe that the world is my oyster. But what the hell do you do with an oyster?
So, in case anyone is curious, it’s been just over five months since I got dumped.
Isn’t “got dumped” the perfect expression for it? Because that’s exactly what it feels like: you and your partner are driving down the road and suddenly he pops the passenger door open and throws you out. If you’re lucky, you grabbed your purse on the way out. If you’re lucky, you remembered to tuck and roll.
When I think about getting dumped, I am still very much in shock. It doesn’t sting anymore: I am no longer carrying around a bag of railroad spikes just under my sternum. It doesn’t hurt to breathe. But I am still surprised by it, even after all these weeks. I wasn’t expecting it, you see. If someone planned a surprise birthday for me with all the stealth of my breakup, it would be a great party. I never saw it coming.
At least it’s no longer news. The best part about time passing that by now no one really cares very much about my break up. The questions have been asked, if they’re going to be, and now it’s just too awkward to start digging. Besides, nothing really interesting happened. Breakups are as common as the cold, and mine was not very special. It was bad, but not original.
I don’t really want to talk about it anymore, the Great Dumping of 2014. Don’t let me fool you: it’s not because I am a kind, generous person and I have forgiven and forgotten and moved on. That’s a nice fantasy, but it’s not real. I haven’t forgiven. I occasionally forget. But mostly I’d like my ex to die alone and unloved in a garbage can. Preferably soon.
I am not generous. I am occasionally kind, but not in this case. I have a lot of resentment. I have a lot of fear. I find myself bedfellows with new, strange feelings: regret, sadness, rage, spite, anxiety. Suddenly my heart, which has always been as reliable and steady as the postal service, threatens to revolt. I have to take it into consideration now. I have to think about my feelings.
I don’t want to say that it’s a colossal waste of time, but it certainly doesn’t seem to have helped much.
Now, of course, five-plus months have passed. I have someone new, which is comforting and wonderful, but which doesn’t change the fact that I was recently thrown head-first out of a speeding vehicle. I’m still limping.
I never used to be a sentimentalist. I used to march blindly through life, trampling whatever useless things tried to crawl up through the undergrowth. Feelings were rarely spared. I’ve never been malicious. Just dumb, and inconsiderate. I’ve tried to get better, recently, although god knows how much I’ve succeeded in handling the hearts of others with any sort of gentleness. My own heart, though, has suddenly needed handling of it’s own.
That’s the kicker.
Now, I find myself retracing the memories of all my exes, not just the most recent, and feeling these heavy tugs of memory and regret. I keep looking at pictures of Us, whichever Us I happened to belong to at the time, and the weight of all those old loves threatens to smother me. I am not angry at most of them. Just sad. That’s what seems to happen, after five months turns into five years: all the anger and the spite burns away, and what you have left is this pure blue flame of sadness. They run through my memories like landing lights. You could land a plane in a thunderstorm by the cold blue light of every person I ever thought I loved.
Of course, I do not spend my days being sad or thinking constantly about the nature of sadness. For one thing, it’s boring. Sadness can never be news. It can’t create, it can’t inspire. Living your life in the shadow of your sadness is living your life as a re-run.
So instead, I create lists, plans, to-dos. I work, I play, I run, I make impulsive decisions. I cut my hair, I lost some weight, I got a cat. I embraced the stereotypes. I make a point of forgetting all the memories that I’ll never get to make with the person who decided, abruptly, that our road trip was over. These things help, but I can’t take much credit for it. I do not have an obsessive mind – I don’t have the attention span for it. I’ll never paint beautiful art or write an opus, but at least I can get up every day. Forward is the only direction I’ve ever been any good at.
It’s comforting to think that time will keep passing: that other things will get in my way, that I’ll have new obstacles to trample. I am still too loud. I still swear too much. I am still more obnoxious than confident, although it’s easy to get them confused. I am still, innately, the person I was last November, despite the bumps and bruises. There is still so much further to go, and I still have only the vaguest idea what the path will look like.
So, let’s talk about something else. How’ve you been?