A Farewell to my beloved car

The mirror may be taped on while a variety of liquids leak out at various rates and the heat may be temperamental while the floor is coffee-stained, but still my heart aches at the thought of bidding goodbye to my faithful car of over 10 years.

My car’s name is Al and he is a 2001 Oldmobile Alero. I shared him for a short time with my sister before obtaining full driving privileges of the ruby red, 4-doored beauty I once got caught blowing a kiss to. Not everyone gets to drive the same car from 16 to 27 years old, and I consider it an honor and a privilege. From amping myself up for job interviews to mourning the loss of loved ones, the spectrum of emotions experienced in this car have been astronomical. As are the ways I have morphed into a semi-mature and relatively responsible adult since I first drove Al to school to take an exam in the 10th grade and left his lights on (which I didn’t know were automatic at the time).

I’ve come to know every quirk of his computer system and curve of his body. I regrettably scraped his left side on a parking deck pole rushing to meet the cable guy a few years back, and his right side on a toll booth during an insufficient funds on my EZpass debacle. But each unfortunate mark is a memory of our time together. I’ve spent more time in my car this year than I have with my parents. Sad, but true. Is it any wonder why I am dreading parting ways?

From the way the driver’s seat is tinted with years of my self tanner to the vintage manual windows, from the pockmarked exterior thanks a hailstorm in 2013 to the residual smell of someone else’s vomit from an unfortunate night out. I take the good and the bad when it comes to Al. After all, for 11 years he has been my safe haven in a scary, unpredictable world. He’s seen me elated and devastated, evade tickets from law enforcement as well as receive them, he’s been my bed and my changing room, a fabulous listener and a dependable ride. He’s always waiting for me right where I left him, because despite me telepathically asking Al to come pick me up, he has never had the ability to actually do so.

We both knew this day would come. So as I prepare myself to hand over the keys to the only car I’ve ever known, I hope my next set of wheels one days fits like the well-tailored glove Al has become and not like some misshapen mitten that doesn’t find me funny.

#bodyshaming

Spring has sprung! And with it, the usual slew of insecurities. My botched self tanner jobs and post weekend binge drinking bloat are just two of the many things I poke and prod on my body, never satisfied.

Dark hair everywhere is a battle never to be won. I bleach, wax, shave, and pluck (excessively) only to create new issues like ingrown hairs and clogged pores. Only to spend more time and money to maintain the hairless groomed look I desire. But no one sees the behind the scenes, they only see the end result which is mediocre at best since I do it all myself. I will never be a hairless chinchilla, but I will continue to try!!!

I refuse to accept my natural skin color. Refuse. I have seen self tanner evolve immensely since my initial dabbling in high school to my methodical weekly use which began in the winter of 2011. I apply it once or twice a week, to no avail. Sleeping in sweats allowing the DHA the appropriate time to germinate so I may have a nice glow for the weekend ahead…only to have the tan slowly fade to pale until the next week’s application. It’s a never ending cycle.

I’ll never be thin enough. Looking around the pool, I am surrounded by less than perfect bodies and consider myself one of them. Storing fat in odd places with cellulite here and extra skin there. I’m no VS swimsuit model but if I could let go even a little of the high standards I hold for myself I’d probably feel better. I could also look better if I ate healthier and worked out more, incorporated weight lifting and cut out alcohol,  stayed in on the weekends to work out and gave up socializing completely to sit in a corner and eat kale! I am never going to have the perfect body, but I’ll still beat myself up about it.

I can’t stop biting my fingernails and currently have fake toenails glued on covering up the real ones I have destroyed wearing too small, but always stylish, shoes. My makeup regimen has expanded to include primer and contouring and matte finishing spray. I’ve spent more money on shoes and clothes and makeup and perfume in the past year than a younger version of myself would have ever deemed necessary.

But it is necessary. Because when I feel my best I am my best. I carry myself completely differently when I feel thin and my skin is clear and my outfit and makeup aren’t a disheveled mess. It’s nearly impossible to have all aspects of my appearance sync up at once, but when they do I come alive! It’s magical. I walk with an air of confidence I dream of on the days I look in the mirror and think yikes, this is what I look like?

So while I care what people think, my harshest critic is myself. I am less comparing myself to others but to the best version of myself, which I know exists because I’ve seen her, I’ve been her, and she is unstoppable!

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5 feet 12 inches

I am and always have been vertically above average. Sticking out like a goldenrod among the daffodils, I grew like a weed until I reached 6 feet. This is important because I wouldn’t be me if I was not tall. There are advantages and disadvantages to any noticeable physical appearance, and I certainly didn’t get the short end of the stick when it comes to my height.

I was destine for nicknames like Giraffe and Tree and buying pants that fit my marginally lanky frame is no easy task. But beyond occasionally getting my hair stuck on low hanging branches and my knees hitting the back of the seat in compact cars, being tall is not the worst cross to bear.

I turn heads when I walk into a room, and once there I am probably one of the tallest people in the room. This makes me extremely memorable, even if it is only because I towered over you and made you feel inferior, there’s a good chance you won’t forget the “tall girl”. I can gain 10 pounds and no one will notice, coincidentally I can also lose 10 pounds to the same regard. I get asked if I am a model just enough to boost my ego and give me the confidence to walk around with my head held that much high-er.

It wasn’t always like this though, I struggled for the majority of my life. Wanting to fit in with the 5’6″ females of the world. Not wanting to stand out, being forced to the outskirts of conversation as the shorter people clustered together. Standing in the back of the crowd, fading into the background. But I persevered and now can’t imagine a life lived in a body other than the svelte, modelesque one that I can thank my 6’4″ and 5’8″ parents for.

There is however one obstacle, that while not present for all female six-footers, has been an ever-present hurdle in my life. Dating. I like a man to be taller than me, I also like to wear my favorite boots with a 2 inch heel. I truly believe I’d have had a lot more than 2 boyfriends by now, more dates especially in my teens and early twenties, and a more traditional relationship with men in general if I wasn’t taller than so many of them. I automatically rule out men shorter than 6 feet because I am simply not attracted to them. Even 6’1″ and 6’2″ are cause for contemplation. I like to feel feminine when I stand beside my date as if I am small and petite and I want him to be strong enough to pick my up and toss me around like the sprite of a woman I am inside.

I am experiencing the world on a different level. Seeing the tops of  balding heads, reaching high shelves with ease, prompting predictable inquiries from curious strangers, and wondering what life would be like as average-size person. But I’ve never wanted to be average, so it only makes sense that my height should be above it.

 

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Savoring 26

So I did something a little crazy last weekend. And I’m not talking about staying in Friday AND Saturday night and not consuming a drop of vodka! I am referring to Sunday morning when I woke up at 5:40 and drove myself to Hampton, VA and ran a half marathon and didn’t tell anyone about it until I was done (Not even my emergency contact/mother).

I did it by myself, for myself. Because running for me is a personal experience and after two disappointing races, I wasn’t sure I still had it in me. I have been training since mid-July with a “slow-build” approach of gradually increasing my mileage up to my longest run of 10 miles on October 5th. On Sunday, it took me until about mile 8 to decide yes, yes I really am running this.

This year hasn’t been easy. I have the physical issues of nerve pain and numbness that are often agitated by my love for running. I was also in a relationship that in many ways was inhibiting my ability to be myself. I am oddly independent and have an incredibly good time by myself, which is something I’ve found is quite unique.

My struggles with picking my leg hair have diminished some since ending my relationship, but I still find a certain solace in the act. I went on an interview Monday for a job that didn’t seem like it could hold a light to my current one. But my current one isn’t lighting a fire under my ass either. With running back on my good side, my job is now the biggest stress inducing, hair picking influence in my life.

So I ran a half marathon Sunday and I ran a PR. 43 seconds off the time I ran 3 years ago as a spunky 23 year old. At an average pace of 8:42, I finished in 1:53.49 and it felt phenomenal. Of course the whole race was not a cake walk, what 13 mile run is? I coasted for a while, but miles 10-13 took a bit more effort from somewhere deep inside.

The last mile especially, the last mile took my generally happy-go-lucky running commentary in my mind to a whole new level. It consisted mostly of: Do you want the PR not? Do you? You didn’t drive all this way, you didn’t run all this way to not get a PR. Do you want the PR or NOT?!?!

And then my mind went a bit further, the odd mix of adrenaline and fatigue pushing me forward to a time I try not to think about. A time when I can no longer run, when my nerves and joints and muscles and tendons decide no more. We have had enough. You have been putting us through hell for over 10 years, we quit!

“You may never get this chance again, you may never be this close to a PR again, you may NEVER PR again period, are we doing this or what?” And I did. I finished 13.1 miles faster than I ever had before and I walked back to my car after the race simultaneously smiling like nut and holding back tears because I had honestly surprised myself.

26 years old and I still surprise myself. 26 years old and the love of my life is myself.

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Forever

My father always said, should I choose to get confirmed in the Catholic church, I would then be able to make my own decisions about my religion. My mother, on the other hand, seemed more concerned with confirmation being a requirement for getting married in the Catholic church. Either way, during my junior year of high school I attended the mandatory Sunday classes, recruited a sponsor, logged the required volunteer hours, and reluctantly went on my first religious retreat. My more realistic motivation was becoming a biannual church goer. The suddenly obtainable dream of being able to make a brief appearance in church on Christmas and Easter before returning to my life of sin and religious confusion was enough to convince me.

During the long months of preparation for Confirmation, I waited to feel the all encompassing understanding, for something to click and to suddenly feel the holy spirit and know I was at the mercy of some greater power. Spoiler alert, it never happened. With each passing class I began to realize how little I understood about my own religion and how completely out of place I felt somewhere I was supposed to belong.

When I was confessing to my then-priest in a small room about drinking underage and lying to my parents about my whereabouts in order to do so, I realized I was simply unloading some burden onto another human. A man who studied and believed and had changed his entire way way of life for his beliefs, but at his core was just another human with flaws and fears and regrets just like me. Could he really help me? Heal me? Relinquish my sins? It all felt so bizarre.

Despite my confusion I still lay in bed at night and say my troubles aloud as if someone is listening. I still wonder if the deceased are really looking down on me and seeing me blow drying my hair naked or gorging on cheese puffs or laying on the floor crying. I still send my hopes and fears up into the sky for someone to hear because despite it all I still hope there is something out there, simply too complex for me too comprehend.

Growing up, church had never been one of my top ten favorite places. Maybe it was the monotonous standing and sitting and standing and trying not to pass out and sitting again. Maybe it was the lengthy homilies and methodical reception of the body and blood of christ. Or maybe it was simply the way church made me feel. I’d be standing there thinking how much bigger all this was then me, how I’m a person but I don’t know why. I’d be reciting the profession of faith working myself into a tizzy, worrying about everlasting life. Everlasting life sounds terrifying to me! I don’t want to live forever.

In the words of Woody Allen, “Forever is a long time, especially towards the end.”

My Dad describes heaven as being infinitely happier than the happiest you’ve ever been, forever and ever…

Forever? What does that even mean?

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The Struggle is Real

I have always been an anxious person, and over the years finding outlets for this anxiety has ranged from nail biting to binge drinking. Things that help calm me down and let me feel free of anxiety, doubt, and fear even for just short amount of time. I was diagnosed with anxiety as a child and treated for some time until I was able to function as a normal second grader again. Since then I believed I was in control of the situation and that my habits, though not always healthy, were infrequent enough and necessary for helping keep me sane.

Until about a year ago, when I found new pastime to obsesses over that only requires tweezers and time (So much time!). I start by finding the perfect lighting to pick my leg hair. Sometimes natural sunlight streaming in the window around 3pm is nice, the track lighting in my bedroom is ideal, but a flashlight while I watch TV at night also gets the job done. I survey the terrain and begin picking until I am totally lost in the process. Alone in my apartment, this activity is a solitary one, but not without consequence.

My legs are covered in marks, described by my at the time uniformed father as what looks like poison ivy. I mentioned to my mother in the winter how I sometimes picked my leg hair for extended amounts of time. But hidden under pants and tights, she misunderstood the severity. The overwhelming need to pluck and pull the hairs out of my legs even if they are simply minding their own business and growing in properly as a good hair should.

An occasional ingrown hair or two keeps me coming back for more, the kind that are curled under the skin and measure sometimes close to half an inch! Some are simply thick and corse and dark enough that ripping them from their roots is insanely satisfying. A few I squeeze at the base and the hair will pop out leaving a nice, clean follicle I deem as a victory. And sometimes I just pick at random until 20, 30, maybe 40 minutes have passed and all I have to show for it is marked up shins (my area of choice) and disappointment in myself.

I am writing this because I am trying for the umpteenth time to stop on my own. To taper off even, to a frequency that is manageable and less self-destructive. A visit to my parents last week prompted a long one-on-one talk with my mom about what we should do because it is clear I can’t quit on my own. But I want to! I do! (Only slightly more than I want to go home and pluck my leg hair right now)

I locked up my tweezers in a safe box for fear the minute I actually remove them from the apartment I will find five hairs in my chin and a few stray gray hairs on my that need immediate removal. So I locked them up and didn’t pick for 5 whole days! Then I found the pink Swiss army knife I had gotten for Christmas in 2007 which low and behold had tweezers attached, and quickly made up for lost time. The army knife is now locked in the glove compartment in my car.

I am writing this for myself, but also for everyone who has posted about similar struggles. I have plenty of people I can relate to who have written blogs and posted in forums. It has helped me feel a little less crazy, and a little more worried that my anxiety has reached a level again that I cannot manage on my own.

While my mom preemptively searched for support groups and psychiatrists in the area, I stand steadfast in my belief that I can and will stop. The biggest problem being, how will the anxiety manifest itself if I do stop?

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The Front Porch Cat

It was a mild October afternoon when the front porch cat wandered onto our street. Of course, he wasn’t the front porch cat at this point. He was the cul de sac cat.

I met him amidst the mailboxes and overgrown grass. Friendly and vying for attention, he tolerated the petting and the picking up a lot better than our current pet, the black and white cat.

At dusk, the cul de sac cat willingly followed us up the street where we hoped his owner or an amicable passerby in need of a furry friend might find him. We bid him farewell on the corner of Springhouse drive with an offering of chicken nuggets.

But the cul de sac cat came back, and bravely took up residence upon one of the white wicker chairs on our porch. It is perched upon this chair, he earned his namesake.

The front porch cat liked his chair, but he liked laps better. I would race up the hill after school each day and join him with a good book or some one-sided conversation. All the while wondering where he came from and how long he’d stay.

The front porch cat filled his days with bird watching and cat naps, and was always grateful for our company and offerings of off-brand cat food. Despite the occasional spat with the black and white cat, the front porch cat seemed as content as a clam in the sand as the newest resident of our humble abode. If cats can smile, I’m sure he did.

Autumn progressed, and the temperatures dropped. The front porch cat longed to venture inside with the laps and the snacks and the black and white cat, and I repeatedly asked if he could come inside and warm up. The winds whipped and the front porch cat waited, steadfast in his white wicker chair. I believe he knew long before we did, that we’d cave.

And so on one particularly cold November evening, the front porch cat made his way inside. Into our home and into our hearts as our beloved cat, Toby.

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2 of the nearly 5478392 things I don’t get

When people call their significant other their best friend or better half.

For starters, I believe a best friend plays a distinct and vital role in a persons’s life. My best friend growing up lived across the street and was the person I spent the majority of my formative years with. Learning how to overcome our differences, practicing our social skills, and expanding each other’s worlds (gay doesn’t just mean happy?).

As I grew older my best friend(s) became the select few people whose advice I trusted and whose company I enjoyed the most. The number slowly dwindled as I realized a lot of people were headed down different paths in life or had become slightly uninteresting and unmotivated. Then one day I realized I actually really only have one close friend to confide some of my deepest fears and darkest secrets in. Someone who had known me long enough to know how much I’d been through and how much it had inevitably changed me.

Having a best friend means having a strength baring cornerstone to your overall well being. So whyyyy would you want to combine this one-of-a-kind role with your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/lover/partner?

I’d rather have both. Two people. A best friend and a boyfriend/husband. The same why my mom is and will always be my mother, not my friend. I don’t want my significant other’s role in my life be confused with that of my best friend. Sure the two have a lot of overlapping responsibilities and significance, I suppose that’s why the roles are too often combined and best friends are continually abandoned for romantic relationships… But the way I love my friends is different than the way I believe I could and will love my “significant other” someday. But I’ve never been in love, so what do I know?

Well, I know I don’t want a better half. I want and equal half. Not entirely equal in every way, but a person that combats my negatives while I challenge their positives. Someone that keeps me grounded while I expand their imagination. Someone whose faults balance my strengths and whose best assets seem to diminish my flaws.

When a man calls a woman his better half, I tend to think It’s usually because “…[she] coulda done a lot better than him” -George Costanza

And vice versa.

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Twenty 5

I have been putting in a conscious effort to stay off of Facebook. I lasted 11 days at one point, but getting tagged in a photo I didn’t like put an end to that streak. Still I have been logging in substantially less. An occasional message or event invite may lure me back in, but in whole I have gone from roughly an hour a day on Facebook to about one hour all week.

It started because my Macbook broke and continued because without Facebook I don’t feel as unhappy. Facebook is a shrine to people in budding relationships and flourishing careers, it shines an ever-present spotlight on people meeting goals and going on adventures and it was honestly making me miserable.

Facebook was confirming my fears multiple times a day that my feelings of alienation will only continue to fester as more and more people move away, get married, have kids, and settle down.

…Or maybe just settle.

I don’t what the lives I see glorified on Facebook, and it is probably because I am terrified of being average. Absolutely terrified. I’ve done little things here and there that have made me feel like I wasn’t another run of the mill ho-hum human being. But how do I make sure? Cataloging my life on Facebook won’t help and neither will working 9-5 the rest of my life, getting drunk on weekends, and watching too much HD TV.

The life I want is not average, not average at all. Which is probably why the future scares me so much. I am 25 and already feel myself drifting away from so many people because I do not want certain things. I do not want the lives I see on Facebook. I do not want to marry my best friend, have my kids be the best thing that ever happened to me, buy a cookie cutter house in the suburbs and all the other predictable milestones you can think of.

25 is not an easy age. But in reality, what age is easy?

Every year of my life has had bleak and dismal moments scattered among the peaks of happiness. 25 has been especially hard because I’ve seen a lot of people grow and leave and change and I am still just me. Eclectic and unconventional and as confused as ever. Still just a bumbling idiot with no concrete goals, just a head full of dreams and a heart full of ambition. I’ve had a few milestones and personal victories, but the truth is I haven’t had some grand metamorphosis yet, and you know what? That’s ok. That just means I haven’t reached my peak.

And I hope I never reach my peak.

 

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Left in the wake

At what point is it ok to say that you wish you’d never met someone?

Is it when the tears outnumber the smiles 1000 to 1? Is it when the places you once treasured become haunted with memories? Is it when your subsequent behavior becomes dangerously self-destructive?

I think it’s when, lost in your own demise, you consequently hurt others. Whether it be the people you’ve had in your life for years or someone new simply trying to find a way in.

I like to imagine that “we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze”  and we occasionally meet people by complete happenstance. Simply because we both happened to be in the same place at the same time, our paths crossed and our lives became irreversibly intertwined. It is these people we do not choose to meet, but choose to try and keep.

Then there are the people which we do meet by choice. We pick the time and the place based on limited knowledge and cordial conversations. Technology is crazy that way. We can find people in the depths of cyberspace we would have otherwise never known existed. We meet these people full of curiosity, hope, and a bit of foolishness. It is these people we do not meet by chance, but maybe by mistake.

And so it is the people I meet, by chance or by choice, that come and go from my life, leaving me in a sea of  their inevitable debris. I grasp at the past full of genuine conversations and enduring sensations struggling to regain stability. I ride the methodical motion of the waves in an attempt to lose myself in the routine of life. I watch them all from a distance find fulfillment in other people, places, and things, while I try to find the dwindling desire inside myself to carry on. Always wondering…

How does this keep happening?

Why am I so easy to let go?

Why am I so easy to leave behind?

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