Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Money Dance

December 6
Money:  Where did you spend your money this year?  Did you save it instead?  What, if anything, would you like to do with your finances this year?

It makes me uncomfortable to talk about money. I very rarely discuss financial matters with anyone,  even my closest friends and family.

Money was always a thing when I was growing up.  My father always looked at things from a financial perspective. We took family road trips because air fair costs an arm and a leg.  I wasn't permitted to stay home sick from school because do you have any idea how much Catholic school costs? And didn't I understand money doesn't grow on trees? ?

I hated it.  And I always promised myself that I wouldn't live like that.

I sometimes joke that I spend my disposable income on sweaters and wine.

But that's not really a joke.

I have just always chosen to spend the money, buy the things I want, give freely,  have adventures as opportunities arise.

This year my money paid for art I love and pedicures with people I love and shopping trips and wine club and Run or Dye and meals with friends and a weekend getaway with sorority sisters in Charleston, SC.

I definitely should save more, and I've set some very specific financial goals for myself for next year... but no money regrets. I'm happy to live with my money instead of counting it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Giving Up

December 5
Letting go: For next year, I’m letting go of…

I ended a friendship this past year. The reason why seems silly when I explain. It boils down to the fact that a once close friend prioritized her wants over my needs.

A year or two ago I would have excused this,  even sought forgiveness where an apology was warranted.

Now I feel skepticism.  Skepticism and a little rage.

So I'm letting go of all of that.

No more silliness and drama and pettiness.

I'm only leaving room in my life for positive, supportive people.

And I'm going to let go of the guilt.
The guilt about the car accident, I mean.

I've been lying for months, telling people its gone.
It isnt.
Most days it is an albatross around my neck: seen by no one, felt by me alone.

But this year I'm going to do it.
I'm going to forgive myself. 

I hope.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


December 4 Do Over: Hindsight is the one thing we never benefit from in the present.  Is there one moment you wish that you could do-over?

"Are you going to have an intervention for your sister?" my cousin asked.
"NO!" was the definite answer.

I have two little sisters. Did you know?

I talk about one of them, TheFish, all the time.

The other is a more sensitive subject... She's our baby. She went to live with my dad when my parents split fir the last time.

I saw her over the summer for the first time in nearly five years.

Now is the part where I'm supposed to say that I wish I could have a "do over" for that day.
I'm not sure that's entirely true.

The last time I had seen her, five years ago, was the day of my brother's memorial service.  This year I saw her on the day of my grandmother's memorial service.

My regrets aren't about my sister. Maybe they should be.  Maybe I am a terrible person. I don't know.

She's a stranger.  Taller than I remember.  Her voice sounds foreign,  her features unfamiliar.
We awkwardly avoided each other for a day and a half. Then I complimented her shoes. We made uncomfortable small talk for a few scant minutes until our aunt interrupted.

Truth: I didn't feel a connection.

I don't miss her. That probably makes me a terrible person.

Maybe it is because I was mourning my gramma so intensely; because I was dreading TheFish leaving to return to the great rainy North later that afternoon.

That day, the day of my gramma's memorial, is hardly more clear than that of BabyBrother five years before.  I know that I dont regret anything though.  I held my tongue when appropriate.  I told anecdotes about Gramma that she would appreciate. I supported my mother in her grief.

I do have regrets though...
Most of all, I regret not calling Gramma more when she was healthy. I wish I could do-over all of the calls I didn't return right away, the emails I forgot to respond to,  the calls I didnt make, the visits I didn't plan.

I meant to write about Gramma and how much I love her; how she always told me that I was her favorite; the way she treated my small troubles seriously; how she always fed us dessert for dinner.

And all of that is trye.

But I  didn't know how much I needed to acknowledge the strange collision of my grief over Gramma and the lack of emotion over my littlest sister.


December 3: Coulda woulda shoulda: What didn’t you do this year because you were too scared, afraid, unsure?  Are you going to do it next year?  Or maybe you don’t want to anymore?

I've always had a pie-in-the-sky someday-when kind of plan.

In high school, I planned to move to Spain and never come back. I'd spend my days wandering cobblestone streets, taking siestas, drinking albariño and teaching English to bored teenagers in Barcelona or Sevilla. I'd run with the bulls in the summer and spend my vacations making pilgrimages to Lourdes and Fatima and Vatican City.

I still dream about moving, reinventing myself. The destination has changed more than once. It always ultimately includes me leaving this tiny town, the one I once thought was forever in my rearview, and forging a new path for myself.

Someday I will live in that city. Someday I will further my education. Someday I will switch careers. Someday I will see that wonder/ swim in that body of water/ wander through those streets/ take that opportunity. Someday.

So why not just do it? I'm unmarried, still fairly young. Now should be the time to take a leap.
Here's the thing... I'm not much of a leaper. I'm scared. Indecisive.

And, every now and then, I look around and I think about how much I love this town, how hard I've worked, how my career is just beginning, how I am so lucky to have so many people who love me.

It isn't enough.
I'm not unhappy, just... unfulfilled.

One of those stupid, quasi inspirational pins recently caught my eye on Pinterest. It has a stupid yellow-saturated picture of a tree in the background and it says "Someday is not a day of the week." As stupid as it is, I needed that little reminder in that moment.

Did I leap this year? No. Will I next year? Maybe.

But I'm going to turn some of those dreams into realistic plans... plans that will probably still include albariño.

No more Somedays.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ay, mija!

December 2: Gorgeous | When did you feel beautiful this year?  Why?

SusieQ calls herself my work mom.

She's very short, but she wears those ultra supportive athletic shoes with three inches of sole that are popular amongts the 60+ set, so you almost don't notice. She has the most amazing laugh, it is loud and girlish and infectious. She's is always perfectly coiffed: not a hair out of place, penciled in eyebrows, lip liner. Oh and the jewelry! Bangles, rings, necklace, diamond earrings. 

She has a big Hispanic family: six sons, five grandsons. Two daughters-in-law that she doesn't care for much.

Man, she sure loves me, though. She's always full of smiles and compliments. "Ay, mija, you look so pretty today!" She hugs me and touches my hair and scolds me when I threaten to cut it. She tells me how smart and pretty I am.

It was overwhelming, at first. My family has never been particularly demonstrative or complementary. I'm suspicious of positive feedback; compliments are backhanded or come with big old strings attached.

I didn't know how to react to so much positive attention. I've never had someone be so excited about me before. I thought she was crazy.

But over the last year or so I've grown to love her. And somewhere along the way I even started to believe her a little.

I feel... empowered.  I am able to look myself in the mirror and see the beauty in the girl looking back at me, instead of the flaws.

Monday, December 1, 2014


I've decided to give Project Reverb a try again this year. I've missed writing, and I think this might be a good way to get back into the habit.

December 1: At the start | Where did you start 2014?  Give us some background on this year.

I spent New Year's Eve home alone on my couch. I made mac n cheese and went to bed at 9:30pm.

It wasn't as sad as it sounds.

I had spent the bulk of the previous three months living out of a suitcase at my best friend's house. I was relieved to be home, grateful for the solitude.

The previous September,  I had totalled my car. While driving my friend and her daughter to the airport. For a Hawaiian vacation.
Needless to say, they missed their flight.

My friend was hurt. One minute we were joking about pineapples and the next minute she was in a crying hospital bed and I was suddenly responsible for a five year old.
I've never wanted my mom more in my life than I did that day.

When we got home, her mother immediately began talking lawyers and lawsuits.

I knew the only way through was together. So we both slept on couches in her living room until she was cleared to climb the stairs to her bedroom. I watched hours of Food Network with her when she was in too much pain to sleep. I fetched and carried and plumped pillows. I became a familiar face at her daughter's day care and dance studio. I did everything I could think of to help.

Not because of the guilt. Because I love her and her daughter and because you don't abandon family.

Make no mistake, there is guilt. So much guilt. The kind of guilt that comes to you so orangically after nine years of Catholic school. The guilt cannot be fought with reason or tears. Perhaps it will go away with time, but for now it endures.

By New Year's Eve it was beginning to look as though the worst might be over, there might be no more surgeries, she might be cleared to work again soon. And so I had gone home to snuggle my dog and sleep in my own bed.

This all turned out to be wishful thinking, of course.

But I got that one glorious day to relax, to not be strong or put on a happy face... to feel something besides soul sucking guilt.

So my beginning was quiet, but that was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shut Up

For years I have been promising myself that I will learn to shut up. You see, I have this horrible, pathological need to confess everything. I hold on to things for as long as I can and then they come spilling out in a chaotic rush of emotion and crazy. It's like a verbal manifestation of an ugly cry. Not cute. Or remotely sane.

I've recently realized that I don't want to shut up. Why shouldn't I speak my mind? What am I so afraid of?

Today I finally verbalized something that I've been thinking for years and something else that has been rattling around in my head for a couple of months. And you know what? I feel better. So. No more keeping my feelings inside. No more fear. No more emotional hoarding.

I feel invincible. That's the secret I've been carrying around for years. After all of what happened in Arkansas and all of the shit with my father and all of the hours, days, weeks, months I spent wanting, trying, willing myself to die, I survived. And then my brother died. Right when everything was turning around for him. So, now, there is no way I can die. I've taken just enough psych classes to know that this mentality is a reaction to my grief. But I believe that God, the universe, whatever couldn't be so cruel as to have forced me to live for no reason. He couldn't be so cruel as to take two of my mother's children, two of my sister's siblings.
And now that I've verbalize this, I want to shout it out for the world to hear. I am alive! I feel celebratory about this for the first time ever. Celebratory and... defiant? I'm going to take this life that has been thrust upon me and live it. No more hiding, no more giving in, no more shutting up, no more fear.