Friday, July 10, 2015

Of Danger Mice and Men

I was never in a sorority back in college. For several reasons, really. The combination of my aversion to paying for friends, my going to a very small liberal arts college, and having known way too many frat boys made a sorority very unlikely for me.

And, here I am, days away from turning 43, and I have found myself in a sorority. As it turns out, we have chapters across the United States.

Some might try to describe our growing roster as a support group. And we do support each other, whenever we are needed. With the severity of the damage inflicted upon us, we certainly need the support.

So--while our core purpose, our charter, or raison d'etre is to indeed offer each other support--I prefer to call us a sorority.

Because we are sisters. We are Earthquake survivors.

Pulling yourself from the rubble crashing down on you can feel like a Sisyphean task. But we--as a group of amazing, intelligent women--are developing our course on Earthquake survival. And, with every addition to our ranks, we are perfecting and sharing the syllabus.

Let me share with you all one of the best Earthquake survival tips that I have learned.

There will be days--I still have days--where it will feel like I will never be happy again. Sometimes, it is mired in nihilistic struggles of existential angst. Or in other worlds... Why does terrible shit keep happening to me? I'm a good person. I am a fundamentally righteous person who does not intentionally inflict harm to the people I care about. Why do I always run headlong into people... OK, let's be real for a moment here... Why do I always run headlong into men who are intent on doing me harm?

There will be days that you will wonder if you will ever find happiness. Find Joy. And here is the secret to feeling happy after the Earthquake:

Schedule some Joy. Put some Joy on your calendar, then circle that Joy in red and draw little hearts and stars and diamonds around it.

Joy, it seems, has much in common with Lucky Charms.

I've scheduled my next Joy. In March, I will be going to a women's writing workshop in Cork. I am headed to Ireland for 20 days of castles and cliffs and writing and stones. I will visit Guinness, and Waterford, and Claddagh, and pub after pub after pub. I will visit art museums and maritime museums, then spend five intense days working on the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo. After that, I will hop on trains and buses to see the Trinity Library and St. Patrick's Cathedral. And speaking of St. Paddy, I will be spending March 17th in Dublin.

Such, such Joy.

I do have to attach one small warning to the Schedule Joy plan. If you plan to include someone else in the Joy, you have to be able to Know--capital K Know--that the person you choose as someone to share the Joy will not be taking a big shit all over it.

The person with whom I am sharing this next Joy with is one of my favorite people in the world. She is one of the handful of people to whom I would give both of my kidneys if she needed them. She will make my next Joy an amazing, shit-free journey. She will be by my side as I am working though the most difficult parts of my book. My book--a memoir disguised as a novel--has not seen much attention in the last little while. It's difficult subject matter. But like a splinter, I need to let it fester out of my system.

I need to finish the book because--if for no other reason--it probably should be added to our syllabus.

And I need to read it myself from time to time. Just to remember.

A little while ago, I was talking to my Earthquake sister Melanie about the men in my life and their escalating degree of injury they cause me. I posed the question: How do these men keep finding me? Melanie had an interesting insight. She postulated that once you have been the victim of one bad man, you are more likely to encounter more bad men. It's like getting a concussion. Once you get one, you are susceptible to more concussions. And they build and compound on each other. They just get worse and worse.

After all this time, my Earthquake concussion is still making me feel injured and vulnerable. I need my sorority sisters for support, for camaraderie, for a sanity check. The Earthquake sisters lean on each other. We serve as one another's Jiminy Cricket, sitting on each other's shoulders and giving gentle reminders that "something about this dude doesn't feel right."

There is only one issue that remains. What should we call ourselves, this growing sorority? Maybe we should call ourselves I Eta Pi, and we can plan retreats every March 14th. Well, except this next one. I'll be in Cork.

Welcome to all of our many, many sisters out there in the world. We are here for you when you are ready. We are your support. We are your safe place. We are ordering jackets.

They will have a silver linings.

Friday, July 3, 2015

I Write Less When I'm Happy

I am quickly closing in on another birthday. And another prime number. But, for the first time in a long, long time, I am feeling...

I have a hard time identifying what I am feeling. Hopeful? Energized? Could it be? Could this be what it feels like to be happy?

One thing that is contributing to this foreign sense of smiley-ness is that I am loving my job. I love it. It engages every part of me. My analytical side, my creative side, and even my anal-retentive side. I get to make art and checklists. I get to work along side some truly brilliant people, building things for hugely important companies.

I don't remember ever liking my job like this before.

And one thing I get to do a lot in this job is write. Lots of different writing about lots of different things. I do think that is the source of my extended blogging vacation. So I owe you all a nice, long blog post.

And I will continue to owe you that. But here is one big brain dump. We can unwind it together later.

Since we last talked, I have been to San Jose, New York, and Orlando. The first two for work (but I got to visit friends in both places!). The last was for a family vacation. Which was both hugely fun, debilitatingly exhausting, and the last time that I will ever cross the Mason-Dixon line between them months of February-December. So I owe you a travel blog post.

Here is a little list of the other posts I owe you, complete with an executive summary of each:

Gay marriage: I am so happy that--for once--this Supreme Court is on the right side of history.

Obamacare: Those Supremes were on a roll!

Confederate flags: You don't have to agree that displaying this flag is racist. But you have to admit that it takes a very special type of asshole to want to fly the flag of the losing side.

Twitter improving my writing: Something about summing up a thought in only 140 characters is really making my writing tight. Twitter is a bit like a puzzle. And it is also an exercise in letting go the rules of grammar, if only for 11 seconds.

My new best friend Rosie O'Donnell: Anyone who is a woman and anyone who loves a woman should find an hour of time to watch her HBO Stand-up Special. She talks about the symptoms of a heart attack for women. I absolutely know that she is saving lives with this information. Oh, and she follows me on Twitter.(Spoiler alert. Rosie does not yet know that we are besties. But I'm sure she will be exited about it.)

Shaving my head (Half of it, at least):  I'm trying to figure out the best way to stay cool this summer. My mother commented that I looked "tough." I'm pretty sure she meant lesbian.

Another summer with MS: It is so fucking hot. I am spending my free time shopping for property in Alaska.

The stupid fucking Duggars: I don't believe in hell. But stories like the one of Josh Duggar molesting children make me wish I did.

Harry Potter World: It's like stepping right into the books. It is truly magical.

And just so you know that my blog has not been hijacked by some spliced together version of Pollyanna and Ellen Degeneres, I am fully anticipating that my grasp on this small slice of happy will soon slip through my fingers. But, what the hell. For now? Drinks are on me.