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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.

Like Christmas I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve. I don't get the purpose of going out getting drunk and kissing whoever is around (although this year I am happy to be kissing a very special somebody). Sure it's only once a year and it's a big deal because it's the end of a decade (although wouldn't next year be the end of the decade?) and all that, but is tomorrow any different because you write down a different date? It's not the celebration of the New Year that bothers me so much as people's idea that somehow because it is a new year tomorrow everything is going to be different. I'm pretty sure that as rational adults we all realize there is no such thing as Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Bogey Man, Superman, etc. So why do we believe in the New Year Fairy? Some magical entity that will sprinkle glittery dust on our lives and poof everything is all right. It sounds nice and I'd like to believe this, but I simply cannot. I do not make new years resolutions to loose weight, quite bad habits, go for some goal that I've thought about for months, but did not have the ambition to go after. I do not need a special day of the year to get drunk and party only to sleep all day tomorrow, wake up hungover and realize that I'm not going to do any of these things just because it is a new year. The only tradition I can appreciate on New Years Eve is reflection and therefore instead of making a list of things that I can change in my life on ANY given day I will reflect on the past year of my life.

A year ago I was leaving the Marine Corps. My office was packed. My apartment was packed. My life was packed in neat boxes locked up in a storage unit right outside of base. I left for Central and South Florida on January 1st then ventured on to Peru. I saw the Everglades, the rainforest, The Amazon, Machu Picchu, cloud forest, the Panama Canal, and much more. I came back and traveled around California tasting wine and visiting friends and family. I spent a week packing up my dear friend, Beth, in Yuma and helped her leave the Marine Corps. I went to Salvation Mountain in the middle of the desert. I ran more miles than I want to add up. I competed in and finished the NYC marathon. I fell in love. I laughed until I cried. I cried until I laughed. I held my newest nephew (2 weeks old at the time). I hugged my oldest nephew. I saw friends I haven't seen in 5 years and picked up exactly where we left off. I lost friends, made new friends, published essays, wrote more essays, finished a semester of school, drank Guinness on a one-to-one ratio to miles I ran. I stressed about money. I spent money frivolously. I slept more than I have since I was a kid. I slept on more couches than I did beds. I mad mistakes. I said I was sorry. I finished goals. I abandoned some dreams. I missed someone so much it hurts to think about now. I loved someone so much I can't even write the words to express it. I traveled to another hemisphere and I found my way home. I learned things about myself I never expected. I found out things about myself I hate and still try to forgive. It was one hell of a year.

In the musical Rent there is a song titled "Seasons of Love." In this song the cast sing about how you measure the life in a year. They sing that there are five-hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes in a year. In the novel and movie, Fight Club, the narrator says, "This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time." A couple years ago I saw the writer of Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk, and asked him why he writes. He told me, "I'm going to die. My friends are going to die, but in my stories they live on." He is right and everyday we add to our own stories no matter what four numbers are at the end of the date. So, I don't hope that 2010 will be any better than 2009 (a pretty fucking phenomenal year). I hope that that my health remains, that I get to see my family more often and most importantly that I have the courage to make my dreams and goals happen on any day of the year rather than waiting another 525,600 minutes to make resolutions. On one final note of 2009, in honor of the late Kurt Vonnegut I hope in 2010 anyone who reads this will take this advice: "And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'if this isn't nice, I don't know what is.' " Why not wait until the end of next year to realize everything you want, need or have is all within your grasp.

2010 you have some high expectations to live up to my friend. . . I only hope I find it in myself to make it all happen! To infinity and beyond. . .

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Things Will Work Out."

Whenever someone has a rough day, or is waiting for good or bad news or for any other reason someone might suffer anxiety we are conditioned to say "Things will work out." So I'm holding my breath trying to wait until Monday, or such and such are back in their office after a holiday break and a lot of other reasons my life is basically on hold and everyone says to me, "It'll all work out." What if it doesn't? What if things are out of our control and there is nothing we can do about it? What do you say when all that is left is to admit defeat? Sometimes it doesn't just conveniently work out ... oh wait, for those with good attitudes who work hard everything will unfold like the Full House Christmas special. Bust out the hot cocoa, friends and relax knowing it will work out. For those of us who apparently have sinned in a former life I ask you when do you admit defeat? At what point do people stop telling you it will work out and to get over it and move on? How long should one hold their breath in hopes that there's an off chance that things might actually go well for you for once? I'm running out of oxygen. I don't know how much more longer I can hold my breath. I'm drowning and what if things simply don't work out? Then what?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Final Thoughts on Action Vs Attitude

Buddha was correct. Life is suffering. How we handle the suffering through our actions, not our attitudes is what will change the world. In my adult lifetime I have watched one leader’s incompetency lead the American people to hold their breath in hope for for the next leader. Obama was elected on the campaign slogan of “Hope.” Now, America has taken that hope and turned it into the attitude that Obama can change the world. Some people are pleased with his actions some are not, but the common people are not stepping up to the plate to do anything about it either way. My generation is known for their apathy. We have taken the tradition of letting the government take care of things and as long as we vote we have done our part. Our apathy is forcing us to give up basic civil rights like health care and the freedom to assemble. Our laziness is letting this happen. Someday when we have given up all the freedoms that our country was founded on we will line up along Main Street and point our fingers at the government once again. This time we will blame the new leaders for riding on our wave of hope and destroying us. None of us will see that it was our lazy attitude, our lackadaisical approach to politics, our inability to not eat McDonalds and buy crap at Wal-Mart just to buy crap at Wal-Mart that forced our government to change our health care, bail out the common man, take away our constitutional freedoms because we did not want the responsibility that came with these freedoms. The world is changing and rather than be blindly be a part of it I recommend you educate yourself, fight for our freedoms, take on the responsibility that they entail and have hope in yourself rather than someone else to do your part in making the world a better place.

The Last Living Optimist.

Life is suffering.


This morning I woke up and checked my email like I do every morning. There was an email from my older brother, who rarely emails me, with the subject “reminder.” I was curious what I had apparently forgotten and opened it up to this message:

Be the change you want to see in the world.-Gandhi

Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path…and leave a trail.-Thoreau

If you wake up convinced your going to have a bad day…you’ll never disappoint yourself. Just a reminder as we go into the holiday season. You can’t change what the world throws at you; you can only change your attitude. Some people will have things much easier than you, other will have it much worse…but ultimately you are accountable for how you rise up and face each challenge despite how it ranks in the grand scheme of things.

Its how normal everyday people can go charging into the face of danger and staggering adversity with a smile, and how a one person moves a mountain and triumphs against all odds. Are they just that much more gifted, lucky, blessed?

It is attitude, and that’s one thing you have 100% control over. So take a deep breath, and no matter how much it hurts the muscles, force a smile and give thanks for the ability that even though we can’t necessarily control our own destiny; we can control how we feel about it.

Now, I normally hate forwards of this nature anyways, but this particular message on this particular day particularly pissed me off.

First off – Consumerism. I hate the holiday season. It brings out the best in some people and the worst in all people. Everyone rushes to the stores to fight over cheap plastic toys made in China and dipped in lead paint. Too often I see people who are living outside of their means and trying to keep up with the Joneses by buying crap that they don’t need, don’t want and are purchasing merely because it is marketed so that they think the ignorant consumer thinks he/she is getting a good deal. And we wonder how we wound up in such an economic crisis?! It is disgusting. I work my ass off to pay off my school loans while these same slobbering pigs take out multiple credit cards to buy shit at Wal-Mart and then claim bankruptcy and America will bail them out because they are the hard workers that live on Main Street. Maybe there’s something to the work ethic of those who made it to Wall Street and manage to keep themselves out of the crazy credit card debt that seems to plague Main Street.

Secondly, I can’t afford to go home for the holidays. Now, this doesn’t mean I’d travel if I could afford it because traveling over the holidays is about as enjoyable as getting a Brazilian bikini wax. We live in a society where people are self absorbed. We don’t help the old lady get down the cramped airplane aisle, we push her out of the way while cussing her out for being slow. I have people I spend my holidays with even though I’d rather sit at home alone watching movies that represent the wonderful human spirit that we celebrate this time of year. I think Wall-E is appropriate.

Thirdly, I’m not religious. The holidays hold no value to me whatsoever except a day off work. Only I no longer work so it’s a day like any other day with no significance at all.

Fourth, Gluttony. I try to eat healthy. However, I eat an apple a day to feed my stomach as much as I do to feed my absolute fear of gaining weight. I wouldn’t call 911 on me for any eating disorders yet, but the holiday smorgasbords of sugar and fat give me panic attacks like they give Uncle Lardo heart failure.

So back to my big brother’s email. Fuck holiday spirit. If we all had holiday spirit would we need to forward emails about keeping basic manners during this time of year in the first place?

Now, on to attitude. I try to look for the silver lining in life. I really do try. I think it’s my genuine effort to find the silver lining that in the end fails me. The world loves to squish the dreams of the few true optimists there are left.

Oh attitude. Like in Luke’s email you decide how your day is going to go when you wake up. I woke up yesterday excited to start the day. I had finally finished my thesis paper for grad school and was getting ready to start my final semester. It’s a two year program and it’s already taken me two and a half years to get this far because of a deployment to Iraq and trip to South America. I was excited to prepare for my last semester that starts in a week. However, life has that funny way of ruining your day. For the last two and a half years of my life every single semester starts like this:

Registrar’s office: Dear MFA student, you are not registered or enrolled in classes because you haven’t paid.

Libby to Registrar’s office: Dear school, I can’t pay until you send the VA my registration information so I can get GI Bill money to pay my tuition.

Every semester. So, I have learned to anticipate this. The school has not. Just over a week before classes start I find myself in the same conundrum only this time it is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. In the school’s defense the VA has had a plethora of problems since it was activated the new bill last fall. So, it might not be the school or my fault, but fault of the VA. But this is silly, pointing the finger gets us nothing in life except the culprit of the stinky fart. This morning I decided to move on in life. I am not holding my breath that things will or won’t work out. I don’t care. I could finish my degree for the prestige that having a masters degree would get me, but if I don’t I still have the tools if not the qualifying documentation. In short I am completely defeated today. Things are out of my power to change so fuck it. I just don’t care anymore. I will move forward expecting my day to progressively get worse. And so fate has killed the last living optimist.

I grew up in a world of rainbows and butterflies. My parents looked on the brighter side of life, even if the brighter side was a bit abstract. When things went to hell my dad would always say, “Everyday we take a bite out of life’s shit sandwich. Some days it’s a little bite and some days it’s the whole damn sandwich.” Truer words had never been spoken until my sister recently informed me that we are the people lined up at the all you can eat shit buffet.

I can’t recall a particular event that led the rest of my family to believe that life is suffering and changing your attitude only prolongs the suffering until the day you realize it really is just suffering and you have been living a facade. However, until now I kept on believing things would indeed one day get better. I went through the Marine Corps with this blind hope. I took on each school and duty station with the sincere belief that things would work out now. They had to, there’s no way things could possibly get worse! Unfortunately I left the Marine Corps with no respect for most of the men and women I served alongside with and a lot of respect for the few honest men and women who put up with the bull shit so they can proudly wear the uniform.

Each unit I went my fellow servicemen got progressively more self-centered, more vindictive and all in all simply bad people. I left because I wanted to hold onto what little hope I still had in the human race. To me a group of men and women who take the same oath to defend our constitution should work together, but 99% of them waged war within the unit rather than our perceived enemy. And even more unfortunate 99% of them teamed together to wage war against those who didn’t drink their kool-aid brewed of discontent.

I left and yet things aren’t getting any better. I watch war unfold on CNN with the constant fear that I will be called back. I will honor my commitment to the Corps and proudly serve against my reservations I now have about the wars if this happens. I try to have a good attitude. I try to believe in the good of the human race, but apathy, laziness, incompetency of my fellow Americans make this hard. I watch as the government slowly seizes our constitutional rights and nobody does anything about it because it is easier not to fight. I try to look on the bright side of life because going through life knowing things will get worse with no hope at all will make you bitter and jaded – like my older sister. However, it was recently (just this morning) I realized why I am the last living optimist and my sister was the second to last. It has nothing to do with the events of your life or the attitude you take. It has to do with where your path is to begin with.

Like my experiences in the Marine Corps I go through life with the absolute blind faith that things could be better. I have spent my whole life thinking that my actions could lead me to this better world where I could live a better life. People with better attitudes just think their mindset can lead them down a sunnier path. I think it’s the path itself that is in the wrong location. My path is stuck in monsoon season. No matter how sunshiny I go through life it will always rain. My only hope is to change my path altogether. This is going to be difficult. Everyone else lives in normal clients where they get rainstorms only on occasion and can make it through holding onto the hope that there might be a rainbow afterwards if they hold their heads up high. They don’t have the difficult challenge of moving their path.

I can change my attitude but it would merely be a temporary fix. The fact that after year after year of living in a monsoon I still dumbly believe that it can get better makes me the last living optimist. Unfortunately, lately it seems my monsoon is teaming up with tsunami’s and I can’t even see the path anymore. My optimism isn’t lost, it’s drowning. But I have a responsibility. I have to find a way to move my path and lead others to do the same. Live by example. Changing my attitude would do little compared to changing my actions. So I move on from Antioch and the VA defeated, but this is just one battle. There are many more to fight. To loose. To win. Instead of going into this holiday season with the perceived good attitude full of holiday cheer I will live the whole year looking for opportunities to help those in need. I will not wait to celebrate the birth of Christ to pass on good will towards men. I will carry it throughout the year. On days that I am down I will look towards the realists, not the optimists to help pull me out of the flood and I will do my duty to the world as the last living optimists to believe this world can be better and it will take more than merely a good attitude to make that happen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

That time of year again.

I’ve been talking to my older sister on the phone recently and both of us have been suffering from unexplainable depression and anxiety. I think it’s not as unexplainable as it is just that time of year again. I could include statistics about seasonal depression, but that’s boring. Truth is Christmas and all the holiday cheer is the most paralyzing depressive time of the year. I realize that this makes me about as weird as aliens from Mars, but it’s true. Take into account the factors:

Winter – I don’t mind the cold air. Cold air has a way of waking you up and making you feel more alive. What I do mind is the short days. Whoever created daylight savings enjoys watching people suffer. It makes the transition of the shorter days even more intense and miserable. Indiana never recognized daylight savings time until a few years ago, so I can speak from the unique perspective of both sides. When you don’t practice daylight savings time the shortening of days seems much more natural – trust me.

Christmas – Sure, with thanks to marketing it has lost all religious values, but if you don’t believe in Santa or Jesus is there really a reason to celebrate other than good deals at the mall? Seriously. If you are an unemployed atheist how much fun can the Christmas spirit really be?!

New Years – I have personal reasons to hate New Years Eve that I won’t go into detail about on here, but think about it – New Years. It’s the whole glass empty/full conundrum. For me the glass is always empty on New Year’s Eve. Sure you can look at it with all the hope and promise of what next year might bring, but I see the all the failure, disappointment and disillusionment of last year. I am a firm believer that you make your own destiny, but at the same time that destiny is limited by the powers that be. Some people are handed a short straw at birth and no many how many new years and resolutions and dreams and wishes pass – some things are just not meant to be. So, New Years to me represents all the disappointments of the year that passed and putting all my faith and hope into another 365 days seems unreasonable and (in words of my high school band director, Dave Humbert) about as intelligent as running your car into a tree, putting the car in reverse, backing up, putting it back in drive and hitting the tree over and over and over again.

Then the new year hits. . . all the merry merry joy and there are no more significant holidays for awhile (even counting Valentines day - you have to wait 2 months). There is always Groundhog’s Day (my personal favorite holiday) in which all our faith in weather is put into a rodent. This day is more religiously enlightening to me than Christmas.

So, ’tis the mother fucking season for depression, anxiety attacks, not to mention the alcohol consumption increase due to family gatherings (my family excluded in this holiday tradition). Cheers to fighting people at the mall for a spot in line for the hot holiday item. Accidents on black ice and white snow that turns into black slush in the colder parts of the country.

Thank you Jesus for being born, cheers to the Christians who spread across the world like the black plague telling of your goodness in the form of rape, murder, torture and terrorism, and a special cheers to my big sister Megan who is the only pessimist who thinks the world is shittier than I do. Merry Christmas and a shitty new year!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The New America

As I was leaving the house yesterday Jerry Springer happened to be on television even though nobody was watching. I stopped long enough to catch the topic. There was a stripper dancing scantily clad as the woman being interviewed was bragging that she was a single mom, a student and a stripper. Later when I was logging on to facebook there was an animation of two dancing women with an advertisement “Obama is sending Mom’s back to school.” Within the same week California college students protested the raise in tuition prices. This is the same time that the new government health care bill is being beaten to death in DC. What the hell happened to America?
A few weeks ago I was in New York City. I used to live in NYC so I was there to visit and run the marathon, not necessarily to sight-see. Still it is impossible to go somewhere and not sight-see some, if nothing else you see your favorite places. The one place that I love seeing over and over again is the Statue of Liberty. It represents the dreams that America was built on:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door

We all have stories of how our ancestors struggled – whether it was the Native Americans we stole land from and spread disease to or how our parents or great great great great grandparents crossed a sea, fled a country, did whatever so WE could have a better life. My generation is reigned by apathy. We don’t vote. We don’t care that our freedoms and rights are being taken away in between lines of bills and acts that we don’t read through because we’re too busy playing video games or drinking beer and watching football. We feel entitled to free educations and healthcare because we’ve never had to work for anything. Technology is making life easier and kids fatter. It’s sad. Really I watch knowing there is little I can do because I am part of this generation. Why stand against the current when you know nobody else will stand with you? Why wage war when you know it’s a battle you can’t win? These days we praise women for getting knocked up and trying to raise their kid on their own, but nobody praises me for being responsible and NOT getting knocked up. Nobody gives me a break on my school loans because I only have a couple thousand dollars in credit card debt. I don’t get bailed out because I didn’t buy a house I couldn’t afford. In the animal kingdom the weakest of a group gets weeded out by natural consequences, yet we continue to bail people out. Now, we have a culture of American’s who take and take and take and expect more from the government. The few who live responsible lives are being punished for others irresponsibility. It’s not going to end with government health care these programs perpetuate the program. I’m being punished for living a healthy lifestyle because I don’t weigh three times my proper body weight. It’s like feeding a tape worm. The problem is only going to keep growing.

When did the American dream go from “land of opportunity for those who are willing to work for it” to “land of entitlement for those who are willing to give up freedom for government payouts.” Since when did we stop dreaming for a better life and just expect it. When did we stop working towards a better life and start sitting on the couch waiting for a government representative to stop by and hand it to us on a silver platter? Seriously America. Probably those who are reading this are still part of the America that works hard for what they have, so it’s time that those of you who work for what you have to stand up and fight for your rights. Fight for your freedoms. Fight for a reward for living as an upstanding citizen rather than being punished for it. If you don’t stand up for it nobody will and if you don’t exercise your freedoms and rights they will be taken away.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Warm house on a cold Indiana night

I’m home. Not the place I currently live, but home. My parents house. Unfortunately, not the house I grew up in, but the house that is now called “home.” These visits start out very exciting, go through a period of relaxation and then mixed anxiety and guilt about having to leave again. I love it and I hate it. I know if I stayed I’d go insane, but at the same time it’s so hard to leave and the guilt of missing everyone. Really you just can’t win. I forgot what cold is like. It’s only November, but I think these nights are the coldest of the whole year, because they seem so sudden and out of place. The temperatures have been warm enough lately to not feel like winter, but there is a looming chill in the air reminding you it’s coming. The leaves have almost all fallen off except for a few stubborn pieces. The farmers took down the last bit of corn this week so the fields are bare. That was the last event of fall. Now, the wind blows over the land with nothing to slow it down. The temperature dropped a few more degrees, the air is a little damp and the clouds are gloomy and overcast. I will go back to San Diego in a few days where it will remain sunny all year, even on the chillier days, but For now I’m enjoying my parent’s warm house on a cold Indiana night thankful for heat and thick blankets, hot coffee and good conversation, school days and hectic nights. It’s nice to be with a family again, even though like the corn I know I’ll be gone soon enough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: An Essay on Obsessions

I woke up at 9 today. Earlier than days I spend the night at my boyfriend’s house, but much later than I used to sleep. I used to be a morning person, but Brent work’s second and third shift and I don’t work so my schedule now mimics his. We stay up until 3 or 4 AM and sleep until noon. I would say 9 was early, but I fell asleep around 10 last night after sleeping until noon. So, needless to say I have hibernated the last 24 hours – sleeping more hours than I was actually awake. I go through periods of hibernating and periods of sleeplessness. This usually coincides with my mood: When I’m depressed I sleep, when I’m in the middle of a project I don’t sleep until it’s done, telling myself you can sleep when you’re dead! The only person in the world who truly gets this is my older sister. She is also the only other person in the world who loves sleeping more than I do. “Megan-Van-Winkle,” she calls herself saying, “I could sleep for twenty lifetimes.”

After sleeping almost 11 hours straight I called her to brag, “I slept so much yesterday!” I also called because she is the only other person who would get why I have slept so much. You see I recently finished something I have been obsessed with for a month or more. It can happen with epic novels or a project or school (I know graduation should be a happy time in life, but I get really sad after I graduate). In this case it was Battlestar Galactica (The newer series that came out in the last ten years). I have obsessed over the series. Postponing runs for days on end, putting off schoolwork, neglecting basic needs like showering and eating. My excuse to myself was the irrational thought that if I did these other things the human race could be wiped out while I was gone. Clearly, my watching affected the outcome of the battles. I finally finished it over the weekend. Brent was disappointed over the ending, but I think I was more upset over the fact that it was over. Finished. Done. No more. The end. What now? It’s like having a close friend move away – you can visit them by watching an episode, but they are gone. I felt the same way when I finished reading Lord of the Rings, when I finished watching the first three seasons of Lost while I was in Iraq and every time I finish rereading The Alchemist. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on. But how?

My older sister, Megan, of course, understood this immediately. She compared it to her obsession with the Twilight series and American Idol last season. “It’s like you are lost and don’t know what to do with your time now,” she says from across the country. She suggests books to read or a new TV series to watch, but I do not want suggestions I want to mourn this end. Yes it was just a TV show, but to someone with a super-over-active-imagination it is so much more – it was my dream-world, my escape, to me it was as real as Santa Claus is to children.

Megan suggests a book, but I tell her, “No I don’t feel like an uplifting book right now.” She suggests I watch Glee, but I don’t have cable, any kind of reception or the internet so I have no way of watching it (except at a coffee-shop with free wi-fi).

She suggests another book, but at my disinterest says, “I know what you are going through. I’ll start ten books after an obsession ends and not finish a single one of them. It’s not like they are bad, they’re just not whatever I was obsessing over. And then there’s the fear of starting an obsession knowing it is going to end.”

Is it so hard to believe? Does someone who breaks up or looses someone close to them not hesitate to form relationships with people afterwards? Is it so hard to believe that after one obsession ends I would hesitate to start the process over knowing the inevitable outcome?

I tend to not finish books a lot for this reason. It can be an incredible book or a horrible book that is entertaining and either way I’ll set it down and never finish the damn thing. Sometimes it is because something shiny distracts me. More often it is because I don’t want it to end. If you never watch the season finale, or read that final chapter then it is always there to finish someday. Ironically, Admiral Adama discusses this reasoning in one of the episodes. He gives President Roslin a book to read during her cancer treatments and tells her he’s never read past a certain part. He doesn’t want it to end so he just rereads the same part over and over again. For people like us curiosity would kill much more than just a stupid cat.

If you are one of those people who likes to finish things with a clean cut end, then you will probably find us as strange as we find you. Brent doesn’t get this about me. He gave me a book to read in June and I have about a 100 pages left to read. I got distracted with school and then started a Robert Heinlein book then got distracted from it and now I can’t seem to remember where I was in either book. I tried to explain that the best books I don’t want to end and therefore don’t finish them, but he gave me his, “you’re on crack and I can’t believe you’re my girlfriend” look and we let it drop. I want to finish the book he gave me, I do! Yet, I don’t know if I can.

It’s hard for me to accept when something is over. It’s no different than school, or holidays, or a relationship. I get sad and depressed and don’t know what to do to fill the free time I now have. There is a void in my day that I now have to fill with something else. Is it that hard to believe when we live in a society that is constantly engaged and entertained? Kids don’t get the full effect of road trips when they can watch movies on portable DVD players. The Xbox generation doesn’t have to deal with the tedious boredom that is inevitable in life, but they also don’t get to think of creative ways to entertain themselves with imaginary worlds and people. Is it so hard to believe that after watching a television series that consumed three hours plus of my day that I would be disappointed that it’s over and disappointed that now I have to find something to do in that time. Eventually I will find a job and a new obsession to fill that time. Scrapbooking, writing, reading, running, something to fill the long hours of the day. Now, it is time to say goodbye to the Battlestar crew and move on with my life.

If you are not quite as obsessive as my family's personalities tend to lean towards, than you probably don’t get it, but that’s why I’ve been on the phone with Megan for three hours today ... trying to find something new to obsess over.

Monday, September 28, 2009


It's Sunday night - or rather Monday morning. It's past 3 and I can't sleep. I fell asleep watching a movie earlier so naturally I'm awake now, while the rest of the world is sleeping. It's annoying, but at the same time I kind of like the fact that everyone I know is safe in bed. I don't have to worry about going to street fairs or dinners. I can sit here and be alone and not worry about my phone ringing or people texting me to ask what I'm doing. Nobody is worrying about the fact that I don't want to be social. I don't want to go out with my friends or go to the stupid street fair. I don't want to do anything. Yet, I am restless. I have been for a few days. I can't sit still when I am at the bar. I can't sit still when I'm watching a movie. In fact the only time my body isn't twitching is when I'm asleep and lately I seem to only be able to sleep in spurts. Naps here or there. Not at night. Not when normal people with normal jobs sleep. Maybe 3 or 4 hours, but then I wake up from a bad dream. I woke up earlier tonight and even though I can't remember my dream, I know I died in it. I remember that much of the dream and my physical reaction - racing heart beat, out of breath, adrenaline rush - let me know that something bad happened and I died before I woke up. This is all I dream about anymore.

Last night, while my friends were out at the bar drinking, I went for a walk. I was waiting for my boyfriend to come home from work and we had decided earlier that we would stay in and watch movies instead of going out. It wasn't late - around 8 or 9 PM, but I couldn't sit still in the apartment so I went for a walk. I called a couple people I haven't talked to in awhile and left messages when they didn't pick up. Then I paid attention to my surroundings because we don't live in the nicest area of San Diego. While walking a homeless man came from the other direction and asked for sixty cents. I don't usually have cash on me so I apologized, "Sorry, I don't have any change." Then I remembered that I did have a few dollars in my wallet that I forgot about. "Wait, I have a dollar." I gave it to the man, not out of pity or self righteousness, but because it could happen to me one day. It could happen to anyone really. We get our degrees, our jobs, our houses, etc. but there's no guarantee that it can't all vanish over night. There's no guarantee that I will never need to ask for help for a stranger. Hell, as many times as I've been stranded on the side of the road it's my karmic duty to help this man out. I give him the dollar and his whole face lights up.

"Thank you so much," he tells me. "You didn't have to you know."

I just smile.

"You are really pretty," he says. "I'm not trying to hit on you, I just mean you are a really beautiful woman."

I say thanks, and smile bashfully. I don't know why I don't keep walking, but his body language stops me. He keeps a safe distance from me and for whatever reason I feel safe standing in front of a busy restaurant. He can't stand still either and moves from left to right, messes with his hat, plays with his backpack.

Randy, as I soon learned, talked my ear off for about 45 minutes. He told me about all the famous people he met in Santa Monica. How he met Sean Penn and his brother, Chris, in the hospital and how upset he was when Chris died not too long after that. "He was such a nice guy," he told me, "but he drank himself to death." He cried when he told me his mother had recently passed away and that he had started drinking again because of her death. He told me how he caught his wife cheating and asked if he was right in beating the man - almost to death. He told me how he spent a year in prison for battery charges that were originally attempted murder of this guy. He sang his favorite Guns N' Roses song and told me how he met Axl Rose and that they used to go grocery shopping together. He told me all this and more. He asked me what to do about the married woman who managed the laundry mat and helps him out from time to time. He recently decided he was in love with her. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and if I was in love with him. Eventually he ran out of things to talk about and walked away as abruptly as he had walked up to me. I walked back home unsure what to make of it all, but laughing because it was the most interesting conversations I had had in weeks.

Plans changed when Brent got home from work and we ended up going out after all. After preparing myself to stay in for the night it was a hard adjustment to put myself into a social mood. Yes, they are all my friends at the bar I always go to, but this is just how it is for shy people. Sometimes you just have to prepare yourself to be social. There was karaoke and lots of drunk strangers trickling in from the street fair and as I looked around, generally annoyed by the crowd, I realized that maybe Randy needed the sixty cents, but I was the one who needed the chat with a complete stranger. Brent asked me what was wrong and I assured him it was nothing I was just in a quiet mood, but really I was and still am just completely restless.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I feel very focused today, which seems odd considering I haven't felt focused for the last few months. I also feel very energetic today, which is also odd considering I was out late drinking. So, what am I going to do with all this energy and focus? So far nothing. It's already 1 in the afternoon and I have only been up for an hour. The funny thing about focus and energy is it can be wasted if you don't have anything to focus on. As I write this I'm coming up with a list of things I need to do and yet none of them are things I want to do today. This is ridiculous and I know that, but that's the thing about growing up - you realize there are things you need to do, want to do or will put off until the end of the world. Running for example: I don't need to go running as much as I need to work on school projects, but I like running more and I do need to go for a training run today, so I will probably run. But how long can I put off the things I really need to do by doing things I need to do less, but enjoy more? As long as I can I suppose.

Now all of this makes very little sense even to me which goes back to the beginning ... I am very focused with nothing interesting enough to keep me focused for very long. Sigh, it's going to be a long afternoon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I still wake up every morning at a normal hour. Sometimes to run. Sometimes because I can't sleep in - I've always been an early bird. Lately I don't even want to get out of bed. Really there is no point to it. This extended vacation has given me an opportunity to reexamine my life.

I know if I get up right now and run, the chemical changes in my body and brain will elevate my mood as if I took an antidepressant. My energy will soar throughout the rest of the day thanks to these chemical changes. I will be upbeat and pleasant to my friends. I will smile at strangers in the store. If I don't, I will sit here for an hour looking at random jobs online and slip into a trance of guilt and pity. After looking at jobs and concluding that I have no applicable skills, I will move on to the few things I have tried to write in the last few weeks. This will push me further into a trance of loathing and pity. Around noon I will completely give up.

The world - 1 Libby - 0.

So what do I do? Do I give up now because I know it will inevitably happen? Or do I go for a run and wait for the serotonin and adrenaline levels to keep me upbeat the rest of the day and push hitting rock bottom until later? It's going to happen. It's just damage control at this point.


I went running. Like I said I would, I feel better. I watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica, which made me miss the military and daydream about an incident that would almost wipe out the entire human race. As one of the few survivors I would rise up from the ashes and be the hero in our questionable future. After I'm done daydreaming I will work on an essay that is going to be the narration of a YouTube video for a project I'm helping with (I'll post more later). I'll go over to a friend's house tonight for homemade pasta and meatballs. I'll push the negative feelings out of my head a little longer and live in the moment for the rest of the day. I'll forget all the self-imposed pressure to do something grand and exalting with my life. I'll keep the sweat pants in the bottom of the laundry basket for the day that I do call it quits. Not today. Today is going to be a good day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthday Blues

I love birthdays. It's your own, individually wrapped, national holiday. OK so you're not a dead President and nobody takes off work to celebrate with you (unless it's on a weekend or they are just awesome). But birthdays should be celebrated big and loud and wonderfully no matter how old or young you are.

Today is not my birthday. It's two stupid days before it. It's as about as significant as the day before Christmas Eve. I did the same thing I do everyday. Got up, went for a run, came home, took a nap, showered and all by noon. I don't have much money as a consequence of being unemployed and on unemployment (which barely covers the bills, but DOES cover the bills), but I do have time.

Time is a tricky gift. When you don't have enough of it you'd do just about anything to get more of it. When you have too much of it you'd do just about anything to fill it. On any given day I spend too much time looking in a mirror - a luxury I hardly indulged in when I had to go to work everyday and wear a uniform. Today I spent a long time doing my hair and make-up (only to take a second nap and ruining my efforts). I wasn't planning on going anywhere, but I knew that if I tried to write today I would end up drowning in a pool of self loathing. I know myself well enough to know that when this swan dive took place I would start picking myself apart starting with my imaginary weight problem, moving on to my weird eyebrows, then the fact that I don't have any clothes because I sold, donated or shipped them home and on and on and on. To combat this I spent a little extra time on my hair and make-up so when the breakdown over a blank computer screen pushed me to the edge I'd look in the mirror and at least feel pretty before my evil twin took over my thoughts.

I'm supposed to go hang out with friends this evening and at least my hair and make-up is somewhat done (as done as it's going to get anyways). I haven't written a thing other than this post and I successfully avoided a complete breakdown by not opening a blank Word document on my computer. Instead I took a second nap, talked to my Pops, sorted a stack of papers on the table and wrote this post. Tomorrow is my Birthday Eve, which is as every bit as fun and exciting as Christmas Eve. I will again try to avoid self loathing thoughts of all of the million and one things I have not done with my life, because they are not nearly as important as the million and one things I have done with my life. I turn 28 again this year (had a problem with math last year) and I will spend the day with wonderful friends and an amazing boyfriend and put off all feelings of failure and self-hate until Monday (Sunday is a day of rest after all). On Monday I will have to do my hair and make-up only to sit at the table by myself. I will have survived one of the hardest days of the year - the day before the day before your birthday when it's too early to celebrate, but not too early to think about your life. I will muster the strength to take on the second hardest day of the year - the day after my birthday. The day after the celebration and excitement. It's the day of letting go and acceptance. On Monday, after I run, shower and nap, I will have to look in the mirror, as naked as the day I was born, and accept myself and my life for exactly what it is and not what I want it to be. Then I will have to dig down deep and find the courage to change it and make it the life I want it to be before next year's birthday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering to laugh

It's a Saturday night. It's a little past 7 PM and nothing exceptional is going on, nothing particular happened today except when I walked to the a 7/11 a block from the apartment and bought a soda. I mention this because at the same 7/11 I bought a movie that I watched on one of my trips to Florida and have thought about many times since. I was particularly excited to pick up a used copy for $6.99 at a place I least expected - isn't that how it goes in life? The movie was "Sunshine," a sci-fi film about the sun dying and earth possibly going extinct if a team of scientist fails their mission, etc. etc. It is a phenomenal film that I highly suggest (and I know Lucas would back me up on this :) ) anyone who enjoys an end-of-human-civilization-on-earth type movie.

I bring this all up because I have had a rough couple of days and in an odd scene during the first few minutes of the film I found a weird sensation of peace. My days have not been rough in any other sense of the word than trouble finding peace, happiness, general contentness with my life the last couple days, no months, no a lot longer than that. I have no job, no structure, no purpose to my days. It's just been the past couple days/nights that I have had dreams that I am killed - a slit throat, tortured to death by being water boarded, bit by a rattlesnake in the middle of a desert, etc. My friends have no sympathy of my long, unproductive days because they work everyday. They come home to deal with the day to day chores, go to bed, get up and do it all over again tomorrow. They also do not see or understand my envy that they have figured out what they are supposed to do, or at least what they need to do right now. I can't figure out what to do for more than five minutes of my day other than to run and they all have jobs, careers or school that consume most of their days. I don't understand why anyone would envy me - I have 24 hours in a day to think, which can be as bad as torture by water boarding some days.

Anyways, in the first five minutes of the show a fight breaks out and a member of the crew talks to the ships shrink, "It's the time. Sixteen months you can get used to anything, you just loose track. . . From now on I'm not going to loose track again." The shrink makes him go to the "Earth room" a simulated reality where three people are standing on a ledge while waves crash up against the railing (presumably a viewing point for Niagara Falls or something similar). Why do I bring this up? Because the crew member was right - sixteen months and you can get used to anything and forget things that are important. You don't have to be in space. You don't have to be away from civilization or confined to a limited space. We all loose track of time. It's how we survive our days. More important, in that simulated reality of the crashing waves in a two dimensional movie I realized that I forgot how to forget time and reality. I forgot how to laugh at the simple pleasures in life and therefore I forgot how to live at all. I somehow got so lost in my real time that I forgot what is important - the lack of time.

How is it that children have a wonderful way of loosing themselves in a magical world with no restriction of time or reality, but adults are so constrained by it? What happens in between? Where does that lackadaisical appreciation for the absolute, most simple things in life go? Did we loose track of time or did we loose track of life? When did I forget the simple joy of laughing at a crashing wave splashing me with water or jumping in a pool on a 100 degree day or feeling the sunshine sneak through the window and warm up my skin while I take a nap on a lazy afternoon? When did I forget how to laugh at nothing at all? When did I complicate my own life by worrying about how I spend my days rather than just spending them? I don't know? I fear it's too late to stop worrying now. Is this what it means to be a grown-up? To forget the simple days. I fear, as I fear the end of Earth as I watch the Sun die in the movie, that maybe it's too late. I'll turn 28 in two weeks and all I want to do is go back to a time when I could sit in our 'circle yard' the with our border collie, Sam, and watch the clouds for what seemed like eternal summer afternoons. Now, I realize how delicately numbered each one was.

Maybe there is a reason I enjoy watching the human race struggle for survival in movies. Maybe I'm struggling for my own survival or survival of what is, no was, important once upon a time.

The movie is "Sunshine" directed by Danny Boyle. It is a wonderful film that will take you far from your own reality if even for a few, precious hours.

I guess after rereading this all I'm wondering is why I can't just be happy with what I have the way I was when I was a kid? What in the hell has changed?

Me. I changed. Now how the fuck do I change back? I'll start with remembering how to laugh.

The Last Few Months

Hello again! My apologies that I haven't updated my blog in sometime. I had some technical difficulties and considering I can barely manage to open Word and my email most days you can imagine the frustration I had trying to fix my blog. Lots has gone on since my last post and I have done some writing so I will try to post some of them and catch everyone up on where I've gone and what I've done this summer. Right now I'm enjoying the heat wave in San Diego and trying my best to stay cool (but nobody has air conditioning in their houses/apts so we have been escaping to such fine establishments that do have AC like the Ould Sod or movie theaters to enjoy some relief). I have done plenty of traveling to/from and around Southern California, but right now San Diego is home. I enjoyed housesitting a mile from Venice Beach in LA earlier this summer, traveled to wine country up north for a bit, went to the desert east of here more than once (a reminder that this heat wave is nothing compared to the good 'ol desert). I am still unemployed and trying to figure out my next bold move. In the meantime during a moment of temporary insanity, I signed up for the New York City Marathon and will be running 26.2 miles around my favorite city in 63 days (not that I'm counting). I will not be doing this alone. I somehow convinced my friend/roommate, Jill, to sign up and run the race with me (apparently insanity likes company). I have rediscovered my love for running this summer and find that waking up and running anywhere from 5 - 15 miles has given my life some structure.
In other news I will be promoted to Captain on September 1st. This sounds strange to most people because I left active duty in February, but I am still in the IRR for a few more years so I can volunteer or be voluntold during this time and promotions still run for us in this limbo status.
Also I have had two essays published this summer! They can be viewed at The Sylvan Echo
and The Splinter Generation. Please check out both sites as they have published some very talented new and established writers.
Well, it is 0615 on a Saturday and Jill and I have made plans to go for a run before the heat index becomes unbearable. I was just told it was breakfast and Mimosas after the run - not going to argue with that. Please be sure to check the site as I will be updating with adventures from this summer and adventures yet to be. As always thanks for reading. Cheers!