Easy for you to say.

I woke up again, last night. I hate it when this happens.

I’m already bone tired, dark circles under my eyes for days. One more time I go to bed too late, still knowing I have to get up early the next day. And still, I wake up.

Maybe it’s not the waking up that’s so bad. It’s the staying awake. No, not out of anxiety. Out of longing.

Do you know what makes me mad? When married women breezily tell un-married women that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Well, sure; easy for you to say. Easy for you to say that life is grand when your single, that you shouldn’t be waiting and everything will happen so don’t be in a rush. Easy for you to say, when you aren’t waking up at 3 am wishing you weren’t alone, anymore.

I’m not sitting around doing nothing. I am living my life. I’ve just been accepted into graduate school. I believe God uses and blesses me. I don’t think my life revolves around handsome Mr. X, and I’m not doodling hearts in all the margins of my school papers, or planning weddings.

The fact that I believe life can be richly rewarding and meaningful as a single woman in no way lessens the real ache of a body and mind and spirit that wants. Wants good things. To love and be loved is not a stupid, flighty wish. To join forces with someone in living this life is not a pollyanna, romantic notion. I know that my meaning and worth is not bound up in finding some guy to marry.

That doesn’t mean I can just shut of that well-spring of desire at 3 am, when I’m already exhausted and what to be asleep. Unbidden it comes, and nothing dulls it. And it doesn’t do me any good to have happily married women enjoying what they’ve been given and pretending it’s no lack on my part. How long does it take you happily married women to forget what it’s like to want what you don’t have? Sure, sure–you were like that once, but looking back on life now, you realize it was so unnecessary. Well, great for you; but pining away doesn’t feel very romantic over here. It feels barren. It feels like working through your hunger, when it isn’t time to stop working even though it’s long past dinner time. It feels as un-optional as feeling tired after laying awake in the early morning hours.

This isn’t what I want, but this is where I am. Stop telling me that single life is great, you married women who wake up at 3am with your husbands beside you. You aren’t telling the truth–I can see it your eyes, hear it in your voice. You got yours, and now that the pain is past, it doesn’t seem so bad. Well, some of us are still walking in it. Doesn’t it seem even a little cruel, even to you, to post pictures of you kissing your love on your wedding day, and writing underneath that about how those who long for their own love are short-sighted? You can post pictures of your wedding day, but could you at least admit you have something to be envied? It is. Life is temporary and fleeting, but love is one of the strongest joys within it, and marriage it’s own kind. You should enjoy it. You should delight in it.

But you should stop enjoying it on one hand and telling us not to want it on the other. You needn’t comfort me, but you needn’t dismiss my pain, either.

Thoughts in the night

In the dark, I measure with my hands. I have used my hands to measure a lot of things. . .spacing between plants when transplanting a garden, the width of doorways, the size of pumpkins. Right now, they’re measuring the space between my bones, touching my ribs and not even reaching to find my hip-bones. I span from hip crest to hip crest, and my hands know it is a very small space. My torso is very short.

But I don’t care. A baby would still fit. Oh, it would grow out–away from me, the only place where there would be room.

I don’t have a baby in there, but too many of my friends do. Laying under the blankets, I want. But somehow–when I imagine that baby growing out, that baby actually being in my hands–I suddenly realize, too, the truth of my thoughts. Any longed for child–from the minute I held in my hands–from before, even–I would be preparing to leave me. To send off the one I’ve wanted for so long.

It is one thing to say, as a daughter, that mothers need to let go. But as one longing to be a mother, it suddenly seems terribly unfair. All that wanting, all that waiting, and my only real job would be to bring it to a point it could stand on it’s own and step away from me, not looking back  but looking out at the world it was sent into.

I guess this is what they call bittersweet, like Middle Earth–so beautiful, and so passing.

I want it anyway.

When People are Watching

“Does she ever make you record yourself and listen to what you sound like?”

“No. Why?”

“Well, I don’t see how else you’ll ever get better, if you don’t hear what you sound like.”

“That’s what the piano is for. I’m supposed to match that tune. A lot of times I can hear myself going wrong, and that’s when you hear me stop and correct myself.”

“Well, is all I know is ever since you started taking singing lessons, you’ve been sounding more and more affected and you’re sounding worse and worse! But whatever, I’m not your singing instructor.”

Why, I wonder, do conversations like this make me feel like garbage? I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was coming to complain, that he was disgusted by my practice–the practice that I thought had really gone pretty well. I already hate practicing where everyone can hear me, but there’s no place else to practice. Everyone loathes it. They’re sick of my songs, sick of hearing me work on my range, sick of the fact that when one is singing–really singing–their voice carries. You have to, to let the air out, without holding it back. Any other way, and it damages your vocal cord. That’s how I know when I’m singing wrong–it’s uncomfortable. I know I’m singing right when it seems to float right out of me without any strain at all.

I suspect that’s what my brother was calling “affected”. Because when we talk, conversationally, we’re not speaking on our air. So I kind of know what he’s complaining about, and I know he’s wrong. I made a brief foray into trying to explain the reason behind the “affectedness,” but it was clear he wasn’t interested. He felt the need to tell me I sounded terrible. I apologized he was tormented by listening to me sing.

But I’m still going to sing.

And I’m still going to feel like crap.

I try to rationalize it away. He was just one person. My singing instructor says the opposite. My friends who sing notice great improvement. It feels right within my body. I’m enjoying myself. But I guess I don’t have much inside of me that resists very well that tone of voice.

You know that saying that everyone is plastering everywhere? About dancing like no one is watching and singing like no one hears? The thing that gets me every time about that is that it is being used as a rebuke about self-consciousness. That no one is really listening or watching anyway, and if they were, they could only really appreciate your offering. The truth of the matter is that people do watch, and people do listen. And guess what? They think and say critical, harsh things. They don’t like what you do.

If there’s really any truth in that statement, it has nothing to do with flowery, happy feelings of self-affirmation and coming out of your shell like a beautiful butterfly. No; it’s about setting your face like a flint, and doing what is very hard. It’s about defying every dark voice, voices that really are there. When people talk about “dancing like no one is watching,” I think the picture that often gets imagined is one laughing in the summer twilight and twirling with the autumn leaves. It’s really more like trying to find the spirit to dance in a war-zone. It’s realizing you have every reason to shut up and sit down, and getting up and singing anyway.

Which begs the question: why?

If you really do have every reason to shut up and sit down, why would you even call it “inspiring” to stand up and sing? What if people are just mad at you for singing over the war-ruins? What if everyone thinks you’re doing such a bad job of it, it’s a disgrace to everyone’s pain?

It also begs the question: how?

Even if we could pretend that it was really inspiring to sing badly, inspiring to disgust your listeners, inspiring to publicly fail, repeatedly. . .where are you supposed to find the strength to do that? There’s a reason why people don’t sing when others are listening or dance while others are watching. It’s hard. And it hurts.

Do I have splendid answers? Not really. At the core of it, I just know that if I don’t, I’m allowing myself to be caged and bound. I’ve always wanted. . .but, no, there’s an audience. Locked up inside of fear, not being who I really am.

Who I am is a disaster area. Who I am is a train-wreck. Who I am doesn’t summon butterflies and adoring crowds. Who I am annoys people and disgusts them.

But if I’m not who I am, I might as well be dead. If I’m living, I might as well strive to be alive. I can’t be alive as anyone other than me, even if me is the one who sings affectedly, has calves like a Clydesdale, and bosses people around indiscriminately during house-moving jobs. I might not want to be this person, but it’s my job to be alive. Part of that job description means singing even though people are listening, and don’t like it that I am. I apologize, but I cannot cease–without ceasing. The hard things still have to be done.

SAD

SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. A.k.a., I-told-you-winter-made-me-sick.

I was doing really well, and thinking maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad this year. Then I slammed into it like a freight-train into a mountain side. And now things are not good.

It feels like being sick. I get up and take a Vitamin D and a St. John’s Wort, and a cup of coffee with cocoa and no sugar in it. Then I feel less sick, and I operate life for a while. It wears off. I can’t bring myself to do that whole routine more than once a day. So I go back to feeling sick. No sniffles, no coughs. Just that deep-seated “ill” feeling, where you might be suffocating under the fog. It’s hard to tell, because you might not care about breathing anymore, anyway.

I sleep. I sleep and I sleep and I sleep. Do you know when I sleep the best? With the sunlight pouring into the room. When it gets to be afternoon, the sun is angled just to come in the window. When it goes down over the hill, I wake up. But I sleep at night, too, and I will sleep most of the morning, if I’m allowed to.

Everything is pointless. Work is pointless. Playing is pointless. Creating is pointless. Being around people is too much work. But if I take Vitamin D and St. John’s Wort and a cup of coffee with cocoa and no sugar, I can paste a smile on a pretend to do it anyway.

Sometimes, I count the darkness. The darkness comes in November. November, December, January, February, March–yes, March. 5 months out of twelve. It’s not just “cabin fever” because that word is not strong enough. I made it to January before I wanted to cry. It will start getting better in March.

And I catch myself thinking, “I can’t do this.” I can’t spend the rest of my life struggling 41.67% of the year with darkness. I can’t spend 41.67% of my life longing for sunlight. I can’t spend at least two whole months, 16.67% of my life, feeling seriously ill and depressed and medicating myself into existence.

The thought makes me feel kind of panic-y, because it makes feel trapped. It makes me feel like I have no choice. I can’t do this. I have to go. Go where? Go anywhere. I can’t keep slipping under the water.

I huddle. I huddle in chairs and in corners and under blankets. I hide behind screens, I hide under blankets. I don’t tell people I feel sad and miserable, because then they say “Why?” and I would say, “because it’s winter,” and then they say, “oh.” Oh, that. Oh, we all don’t like winter. Oh, it will pass. Oh, it’s not that bad. Oh, you’ll get over it. Oh, nothing I can do to help you with that. Oh, suck it up–deal with it. Oh, come on.

My ancestors came here hundreds of years ago. From all reports, they were quite depressive, too, but they stubbornly stuck it out. There’s a heavy concentration of their descendants yet. It feels shameful to run away from them all, and stupid to stay.

And when the panic-y feeling comes, I realize that a lot of it is that I don’t want to do it alone. I could go anywhere, if I had someone to go with. But to go alone. . .? Which is worse, to be all alone in the sunlight, or to with, yet alone because of the darkness? I don’t want to have to make that choice. . .

Speaking of stories. . .

Do you ever get the feeling that your life would be more interesting if it were told as a story? You know, all the boring parts edited out, interesting parts nicely fore-shadowed, everything coming to  a neat and tidy end?

That’s what I want.

I wish I wasn’t so shallow, because really? That’s like the book-snob version of “why isn’t my life more like the movies?!” wail.

I am, in all honesty, annoyed at how boring and tedious and unexciting my life is. Sometimes we say, “I just wish my life had more direction!” But I think maybe my life does have direction to it. And the sign says, “205 miles till next civilization. Keep walking.” After a billion hours of walking, the sign says, “197 miles till next civilization. Keep walking.” People, I am bored of walking. I get that this is how we get from Point A to Point B, but it would seem something could be done to spice it up. A faithful side-kick, perhaps. Someone in distress who joins your party once you rescue them. An object with strange powers you don’t yet fully understand. A grand secret you’re uncovering. SOMETHING!!

But, no. Get up. Wake up. Eat oatmeal. Feed the duckies corn. Drive to school. Study. Come home. Feel morose because the hamster wheel is boring. Go to bed. Get up. Wake up. (Yes, those ARE two separate things, for Pete’s sake!) Feed the duckies corn. Eat oatmeal. Drive to school. . .

What am I supposed to say? Yays, this week we get to talk about suicide instead of horribly pre-mature babies and grieving parents? Yays, in chemistry, we got to learn about more than molarity–now we’re talking about molaLity. Excitement.

I keep trying to put in hobbies and art and fun things, but somehow it makes me impatient. Yes, yes–but none of this really matters. This isn’t going into my plot line. We’re not advancing the story line, here. So I start counting down days to when the next chapter or plot point should happen. Let’s see. Maybe the next plot point is when I find out what doctorate school I go to. That will probably be in March, maybe. So, until then–I’m just walking. And I’m pretty sure that gets edited out of the final draft, because it’s about as boring to read as it is to plod.

You bring the party with you! That’s what I always say. Usually when someone is complaining about how they don’t like their surrounding. So, yeah, on top of everything else, I feel like a hypocrite. But I can’t figure out how to get the party into this walk. I’m staying up late in protestation of boring-ness. That’s a bad plan, and I know it. But what’s the good plan? Grinding through days seems like such a sad waste, but I’m struggling to find any alternative right now.