Being A Mess*

This week has been a mess. I have been a mess.

I hate it when the people in my daily life travel far away. I'm happy for them, and the change of pace is fun, but I'm always off kilter the entire time, holding my breath, sort of lying about waiting patiently for things to go back to normal so I can go back to normal. I have long identified as a lover of chaos and change, but deep down I know I gotta have my cornerstones in place or I'm just lost. My people are my anchors.

I live away from my family during the week for work, a big, relatively recent shift that's starting to feel rather permanent, and it makes me feel lonely AF. I am trying to establish a life for myself in a town that maybe someday my family will join me in, but maybe not, so I have temp goals and a temp lifestyle, and every third day I say out loud to myself there's no way this can work and decide to quit, then five minutes later I think that's silly and tell myself I am fine and brave and I can handle it.

Last week one of my anchors hit the road for a fabulous vacay. And as I was driving away from my family home and an hour out of town to what I lovingly call #fakehome, I tried to ward off any impending dissolution and mental clutter with a public declaration of all the amazing things I was about to hunker down and accomplish, which would result in basically accomplishing my life's goals. It went a little off the rails, but I was mostly serious:

You will note no one actually reads my twitter feed. I tend to block people I don't interact with. But even they hardly read it. My twitter feed is sort of like my publicly available, unread, personal journal.

You will note no one actually reads my twitter feed. I tend to block people I don't interact with. But even they hardly read it. My twitter feed is sort of like my publicly available, unread, personal journal.

I don't actually have a bucket list. They're kind of silly, really, unless they're super fluid and evolve along with you, in which case, what's the point of having a list at all? "Just live your life", says my friend Lisa. I agree.

But I really thought making a commitment would bolster my determination to hold shit down. And I started the week off by shaving my head with a friend, so that seemed like a kick ass omen.

Me & Sandvoss
we are nothing if not historically ridiculous

we are nothing if not historically ridiculous

"I will NOT stress-eat carnitas. I will NOT stress-eat carnitas," I said to myself out loud on Monday. After a week of driving the kids all around the coast of California, and lots of sedentary driving, smack dab in the middle of what I like to call a "fat era" which is not really about being "fat", but being at the upper echelon of one's personal size range (mine easily swings three sizes in a month), I thought maybe it would be a good week for smoothies in the morning, salads in the afternoons, and simple dinners. Maybe I'll do yoga since things will be quiet. I'll probably have time for contemplative walks between writing chapters and organizing song structures. Instead, I binge watched the final season of Casual with a glass of bourbon in hand, and bawled in the end where Alex takes his toddler's hand in the car and bravely changes his whole life. I dug deeper into my covers. I gazed at the books on my bedside table that I want to read, and made bigger lists of all the books I long to read, and then went back to sleep. It didn't help that my work hours are ridiculous; I had multiple VERY early calls, onsite vendors at all hours, and several design projects to work on and fret over.

Here's what I HAVE accomplished from the list (so far, and we are using the term "accomplished" loosely here):

Surfed the entire graphic tee selection at Target, put three in an online shopping cart, then closed the browser because I should be better than Target tees. Bought a Jefferson Airplane t-shirt at Wolfgang's, where I had a credit. I only actually like one Jefferson Airplane record. Surfed for a Lauryn Hill shirt, complained that there aren't any good ones in women's shapes. Same with Tom Petty. Same with Nina Simone. Gave up on the t-shirt collection goal.

Made multiple playlists with *just* the right helpful and encouraging vibe for morning (I always feel a little depressive when I wake up) for helping me get going early, and haven't used any of them once. I'm listening to one now, while I write, late afternoon. It's pretty good. I have woken up early despite my general lack of progress otherwise, which is not unimpressive, but I've been crawling back in bed for naps, so it's not a net gain.

Perused the selection of ballet and hip hop classes at multiple local dance studios, felt bad about even considering spending money that we don't really have to spare doing that, decided to just, I don't know, roller skate or run. Or something free. Because my dad's voice is still in my ear somehow, griping about fools spending money on exercise machines like hamsters on wheels why can't they just run outside, etc etc. Note that after all these mental gymnastics here I have yet to actually get any exercise. I *did* sign up for a trial with Class Pass which my adorable friend Leona is promoting, but for now that just consists of flipping through classes and wondering when my head will ever stop throbbing and kickboxing will seem like a viable activity.

Outlined core sections of the book. Progress, actually.

Lamented the fact that I have no piano to play, at which to finish the lyrics to the album I'm supposed to be making. But I bought another journal for consolidating them. I already have at least 13 at home; moleskines, old school composition books, legal pads, you name it. THIS ONE will change everything though, I can feel it.

Text-harassed my wife a little about how cute Jeep Wranglers are, and learned that they only have manual transmissions, resolved that this is life's sign that I must have one immediately, then went back to driving the minivan and wondering if I'll can ever be cool ever again, no, not until the children are in college at which point I won't even care anymore. Crossing off the Jeep. Also, even if she would allow me to have a Jeep, we could definitely think of better things to spend $35k on. Sigh.

Argued with my friend Heather Honey over the merits of even having gone to Wine School, which we did together 10 years ago, and narrowed my plan to pursue accreditation at the sexier WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust). Okay, did make a little progress there.

Launched a whole investigation into a *better* task-tracking app to use even though I know the one of my dreams will never exist, and the Reminders app is just as functional as everything else and is free. So now I'm using SomToDo which so far is fine but not nearly as colorful as I'd like. I need my tasks to sparkle and call out to me. These just sit there on the page. I made all the folders that compartmentalize my life, and entered all the things into it, and proceeded to not look at it anymore.

Mom, can I be done now?

I'm learning in my older age that I'm very much an all-or-nothing kind of girl. I'll be listless, poke around at things, drift, and generally feel compromised until suddenly I spring into action, in a fit. I've always felt that work-hard-play-hard is a rather entitled bro-life type of sentiment, but I appreciate the idea that one can just dedicate an era to preparation, to relaxation, and finally (hopefully) to action. When I started writing this I was lamenting being so distraught and fucked up, but when I list it all out, I realize I FEEL like a mess way more than I'm ACTING like a mess. I'm acting distracted and overzealous and optimistic, but that's generally how I roll. I don't feel good. Certainly not good enough to come at this life goal list with the gusto it requires. I'm just sighing and pining. Swiping left, if you will.

My friend Tiffany texted me to be wary of not burning the candle at all ends at all times. She knows. My friend Adam reminded me over tacos about how far we have come, that the world is our oyster. Heather Honey said wine school is insane right now, what are you thinking. My friends are crazy smart. If I could bolt them all to their homes permanently and no one could ever leave, or just keep them in my pockets, I'd be in great shape.

I know this life is enough. I know I am enough and I don't need to be better than the me of my dreams. I worked 18 hours yesterday and I miss my kids. I went out today and I stress-ate enchiladas and I enjoyed every second of that meal. It's my nature to try and ward things off and control the narrative, to buffer and erect structures around me to hold me up, but I gotta let go this time and just feel like a mess until I don't anymore.



*I'm going to dedicate at least some writing to calling out how messy shit is, as a counterpoint to glossy instagrams and curated feeds that keep us from feeling super connected.


Amy Cray