Category Archives: Bye bye bright eyes

I Love a Good Chuckle, Even at My Own Expense

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Went for a walk at lunch in the park I’ve been to a hundred times, and I found something I’ve never seen before – something magnificent. Yeah, yeah, overwhelmingly overt symbolism, I took a 9th grade English class, I see you.  You gonna toss a rainbow in there too? You’re as obnoxious as I am, you know?

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Age Is More Than A Number

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“We’re not as young as we used to be”, I said, picking at my salad.

I don’t mean to imply that I’m at the end of my rope or my time or some other metaphor that indicates there’s nothing left for me – I loathe people who think that, and intend never to be one of them.  However, there are certain realities that I am learning I need to accept about myself and my body as I age.

I used to be indestructible. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining a pound.  I used to be able to go without sleep for days and still be chipper and alert.  I used to be able to handle tremendous stress without breaking a sweat (or so I remember it with my rose-colored glasses).  When I got to college this began to change – I gained weight, I started feeling down when I didn’t sleep, and I started having anxiety attacks when I was caught in one of those inescapable inbetweens of which college is full.  At the time I wrote it all off as part of the necessary evil that was college, I scrapbooked it all, and I moved on.  I moved back to Farmington, and then I moved to New York.  But not without all that baggage.

When I commented about us not being so young anymore he smiled – he knew.  He of all people should know – he’s a person who beat his body to hell and back, and sometimes it amazes me that he’s actually still here today.  And while it makes sense to me that a person who has pushed every limit of their body – from drugs and alcohol to over-working and over-stimulating – should have to live some tempered version of their former life, it baffles me a little that I should have to as well.  I’ve always prided myself on pushing myself to the breaking point – but never beyond.  I’ve always known exactly where my limits were, and exactly how far world be too far and that’s how far I wouldn’t go.   There’s a very fine line between insanity and unbelievable success, and I’ve made an art of walking that tightrope.

But I guess walking a tightrope is always a balancing act, no matter how long you’ve been doing it.  And especially with age, keeping that balance become both more difficult and more important.  In my first few weeks here I pushed and pushed and pushed.  I piled on tons of pressure and perfectionism with not a lot of sleep, and compounded it with caffine and the gustatory delights of New York – rich food and drink almost every day.  At least I’m on my feet all day, I told myself to justify the calories and in an attempt to make it seem like I doing something healthy for my body.  But then I crashed.  I got sick, started crying randomly and for very strange reasons (getting on the wrong train, being late for a brunch-date etc.), and couldn’t sleep because my heart and mind were racing at the speed of light.  I spent two nights in a row lying awake until 5am, only to get up a few hours later hacking and sniffling and head to work to run up and down and up and down and up and down those damn stairs (our store is essentially 4 floors).   And the last two days I’ve felt absolutely awful – physically and emotionally.

But, I have begrudgingly begun to accept that I’m not 16 anymore, and not only does that mean I have to go to work even when it’s sunny outside, but it also means that I have to eat well, keep my drugs of choice (alcohol and caffeine) in check, and sleep every night.   And by slowly getting back into these habits I can feel myself turning around.

“Trying to grow up is hurting, you know. You make mistakes. You try to learn from them, and when you don’t, it hurts even more.” – Aretha Franklin

yours.Rachel

Face the Facts

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So it’s been an incredible and indulgent last couple of days – eating out breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and sipping only the best beers, cocktails, and frenchpressed coffees.  I’ve explored Manhattan and Brooklyn, spent almost every second of the day with interesting people, and the sun was shining all weekend!  It’s a perfect life – too good to be true, right?

Well, yes actually.  Today I had to go grocery shopping, had to wait for AGES for the train and ended up getting on the wrong one, and this afternoon I had to do the thing that always reminds me the difference between a vacation and real life – Laundry.  We hauled our suitcases down the street, bought detergent, and sat in the sweltering laundromat for more than an hour watching the machines spin, spin, spin.  Back to reality.  Tomorrow it’s back to work and it promises to be a challenging day.  In the morning I need to run, I need to clean my room, and I need to go back to packing healthy and moderately-priced meals in my lunchbox.

The truth is that, though my life is fabulous, it’s still a real person life.  And that means that even in New York City I still have to do Laundry.

yours.Rachel

Found Some Jems

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Today I met up with Allie, a very dear friend whom I met in Rome (we used to meet between out two apartments in St. Peter’s Square). She took me to Kif, an amazing Morrocan place in Brooklyn owned by an adorable and terribly attractive French couple. From there we headed to the Brooklyn Flea, whose indoor location is in this beautiful building!

Soon You’ll Be Drenched to the Bone

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Yes, Mr. Dylan, the times, they are a changin’.  The summer is almost over; I am days away from completing my internship, an epic road trip home, and a new semester shortly after that.  And, as fate would have it, the rest of the future seems to be knocking at my door as well.  A renewed relationship and a bright prospect has rekindled my love for Boston, and it’s also rekindled my passion.  I’m excited to move on from here – not because I hate my job so much – but because I’m excited for the next phase of my life.  I’m actually ecstatic for school to start.  My classes have the potential to be really interesting, and I’m looking forward to having more time and energy to put into learning this fall.

And shortly after fall ends, I will hopefully have the job I’ve been working myself raw for over the last four years.   I’m ready to go, but for the first time, I’m not terribly anxious for it to all come together.  The last time I had a prospect like this – one that in the end didn’t yield and led to my semester in Rome (and my life being shaped accordingly) – I started having panic attacks I was so ready. I couldn’t handle the waiting – the uncertainty, the delicious tease, and the way an unexpected email could change everything and reduce you to a giddy little girl stumbling over her own tongue.  The back and forth of the day to day, and the hurry up and wait made me miserable.

Ironically, the thing that’s keeping me calm now is fear.  I’m not ready for January, because I don’t feel ready for this job.  Take note, this is me, admitting infallibility (save this link for future reference.)  I have this bizarre and terrible feeling that I’m so clever I managed to endure 18 years of education without learning anything, and that when I get to Boston, to my dream job, to everything I’ve ever wanted in the world, they’ll find out.  They’ll realize I’m a phony – that I didn’t do all the reading I was supposed to, that I’m not “Wicked Smart” (or a real redhead) like my redheaded friend thinks I am, and that I don’t actually know anything about anything.  They’ll tolerate me until the end of my internship and then they’ll let me go, disappointed, but not having lost much.  I, on the other hand, will have lost everything.

My fear of imperfection has long been by best friend and worst enemy.  On a good day, it will motivate me to be excited for my classes and to pay attention when I know my confidence and fair writing skills could probably let me coast.  But, on a less-than-good day, it will make me feel like I don’t deserve this.  How many people want a job so glamorous as this – one where you wear jeans to the office and leave Friday at 2 if you have nothing to do, and where they pay you to go plan parties and stay up all night. How many of those people are smarter than me?  How many are skinnier?  How many of them are better at making fast friends and making people fall in love with them?

I mentioned this to my mother earlier when we were talking, and apparently both feeling very open and candid, and she recalled a book she read (characteristically), about this very feeling.  It came out in the 80s, or some other equally self-obsessed decade, and it discussed the common symptom of 20somethings feeling like phonies.   Apparently many people my age felt like this, at least in the 80s, and were all irrationally convinced of their own inadequacy.  She recalled feeling the same way.  Do you?

Perhaps it’s the rebuttal to the infallibility of the college years – the times when you are invincible, self-obsessed, and fairly sure that you’re the best thing since sliced bread.  Then, when you’re paying your own rent, buying your own broccoli, and thinking about a 401-K plan, you realize you aren’t all powerful.  And, for some reason, that translates in our developing brains to complete incompetence.  I don’t know everything, and therefore I must know nothing.  And the people who pay me – who pay for my rent and my broccoli and my (probably-non-existent) 401-K plan, had better not find out.  Maybe?  But like I said, I don’t know.  Anything.  At all.  Shhh…don’t tell.

Fortunately, and also characteristically, I was comforted by this book that may or may not really have existed (I don’t know).  My mother and I aren’t always good at hearing each other, and we are often no good at helping each other, but when we connect is when I am looking to be told that what I’m feeling is normal.  Sometimes all I want to know is that I’m not alone, and that I’m not just cleverly dodging the label of insanity like I fear I am dodging the label of ignorance.  Times like this my mother, with her calm detachment and extensive mental library, says exactly what I need.

I mean don’t get me wrong.  I’m still terrified I’ve been faking it, and even more terrified that someone who isn’t will find out.  But hopefully I’m just terrified enough to care about things I’ve never cared about (school).  Maybe the fear is just what I need to keep myself occupied.  Maybe life is a desert, dreams are manna, and fear is the sun beating on your brow, pushing you onward.   You wouldn’t get to the oasis without it.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Maryanne Williamson

yours.Rachel

Split Ends

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I love the feeling of a haircut.  Even just monthly trims or periodic minor clippings leave your hair feeling polished and under control, and a drastic chop like my latest is like removing 8 inches of dead weight.   I’m finally getting used to the feeling of reaching for the back of my head and having nothing to grab for below the nape of my neck.  I like it.  It’s cool in the summertime, and it just feels like one less thing my head has to carry around.  I’ve been told it makes me look much older, but I don’t really care to have an opinion about that. (Meaning I know it does, but that’s not imagery that important to me to claim.)

But the problem with any haircut is it doesn’t last forever.  A person’s hair continues to grow for the rest of their life and even some after they are dead.  Growth tends to be inescapable like that.  But what bothers me most isn’t the growth – it’s the splitting of the ends.  My favorite thing about a haircut is how healthy my hair feels afterward.  The ends of long hair can begin to feel very worn and frayed, especially for someone who dyes, and a haircut trims off all the old leaving only the new, young growth.  And just after it’s cut, all the ends are the same length, except for intentional layers cut into the hair.  But the pieces that you want to be the same length are; you could draw a straight line connecting all of them, and each piece is healthy from the top to the bottom.  Then a few weeks later, just as you’re beginning to really like how your hair looks, you can see the ends beginning to spit.   Each individual strand begins to look jagged, and eventually what was once one fine strand becomes two white-tipped heads spitting from one another.

I wish there was a haircut that lasted forever.  I wish what I cut was gone, and that what  I was left with was good.  But the eternally perfect haircut is a myth, like unicorns, and closure.

yours.Rachel