Hayley

The only woman I’ve ever really viscerally wanted to be is Hayley Williams. And that’s not a thing borne out of fandom, especially, though I have come to appreciate her work in recent years. It’s because part of me resonates so keenly with her, in a way I can’t really explain. Part of me believes I could have been her – should have been – if only, if only I hadn’t failed at being, in all the necessary ways.

When I was younger I was downright jealous of her, and I masked it with disdain. But I was the one who was scared to sing. I was the one who was scared to be in community. I was the failure, and I knew I had no right to criticise her, so the disdain ate at me, and wouldn’t let me forget it.

As I grew older and wiser, I let myself admit that I even enjoyed Paramore a bit. But they remained a ‘guilty’ pleasure. I didn’t want anyone to know I listened to them, and any time I did, which wasn’t often, I felt oddly on display. Who can hear this and what must they think!? As if anyone would think anything at all.

Her solo material was what let me reconcile my complicated feelings about her. We have some important similarities. We’ve had some importantly similar experiences in our lives. We have similar faultlines. We’ve learned similar lessons. But through that and despite it, she was able to continue becoming the success that she is and deserves to be. And I…well I never even seemed to begin. I had been holding that against myself, and she, most than most, reminded me.

What were the differences between us that led to our divergent paths through life, even as we traversed similar terrain? How was she able to build and maintain a fulfilling career, while every avenue I even thought of pursuing collapsed around me in short order? Why could she sing and I couldn’t? Why could she integrate and I couldn’t? We were both in pain, so my pain wasn’t the reason. How could she do it, and do it so well, and I couldn’t do it at all?

Well, there are very good explanations, of course. But that’s another tale.

Strange times

I’ve been skimming the surface of my life again lately. What am I avoiding?

We are living in strange times. It seems trite to say – what part of the modern era hasn’t been strange? But things seem to be getting stranger. Whenever I think about it, I also can’t help but to think about how tiny I am. A speck, floating on the strange breeze which, one day quite soon, might become a strange hurricane. I have no power here.

I know I have power. And I could use my power, in allegiance with others, to potentially enact some kind of response to whatever strange change is rising. But I’m scared that it will catch me unaware. I’m scared that none of us are predicting it accurately. I’m scared there’s just too much to the story, and that even our best minds fall short. I’m scared it’s going to come down to luck, for almost each and every one of us, which way we get cast by the strange wind that’s coming.

So this skimming I’m doing of late; I think I’m putting my head in the sand. Playing video games instead of living my life, because I feel preemptively trapped and disempowered. As I imagine what decisions I may be called to make in future years, I’m playing scenarios out in my head and regularly finding myself in a hypothetical location where acting in accordance with my values risks my personal safety, and I’m wrestling with the fact that I think, as a mother, I would probably surrender my values for my personal safety. And I don’t like that. Not least because I fear preserving my short-term personal safety could come at the cost of my long-term personal safety. The future is a strange, scary knot.

In part I’m getting way ahead of myself. But, in part, too, I feel like I’ve let myself be left behind. Something is going on in the world, bigger than all the things going on, and I don’t understand it. Not even a little bit. And I’ve sensed it coming for years, and I’ve told myself I was being melodramatic. But now it’s still coming, and it’s closer, and I still don’t know what to do with it.

But that’s not a good enough reason to do nothing.

Intermittent

It’s hard, once you stop, to start up again.

My life is set up to be intermittent. That’s not my preference, it’s just the way it is.

As much as I inherently rail against routine, I do better with consistency and, knowing this, I have tried to seek it out. Unfortunately I have not been able to collaborate with the main actors in my life to create a level of daily consistency for myself. Instead I have a reasonably predictable, undulating, biweekly cycle, during which different areas of my life flash on and off for multiple days at a time. I live in binary. All or nothing.

I’m good at all.

I’m good at nothing.

The switching…I’m not so good at that.

I waste a lot of energy trying, and regularly failing, to make the transition from one to the other. My life demands I simultaneously switch one area off, and another area on, according to its schedule. The whole point of the cycle is that all things have their place, but what if I can’t get to that place on time, because I wandered too far into the depths of the other place and I haven’t found my way out yet?

I did better when, despite my schedule conspiring against me in ways I was unable to remedy, I constructed consistency for myself. Daily consistency. A reliable thread. Anything less simply adds to the chaos, as much as I’d like to believe otherwise.

The most successful thread I constructed was writing daily. Writing meaningfully and intentionally every day. But life got noisy and I let it lapse. I let myself lapse. I dropped the thread. And that was a mistake. A mistake all too familiar.

I haven’t figured out, so far in my life, how to keep on doing anything.

The only daily consistency I’ve had in recent months is my morning coffee. Its effect is dopaminergic enough and its procurement easy enough to ensure its inclusion regardless of my week’s topography. But everything else is up for grabs, and up for debate.

And that is, quite possibly, the crux of all my problems.

Nobody except me cares, really. It’s not their problem. I couldn’t make it their problem if I tried. I did try, in some cases, so I’ve learned that lesson. There’s no point looking outward.

This is my life. How do I fit myself into it?

Turbulence

There have been a lot of shiny objects, pressing deadlines, conflicting priorities and disruptive forces these past couple of weeks.

Life is bigger than it has been for years, so it all seems right on track as an external manifestation of the inevitable resistance.

Certainly enough to rattle me. Enough for me to foresee the overheating of the systems. But the plane isn’t going down.

Happy Val Day, Sab

Some things stick with you, I guess.

Like that episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch where Harvey made her a Valentine’s card but he was so obsessed with it being symmetrical that he kept cutting it smaller and smaller, and in the end he could only fit on ‘Happy Val Day, Sab’, but then the knowledge that he liked symmetry became crucial in a test of Sabrina’s love that would decide his fate. Or something.

I thought about that episode when I was hitching a ride from a shady older lady who was scared to give me her real name so called herself Sabrina, and I thought about it today when considering the possibility of a Valentine’s Day post.

For a long time I had a story that I’d never received a Valentine’s card. That changed in 2017, courtesy of my son’s father. He even wrote me a poem inside. It was an excellent first Valentine’s Day card . It was small and simple – tasteful, even – and the poem was sweet, but suitably tongue in cheek, and admirably executed. It was a truly beautiful thing he did for me and, despite the torrent of sludge that followed between then and now, I still look back on it with pleasure, gratitude and a kind of quiet awe. I keep it in my box of memories, and I imagine I will keep it there for as long as I have a box of memories.

There was never a follow up though. And I don’t mind – it’s not a thing that troubles me, and it’s not a thing I hanker after. But it’s sobering, sometimes, to think, on the one hand, how eager I am to just fucking pour out love onto somebody else in every way I can imagine and, on the other, how easily fucking pleased I am with the smallest of affectionate gestures. How little it takes for my mind to be blown.

It honestly probably scares me more than anything else to imagine someone giving me the kind of love that I want to give to someone else. Not because I don’t want it. Not because I think I don’t deserve it. Rather because it is so precisely, exactly, exquisitely what I do want and deserve that it would catapult me into some other plane of existence that I can’t fully comprehend.

I have earned a person who wants to pour love onto me. And I have earned a person who values the love I want to pour onto them. Not that you should have to earn that, but I fucking have anyway. I have earned a new plane of existence. And I do want to go there, scary though it may be. But I wonder…if I’m still scared of it, are they too? Is the person I am theoretically seeking to exchange with mirroring my apprehension? And, if so, where do I go from here, to get to there?