Describing an eccentric high school buddy to a friend last night, I broke out my senior year scrapbook to demonstrate through pictures. And there, on pages 7-8, I entered my existential ex-boyfriend hell. On the right, the boy I was still heartbroken over, and on the left, you, the boy I was just beginning to fall in love with.
There was a letter from you tucked behind our prom picture, and it took me back. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I see clearly now what I did. You thought they were all your friends, but I knew they weren't, and I isolated myself from my own to protect you from the hurt.
My closest friends stuck with me anyway, pretended not to mind that they had become an afterthought, penciled in when I wasn't with you. No, thank God, I didn't lose them. But I lost a piece of myself. I lost the part of me who loved to be surrounded by people and allowed you to replace the crowd, settling instead for quiet nights in front of the TV. An old woman at eighteen.
Which was unhealthy, but not unpleasant, until we came to college and you found your niche (which happened to be the restaurant working, ecstasy
popping scene). You quickly distanced yourself from the pseudo-friends and found new ones who thought you were fun and interesting. And then I was an afterthought.
It's like when Aleksandr talked Carrie into ditching her dinner party to hold his hand at his art show, then left her standing alone as soon as he felt confident. I could tell the story of my life through Sex and the City scenes.
I fell asleep last night listing to myself the ways in which I've changed since you left me, and the most important lesson I took away, by far, was to never, ever, put a man above myself again. Even if I am about to marry him.
Nick and I will stand side by side, but the day he steps in front of me is the day I walk away.
My second biggest satisfaction in this little reverie? I now own a cat. I wanted one then, but you were allergic.
I can't think of a single way in which my life was better with you than it is now. And yet I still feel so much resentment towards you. I think it has less to do with the fact that you wasted three years of my life, and more to do with the knowledge that you still perceive me as the same desperate girl as I was when you left.
Even though I'm finishing grad school this semester and you never finished undergrad. Even though you supervise the serving of chicken fingers to drunk college students for a living. Even though I now enjoy a vibrant and incredibly meaningful network of social support. Even though, six months from now, I'll be walking down the aisle to marry a man you could never even compare to. No matter how beautiful the life I've crafted for myself, your sense of superiority is a black stain on my existence.
Maybe that says as much about me as it does about you. That I need you to acknowledge my success in order to fully enjoy it.
I had a dream that you came to my house and I was showing you around, telling you about my life. You were quite pleasant, commenting appropriately about how well things seemed to be going for me. But something didn't seem quite right, and when I looked into your eyes I understood. I saw pain there and realized that you knew long ago that I'd done well for myself and you were still stagnant. You were always most polite when hurt.
Hearing you say that I'm better than you will bring me nothing but guilt. What's holding me back from enjoying my success completely is not your refusal to acknowledge it, but instead my need to have you validate it. I need to get over it. It just feels unnatural to not know you at all anymore.
Best Friend Ex Roommate wanted me to title this post, "Let It Sneaux," because she's been gone from Louisiana too long and feels reminscent about our affinity for knowingly misspelling anything with an "oh" sound as "eaux" because we think it's precious.
It snowed yesterday! Like, more than I have ever seen in my life! I've never seen northern snow, just the pathetic little flurries we get so excited about when the forces of nature converge and they appear every few years. These were big, fluffy flakes that fell from the sky en masse and actually stuck to the ground. The weather had predicted a "slight possibility of light snow" in the early morning, so I'd set my alarm for 6am to check it out, but my mom called me at 5:45 exclaiming that the news said it was snowing in Baton Rouge and I had to get up and go outside to play! I flicked on the lights and forced Nicholas out of bed, then bundled up and spent the next two hours standing outside staring at the sky, leaving my post only to make more hot chocolate.
Nick had to go to work, poor thing, but Cassie and my sister came over and we stared some more and made a snowman, whom we dubbed Lieutenant Dan. Since I was fresh out of carrots, we figured any small produce would work and gave him a brussel sprout for a nose.
My sister and I with Lieutenant Dan.
Me in front of my house.
The view from my front porch.
I've lost thirteen pounds in eight months. Slow and steady wins the race.
I found a wedding dress that makes me feel like a woman, not a cupcake. I love the way I look in it so much that I wish I could share the picture of me wearing it here, but I'm just too nervous that Nick may stumble upon it and I want him to be surprised.
After some soul searching and consulting with the Committee of My Life, I decided to no longer continue with my thesis. Writing a thesis is not mandatory in my program, and in fact the vast majority of students choose to take the comprehensive exam instead. I'm learning that I don't always have to make things more difficult for myself to have a meaningful experience. I feel extremely relieved to have it off my shoulders. I had too much going on, and it just had to go.
So maybe dropping the thesis means I'll get back to posting regularly. Maybe not. Maybe I'll have time to actually rebuild my readership beyond my mother and my best friend. Or maybe I'll continue to ignore an endeavor which has proved incredibly fulfilling and cathartic for me in the past. I don't know. I'd like to say it's a goal, but right now I really am focused pretty intensely on finishing graduate school, marrying the best thing that ever happened to me, planning for a rock star career in social work, improving my physical health, maintaining a vibrant and meaningful social network, and advancing peace in my personal environment. Just a few goals of mine. No wonder I felt overwhelmed.
I've donated what little money I could spare and proudly sported my bumper sticker. I've harassed friends and family, called complete strangers in Florida, and signed up to go door to door for Obama on Tuesday. I've watched every single debate, from the primaries on up, and spent a ridiculous amount of time researching policy, polling, and possibilities. And now, now it is time for me to plan a party.
I am so excited. And nervous. And I've found that purchasing liquor helps ease my anxieties. And no matter what the outcome of the election, I know that mine will be the best election night party in the history of such events.
For example, my party will feature democratic napkins
, various festive and patriotic food items, Obama cocktails
, a blue jello shot for each state, 100 toothpicks with miniature American flags affixed to the tops, and HATS
. Nobody else I know has hats. To conclude the evening, I've purchased cigars and champagne for everyone, which we will hopefully have occassion to enjoy. If things don't go my way, I plan to drown my sorrows in the vodka left over from the jello shots.
keeping my path aligned
I, again, haven't posted in a shameful amount of time. My last post was rather bitter, and I apologize for that. Things are mostly getting back to normal. A few upturned trees still littering my neighborhood, but this is Louisiana and we like to recover slow.
I've been feeling overwhelmed as of late, but I won't go into the details. My thesis, graduate school in general, the election, planning a wedding, being maid of honor in another...I'll get into it all later.
What I want to write about today is that I am seven months from completing my graduate degree, and I've been thinking about where I want to take my career.
I've had a commitment to juvenile justice for some time now. I have a personal attachment to it (those high school sweethearts just stick with you forever), I'm writing my thesis on it, and I feel passionate about it.
But in a practical sense, I'm doing my internship this year in child welfare, and liking it. I work in the state office doing what we social workers call "macro practice," which basically means learning about and helping with all of those activities that make work on the ground possible--accreditation, policy, coordinating with federal funding sources, etc. I've been thinking, this isn't so bad. It's related to my overall goal of helping troubled youth become successful adults. Their hiring and personnel management are set up to favor social workers. And, most importantly, they're a mess and they need brilliant young people like me.
Then, yesterday, I found out I'd been awarded a small ($1000) scholarship in memory of a social worker who pioneered corrections reform. I was selected because of my commitment to forensic social work. And I remembered that the reason I chose a profession so publicly disrespected, so meagerly paid, so prone to burnout, is that I wanted to spend my life doing something I love
, not just like
. Juvenile justice brings together two things I feel very passionate about changing--the future of at-risk youth in our communities, and the disaster that is our current justice system.
Choosing a career path is akin to selecting a spouse. The warm fuzzy feeling isn't enough to last forever, and neither is compatibility alone. I will spend more of my adult life at work than I will with Nick. I'm not choosing something I'm not sure I'll still be happy with when I'm counting the months til retirement.