The Sky

I hope that you’re ready for some more poetry because I have been reading [as freedom is a breakfastfood] by E. E. Cummings and here’s the part that I want you to know:

—time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you

Life is but a little leaf on the great tree of time. But even time itself becomes limited and small in the face of love which is huge and boundless and essential and everywhere. That’s my happy thought for the week. Love is the sky, immense and present, and that is what is getting me through.

I’m going to be real with you though. I have had more video calls this week than ever before–and all of them social, voluntary, and friendly (none of them for work or interviews). I’ve been trying to lap it all up like a parched camel because it’s kind of exactly what I’ve been wishing for these past several months while at home, not particularly close with many friends.

So it’s been awesome in most ways but it’s also presented some mental challenges for me. I’ve written before that I’m trying to stick to the facts, as best as I may know them, when it comes to friends. Being clear with sending and receiving signals, communicating openly so that I can put the lie to the thoughts that tell me that I’m the least valuable player in any social setting. And I think that I’ve made progress on that, truly. One would think that all this social attention has helped too but, surprise, believing lies doesn’t have to be logical.

While I know that the reasonable response to such an increase in contact would be to think something along the lines of ‘wow people do like me, it really is just time and effort constraints that have prevented greater contact in the past’ and now that there’s time, there can be socializing with me. But the thing that I think initially, despite my best efforts, is that either a) this is happening because no one has anything better to do ie I’m a last resort or b) it’s been happening all along but only now am I being made aware of it because people are trying to reach out to others in these difficult times.

I recognize these problems and I’m working on combating them. Just wish it were a little easier. With everything going on, my life hasn’t actually changed much because most of my time has been stewing aimlessly at home anyway. The inescapable frustration of underemployment. The diminished capacity of listlessness. Stewing really is the right word for it most of the time. I hope I come out of this as a really delicious soup because otherwise what am I even doing.

Anyway. Trying not to turn too inward, a tendency for me which the current situation exacerbates.

There’s a whole lot going on in the world right now and it’s important to pay attention to it. I try to take it seriously when I can offer support to other people. It’s hard sometimes to know what to do especially when notes of caution are added to my natural laziness (and selfishness) but I do still want to try to do things. I tell myself it will be better when I have a normal, full-time job and can establish a reasonable routine but we’ll see about that I guess.

In the meantime, if there’s something that I can do for you, please let me know. Just like a little check-in, or virtually playing some games with you, or bringing you groceries if you’re in the area. I’d love to write you letters, too, which you can let sit in mail quarantine for a few days before opening. Whatever I can do.

To conclude, some cute pictures of cat tongue because why not.

The line quoted at the start of this post is near the end of the final stanza. E. E. Cummings is hard to understand in the best of times but that stanza begins with the line, “worms are the words but joy’s the voice.” Whatever the words may be (worms? like, death? or nature? or just small, insignificant things? or???), the voice is joy. Joy is the voice and love is the sky.

I can’t get over that single phrase. Love is the sky. Love is the sky. Love is the sky. Love, love, love; sky, sky, sky.

Somebody Else’s Lake

So we’ve all heard that saying about the seaweed being greener–or the grass, whatever. And likewise, we’ve all gotten the memo that such thinking is fallacious. No, the other side isn’t any better than this one, you just want to imagine that being in a different situation will magically erase all your problems. I guess the lesson that saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” is meant to teach is the same message of one of my all-time favorite life mottoes: bloom where you’re planted.

I’ve written about that saying here many times before because it resonates with me so much. Especially given all my moves and everything, sometimes blooming where I’m planted has become my mantra out of necessity because any other attitude would pretty comprehensively ruin my time in whatever place I was trying to bloom in. But I’ll tell you this, I think the past four or five months have been the biggest test of my commitment to that idea yet. There are two things that I’ve been mulling over: what does it mean to be planted, and what does the other side really look like.

When in the past my in-between times have had be at home again, it’s always been a temporary thing. I haven’t felt the need to bloom here because time was limited and it was almost like my life was paused, in many ways. Even if I didn’t know what was coming next, I knew that there would be a next before too long and then I’d be gone, off to bloom elsewhere. But this time, I guess it’s just felt a little closer to the Pit of Despair than before.

With that in mind, I have to ask myself to what extent do I want to become involved in things here? How do I want to engage in life here? I really don’t know the answer here. For example, I’ve been going to the church that I grew up in, which is nice, but it’s also unaffirming of queer people. So in addition to the ‘this is temporary’ mindset, I also have that factor kind of driving me away from engagement. In another sphere, I don’t have a whole lot of friends in the area and so I’ve been trying to make new ones but, at the same time, I am clear that I’m trying to move away and maybe that makes both sides a little reluctant to connect, in spite of best efforts to the contrary.

I just don’t know. I don’t know how long I’ll be here. I don’t know to what extend I’m planted here. I don’t know if I’ll get the job that I’m waiting to hear back from after an interview–though that would really simplify a lot of these aforementioned questions.

And on that note, the second set of problems that I’ve been trying to think my way through. Is the seaweed greener in somebody else’s lake (and yes I get that saying seaweed and talking about lakes to ocean creatures is a whole thing)? That is, to what extent will I really be better off somewhere else? And will it be better than where I’ve been before?

On these questions, I feel that I have a little bit more ground to stand on. I have actually started over in  a new place. Several times, at this point. I have moved to D.C., Dublin, Seoul, and Glen Arbor without knowing anyone. And in the course of doing so, I’d like to think that I’ve learned some skills about how to do it. Nothing I could ennumerate off the top of my head but there are definitely things to do and ways to think that make it a little easier to adjust and start anew.

But one main lesson that I think I’ve learned is this: sometimes, the grass really is greener. Maybe not as green as you may hope or wish or dream, but all the same. And that new place might not (correction, will not) solve all of your problems but it can solve at least some of them. Having greener grass can nourish you in ways that perhaps you didn’t know you were deficient (and hopefully also in those ways in which you know too well you are).

So that’s where I’ve been this week. Am I staying or going? Do I expend social energy here when it gives so little return and may be uprooted at the drop of a hat by my leaving? Do I remain less social and have to deal with more of this same life-on-hold feeling until something comes along? Am I putting too much hope in my life looking better somewhere else or am I striving toward a reasonable hope that change can bring good things?

You didn’t expect a sort of Spanish Inquisition, did you?

Trying to Be Cool

So we’re here in mid-October now. I have just this week finally, finally, acquired some employment. It’s part time and seasonal but it’s something, so that’s good. Continuing to apply to other places as well–places that are more in line with my career goals. Hopefully, I’ll have some luck on that front sooner rather than later but who can say.

I keep finding job postings that I think sound great, both in terms of me enjoying the position/location and it fitting with my résumé. And then nothing ever comes of them. It’s a little sad. But whatever. I soldier on, and at least now I’ll have some modicum of income to keep things a teensy bit more relaxed.

Importantly, a friend of mine recently got kittens. And I CANNOT contain myself. They are stupendously cute. Please enjoy.

So I’ve written before about my terrible memory. The kind that rarely, vaguely, scarcely remembers life events, at least, but does pretty well with poetry, music, and trivia. So usually, I’m not remembering things when I should be. A friend will mention something in passing and I’ll be totally shocked that they haven’t mentioned it before–but they have. Sometimes often.

Moments like those make me feel like a terrible friend. I can’t keep even basic facts about the lives of my friends and family in my head. Try as I might. If I’ve done this to you, please believe me when I say I do truly pay attention to you and value you.

But here’s the weird thing. Sometimes, I remember things and pretend like I don’t. Not important life things–would that I had the luxury of choosing which things like that I could “remember”– but random trivia, titles, the names of famous people, the year in which a world event occurred.

And why, why in the world would I feign ignorance? Or put on a show trying to act as though it takes me a while for me to sort through my memory to dig up something that had in fact been resting right on top? To be cool, I guess.

It’s so odd to me, and it’s not like I even deliberately process the choice to delay or pretend that I’ve forgotten–it’s almost an instinct. Somehow, I imagine that people will think I’m weird or less cool if I can immediately call up the information they’re trying to recall. I’m trying to think of an example for you but, irony of ironies, I can’t remember any specific instances. But I know I do it all the time.

And who am I kidding, everyone who knows me knows I’m weird and not cool whether I take ten seconds to “remember” something or say it straight away. And what’s more, I don’t think that such knowledge would probably even enter into a stranger’s assessment of my coolness anyway. Like it’s probably not something that people notice all that much, right?

I have no idea how it started but even when I recognize it as it’s happening, it’s really difficult for me to overcome it.  Recognizing that I should just be who I am, and also that people probably don’t care or even notice, I still delay recalling certain information sometimes. It’s bizarre.

I guess the point here is twofold. First, as I’ve said on here before, everyone’s a little silly so just own it. Second, some of the prisons our minds inhabit are ones we built ourselves.

On the latter point, to be sure, some are very real. Social norms and the behavior of others informs how we act and restrains our ‘self’ in sometimes very harmful ways. But I know for myself, a lot of the anxiety I have about social interactions is over things that no one really cares about. So I’m working to free myself of those worries.

Be true to your heart because that’s the coolest cool there is.