Resolve

2013.  The year we weren’t supposed to reach because the world was supposed to end.  So they say…

Looking back, I can confirm something that I hoped at this exact time last year — 2012 was a year of transition for me.  In the last 365 days, I moved 2,000 miles away from everything I knew, I turned 30, I started a new job, my dad retired, two of my best friends got married, I finally put another stamp in my passport, and I’ve been offered the opportunity to teach on a collegiate level — something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl.  I’m omitting that I found love, because I lost it too, but at least I got myself back to a place where I was open to love.

I made writing goals for myself, I bought my domain name after solidifying a pen name — the name I originally intended to give my first daughter.  With the prospect of children being rather remote, at least right now, the name I selected was one of such importance that I just had to know it would be used.  Simone Marrise.

And now, to look forward, I think 2013 will be another year of transition.  This one may have more growing pains, but I think that I’ll be a little more fearless this year.  A little more willing to do for myself what I would always do for others.  More travel, and not just all of the work trips.  More outings and opportunities.  More chances to meet the goals I’ve always had for myself that I was starting to believe weren’t feasible.  I moved 2,000 miles to a place where I had no friends or roots.  It may sound unwise, but it was the best thing that I could have done for myself, because I proved that I can go anywhere from here.

2013.  I’ll turn 31 in two weeks, and my thirties are already infinitely more promising that my 20’s were.  My 20’s were so littered with loss that I couldn’t see any of my major accomplishments, like finishing college or graduating law school.  Great accomplishments, but there was too much going on for me really appreciate what was happening.  By this day next year, I’ll have at least one book published, hopefully I’ll have also published a scholarly article, I’ll be slated to teach another college-level course, and I’ll be settled in a state that is almost the exact opposite of my native California.  Maybe I’ll find love again in the next year, but I’m not rushing that, nor am I scouring the earth in search of it.  Maybe I’ll get another stamp or two in my passport this year.  Maybe I’ll get serious about the prospect of buying a home, but I think that’s still a few years off.  Hell, maybe I’ll win the power ball.  Whatever happens, happens.

Goals I didn’t think I could attain are so close now.  I’m gaining a confidence I thought I’d lost, and it feels so good to be at peace with the past and have a positive outlook on the future.  I don’t intend to force any of my goals to happen prematurely, but I’m going to do my damnedest to check a few more off of the list in 2013.

No waiting until June to realize that time is passing by so quickly and nothing’s been achieved.  Time to get started.  Planning and intentions are great, but there’s no substitute for actual effort.

Boxing Butterflies

I still have butterflies when I see him.  I can’t help how I feel; my heart just hasn’t been able to catch up with my mind.  I know at this point that it’s best for me to let go and walk away, but when I see him I just can’t.  Who he is, how he is, what he is… I’m still in love with him.  In spite of obvious flaws, shortcomings, and his own demons.  Truly unconditional — something he wasn’t ready to return or face.  How I feel isn’t logical, productive, or even right anymore.  But it IS.

And, in all honesty, I just can’t stop.  I want to, to save myself some hurt, but I can’t.  In my mind, I know I have to let it go, I know that I’m enough and that I can survive without him.  I just want him.  And when he walks into the room, everything I feel comes rushing back like waves, pulling me with the tide.  How he ended things wasn’t right; I deserved better treatment, no doubt.  But I can’t deny what we had, or how quickly I react when he’s in my presence.  I haven’t accepted the entire picture yet, because bringing everything into complete focus means having to address the mistreatment and the immaturity.

But being around him for over a week on a tropical island like Barbados?  Complete torture.  Seeing his ex constantly in his face, obviously still harboring her own feelings?  Killing me slowly, like the death of 1,000 cuts.  Wondering whether he would succumb to her advances because she’s right there in front of him, and we all knew he could get it if he wanted to?  Hell.  Beautiful, tropical island hell with a big cup of rum punch to fuel the flames.

We were civil.  Most days I felt like he was avoiding me, which I understood.  Guilt can do a number on you, and it has certainly been doing a number on him.  We had a heart to heart one day in an attempt to clear the air, and honestly I think that he expects me to make advances to get him back.  He thinks that I will ask him to come back to me, beg him for a reason, or let him into my bed just for a fleeting moment of reminiscence.  Thankfully, though my heart hasn’t caught up with my head, I can salvage enough reason and self-respect to know that I can’t (and won’t) ask him back or open myself up to more hurt.  I may not be ready to completely let go, but I’m not going to beg someone to be with me.  I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want me.  That’s been my saving grace.

It’s sad, but I wish he would give me a reason to hate him.  Maybe he has, and I overlooked because I feel the way I do.  But hating him would make things so much easier, because I wouldn’t struggle against letting go — I just would.

I have everything I need for closure.  I’m almost there.  It’s akin to packing for a move.  I have the box and the tape all set.  But my heart has to let go of these feelings so that I can pack them away.  I’ll always have some feeling for him, but this box needs to go in the garage and stop cluttering up my house.

Time for a little spring cleaning.

Opposite Sides of the Broom

This isn’t even the first or second time that it’s happened.  I just know I don’t like it.  I don’t like feeling like I’ve done something either consciously or subconsciously to attract such a man.  It feels wrong, I’m not the kind of girl who could ignore the big picture, and it makes me wonder how the outside world perceives me for this to happen so often.

He’s married.

Now you may or may not have the right idea about me, especially after my last post, but let me say this:  I have no interest in ruining a marriage, being a homewrecker, breaking up a family, or catching feelings for someone that has sworn vows to someone else.  I might see a married man and think he’s attractive, sure — I’m a flesh and blood woman.  I’m human.  But I’m not going to take it further than a glance.  There could never be more than that.

Last night, I was hit on by a work acquaintance that I’m still getting to know.  I’m still getting to know everyone at my job… I travel so much for work, people barely know me.

Let me give you some background:  I’m genuinely a warm person.  I smile a lot — so much so that if I’m not smiling people think something is wrong.  I love to laugh, and I love the warmth and friendliness of New Orleans because my personality fits here.  It was lost on many in Los Angeles because you can smile and greet someone there, and they’ll look at you like you’re carrying the plague.

Anyway, I’m warm, I’m smiley, and I care.  I want to know the names of the security officers and the cleaning ladies, I want to be able to ask them about their weekends and their families.  I like building a rapport because I don’t like feeling like I work with and around strangers.  It’s just a part of the fabric of my personality.  I won’t say I’m a social butterfly; rather, I would say I choose to be familiar with those that cross my path on a regular basis.  And familiar doesn’t mean close, necessarily.

Anyway, a work acquaintance joked around with me and some of my other co-workers about being huddled up in the cold (the weather has been weird this week).  Perhaps it was innocent, or maybe there was purpose behind it.  I don’t pay any mind, especially if I see shiny metal on the third finger of a left hand, so I was completely oblivious of any connotation.  I smiled at him the same way I smiled at the woman next to him.

Because of a safety concern, we all exchanged information.  I’m notorious for working late, and when my ground floor office is lit at night, I can’t see anything at all… Even if someone is standing directly outside my windows.  It’s creepy.

About 2 hours after the office closed, I was still working.  It’s not unusual, and often co-workers will check on me or offer me a ride home (I walk to/from work).  I decided to leave, and I walked out with the same work acquaintance, who happened to be right outside.  We chatted for a minute, nothing flirty or anything, and I left to go grab some soup to take home for dinner.

When I got home, he called me.  He joked about random things, and then he said something that raised a warning signal for me.  He said he wanted to find a reason for me to come back to work so that he could see me again.  Mind you, I know he’s married, so I stopped him.  Don’t let the smile fool you, I can be extremely serious and I tend to be very blunt.  I asked him what he was really asking of me, what his intentions were, and the obvious question. Aren’t you married?

I think he was surprised by how direct I was, but it didn’t really phase him.  He said all of these things, that he thought I was cute and funny, and that he wanted to get to know me better.  That one time I patted him on the shoulder, and he had wanted to react to it but didn’t.  That he didn’t see anything wrong with an innocent hug or kiss, and that we should hang out.   He didn’t see anything wrong if things went further than an innocent kiss, but he understood why I might.  He said he wanted to hang out with me before I left for my Christmas vacation; we could have breakfast or take a drive somewhere, hang out by the lake.  Said we could always talk about things if I felt uncomfortable.

Except I was already uncomfortable.

I do believe that people can be friends and be of the opposite sex.  However, you have to set boundaries, and you have to be willing to determine those that can’t stay on their side of the line.  I didn’t want to shut out someone that I’d just met, especially someone that I worked with, but I had to set some ground rules.  Namely, uh, we’re not hanging out, you’re married, and I’m uncomfortable.  We’re cool in the context of work, but that’s all it can be.  Friend zone.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Kevin Hart, this would have been a perfect opportunity to say “Pineapples.”

What he proposed made me feel sullied and cheap — like my friendliness had been taken for granted or skewed into something unbecoming.  I may be missing closeness and affection, but I’ll never be that desperate.  I could never cross the line drawn by the broom he jumped with someone else.

I just don’t have it in me.

The Dating Rotation

Do you ever try to keep your calendar full so that you don’t have time to think about the fact that you’re very much single (and maybe a little lonely)?  I’m not afraid to admit that I do.  Especially around the holidays, more than any other time of year, I miss having someone to spend time with.  I miss cute little gifts (and big expensive ones too), cuddling up when it gets cold outside (though I’m starting to think there’s no such thing as cold in New Orleans), and making plans for the new year.  I’ve filled up my calendar, made some new friends, and kept myself busy at work so that I don’t really have time to think about it, but I still do.  Why is it always so difficult to find someone that wants to be there?  Wants to make an effort, actually cares, can be 100% real?

I used to have what I called a dating rotation, but my BS meter failed me on several occasions, and I’m to the point now where I’m so wary of nonsense that I don’t want to bother.  Each person in the rotation served a purpose.  One was fun to go out with, watch movies, shoot some pool, etc.  One was more of the “stay in” type for movies, cuddling, and well… you know.  One was a total foodie and would explore restaurants with me or be my guinea pig on new recipes I was trying out.

You may wonder why I decided to date a bunch of people, but there was a real reason.  Alone, each of these guys wasn’t boyfriend material.  They were good for certain things, but none of them really fit the mold of what I really needed.  I never lied or gave anyone the idea that we were exclusive, and I was forthcoming in admitting that I was dating other people.  I expected the same honesty.   I kept the rotation because I knew I didn’t want to fall for these guys, and what I had in place kept me from developing feelings for any one person.  And it worked for a while, but I eventually wanted more.  Just not from any of them.  Maybe I sound like a terrible person, but there was no deception.  We all parted ways amicably, one by one.  And then it was just me again.  And then I had butterflies… and, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.  I was so sure about that one, would have done anything for him, but it didn’t matter.  At least not to him.

Though I’ll be the first to admit that I want someone right now, I don’t have the energy to start up another rotation.  Maybe it comes from turning 30, maybe I’ve just decided that all of the BS isn’t worth the trouble of dealing with a few.  I just want one.  One that I can be dedicated to, be myself with, share and experience things with that wants to be with me in the same ways.   Someone that’s willing to work at it, will tell me when I’m wrong, but who will also hear me when I’m right.  I don’t need pretense, nor am I looking for an immediate fix.

I’m looking for real.  Well, maybe “looking” isn’t the proper term… I’m praying for real.  When I look, they’re never right.  I assume that’s because when we know what we want and need, we try our best to make the person in front of us fit the mold.  But they don’t.

Everyone says to just let it happen.  Well, my white flag is waving.  No more rotations, no more quick fixes.

If it doesn’t have true potential, I just can’t do it anymore.

A Warrior’s Wall

I don’t honestly believe that time heals all wounds.  In some instances, like love, I do think that time can mend things and eventually open you back up to the possibility of a new love.  However, in other areas (like loss), some wounds just aren’t meant to heal.  Some people are irreplaceable, and they leave a void when you lose them.

Even with such loss, you may never find adequate closure.  The wound may stay fresh, but you have to find a way to continue moving forward.  I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want to… but you should.  The tough part about loss is that we humans like to believe in something called hope, and sometimes hope leads us straight onto a path of denial.  When you lose someone, you don’t want to believe it’s true.  You don’t want to believe that the last time really was the last time.  You hope it’s wrong.  Even if you know for sure that it’s right.  They’re gone.  You still hope, against the odds, that somehow some miracle will bring them back.

But nothing will.

One of the scariest things I’ve learned about loss is that I have to depend on my memory to keep my lost loved ones present.  My mom said to me, about a year after my sister passed, that she’s been writing down all of her memories of my sister.  She’s afraid she’ll forget something, and she believes forgetting dishonors my sister’s memory.  My mom hasn’t completely moved on, and I don’t think she ever will.  And I’m not even saying that she should.  But I worry about her.  I worry that she’s so focused on my sister’s life that she’ll completely lose the opportunity to live her own.

Losing memories of my sister worries me too.  I don’t think I’m all that great at grieving, honestly.  I always have to be prepared to be the strong one; ready to pick up the pieces when anything goes wrong.  I can’t let down the wall and be vulnerable if I have to be my family’s warrior.  When the wall is up, you learn to smile a lot.  You have to.  A million things could be going wrong, but you have to keep it together.  Show a brave face to people, so much so that they don’t know the difference between true happiness or the wall.  They don’t recognize the wall because the brave smile becomes the default.  Smiling is my grief mechanism.

Maybe it isn’t the best thing, because I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t dealt with everything I feel, but at least I acknowledge that this is what I do.  There are very few people that I let see the other side of the wall, perhaps because I worry that someone doesn’t really want to know everything that I’ve been through.  I also have learned that, in the past, I trusted too easily.  I don’t want to continuously repeat the same cycles.

At the end of the day, you’ll find me smiling.  Every once in a while you may see some other emotion flash through my eyes, but I pick it back up and keep pushing.  My baby sis would have it no other way, and it brings me great joy to keep working toward accomplishments that I know would have made her proud.

The wall is up high, but I know when to bring it down.

Drawing a Line

Sometimes I think you hope that there will be more, even when you know it’s over.  Maybe because it wasn’t your decision to end things, maybe because you don’t want to start all over again.  There’s always a reason.

I think one of my biggest hangups has always been that I’m completely honest, and I expect the same in return.  I want to be able to tell you what it is, and I want you to do the same.  I don’t see the point in flowering words to save feelings, someone else’s or my own, because then we’re not really at the heart of the matter.  We’re skating around it.  I always come back to two words: be real.  In my last romance, I honestly don’t know what happened to cause our demise.  I just know it’s over.

I started blogging just over 9 years ago.  My first start was on Xanga, and then Blogger, and now WP.  Over 12 blogs in all, multiples are still in use.  I was grieving over the loss of someone very close to me — someone I’d known her entire life — my sister.  That same year, I lost 4 more people close to me, and I felt like my world was closing in around me.  Honestly, I’m still grieving.  Writing has always been my outlet; I always knew how to describe and myself through written word.  It wasn’t until I’d dealt with some demons through writing that I realized that I had a need to express myself verbally.  If I love someone, I need to say it.  I can’t hold back anymore.  I’ve lost too many opportunities with people I grew up loving to continue to hold back.  The cycle would just repeat itself, and I don’t think that I could bear it.

The one that gave me butterflies… There’s no question, I love him.  Even now.  He knows that.  And maybe he didn’t love me back, or he wasn’t ready.  Maybe I just wasn’t the right one for him.  I may never know, and I’ve accepted that.  Maybe we can never be friends or be close the way that we were.  He’s drawn a line.  At the end of the day, though, I just hope he remembers.  I won’t forget how I felt, or how I loved him, or what I’d hoped for.

Maybe there’s something better out there and I just can’t see it yet.  Maybe.

Post-Hurricane Musings

So, I’ve officially moved to New Orleans, and (in less than a week’s time) I have experienced my first hurricane.  If you talk to the locals, this one was “only” a Category 1, but it was pretty bad.  More rain than Katrina, the flooding back then was more due to the levee system failing.  This time, a whole town in Mississippi had to be evacuated for fear that a nearby dam would give way due to all the rain.  Lake Pontchartrain (here in Louisiana) overflowed.  How does a lake overflow??  Some folks are calling Hurricane Isaac “Katrina’s Husband.”  Let me just say, I’ll take Isaac any day — I just don’t want his wife to come a-calling.

I can’t imagine experiencing something 4 categories stronger than Isaac, but the actual hurricane itself wasn’t that scary.  The wind howled, which we expected.  The power went out, and there were feet of rain (that’s right, feet — not inches).  Even with all of the wind and rain, it was stiflingly hot.  We watched the wind pull away the awning from all of the covered parking for my co-worker’s Metairie condo building.  Torn to shreds.

Even still, the hurricane didn’t last as long as I thought it would.  Maybe that’s the misnomer of learning about weather systems by watching the news.  All I knew of hurricanes had been learned by watching Katrina and her aftermath.  Isaac sat over us in New Orleans for a full day, but we felt the winds long before he arrived.  It was like he announced his visit.

Longer than the hurricane itself was the power outage.  We were without power for 4 days, but many of my neighbors are still without power (now going on 6 days).  Some folks lost power before the hurricane even officially arrived.  Huge complaints about the main energy utility here in New Orleans — Entergy.  Once the hurricane was over, they dispatched some 10,000 workers to restore power to over 170,000 homes.  By the next day, less than 10,000 homes had restored power (I believe it was actually less than 5,000, but my facts are based on what we could glean from radio reports and Entergy’s tweets).

The president of Jefferson Parish took the strong stance of complaint against Entergy, making blunt accusations that Entergy just wasn’t getting the job done.   We were all driving around, taking photos and notifying Entergy of downed power lines — some of which were still live.  We were doing our part.  But we were seeing crews of 6 or more trucks, just parked and waiting.  Either they were waiting because they hadn’t been given orders, or they were waiting because they just didn’t feel like getting to the job at hand.  By the third day without power, Entergy had raised the amount of workers to 16,000.

When the amount of workers was increased, the biggest question in my mind was why they didn’t start with 16,000?  If each of them is going to have to work to restore power to over 10,000 homes, why not start there?  Why start at 10,000 and make promises of restored power, only to have to come back and say that people would have several more days to wait in the heat?  Mind you, each day without power, the weather grew hotter and more humid.  And many of us had not heard whether our water was safe or contaminated.

One thing I learned (that I hadn’t even considered before) is that everyone fills their tubs with water before a hurricane comes.  The water is used to flush the toilets if the water stops, can be boiled and is safer to use if the water in the pipes does get contaminated, etc.  In our venture to stay cool, we would drive around with the a/c, practically refugees in the local Whole Foods (one of the only grocery stores with power, where we could buy coffee and a warm meal).  While we waited for news about our power and the water, we went without showers.  We finally heard that the water was safe late into our third day, and we were forced to take freezing cold showers because the water heater was electric.  Mind you, the cold showers felt wonderful since it was so hot out, but the extremes from hot to cold were a big shock to the system.  Imagine taking a freezing cold shower and then stepping out of the water into 90 degree heat with 98% humidity, immediately breaking a sweat all over again.  Needless to say, I now have a cold.

If you ever find yourself caught in a hurricane situation, some essentials you might need (that I did not have on hand since my belongings hadn’t even made it to town yet) include:

  • batteries
  • unscented candles and holders
  • matches
  • battery-operated phone charger (apparently they’re cheap at Radio Shack)
  • a sturdy ice chest with wheels and a drainage spout
  • ice
  • bread
  • peanut butter
  • jelly
  • fruit
  • crackers
  • tons of water
  • multiple flashlights
  • fans (old school, accordion looking fans that you have to operate yourself… yes, i know it seems like expelling energy to cool yourself would only make you warmer, but it’s actually quite nice)
  • plenty of reading material and/or a craft project
  • wine (worked wonders for us)
  • a sleep aid (for when the wind starts really howling, it can be tough to sleep when you can feel the house shaking and hear things banging around outside)
  • a generator to keep your refrigerator running (only if you live in a place where the generator can be kept outside in a well-ventilated area… you can’t have one in an apartment or garage — think carbon monoxide poison and fire hazards).
  • shorts
  • mosquito repellent
  • camping chairs (sometimes it’s more comfortable to sit outside hours before or after the hurricane — at least you can feel a breeze, and they’ll continue to be handy to sit outside if there’s a prolonged power outage)
  • extra phone or laptop batteries
  • DVDs if you have a portable system (you will get a little stir crazy)

Some things you may need to do before a hurricane comes:

  • empty your freezer (everything will melt and make its way to your floor… it’s gross, it smells, and it will suck for anyone living below you)
  • fill your tub(s) with water
  • close your blinds/drapes
  • pay close attention to the news, as a late evacuation is possible
  • fill up your gas tank, since you could still have to leave town
  • put some money aside if/when you can for this purpose (hotels are pricey and they’ll charge a big premium for pets, you’ll probably want to buy food/ice and supplies whenever one is coming, and who knows what will happen during the storm)
  • water your plants
  • move planters and other items from outside and bring them in/put them in the garage (they will break/blow away)
  • have a bag packed in case you need to leave, make sure you know where your important documents are

There’s literally no way I would have thought to do/buy most of these things — this is all hindsight.  Even now, knowing that we’re in “hurricane season,” I’m not mentally ready to prepare for another one if it’s coming our way.  The scariest part is that I checked the NHC’s website (National Hurricane Center), and there are already three other tropical storm systems being monitored.  Doesn’t mean they’re coming anywhere near here, but it’s stressful just to think that we could have another one so soon.  I’m not ready, Isaac took what little money I had left after the movers took the rest, and half of my neighbors still don’t have power as it is.

I literally started work last Monday, and three hours later we were rushing out to get supplies and get situated.  Flooding and outages have been so bad that they closed my office until after Labor Day (thankful for paid leave).  Downed trees and debris are still everywhere.

Certainly glad to say I’m a survivor of a hurricane, but I’m hopeful that the rest of this season is pretty quiet.

Barbecue and Elvis

Well, I’ve been away a while… did some soul searching, still experiencing butterflies, and (oh yeah) I moved to New Orleans.  Big change, but a good one, although if you move somewhere and then get a hurricane warning on day two, you might think otherwise.

I have to admit, I’m used to earthquakes.  Though there’s no warning, they happen so frequently that it has to be a huge one to make any real difference at all.  If it’s not above a 4.0, I may not feel it at all.  If it’s not above a 6.0, I won’t be concerned about aftershocks or any major damage.  But hurricanes, that’s different.  You may know days ahead of time, and some people may think a category 1 is nothing, but I’ve never experience one, nor have I been educated on them.  A category 1 and Katrina could be the same thing to me.

Obviously, I’ve been doing my research, since one is looming ahead before I’ve even been here a weekend.  I’m nervous, to say the least.  I’ve already been warned about my job’s hurricane procedures and policies, and I’ve been told there could be a mandatory evacuation by the city.  That may be the norm to locals, but it’s pretty unsettling to someone who’s never lived outside of California.  I’ll deal though.

Before I left Los Angeles, I joked with co-workers that if a hurricane was coming, they could find me in Memphis.  I figure it’s far enough north that the hurricane will have dissipated, and there’s some damn good barbecue.  Plus, there’s always the possible Elvis sighting, right?  Ironically, the first hurricane I might experience comes before my car has even arrived.  So much for Memphis.  Maybe I’ll just harness a gator and ride to Memphis.  Can beignets be used as water wings?  Crazy talk, I know, but it’s easier to make light of things you don’t completely understand (and are admittedly afraid of).  Mother Nature can be a beast.

I will say, in the short amount of time that I’ve lived in New Orleans, I’ve rekindled my writing motivation.  Something set a spark in me today to get out to a local coffee shop and write.  I got down a whole chapter in no time, and it felt so good to be back to getting words on a page.  Something about this city just breeds creativity; there’s an openness about the people here, and so much history.  It’s a beautiful thing (though if I could, I’d nix the bugs and this whole hurricane business).  I’m very excited to see what else is in store for me here.

Eggshells

Ever feel like you never know the right thing to say?  Or that even if you say what you mean, that it will be misconstrued?  Or that you’re just walking on eggshells, dealing with a bunch of different personalities, knowing that tension is running so high that anyone could snap at any second.  Ever looked someone in the face after having heard all of their secrets, knowing they have absolutely no idea who you are?

I’ve learned that the best laid plans fail, even if made with the very best of intentions.  Just because you make them, it doesn’t mean that they’re not meant to be broken.  Or that anyone will place the amount of importance on them that you did.

I think I’ve come to the end of my planning rope.  Whatever happens will happen.  Life goes on either way.  I’m resigned to the fact that maybe I’m the only one who wants anything beyond happenstance.  If you’re strong when it comes to matters of the heart, you learn to adjust and move on.  Even when you don’t want to.