It is a basic condition of life: to be required to violate your own identity.

Change is permanent because things are always changing.

Tattoos are permanent because the mechanized needle forces pigment into the dermis layer of skin – since the pigment is too large to be removed by white blood cells, it simply stays.

So here I stay. And here I change.

Here I have a tattoo.

The pale, long-haired, Queen of the tutors pictured in the engagement photos from exactly one year ago looks in the mirror and wonders why this equally pale, tattooed, medical technologist with Zoe Deschanel fringe-banged hair is blinking blindly back at her.  It seems that they only thing they have in common is lack of sleep, coffee breath and winged black eyeliner.

I don’t know who I am anymore, but it’s the first time in a very long time that I’ve been okay with saying that out loud (or at least, seeing the words appearing on the screen). I always forget about the transition states.

In chemistry, the transition state has the highest amount of energy through the entire reaction – in a sense, it’s the oomph needed for the reaction to progress to completion.

transitionstatechem114a

However, it can be difficult to navigate.  You can put a lot of energy into something and still not go anywhere if you haven’t reached the transition state; there is actually a way to make that flirtatious transition state more attainable: enzymes.  Enzymes can lower the activation energy of a transition state in too many ways for me to describe in this little post.

Either way, I always struggle with the transition state.  You can throw the pre-wedding, pre-graduation, pre-adulthood Sydney into a pot with a degree, a husband, and a job in the field (right out of school, with benefits and PTO).  You can add an identity crisis, tear-filled showers, and homegrown herbs on a patio.  You can add a haircut.  But you will not end up with even the remotest semblance of a finished product.

There are so many people I need to become before I end up close to that “finished product.”  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll never quite get there.  Regardless, I’ve finally found myself overcoming my social anxiety and introducing myself to the new person I see in the mirror.

She’s actually kinda nice.

I think I like her.

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I seem to have run in a great circle and found myself at the finish line.

Let me tell the tale
of a girl who didn’t stop,
who climbed up every mountain
without a pause on the top.
She’d dance until each blade of grass
was clothed in drops of dew,
and the sun knew her by name –
but the silver moon did too.
For a fear had settled in her bones;
a fear of sitting still,
that if you’re not moving forward
it must mean you never will.
So in time her dance got slower
and she looked at all she’d seen,
but found gaps inside the places
that she’d never fully been.
For she was a human doing,
a human moving, human seeing,
but she’d never taken time
to simply be a human being.

~e.h.

 

The soul has a faithful unconscious interpreter in the eyes.

You think it’s funny when you ask me my favorite color and I give you three options because I can never choose, because it varies on the day, or because my mood dictates what I find pretty that day.

The question drips from your lips like honey and I can’t quite find the words to describe my real favorite color.

It’s a humble color, not forceful or piercing as a crisp light blue can tend to come across as. It’s a strong color, but gentle like the breath of the wind that kisses the back of my neck and send shivers down my spine. It’s not a rich color like smooth, chocolate brown, but it’s a satisfying color.

Most of all it’s warm. Welcoming. Like your hugs, but you would laugh if I told you that.

Have you ever seen a ruby and admired the flames that seem to smolder just below the surface? Or have you ever held an emerald and wondered at the smooth coolness that beckons from behind the hexagonal screen?  The warmth of the moon pooling in your iris while the October breeze ruffles under your jacket – that’s how my favorite color makes me feel.

How could ever choose between the two?

Sillage is a terrible excuse to dwell in the past.

After Last Light

A moonless night cliff-side steals the sea
from us. What was sapphire beyond churlish blue

is just howl now: waves darker than closed eyelids
wreck the rocks we also can’t see. Sunlight forgot

the two of us here. The taste of salt, an ungiven kiss
on our lips. And silence is the rush of blood

in our ears, a violent pause between your question
and what I will not say. I have no answer;

My throat is the ocean now.

 

*I found this original poem in my pending posts. Still not sure why I never posted it.  It’s been ruminating for two years now – perhaps it’s improved with age.

The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.

In a charcoal grey 2007 Prius, there is a touchscreen in the console that demonstrates the energy usage between the battery and the electric motor. I’d be willing to bet that all 2007 Prius’ have this feature, regardless of color.

As you hit the has pedal to drive, the electric motor powers the car and charges the battery with the output energy in order to create an efficient system. I’ve noticed that when I get in the car, I have no motivation to drive anywhere. Without driving anywhere, the battery will empty itself eventually.

I seem to have that effect on things.

When I was too lethargic to crawl out of the covers this morning, my dress hung limp on the hanger, hanged by it’s own unmet expectations.

I didn’t eat breakfast this morning and my empty stomach complained all during church. Now the dark chocolate cherry biscotti bag is empty too. And my poor coffee cup has been emptied at least 3 times.

Showering felt like too much of an effort so I decided to fill the bathtub to the brim with steaming water and bubbles. But as a last ditch effort to fill and fulfill something, I partnered a wineglass with Merlot. Now the faucet drips morosely into a hollow tub and the wineglass is sideways in a sink as the bubbles are crushed under my breath and release their own empty space into the mist on the mirror.

Hello is an empty word too if you think about it. The “H” is separated by a wall in the middle, the lonely lines punished like fair lovers in Verona, never to meet again. The “e” is sliced in half by early commitment and the tail-end is dangling in the breeze, desperate for something else to satisfy. The “l” envy the “h” and “e” because Hey, at least they were able to have a relationship with any other line in the first place, no matter how it turned out! But the “l” soldiers on it’s lonely path, parallel to anyone and anything else.  Do I even have to explain the “o” and the way it’s very existence echoes purposely, regardless of the capital or lowercase-ness?

I’m sorry if you’re reading this because I have this sort of effect on things…

Hello.

Forcing through the doldrums is like forcing a fart – you feel so much better afterwards.

4 1/2 cups of flour.
2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast.
1 bottle Honey Wheat Blue Moon ale.
1/4 cup sugar.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1 jar strawberry jelly borrowed from my great grandma.

Friendships run cheap these days.

I had never seen her outside of a lab coat – I didn’t even know she had 12 different flavors of coffee next to her Keurig until I sat at her kitchen table, perusing her countertop as I pretended not to notice her precarious limp. She could only offer me a glass of water; anything heavier and I’d have to get it myself.

The cuckoo clock (that’s an odd, certainly personal touch) clanged against the lipstick red wall – despite the aforementioned atrocity, she seemed to have strong decorative taste. Until I saw all the flamingo memorabilia on her back porch
in Margaritaville just a few steps out the back.

Perhaps I judged too soon.

She said she would return to work in three weeks.  Although I believed her, I should’ve doubted it when I remembered that she was 52 and scheduled for a hip surgery with two major complications.  Nine weeks later, I feel bad for not having visited sooner.

Until she lets it slip that no one else has come to visit her either.

I arrive at 3:57 pm. I’m late, but after discovering that I am the Christopher Columbus of visitors, I shrug it off. She hugs me 4 times in the course of an hour.  I didn’t get back in my car until 6:31 pm.

I remember chatting the whole time, but I can’t really pinpoint any specific topics: her dog, Pixie, was shedding a lot. Her husband was a Colts fan and – as predicted – they had done so poorly this year that he didn’t even get any satisfaction yelling at the TV, but rather sat dejectedly on the couch wishing the game would end.  Physical therapy was going as well as expected (and by that, it wasn’t progressing at all. Not even in a tango style with 2 steps forwards and 1 back.) The weather was nice, but the air smelled of fall and the leaves were whispering that they would turn soon.

I didn’t think it was very much effort on my part.

But she texted everyone in the department on Monday to send them a picture of her breakfast: homemade toast with strawberry jelly.

Her husband had 3 pieces.

I got two friends for the price of one.

 

 

 

Self-care is survival but self-love is sacred.

There are no wrong decisions.

Somehow I’ve managed to get to my 22nd year in this life and no one ever told me this.

There are no wrong decisions after your tears have blended with the water in the shower as your head is flooded with thoughts between the alternatives, your knees are as raw as your eyelids from falling on the floor and begging God – or the universe, whoever responds first – for an answer, when you’ve typed and printed and dated your resignation letter and hung it on your fridge so you can see it everyday.

When you’ve reached that point, there are no wrong decisions.

Of all the things my mother taught me how to do, taking care of myself was never one of them.  I never realized how important it was to actually love the body where your soul resides. And now, as I tilt my head and listen to the muscle knots crunch over each other, I wonder how long it would take for the neglect to catch up with me if I hadn’t noticed the decay when I did.  The bags under my eyelids are not designer, my friends. But I can remember the last time I felt well-rested!

Tuesday. Two short days ago when I had a day off work.  It was the first morning I can remember when I told my husband good morning before coffee.

I’ve never done that before.

I also notice the pain in my fingertips as a type from nails whittled down to nibs, ripped cuticles wearing drops of blood like ruby necklaces, and the flaking, onion-like layers of the nail itself floating across the keys.

If it were anyone else, I’d scoop them up and wrap like a burrito in a blanket, hand them a cup of homemade hot chocolate (made using my tiramisu truffles from Italy – what else?) and stroke their hair as I convinced them to quit their job – or anything else that made them so dreadfully unhappy.

And knowing that, I have to ask:

Why can’t I do that for myself?