If you stay drunk on writing, then reality cannot destroy you.

In general, writers have to know and understand the human psyche on such an intimate level in order to properly construct a plot, introduce characters, and even dream of decent dialogue.

Writers know that some people feel like rays of summer sunshine, taste like cherry Popsicles, smell like vanilla candles, and flirt like a dusk-kissed sky. Writers know that other people feel like white marble floors, taste like black ink, smell like Wright’s All-Natural Liquid Hickory Smoke, and tease like Orion’s Belt shining through the broken ceiling of a Roman temple.  Writers know that still other people feel like silk trickling across your skin, taste like mountain spring water in March, smell like green tea leaves floating on surface tension, and skim through like the moon on a puddle.

That’s why Christmas is so emotionally draining for me.

I can sit in a room surrounded by my family and know exactly what they are feeling – because at some point, I felt it too.

Sister, I know that you spent over $200 on your boyfriend’s entire family only to spend a total of $47.59 on all 6 of us.  I know you did it because you think that your boyfriend’s family gets you and that they treat you better than we ever did and you want us to feel bad – as worthless as you felt.  I also know that every time one of us tries to explain that you don’t make us a priority, that you hurt us when you sleep through breakfast (and lunch and sometimes until we call you for dinner), that you make us feel friendless when you ignore our calls and our texts, that you pretend to be asleep when we go into your room and try to invite you for coffee – but when we try to explain all of that, you shut us down.  Somehow we can’t tell you how we feel, but you can instruct us in the correct way to communicate emotion.  I know that act, Sister.  I write it myself.

Brother, I know that you are 13 and selfish – not because you mean to be, but just because you simply forget to think about other people.  You don’t have mean intentions, but you don’t have any intentions at all.  You want distraction, entertainment, noise gobbling silence at every point in your life because you’re terrified of being bored and alone.  It’s hard to feel alone with light and voices from every virtual game you play.  I know that feeling, Brother.  I’ve written it before.

Sister, I recognize the pain in your words when you lash out and make fun of other people’s accomplishments; as soon as you make someone feel ashamed by what they’ve achieved, no one can hold it against you for not reaching that goal yourself.  Your mocking jokes reveal exactly how jealous you are of everyone else’s dreams – you’re terrified of being left behind in the rat race that our parents encourage us to run. I know how you feel, Sister.  I’ve lived that before.

And yet, it’s funny.  If I were to tell them all of this, they’d laugh and say I was making it up – because writers don’t understand.

And I’d smile back at them and shrug my shoulders.

Because I knew that’s exactly what they would say.

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The world is blessed to welcome you.

I have 11 different kinds of tea, bagged or loose-leaf, including various varieties and mixes of herbal and black, ranging from 120mg to 30 mg of caffeine.

I have a French press and a Keurig, with light, medium, and dark roasts – decaf and regular.  I even have a medium roast with shredded dried cherries – just in case you were feeling adventurous.

I have cream, cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, and honey.  Take your pick of any of the 24 coffee mugs hanging on the wall.  Make yourself at home.

I have white wine, red wine, rose; gin and tonic water; scotch and Irish whiskey; two different flavors of vodka; Jack Daniels, Fireball, apple moonshine.  If you don’t like it straight, I also have ginger ale, Coke, and apple cider as mixers.  My husband has graciously filled a special ice tray with large single cubes – perfect for connoisseurs or people who just want to look “cool.” Enough of any of this, and you might be sleeping on my floor (I did tell you to make yourself at home).

And if you don’t like hot drinks, you better believe I can offer filtered water (for you city folks) and tap water (for those of you country people with cultured, palettes who enjoy the complex assortments of minerals).  I even have ice cubes with separate trays for filtered and tap water that correspond to your preference – although you could mix it all up with different proportions of each.

One could say that we aim to please, in this apartment.

I suggest, that we make everyone try to make everyone feel welcome.

I want everyone to feel welcome.  And this is why I get angry.  And then I get sad.

I want people to feel welcome, so I invite everyone in my small office to lunch.  It makes me angry when certain people wearing gold crosses around their neck mock the vegetarian Muslim man.  It makes me angry when they turn up their noses at the strange smells wafting from the lunch boxes of the two Filopena women I also invited.  And when those people leave, it makes me angry that the Muslim and Filopenas assume that I “simply couldn’t be a Christian” since I didn’t judge them in the first place.

Even though I am.

It makes me angry that my generation is frowned upon for believing in happiness enough to finally go through with following our dreams – and abandoning the American one.  Maybe we don’t want to buy houses, maybe we don’t want to have children, maybe we don’t want to work 9-5 for 45 years in the same office job before we can retire and eat microwaved frozen meals at the nursing home our 2.5 children chose for us.  And if we do want those things, we still don’t have to explain why we are following in our parents’ steps.  Regardless, we shouldn’t have to defend our own choices to you because they are our choices – not yours.

Even though, I still do.

I am angry because politics have to divide everything these days.  And they don’t have to, but we want them to because it’s easier to justify evil-spirited choices on party affiliations than it is to admit that we are actually jerks.  I am angry because when I try to explain to my parents why this current proposed tax plan will murder the graduate student population and the middle class and healthcare for minority and elderly people, they shake their head at me and smile – because what could I possibly know? I’m looking for the freedom to quit a job in unethical corporate America to improve education, and I don’t even have the guts to tell my own mother for fear of judgment and yet another obstacle in our strained relationship.

I am angry.  And now, I’m sad.  Because humans have such potential.

If I were God, I’m not sure how I could keep from wiping the slate clean again and again until we get it right. It’s a good thing I’m not God.

So I welcome everyone.  You don’t have to agree with me about anything, but you are welcome in my 658 sq.ft apartment.  You are welcome to sit on our hand-me-down couches, burrow in our fuzzy blankets, fix yourself a drink, peruse our multiple stacks and boxes of books (still working on getting that bookshelf…..), and choose to light whichever candle you want.  I have 5 different scents so you can pick your own atmosphere of smells.

Life is hard enough as it is, darling.  So you are always welcome here.

Change is the end result of all true learning.

Hello again, dear ones. I abandon you once more.

But – like every narcissistic lover – I always reappear when you have given up hope on hearing back from me.  I use you for my own selfish purposes: vomiting ill-conceived thoughts on your blank screen, dissecting secrets amidst your black font, bruising the backspace button as the wrong words tumble down.

We both know I’ll leave. Again.

That part of me will never grow up.  I’ve written in my public diary for 3 (nearly 4!) years now and I don’t foresee myself stopping any time soon.  I’ll actually have more time for it, in just 23 days.

I’m quitting my job, you see.  My regular-paycheck-every-other-Friday, PTO and benefits, 8-4 job.  Not that I’m giving up, per se.  Just choosing a different route.  This is my gap year, after all, and I intend to live like it.

I’ll be spending a lot more time on here.  I’ll be free for the next 5 months to type what I wish, when I wish it.  I’ll be focusing on my writing and tutoring part-time.  I plan on doing daily “writing sprints,” where I will post a prompt and write non-stop for 10 minutes.  You have the ultimate pleasure of reading my uncensored thoughts, should you so choose.

I never stopped being a writer.  But I stopped identifying as one.  Well, no more.

You smile.

You truly know me so well, after all this time. And I think that’s why I keep coming back.

I’m remembering what it’s like to be human, again. I’m going to create once more, frustrate myself with my lack of inner thesaurus, drink endless cups of tea, and poke around in dusty corners of my brain.  I’m going to write – not from the heart – but from my soul and discover who I am.

I’m going to change.

Welcome to my new year.