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.

 

 

 

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No one ever told me that emptiness weighs the most.

Over 99% of this universe is dark matter.

I’ve heard it said that one can only know happiness after they’ve known sadness.

I’m sitting underneath a blanket that weighs 25 pounds because I’ve also heard it said that these types of blankets can help with depression since it feels like a hug – and hugs release oxytocin.

I don’t know the side-effects of an overdose on this kind of oxy, but I think I could use it right about now. And so could most of my friends. And also the sky, based on the number of days in a row that it has thrown it’s thunderstorm tantrums.

I just started a new government-regulated job and they are teaching me to write the letters “MT” on empty vials that will be cleaned and recycled.

I’ve found it incredibly ironic. And useful.

Absentmindedly, I’ve been scribbling those letters on everything: the spaghetti sauce spattering from my lasagna, the soap suds in the shower, the lipstick smeared across my lips that echo those same letters.

I wonder – with everything that has happened – why I feel this way. I shouldn’t. I should be full, filled to the brim with exuberance, cupping handfuls of excitement for the future, bubbling over with dreams and opportunities and choices. And maybe late at night, if I scoured the corners of my heart and peeked under the dust that’s starting to settle back down after the whirlwind of the past few months, I still might be able to trace remnants of those things.

But I always clock in at 8:00am with the rest of my coworkers and I grab my pen.

MT.
Emtee.
Empty.

The story of man runs in a dreary circle.

It was 2013 and I was sweating nervously thinking about the amount of perspiration that I would shed during the many hours that I would invest to play soccer at my college – as if the schoolwork enough wasn’t intimidating enough.

It was 2014 and I was moaning at the thought of going to nanny for 4 boys all summer and not getting paid nearly enough to run around and chase “noise with dirt on it” for eight hours.

It was 2015 and I could feel the half-eaten oatmeal churning in my stomach thinking about returning to my internship at SBMF and having just another one of many crappy days as I extracted protein from stool samples.

It’s 2016 and now I’m dreading driving my hour commute tomorrow to arrive at my official first job where I begin to learn how to detest corporate America and the healthcare regulations.

Year after year after year and I realize that history repeats itself every summer. Somehow, all I want to do is take a breath and be satisfied with where I am in life. Maybe that’s why the 20s are so hard.

Truly no matter how close you are currently to where you want to be for the rest of your life, and no matter how your fingers itch for the next step, and no matter how little space remains between this time and the next – satisfaction and happiness are dangerously illusive.

You’d think I would’ve learned by now.

But I haven’t.

In fact, I’m stuck in the same place I was before, wondering how I’m going to get through this summer just like the others.

I’m thankful for/to:
1) have a job in the first place
2) to be able to live at home with wonderful people that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I wish I could during the rest of the year
3) to have a best friend who can encourage me and wipe the tears away and remain close despite the miles between us.

I’m trying something that I didn’t do before. The goal is to wake up early, appreciate my time, actually eat breakfast, pray for peace and rest for my weary soul, and remember the things that I should be, and am, grateful for. If history repeats itself and I haven’t found a way that works in the past, maybe I should try something new.

Switch my mindset.

Alter my own reality.

Find a new identity.

But maybe, if history truly repeats itself, then maybe I’m not becoming a new person at all. Maybe I’m finding the person that I was before, who resurfaces whenever I need her to.

We say we want to disappear when we really just want to be found.

I was cleaning out my purse.

It was a normal occurrence.  As a college student, it’s easy to get bogged down with the Target tags ripped hastily off over-sized sweaters that resulted from the impulse buy after the last failed test, the Starbucks receipts that demonstrated just how deep the self-medicating went, and the used tissues that proved your immune system was in the toilet from lack of sleep and the anxiety that gnawed at your temples.

Amid the scraps of white, there was a mint green envelope.

I opened it, a wish for an unused gift card burning in my greedy eyes as I slipped the card out.

I couldn’t have done this without you!”

Your future shines brightly and I can’t wait to see what you do!

You are the only reason I passed this class.  An absolute God-send.”

Amidst the gentle loops of the mom’s handwriting that spread significant surface area of the card were small pockets of neat notes written by students who had clearly learned how to write notes efficiently.  Even the word choice indicated that they had cleverly picked words that needed few details.

You’re the best tutor ever!”

“Thanks for all your time spent teaching us!”

You are a great friend and an even better tutor!”

Nursing students are always the most encouraging because they know what it’s like to never receive themselves.

I don’t do what I do for the money — part-time wages aren’t nearly enough for the services that tutors provide.  I also don’t do what I do for the credit — the grades are entered under the student’s name, not my own.  I don’t do what I do for the pure enjoyment of it — sometimes you just have to smile and explain to that jerk for the fifth time that you didn’t design the calculator and you don’t know why the parentheses buttons are where they are.

Sometimes I can convince myself that I enjoy helping people and I enjoy my job.  But sometimes, and this is one of those days, I have no idea.

That’s the thing about nursing students. Most of them still enjoy what they do.  As a tutor, the last thing I should become is apathetic.

And yet, here I am.

I put the card back in the envelope and put the envelope back in my purse.

People try to bottle up emotions, as if it’s wrong to have a natural reaction to life.

You know that feeling.

That one that pierces your heart as soon as you notice the leaves starting to change color. The stirring in your breast as you realize that it’s time to break out the mugs of spiced apple cider and hunker down cozily around a dancing bonfire. It’s almost like nostalgia is dripping through your veins like an IV needle, slowing you down and forcing you to actually see what you’re walking by and feel in response. The leaves fall and their constant rustling is a lullaby that rocks you to the core and makes you realize that every end is also a beginning. Whatever came with summer is gone but that doesn’t mean that autumn can’t give you something even better.

You know that feeling.

That one that surges through your veins with anticipation as you take a few more steps closer to that huge puddle that you can’t resist jumping in. Your rain boots poised at the edge of the unknown and your fists clenched as you prepare for launch. A smile slips to your lips because, even though you know you’re going to get soaking wet, it’s going to be worth the rush of dopamine that slaps your synapses. Spring has a way of exciting your neurons like they are being attacked with a defibrillator to rescue them from the comatose wintery state. Coming back from the dead is a high energy expenditure though and the muddy paths prove that you don’t exactly cross back into this world looking pretty.

You know that feeling.

That one that seeps into your skin like poison, dulling your senses as the rays of yellow sunshine pour into your pores. Your skin looks like it’s cast in gold — and it feels like it too because you are bound by the warm embrace of Helios. It leaves it’s mark upon you, scorching your tender flesh until it’s red as a hot iron and scarring in shades of toasted marshamallow, anywhere from golden brown to burnt black. It’s one of those feelings where you know that you shouldn’t linger any longer and you should stop toeing the line so that you don’t accidentally slip, but it’s intoxicating. The summer reminds you that you have all the self-control in the world but you can’t quite grip it in your sweaty, sunburnt hands.

You know the feeling.

That one when the cold seeps into your bones and huddles there, rubbing it’s cold fingers against your spine until you shiver. Good or bad, you can’t tell. Winter is the season of extremes, whirling a storm of emotions inside until you get numb from the intensity. Oddly enough, you like it that way. Deep down, you don’t fight the freeze because if you go so far, if you can drink in the snow till you get drunk, there’s a warmth at the end that burns like blue fire. There is only one remedy: hot chocolate. The first sip tingles your tongue with teasing sweetness and the thawing of your throat as it slips down is so gentle that you don’t even realize that you are warming up until you’re at the ideal temperature.

Fall may be for new beginnings, spring for the reincarnation of the ugly, summer for the delightful death of us all, but winter is the season that reminds you that you’re alive.

I know you know the feeling.

The day came when the risk it took to stay in the bud was greater than the risk it took to blossom.

Isn’t it funny how you look in a mirror one day and don’t recognize yourself? It hasn’t even been decades or years or months later. Just 3 short weeks. 21 days.

There’s no grey hairs. No wrinkles, although the dark circles under your eyes may be considerably darker from the inevitable effects of a full college schedule. No physical change that you can see, except maybe now your cheeks are pinker than they have been in a long time and your eyes have a twinkle to them that you thought you lost a long time ago.

You look happy again. You didn’t even realize that you weren’t happy until you finally saw yourself in a moment when you were.

And you are. There’s a lightness in your steps as the paths you walk everyday no longer seem as long and you check your pockets to make sure you haven’t dropped anything because there isn’t a weight on you anymore — or at least, you don’t seem to be able to feel it. Your smile is so bright that you wonder if the real reason that autumn is coming is that you are beaming sunshine stolen from summer whenever you flash a cheesy grin. And in those pictures that your friend posted of you guys? There must’ve been weird lighting in there because there’s a glow in your eyes that wasn’t there the last time and it wasn’t a result of an Instagram filter.

It doesn’t take that long to change, only a change of season really — although it feels like forever. It was so gradual that it takes you by surprise. It’s like a baby bird who dreams of flying every single day, who stares at the sky up above and wonders how long it will be until his wings will be strong enough to carry him to touch the clouds, who perches on the edge of the nest as his mama teaches him Flying Basics 101. He goes 1 foot out on the first day and gets progressively farther, all the while wishing that he could try and touch the sun. Then one day, without warning, Mama pushes him out of the nest and as he keeps flapping his wings, he realizes that he’s finally capable of doing what he wanted to do all along. He can touch the sun and he never knew it because he was so focused on the struggles of the farther distances of the daily practice.

Finally realizing that you can soar. Finally comprehending that you can touch the sun and not get burned. Finally noticing that you can do what you thought you couldn’t do before.

Maybe that’s what it’s like to be completely happy.

Testing…testing…1…2…3…

This is a test.

You’ve read it once. Let’s see if you read it again.

You know who you are.

We both like thunderstorms. As I write this, it’s pouring. The thunder rumbles like laughter — although to you, it’s more of a bass drum and at this moment, I definitely understand what you’re saying. I’ve seen lightning crack through my window once already and my mind drifts back to the night when we accidentally ran into each other in the rain and watched the lightning dance across the sky.

You dance. I don’t. But we’ve both danced in the rain. I haven’t told you this yet but I’m beyond impressed by your dancing abilities. And the fact that you took a tap-dance class here just because you wanted to? Awesome. The cherry on top of all of this: you sing! While I’m usually okay with people I know hearing me sing to the country radio, I’m not sure I want you to listen. Not if you’re so good. And dancing? I might dance in the rain but it will probably look more like twirling and puddle-jumping.

You gave me a book. A book I’ve never heard of. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. I usually only trade books with my best friends — so what does that make you? I’ve never even heard of the book you gave me so I’m excited to bury my nose in it while I’m spending yet another Friday night in my room. I know you just started reading but I can’t wait to give you my copy of “The Count of Monte Cristo”. You probably won’t like it, but I’d like to think you’d read it all the way through so you can give me a list of the reasons that you don’t like it. That sounds like something you would do.

You are the only person who has ever made the claim that they are confident enough to bring me down a peg or two if I’m being arrogant. No one has ever made that claim before. I’m not sure that I believe you but I would love to see you try. And you will try. That’s also something you would do.

I really like talking to you. You’re different. You’re fun. You’re a mix of converging functions and waltz steps, a combination of bow-ties and shirts from the Big Bang Theory, a refreshing concoction of your unique laugh and an incredibly dry, VERY sarcastic sense of humor. You do things that no one else would do. I’m intrigued. I’m glad we’re friends from last year because that gives me a little more foundation to say what follows. It may be a little weird, but that’s never stopped me from saying what was on my mind before — I know I can be rather blunt. Anyway, I like you. Not sure how much yet, but you make me smile and that’s enough for me to consider you a good friend. More than that? I’m not sure yet. But I like you.

This is a test.

You’ve read my blog once. Let’s see if you will read it again.

You know who you are.