The secret to happiness

The tears come out of nowhere
they trace a line down your nose
tickling
and drip off (finally) your chin

A perverse desire, now, to gaze on the one weeping, to see what she looks like
You gaze, but the sharp arch of your brow is unkind in the mirror

When I remove your clothes

(watching, still, in the mirror)
(i always want to watch)

the lines of your socks and bra, biting into your skin, will be apparent
A little red to remind us that we are human

Do you like, then, what you see in the mirror?
The humanity of the redness of those lines?
The uneven surface?
The ripples, the contours, the hairs poking through, the not-yet-tanned-by-summer skin?

no

never comfortable in my skin

that’s truly the secret to happiness, no?

This is why beautiful people are inherently happier

and children

no

The people who haven’t been taught to feel uncomfortable as who they are
Or who are young enough not to know
Or who are pretty enough not to care

They carry themselves with ease and happiness
Some of you have never been ashamed of your bodies
Your smiles
Your body hair
Your crooked teeth
Your shiny forehead
Your crackling knees
The happy trail, a misnomer
Your scars upon lip, knee, ankle, and wrist

And it shows

Good bones

I am like a building they say has good bones.
Rough around the surface, needs a new paints job.

But the bones are good, they say.

It’s classic.
The shape.

You could really make something out of it, if you just put some time into it.

Maybe tore down this, maybe remodeled that.

But it’s got good bones.

Might as well be historic.

Life Update, Part Two

It’s been nearly six months since I’ve updated this blog.

I’ve written in the meantime, don’t get me wrong.

But somehow, after what’s happened, it feels cheap. Or false. Or foolish. To write again in this space.

Let me rewind a bit.

The last life update was happy and full of love and looking forward to a new life between me and my partner. Well, we broke up. And that’s how life happens sometimes. But it doesn’t make it any less of a gut punch when you keep opening your browser, keep trying to write again, and keep failing… because of that larger-than-life picture of when you were happy.

 

Since the last time we spoke, I’ve had a birthday (29 now), gone on some adventures, made some new friends and lost others. Read some good books, tried some new recipes, and in all of it, tried to find myself. It still hasn’t happened yet, but I’m going to keep trying.

Every day.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of me, mostly obscured. 49677B5F-2232-44D8-A76A-C073D7D917AB

Life update

8ABAC69D-6FF8-42BA-AC64-9D99B94E8438.jpeg

Hey here’s a giant and adorable picture of me (on the right) and my beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, and kind girlfriend, Steph.

Almost two weeks ago, we were at the Philadelphia airport, crying our eyes out and kissing in public, to say goodbye once again for an indeterminate amount of time. Reader, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship, but this part of it BLOWS. It’s the worst.

Good news — we’re super happy and in love and making plans for Steph to move to the U.S. of A. so that we can not be so sad and apart!

Slightly less good news — it’s gonna take a super long time.

Better news — we’re going to document the process in the joint blog we have, because I have searched high and low step-by-step guides and how-tos and maybe I’m just bad at Googling, but I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for… so make the content you want to see in the world, right? Anyway you can check our blog here: https://travellinggreengirlfriends.wordpress.com

We don’t have that many posts at the moment, but we’re working on it. For now, enjoy the adorable pic of us on this post.

Until next time.

— H

 

 

 

I know I should be writing a book right now

This is the title (subject) of an email I lately sent myself. In the body of the email, the following text:

But instead I’m writing a list.
On saturday – go to yoga, join the gym, buy kleenex post its clorox wipes tacks scissors tape

I did go to yoga on Saturday. I actually procured the items on my list (sans tape cause I think I can find some in my closet somewhere) on Friday.

Spoiler: I did not join the gym.

 

The reason I should be writing a book — I am in my late twenties (I’ve always preferred that stylization to 20s or worse, 20’s — 20’s what? Ugh, I know that’s obnoxious) and I’ve returned to live at home for an as-yet unspecified reason.

(It’s pretty clear to me, but it’s unspecified to the reader.)

I’ve read a million books like this — the protagonist (or the author, if it happens to be non-fiction, which they often are) has returned home for some reason or another (often to care for a sick parent or because they’ve gone through a breakup, neither of which are really my situation but I live on the periphery of both these scenarios) and, because they’re a creative soul, they write — just to pass the time at first — and somehow it blossoms into a beautiful, introspective book. Does it count if I do it in reverse? Can I go in with the intention to write a book and still write something honest, or do I have to stumble upon the idea of a book? Is it more romantic that way? More creative? Perhaps if I come upon it this way, it must be fiction. That’s okay, I’d probably make it fiction-ish at this point anyway. Too many people to hurt if I tell the whole, unvarnished truth, right? But that’s what you get for being in the life of a writer, right?

Too bad most people who know me don’t know I’m a writer.

Things I want

(An incomplete list)

A record player
to be able to play the piano
a laptop
world peace (maybe world peace should be first?)
the desire to write when i’m sober
a rockin’ bod
the will to go the gym to get a rockin’ bod
to be done with my book
to start my book
to be actually writing a book instead of having a constant inside joke with myself about writing a book
to break the chain
a place of my own
the ability to recognize my place right now within the fullness of time instead of being stuck in what right now means for everything
for that sentence above to mean something and not just be a guitar solo distraction
to have made something of myself by now
a community
love
friendship
more wine

Do you ever want things you already have?

I was born on a Sunday.

I was born on a Sunday.

And that old poem? It kinda came true.
You know the one.

Outlining a child’s fate from the moment they’re begun.
(Though still not as bad as gender reveal parties but that’s a whole other.)

It goes.

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
Blithe? Sure? Bonny sometimes.
Good — hardly.
Hella gay and don’t know rhythm or rhyme.

And I’m a sucker for girls who play sports, even though I’ve never scored so much as a point on the field or the pitch.
And I’m a sucker for passion and learning — explain to me until your words reach a fever pitch, what are you into, girl? I’ll be into it, too — but I’m not changing for you, it’s just what I do, I’m turned on by people who know what turns them on.
Daydreaming is a hobby — let me tell you the places I’ve gone.
I’m a sucker for smirks with just enough heart and mystery to leave me wanting more.
I always want more.

I’m still learning how to be myself.
I’m not exactly sure who she is.
The line that stuck with me the most out any movie I’ve ever seen — don’t laugh — it’s The Princess Diaries, and Mia’s giving a speech and she says, “Why do I start so many sentences with the word ‘I’?”
She’d probably throw an expletive but it’s rated PG.
I hope it’s okay that I’m gonna break my own rule here.
Most of these sentences start with “I.”
But this poem’s about me so…. Indulge me, will you?

I’m learning how to be myself.
“Myself” is complicated. If you ask who I envy the most — I’d tell you people who really know who they are — who aren’t constantly questioning and wondering and reinventing.
I’m getting better than I used to be and one of the things I’ve realized most of all — reinventing’s in my soul.
I’ve already decided the title of my autobiography: Chameleon. Or maybe Chameleonic. I’ve always been indecisive.

I was born at night and I’ve been waking up ever since.

I like fried eggs, and flirting, and stretching your expectations.
I like beer… a lot.
I’ve been told my face is a map.
I can’t hide my emotions, it’s not that I wear them on my sleeve but rather my whole body.
This can offend people or sometimes clue them in to how I feel about them or what’s going on.
Either way I’m bad at poker.

Secretly I get really nervous every time someone new sees me without clothes, though somehow, in that case, I’m good at making it seem like I know how sexy I am.

I have an odd fascination with coins on sidewalks and movie credits.
I assume I like them because they’re good starting points for origin stories.
I guess that’s why I’m forever people-watching.

You see, people-watching reminds me that I’m not afraid of being alone or being together.
But I’m scared to death of everything that’s going to happen the very moment I turn 30.

I’m clumsy.

Yesterday I tripped over my pride, landed on my face in the trap I set for you, and it shattered like forgiveness.

I’ve never been in the place where you live but I have this feeling I’d like it. I can picture it every time I try.

I know this sounds weird but I wonder what strangers say about me when I’m not around. Do I make an impression? Did my kindness in that brief exchange when I was buying sushi and tipped you too much make your day better? Did you see past my greasy hair and uneven complexion and appreciate my kindness? Does it register to you that I, too, am a human with a whole life?
I strive for this kind of recognition for others, but I don’t always succeed.

Hi, my name is Hayley.
I enjoy thinking too hard, feeling too much, and passionately explaining to acquaintances why the idea of “clean eating” is slowly poisoning our society under the guise of health.
But I don’t connect to others as often as I should.

I have solar powered social skills
And a battery-operated heart.

My hobbies include editing my dating history, hiding behind my ideals, and trying to convince myself that I’ve already succeeded in becoming some version of who I want to be.

You see I don’t know much, but I do know this: I know that the kinder you are to people who can’t do anything for you, the better the two of us will get along.
And I know that there are big things coming, even if I don’t yet know .. Exactly what they are.

Today.

Today I’m reading Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

Today I’m listening to Dirty Computer, by Janelle Monae.

Today I’m considering sharing my words (it feels disingenuous, somehow, to call it poetry, even though that’s what it is) with a group of strangers tonight. It’s something I did a month ago and afterward I felt very happy and excited and empowered but since I went in without expectations it feels a bit different, this time.

Today the phrase “I live much of my life inside my own head” turns over and over again in that same head and I know it’s true and I kind of don’t want it to be but I have ambition block, which is like writer’s block but worse.

Today I wonder if it’s contradictory of me to feel pleased when at least four co-workers complimented my slinky, crimson, sleeveless top with lace that honestly looks more like lingerie than something one should wear to work but when paired with wide-legged black dress pants and flats seems appropriate — if it’s contradictory that the attention I receive in that setting makes me feel powerful, but when my mom tells me I look pretty in that same outfit, it makes me feel sad and annoyed. Is it the difference in the people asking the question? Or is it the difference in the compliment: you look pretty today versus I like that top?

Today I said the phrase “my girlfriend” to a near perfect stranger without even really considering the ramifications, and despite a small, tiny smiling acknowledgment (barely noticeable, probably not actually there, but I thought I saw it) this stranger didn’t react and neither did I. I didn’t flush like I usually do, or furtively glance around to see if any homophobic-looking people were around, like I usually do. (No, I don’t really know what I mean by that.)

Today I got out my planner again after leaving it dormant, closed, not collecting dust but not being cracked open either. It had traveled with me, been carried around for days and even weeks but only just decided it was ready to be used again. It feels good to empty out my brain a little onto those pages, even if I’m only writing down facts and schedules. I record things that have already happened. “Tattoo consultation with Lacey, 11a.m.” It serves just as much as a repository for memories as it does a reminder for future events. So that later I can look back and marvel at what I was doing, or wasn’t doing, or how happy I was, or wasn’t.

Today I started researching grad school again, even though I had already decided I’m not going back to school, not in the United States at least, because of my phobia of mass shooters. I guess phobia isn’t the right word, because that would imply that the fear is unjustified. My fear. I’ll just say that. But maybe people in Oregon are less likely to snap or have hateful, violent leanings? Except for that attack that happened in Portland a few months ago, when some pedestrians were plowed down. I hate following the news, but that’s literally my job. I need to remind myself of that when I start to slip into the ease of where I am, the situation I find myself in at the moment. It sometimes seems easier to stay here, and on some level it would be, but on other levels it most definitely, definitely would not.

Today I really want a doughnut.

Today I’m relating to the book I’m reading. It’s about a woman near my age (she’s 30) whose fiance breaks up with her and she’s devastated. Her father, a college professor, is in the early stages of dementia, so she goes home “for a year, to help” supposedly. I’ve read half of it just sitting in the library. It’s short, but very good. I’ve read many of these such books, where a person “goes back home.” It’s almost a genre (or maybe a trope?) but I guess it means the situation I’m in is not so uncommon. I wonder if I’m doing it right, and I think maybe however you do it is right for you but that seems too easy. The logical conclusion is that I should write a book about my experiences being home, but I’m not sure what it would be about. My parents are building an enormous shed in the backyard, and a pool (for next summer) and my brother’s going off to college and we sometimes say my girlfriend’s name in strained voices but never, ever mention the implications of queerness or what it means outside this singular person. Maybe as far as they’re concerned there is no queerness in me outside of her. I’m sure my family is unique and strange and has their idiosyncrasies, but they’re not problem drinkers or philanderers, they don’t have a mean streak. They’re extremely loving. Does that make for a good book? Does it matter when mostly, all people want to read about is an experience that’s like their own?

I can’t be the only one.

On the adultness of holding two things in one hand

On the peculiar adultness of having to put two things in one hand:

I was just walking out of a café. I had had sushi (do you hate or love when you have to “had had” or “that that”?) and an iced green tea (they have the best green tea; it tastes a bit like grass but in a good way), and I had my wallet and phone in one hand, my keys and my tea in the other, and I thought about back to a time when I didn’t necessarily need to hold two things in one hand.
Or maybe I always have and maybe it has nothing to do with adulthood.

But I remember a time when I was in Mexico City in high school on a mission trip (this is the sort of thing I used to do when I was pre-now-me) with some friends. The mission part of the trip was in a town called Tlalamac and we had such fun getting our tongues to move the way that word wanted us to.
After we were done being good missionaries, we went to the City to be good tourists, because all high school mission trips are at least partly about tourism.

I remember getting a drink (it may have been a coffee) (it probably was) (but it may not have been) and my friends began to make fun of me.

I was dressed — I don’t know, what I thought was nice at the time? — I had big sunglasses on, and I was walking down the street with my coffee and my phone, and they made fun of me because — as they said — I looked like I was trying to be an adult. I was sixteen or seventeen at the time, so — not an adult, but I probably thought I was. And something about walking around the big city and holding two things in one hand gave this air of grown-up-ness.

Lest you worry that this was a one-off, I have another story for you.

In this instance, too, I was not necessarily a child but definitely not an adult. But I was imitating adulthood.

I was a senior in high school. I went to a party. This probably cues in your head images of Mean Girls (or Superbad) style house parties where everything is getting thrown about and broken and not many condoms are being used, but no: my crowd didn’t drink. The hardest thing being served was Diet Coke with the caffeine.

No, my crowd not only didn’t drink, but we didn’t drink pretty ostentatiously. Did you know you could not do something ostentatiously? We liked to make fun of the high schoolers who did drink, because we were cool enough we didn’t have to. (Cue knowing laughter) We would hold our Solo cups of Sprite and put our phone and the cup in one hand and take selfies before that word was invented with the other. Because that behavior, that particular posturing, was our impression of college students and badly-behaved high schoolers. They held their phone and their cup in one hand, which made them more adult.

In retrospect, these things were performative. They were me trying to be a grownup when I wasn’t yet.

It’s just hitting me now, at 28 years of age: I certainly feel like an actual and absolute adult, but I’m sure in 5 or 10 years, I will cast a withering look in the direction of my late twenties self and think that girl is very young and unknowing of the ways of the world.

But now, now that I have my keys and my tea in one hand, it strikes me: oh. This is what I was imagining, way back when.

 

 

Purple spool of coffee

As I stepped out the door, the corner of my eye caught something, and a thin spool of light purple coffee was unthreading itself from the Styrofoam cup.

I did a double-take, and of course, it wasn’t coffee, purple.

It was my headphones, dangling down from where I held them in my hand.

The hand that happened to share a cup of coffee at the moment.

So I hadn’t done that thing where you check your watch and spill your coffee all over your lap.

But I had.

Because it was just barely 7 o’clock. And I hadn’t had time to process normal thoughts, much less open my mouth and talk to someone in such a way that would enable my voice not to be as croaky as the Grim Reaper.

 

October 8, 2016

Pittsfield, Massachusetts