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

Dying young

When people die young, are they immortalized in a way that outweighs their actual talent?

Would they grow old and eventually become not popular, would they become bad, would they become uninteresting, would they become hacks?

Are they more popular because they died young?

I’m thinking specifically here about Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

 

 

**Voice memo series

Voice memo

June 2, 2018

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Messenger musing

I waited

for the little white circle with the blue check
to turn into the blue circle with a white check
and the “active 9 hours ago” to turn into “active one minute ago.”

(For some reason it never turned into an “active now,” which always irritated me)

but probably it’s one of those things that gets lost over the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

**Voice memo series

Voice memo

November 18, 2017

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

I don’t remember loving you

I don’t remember loving you.

I remember going to the big supermarket, and finding the ingredients for punch and being surprised by the things on the shelves, and being excited about being somewhere new.

But I don’t remember loving you.

I remember your visit and showing you to my friends, and showing my friends to you.

I remember crying when I had to leave.

I remember trying to pick apples.

But I don’t remember loving you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Voice memo series

Voice memo

December 24, 2017

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

I am not meant to be beautiful

I am not meant to be beautiful. There are some people who are, and that’s fine for them. But I’m not one of them. Others of us are meant to struggle and to have a hard time and to be challenged. And to figure out what it’s like to live a slightly more difficult life. Even if it’s pretty easy in the long run.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to be a little more difficult. It’s okay to not be beautiful.

And it’s also okay to not be ugly.

 

 

**Voice memo series

 

Voice memo

June 2, 2018

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Stuck in the middle

Why do I often get the feeling that if life is a test, then I have failed?

Or that I’m stuck in the middle of something.

Pretty enough to be considered pretty, but not pretty enough to have it matter.

I’m overweight enough that I need to do something about it, but not overweight enough that anybody else would call me overweight.

I’m smart enough that I did well in school, and got a good scholarship to college, but not smart enough for that college to be outside of my home state, which has some of the worst public education in the nation.

I have enough common sense to get myself to all the places I’ve been so far, but not enough common sense to look up the Saturday bus schedule before Saturday to see that it might just possibly be different than the weekdays.

 

 

**Part of my voice memo series

Voice memo

October 1, 2016

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

In defense of not being polished / person worth something

**Editorial note here: these words reflect my situation and thoughts at the time. Things have changed, as they are wont to do. Read accordingly.

 

In praise of not being polished:

In this day and age, we have to sell ourselves, essentially. You have to have volunteer experience, you have to have a blog, and you have to have an Instagram, and you have to have a Facebook and a Twitter and a LinkedIn. And all of these other signifiers that you area a capital-P Person capital-W Worth capital-S Something.

I am a person worth something, because I’m a person, and so fundamentally I have a right to exist. And I believe that, and I know that, and anyone you would talk to about me would tell you all of my wonderful good qualities. But those good qualities do not include having a successful blog or a YouTube channel, or anything like that really that is currency in today’s world, at least when it comes to getting jobs. If you can’t tell, I’m frustrated right now. Because I’m not a Person Worth Something as far as getting a job. Or an internship, or being in the Peace Corps, or any of the things that I’m considering wanting to do. So. Next move, next stage of the game, I don’t know, is in defense of not being polished.

I’m going to start putting everything out there. I’m gonna post bullshit on a blog that’s not really good, and I’m not gonna censor it, and I’m gonna put Instagrams up and I’m going to write every day, something that I’ve promised myself several times that I would do, and have just started doing recently. And I’m gonna talk about my yoga, and I’m gonna talk about my baking, and I’m gonna talk about my thoughts on gay issues, and I’m gonna do a lot of things. And I don’t know if it’ll make me a Person Worth Something, but maybe at least it’ll make a compelling story.

Voice memo

December 5, 2017

Ocean Springs, Mississippi