Lost and Found

I have this pair of earrings. They’re small, and shaped like little trees. I think I was given them as a gift for my birthday years ago, but honestly it’s been so long now, that I can’t recall exactly how they came to be in my possession. The thing about these earrings, is that they have no backing plate, so they slip easily from my ears. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve actually reached up to play with them (I compulsively fiddle with things) and realised one has gone missing.

It doesn’t matter how many times I lose one of these earrings, they always find their way back. I’ve found a stray silver tree tangled in my hair, caught in the threads of a beanie or scarf, stowed away in my bra, or resting underneath my bed, or the couch. Once I found one laying just next to my car door after leaving work, without even realising it had gone missing. Another time, I found one attached to my friend’s jumper (I assume it had gotten caught when I have her a hug). The point is, I never really worry too much when I notice I’m missing an earring, because I always assume it will turn up somewhere.

I wish that I had that certainty about other aspects of my life. It would make everything easier if I didn’t have to worry about how I’m going to pay my bills when my work gets cut back as of next week. I would be happy if I didn’t have to agonize about finding a job I actually like. And I would absolutely love to be confident that things will all work out. But unlike my earrings always turning up, life is never that predictable. Maybe there’s something to be said for having confidence that something you want will eventuate. After all, I don’t worry about losing my earrings, and I’ve never permanently lost one yet. Perhaps all that positive thinking has something to do with it. Or perhaps they’re never truly lost to begin with, and so finding them again is inevitable.

Look guys, I dunno. There was a point I was trying to make here, but it’s almost midnight and my brain is a little exhausted and I think somewhere between starting this post and now, I’ve lost that point. Whatever.

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A String of Sentences

Anger bubbles, soon to be quelled. Silent promises never honoured, keep your emotions to yourself.

Words unspoken, choking tongue and tasting bitter. Fists clenched, hold back, everything is fine.

Indulge. Pander. Pretend. Play the role, live the lie. No one cares to know, no one thinks to care.

Frustration leaves marks on the skin, half moon scars. Mustn’t be a burden. Listen, smile, leave welts in flesh. Bleed quietly.

Paste a grin, wear the mask. Don’t let them in.

How I Awkwarded Myself Into Buying a Giant Cup I Didn’t Want

Do you ever walk away from a situation cringing internally about how awkward you were? It happens to me pretty regularly. Honestly, if I ever need inspiration for an awkward character, I need look no further than my own reflection. My entire life is a string of humiliating experiences and cringeworthy encounters.

Today I had a day off, so I drove down to a nearby cafe. I stop into this particular cafe from time to time because they make an excellent soy hot chocolate, and you’d be surprised how difficult it is to get a good one in the town I live in. I walked in with a firm idea in mind regarding what I wanted. See, in addition to my takeaway beverage, I wanted to buy one of the reusable cups they sell. I eye off the display every time I walk into the cafe, and keep intending to buy one, so today I thought I would.

I approached the counter and placed my order for a large soy hot chocolate, and then enquired about their cups and I said I would like a black one. This is where the miscommunication, and my inability to clearly explain myself threw a spanner in the works. See, I wanted a small cup. My daily takeaway beverage is a chai, and I only ever have a small because too much sugar sets me teeth on edge. The small size in this particular brand of cup is perfect for what I wanted, and it never occurred to me that there would be sizes other than the small and medium cups on display.

My mistake lay in ordering a large hot chocolate. My intention was to buy my larger drink, and then also buy a small cup. Instead, the girl interpreted it as me wanting my hot chocolate IN a large cup. She told me they had no black cups in the large size, and indicated to a blue one instead. Instead of explaining that I only wanted a small cup, I got flustered by the unexpected information and said “a blue one is fine!”

The girl behind the counter then disappeared to grab one before I had time to correct myself. By the time she came back with a large blue cup, I felt too embarrassed to explain that I really only wanted a small one, and in black. The barista asked if I wanted my drink in the mug, and having resigned myself to buying the large cup, I said that was fine. The girl who served me then said they would need to wash it first if that was the case and I, by now flushed with embarrassment and desperate to not be any more hassle, blurted out “I’ll take it however it comes!” I think I startled the barista a little, and the girl serving me was probably silently begging me to get out of their tiny space in case my awkwardness was infectious.

The thing is, I’m aware that it probably doesn’t sound all that embarrassing but standing there in that little cafe, unable to properly verbalize what I wanted, was absolutely, horrifyingly uncomfortable. The notion of actually asking for a small cup, after the girl had gone to the trouble of getting a large one, felt like I was being a burden, and made me increasingly anxious. Which of course only made the words stick in my throat even more. Go figure.

My cheeks burning red with mortification, I paid for my drink and the mug, and silently stepped away from the counter. While I waited, I considered the fact that had I have just been able to get my stupid brain to work, I’d likely have saved myself $35 and actually ended up with the item I wanted. The giant hot chocolate filled cup came out moments later, and I scurried out the door as quickly as I could. But not before I babbled nervously about how I didn’t mean to make things difficult. So now I can never go back (ok, perhaps a tad dramatic), and I have a massive reusable cup that I will probably never use. Ah well, what’s a socially awkward girl to do?

Dear Amy

Dear Amy,

I know that life feels complicated sometimes, and I know that you often get anxious about your time and how you spend it. I wanted to tell you that it’s ok to wonder about where your life is headed, and it’s normal to sometimes compare where you are to where your friends are. But I also wanted to gently remind you that, at age 26, your life is far from over. You have a lot of time left to work out where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Please don’t worry so much. You’ll figure it out.

I wanted to let you know that it’s ok to let go of things that don’t feel right anymore. Things and people come into your life at different times, for different periods of time. Some are meant to be with you for your whole life, and others just for a small part of it. I know it sounds like a cliche, but trust your instincts. You’re generally a pretty good judge of what is right for you, and you’re rarely wrong. Don’t be afraid to try new things, meet new people, have new experiences. Do things that terrify you, if for no other reason than to say you’ve done it.

You sometimes doubt your ability to succeed. You have a tendency to try and take on too much at once, and often get too overwhelmed as a result. Slow down a little, and take things one at a time; trust me. You are capable of achieving your goals, but you need to pace yourself or you’re going to get burnt out. Again; you have time. You don’t have to learn everything right this very second, and all things take some time to get right. Set your goals, and allow yourself the appropriate time to achieve them. Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t all go perfectly the first time. And if you feel like you’ve failed? Just remember that piece of advice you were given by one of the smartest people you know, and keep failing until you don’t. But also remember that on the days that you can’t bring yourself to try, you don’t need to feel guilty. Which brings me to my next point.

Take care of yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard, physically or mentally. Recognise when you’re at your limit, and learn to take the time to recuperate before you wear yourself out. You don’t have to be on the go all the time. Stop and read a book, or enjoy a cup or tea, or try to have a nap in the afternoon. Whatever it is, just make sure that you do it. You’ll thank yourself, and so will your body.

Finally, I just wanted to remind you to be kind to yourself. And remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out. You’re doing ok, and I believe in you, and I love you very much.

Sincerely, and with great affection,

Amy.

Is it Winter Yet?

Ughhhh…

Summer drains me. I often hear people complain about the cold months, the seasonal depression that overcomes them with the onset of grey skies and wind chills. For me, it’s the opposite. The lingering heat takes it’s toll on me in a big way. Nights are often sleepless, and when they’re not I wake feeling less rested than when I fell asleep. Days seem endlessly long; a problem compounded by daylight savings and longer daylight hours that are a trademark of summer.

My house has only one old clunky air conditioner, jammed into the lounge room window. It doesn’t work especially well, and only has any effect if the rest of the house stays completely closed off. Which means it’s not uncommon for my bedroom to still be ten degrees hotter than the actual outside temperature at any given time. It’s hard to sleep when it’s still 38 degrees in the early hours of the morning.

This is the hottest summer we’ve had in a few years, and even though we’re over half way through the season, this hot weather is going to continue well into March, and likely even April. But it’s not just a physical effect that summer has on me. I find my motivation to do anything is practically non existent. My determination to walk more is thwarted by the high night time temperatures. My overwhelming desire to sew isn’t enough to combat the uncomfortable conditions of my dining room. I’ve got itchy fingers, especially considering I haven’t so much as put fabric to machine since the ringmaster jacket I made for a commission last October. But I get increasingly irritated and uncomfortable in the cloying heat, and so doing anything creative is currently out of the question. Again, it’s difficult to concentrate on making something (either sewing, writing, or any other such creative outlet) when I’m constantly batting sweat out of my eyes.

I’m so ready for summer to be over. Give me chill winds and cozy clothing any day.

I’m Not Surly, It’s Just My Face

“Oi,¬†you!”

You’d look like that if someone ‘oi’-ed you, too.

That’s how the conversation started this morning. Rude, right? Now, you should know that I’m not easily offended. What I am, is easily angered. And the interaction this morning, with a guy who works near me, raised my ire. This guy is in his early fifties perhaps, and has a tendency to strike up conversations on his way past my shop. This began a couple of months ago, when he greeted me as if we had known each other for years, despite me having never laid eyes on him before that day. I disliked him immediately. See, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s when complete strangers are too familiar too soon. You don’t know me, you are not my friend; you do not get to talk to me as if we have a long standing relationship. Some of you may argue that he was just being friendly, but there is a difference between polite affability, and a straight up invasive personality. Trust me when I say that this guy has a serious case of the latter.

Over the last few months, we have had a series of short conversations. Despite my dislike of this man, I have always been perfectly polite. But his habit of asking personal questions, and making assumptions has continued. On several occasions, and in a few different ways, he has asked me if I have a boyfriend; questions I have always dodged. First of all, none of his business. And second of all, none of his business. Another time, he made an assumption about me having children, which is something I did correct him on. That then followed with the typical “You’ll change your mind” response, which I didn’t deign to acknowledge. He has made comments about wanting to take me to the pub so he can see me when I’m drunk, and comments about how I must be my parent’s favourite child, with no context. Basically, he’s weird.

I could give you plenty of other examples when this guy’s familiarity has made me irritable, but then we’ll be here all day. Today’s comment, however, is where this post began. So, after he called out to me with the aforementioned “OI”, he approached the shop and said, completely apropos of nothing, “What’s the matter with you? I saw you the other day and you looked really surly so I thought I better not come over.”

Now, you might be wondering why that seemingly innocuous comment made me so angry. It’s due to a few things. Firstly, the condescending tone (which I can’t properly convey here, so you’ll have to take my word for it.) Secondly, the way he managed to make it sound as though his not approaching my shop for mundane conversation was a loss for me. I have any number of boring conversations in an 8.5 hour period, man. You are not the highlight of my workday. And thirdly, the assumption that just because I’m not cheery and chirpy every single second of the day, that there must be something the matter with me. Let me be perfectly clear. I do not exist to indulge his (or anyone’s) flawed, archaic ideas of what a woman is supposed to be. And I will not apologise for being a human, with an entire spectrum of human emotions. I am not some Stepford wife, and I am under no obligation to appear perpetually cheerful.

Sure, I could smile all the time, but there are a couple of problems with that. I mean, let’s be perfectly honest here; I would look like a legitimate maniac. The other problem is that after all that smiling, my face would ache. And working in customer service is painful enough as it is. Besides, maybe if I look surly enough, old mate across the way will stop talking to me altogether.

Adios, 2018

Here we are. December 31st. The final day of the 365 that made up 2018. I, like many others I’m sure, am feeling a little reflective.

It occurs to me that at the end of every year, I focus on the bad. Even though the last few years haven’t been all bad, the culmination of each of these years has been negative. Though I’ve been fighting many battles, and even winning a few, it seems I’m constantly losing the great big war. So recently I’ve been doing a bit of…well, soul searching if you will. Trying to understand why I am where I am, and what I’m supposed to do. And if there’s one thing that I have discovered about myself in these last couple of weeks, it’s that I’ve been lost for a long time.

It’s difficult to put into words how I’m feeling. I feel like I’ve lost sight of the world around me, and the infinite possibilities that come with being human, with being alive. Imagine being in a room filled with hundreds of doors, and meticulously, systematically locking each of them in turn. That’s kind of where I am. I’ve allowed myself, however unintentionally, to become locked into a tiny space, and in turn locked out the world. Maybe I thought it was safer, maybe I thought I didn’t deserve more, maybe I’m just scared. Whatever the cause, I’ve realised that it’s time to start unlocking those doors again. Look, maybe it’s a hokey metaphor but I can’t think of any other way to put it.

I think setting goals can be an intensely personal thing. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because, as I’ve said before, the obligation to make them negates the possibility of improvement. What I do believe in, is setting achievable goals at any time of the year, so long as those goals are for you and not resulting from outside pressure to conform. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m setting a few personal goals myself. But I’m not going to share them here.

What I will say, is that I feel like I’ve been walking through a foggy mire, stumbling blindly through heaviness and all manner of things determined to hold me back, and drag me down. And I’ve been lost in that fog for the longest time, but now I’m ready to be found.