#scintilla13: the sink story.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: talk about a time when you lost control.

there was a period of time where i was trying very hard to be the kind of girl who went to happy hour.

never mind that i’m not a big drinker, never mind that i know i need a lot of sleep, never mind that i am kind of a homebody. no. i am a young professional in the Big City and goddamnit, i will take advantage of two-for-one specials. so, i would ask the bouncer to come with me and i would feel mildly cosmopolitan. there was one bar around the corner from my job, right near port authority (which tells you something about the quality of the establishment), with the nicest bartenders, a pool table, and very cheap well drinks. so this was my place of choice.

i mean, we’ve all been drunk on a thursday, because most of us have been to college and all of us have made mistakes. before we left the bar we got into a fight about something and i cannot for my life remember what, which probably tells you that the results weren’t worth it. we get back to his apartment and we are yelling and a thing about me, i am kind of violent. i have a propensity for throwing things and i find crashes and shatters very satisfying. mostly, i had tamed these urges but i guess all bets were off.

i decided to try to take my anger out on something that i cannot possibly break, so i grab the sides of his bathroom sink and i pull with all of my might and guys, the SINK DISLODGED FROM THE WALL IN MY HANDS. my face immediately went from clenched and ragey to oh shit. it did not come off the wall entirely, but it definitely was no longer firmly attached. and some of the pipe joints came apart too. as a bonus, we could no longer fight because i needed to tell him that i just took his sink off the wall. to his credit, he was not even mad at me. to my credit, i was very sorry.

all of his friends called me she-hulk for months.

#scintilla13: between june and autumn.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: the saying goes What you don’t know won’t hurt you, but sometimes the opposite is true. talk about a time when you were hurt by something you didn’t know.


we developed a habit of laying in bed and talking. i suppose this isn’t uncommon, when you’ve been together a while. our conversation drifted to the past, and i asked, in one of those sappy ways that they do in rom-coms that i should know never translates well to real life, i asked when he knew he loved me.

what’s sad is that i can’t remember what is answer was. i can’t remember the thing, the thing that should be so important. he mentioned something i’d done that happened in the fall of the year we got together. except he first said the words in june. there are many months, between june and autumn.

and i should tell you, that the subject of those three little words between us was always fraught with awful, because i said them first and i said them at the wrong time and he could not say them back, not for a month. and i don’t think i have ever been more vulnerable in the most terrible way or splayed open than i was that night, where all i can remember is staring at his pre-war wall with cracks, and they blurred over and over as i sat in shame.

but now,we’d come a few years past that and it’s astounding how quickly i went from normal to disaster. it’s a talent i have, i think. it took me less than a minute to put the timeline together, and from my first “so, wait…” to hysterics, it didn’t take long.

he was shocked, to say the least.

“so you lied to me? how do you lie, about something like that? how do you…how do you let me think i am safe when i am not? how do you leave me alone in this?”

he said he was confused. he said he did not know how to identify what he was feeling. he said he wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. i believed it all, i still do, but still. still.

this is a lie you just don’t fucking tell.

#scintilla13: event horizons.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: write about the event horizons of your life – the moments from which there is no turning back.

a note: this post is the inspiration for this prompt. as i am wont to do, those specific horizons focus on a break, a turning away from. getting rid of something. i want to keep these in the vein of moving towards. let’s see how i do.

two years ago: i am walking to the train in the middle of the day and my heart is beating so so fast. i am practicing deep breaths to slow it down, because i’m convinced they’ll be able to hear it. i didn’t lie to be here; i told the owner of the place i’m temping that i had an interview, maybe in hopes that he’ll stop trying to make me take a shitty job that I don’t want. the job i’m going to interview for is a dream. when i walk into the office, i say, i could be here. yes, i could.

four years ago: it’s mid january and i have a bitch of a sickness. i stopped talking to the boy i could see myself with* because i liked him too much, and i started carrying on with someone else in an only slightly more defined way. when his friend introduces me to someone and says, “this is colin’s girlfr…wait, ARE you colin’s girlfriend?” and i have to truthfully respond that i don’t know, it stings. but i’m sick now, and i’m taking it as a cue to ignore the shabby state of my romantic affairs. a coughing fit wakes me up at 4am, and i lie there for a moment, willing the nyquil haze to set me back asleep. my phone buzzes, and it is the boy i like too much. “if i had ever told you that i really liked you, do you think that would have changed our path?” my heart drops and my chest flushes and it spreads to my brain, down to my fingers. i take a while to answer, “yes.”

a year and a half ago: it’s been a far rougher transition than i imagined. we’re not doing particularly well, living together. it’s a weeknight and we’ve fought again and i’ve put myself on the couch because i just need some distance, and sleep. i am likely questioning the whole arrangement. i notice someone leaving comments on my blog posts – she is in the habit of doing a bunch at once, and the emails are pinging through accordingly. i am not good, usually, at talking to people i admire but i am just in enough of a space that i send a message. eventually, we end up chatting, and she keeps me company until two am. she won’t know for a long time how many tears she saved me that night.

 

*you know him as the bouncer.

#scintilla13: a closed meeting.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.

i really had no business at a narcotics anonymous meeting.

by this point, “used up” was the only term that could be used to describe me. i was shaky and lost. i thought i’d abandoned my original ideas saving him (god, how trite) and yet, here i was, again.

it’s very hard to keep track of the twists and turns of the particulars. explaining how i got there is a longer, more private endeavor, and not all mine to tell. but i think, if my memory hasn’t fuzzed this one out, i think we were supposed to be separated. i think he called me and told me he needed help and i think by this point i knew there was only so much i could do, that help needed to be something far larger and more empathetic. i still thought it was my job to deliver it.

if you’re not familiar with twelve step program meetings, there are some that are open and some that are closed. this wasn’t the first i’d been to; we always searched for open meetings, meaning that non-addicts could sit in. the only one we could find this time was closed. i walked in anyway, he asked around a little, and a woman said she’d keep me company outside. that wasn’t the goal of the asking around, but it was what came of it.

she was older, somewhere in her fifties. long gray hair and a weathered face and most importantly, one of those glowy souls. you know the kind – the radiant people.

“what are you doing here?” she inquired, not unkindly.

“he called. he said he needed help. i’m the only one…”

“could he not get himself here?”

that, i had no answer for.

for the first time in three years it was ok to talk about how this affected me. for the first time, someone told me flat out that there was nothing i could do, and if i kept trying it would be me, in a meeting room someday. this fight would destroy me, if i let it.

someone finally told me i was worth more. that there was a lot of life left in front of me. i’d mostly forgotten that, at twenty years old.

i don’t have the right words to explain what it is to love an addict – there are years now between me and this, and that distance has dulled it all a little. thank god for that, really. so i can’t tell you how empty and hopeless it is, and how quickly you lose all sense of light. how the fight seems eternal and unscalable. but more than anything, how soon you completely forget that it’s not your fight. people told me, sometimes, but those people loved me and did not love him, and i loved him, so their opinions weren’t to be trusted. the word of a neutral party was far more powerful.

i never saw her again and i doubt she knows that she reset the course of my life a few degrees. which was just enough to change things, eventually.

#scintilla13: home training.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: write about a thing that happened to you while you were using public transportation.

the new york city subway is an absolute hellhole.

no, i’m not kidding. it’s really, truly awful. it’s not the dirt or the homeless people, though both exist in spades. it’s not the fact that it can take you an hour-ish to go ten miles, or that sometimes when it brakes you think your train is going to hop right off the tracks.

it is a hellhole for the sheer fact that so much humanity is packed into such a tiny space and my god, people have no home training.

i have a ton of peeves on the train, and i won’t even call them pet peeves because they’re NOT – that makes it sound like they’re quirky and individual to me and basically, i just want people to have manners and a middling standard of decorum. i don’t like people who play their music out loud. i don’t like people who use crappy iphone headphones meaning they’re essentially playing their music out loud. i don’t like dudes who spread their legs open as far as they can go. i don’t like people who jam their elbow into my waist. but i really do not like people who hug the pole, or use it as their own personal leaning support.

a couple of years ago i had to get rid of my car. it was in impound (again) and it was getting incredibly expensive to maintain it, plus it was probably falling apart because it had only cost me $900 from some guys i did not really know. i had decided to junk it; i did not have the wherewithal or knowledge or lack of conscience necessary to sell it, in the condition it was in. but first i had to get it out of impound. for the second time.

in the city, your car gets impounded when you’ve amassed $350 or more in tickets and they’ve gone unpaid for a while. you need to go to an Office (which is not at all conveniently located) to pay your tickets, their late fees, the tow fee, and various other Fees. it ends up costing about $1,000. i swear to god, subway cars should be made of platinum for what the city collects in parking fines, but, anyway. so you go to the Office and you give them all your money and then you get some Paperwork and you can go to the impound lot and retrieve your car. the particular impound lot where my car was located was about a mile walk from any subway in an industrial section of brooklyn. the first time i went, the bouncer chastised me for not taking a cab from the subway station. this time, he just came with me.

i have extraordinary anxiety about money – and you’ll say, but dominique, if you have such anxiety about money, why did you let your parking tickets sit for so long? and i will tell you that sometimes i deal with this anxiety by shoving a problem in a corner, sticking my fingers in my ears, squinching my eyes shut and shouting lalalalala and hoping it goes away. i am slowly learning that it doesn’t. in any case, i was REALLY not happy to have just given the city all my money and i was even less happy because i had no idea how junking a car worked or how long i’d be sitting in front of the impound lot after rescuing my car or if anyone would even come and i’d have to drive it back (and i was convinced it was going to blow up or something). basically, a host of unknowns plus emptying my bank account equaled a very frazzled person.

the bouncer and i are finding our appropriate train and i am in tears walking down the train platform. i get into a yelling match with some teenagers who were horsing around (ohmygod i am ninety years old), but they nearly pushed me onto the tracks. we board the train we need to be on, and it is quite empty. there are lots of places to stand and hold on to a pole. there is one pole that has a man hugging it, with his hood up. you know, the casual lean, wrapping an arm around. and i am NOT HAVING IT. i march up and tap him on the shoulder, saying excuse me. no response. i tap again, harder, say excuse me again. no response. i tap again, even harder, and the tone of my excuse me has become maybe a little shrill. and it is just kind of registering that i am making relatively rough physical contact with a stranger who is larger than me. the man sloooooowly starts swinging around, and i see that he has headphones in, and he is really not appreciating my interruption to his day. i do not care. he removes one earbud and glares down at me.

“excuse me! i’d like to be able to hold on.”

and guys, i am not kidding when i say he took my wrist and placed my hand on the pole, said, “so hold on then,” and i almost 100% lost my shit. i think the bouncer did not see this happen because i’m fairly sure he would not let a stranger touch me, and if he did see it, well, brb, i’ve got to go have a fight now. i snap back, “I’D LIKE TO HOLD ON WITHOUT TOUCHING YOU.”

it was at this point that the bouncer stepped over and firmly said, “honey, you can hold on to this other pole right here,” and the pole he was referencing was empty, and he was right. there was no reason to start a fight with a large hooded stranger man over a pole that i did not need. so i moved, and then just started yelling at the bouncer for interrupting my perfectly justified argument.

it was the principle of the matter, you know?

and in case you are wondering, i successfully retrieved my car and gave it to a nice man with a tow truck, and he gave me $200 cash, and then i went to a really good italian restaurant.

(nb: someday i will also tell you the story of the time i called a lady on the bus a see you next tuesday.)

#scintilla13: pale compromises.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. write about teaching someone a lesson you did not want to teach.

this is not a story where you’ll be able to clearly delineate the cruelties and the kindnesses. don’t expect that.

i’ve written about him before.

we lived a thousand miles apart and spent hours a day on the phone. we had a schedule – i knew exactly when his breaks were and he knew mine and we rang then. he considered moving here and i considered moving there, but despite fantasies, it never happened. i don’t use the term best friend anymore, because nothing comes close to the ways we chained ourselves together.

we weren’t in love. at least, we told ourselves we weren’t. after we crossed a line and crossed it again, this is when the house of cards began to fall, in slow motion.

he told me i was a tease, i didn’t care, i abandoned him. we told each other to grow up, in hateful tones. in one breath i would tease him about being secretly in love with me and in the next i would tell him about how i spent the night with someone. i would question his devotion to me, to our friendship, when he told me he didn’t want to hear these things.

for people who loved each other so much, we were horrific.

we said i love you all the time, but never in that way. we never sat down and said, this is what we’re doing, and this is why, or this is what we’re NOT doing, and why. we let silence speak and we made assumptions and we were so fucking wrong, all of the time. maybe if we had really communicated, instead of hurled accusations, maybe…but i don’t let myself really think of maybe. my heart will collapse on itself if i even consider that path. there is no maybe. what’s done is done. black and white is much, much easier.

the last thing he said to me was something about calling him when i could get my head out of a guy’s ass. it was when i first started dating the bouncer, and i was asked to lie every time i saw him. you would think i’d remember his final words to me, but i don’t, because it was routine at that point. and so, i let it sit. we needed a break, i reasoned with myself.

it sat for a few weeks before i reached out. he never answered. three quarters of a year later, i sent a handwritten letter for his birthday. i wished him well. i told him how much i missed his friendship and that i was here, but that i was also happy to see his life growing, getting better. he seemed to be emerging out into the world, something he’d never done when yoked to me. he was dating, and back in school. i was proud, really, truly. i was devastated that it took the loss of me, the absence of my presence, to set him free.

i say to myself that after the spectacular fire we made of ourselves, at least we have grown. i say, though i can’t know for sure, that he is better off without me, and i don’t say this for pity. he stayed withdrawn as long as i was there. i was a safety harness that maybe choked him sometimes. i never meant to sever us the way i did, but i also never imagined that this would be the requirement for his happiness.

i will never know if these are only the pale compromises we give ourselves to be free of the weight of loss, or if they are the truth.

#scintilla13: a taxi and a lie.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: what’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? why? would you tell the truth now, if you could?

i gave him a kiss goodbye and walked the half a block to my driveway. it is all going to be fine and no one is going to know, i tell myself over and over. my mouth was already dry but this was going to be ok. I had to make sure it stayed ok.

i didn’t drive as a teenager. i’d taken the lessons but i wasn’t very good, my parents weren’t particularly interested in making me better, and i didn’t have the money for a car or insurance anyhow. i bought a ten dollar bicycle at a garage sale that got me around, and in my senior year of high school i had enough money to take local cabs sometimes. i started venturing out on my own frequently, and it wasn’t a big deal for me to spend a day or by myself.

but the summer before college, i also started dating a man who was twice my age. we worked together and he flirted with me always, and i thought it was a joke – we worked in a deli with a close knit group, we were busy and had to be in sync always, so you developed friendships. one weekend when my parents were going to be out of town, he proposed taking me out. i said yes. i never thought it would really happen. it happened. and it kept happening.

so this particular day, we went to the street fair a town over. i took a cab there and my parents thought i was going alone. as you may have already supposed, i was not, in fact, going alone. i met him and we spent the day browsing kitschy doodads and eating terrible food and going on rides and falling a little more in love, though i think i was still at the point where i believed this was a one month fling (it was not, in fact, a one month fling).

it was absolutely beyond imperative that my mother not discover this relationship. the one thing sustaining my will to live was going away to school, and i’d secured several scholarships to a decent private university two whole hours from home. if she caught me in this level of sneaking around, i would without question be forbidden from going to college. this was not an option.

i walked up the driveway and into the house, and nobody was inside. i heard music from deep in the backyard, and i found my parents floating around in the pool.

“why didn’t you take a cab home?”

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

“i did,” i reply, using every single ounce of strength i have to keep my voice from quavering. that’s sort of a lie, because i reserved some strength for trying my hardest to stop the heat from rising in my face.

“we didn’t hear a door slam.”

so here’s the deal. they thought something was up because i’d confessed that a boy who worked at the roofing place across the street from the deli had asked me out. i also truthfully told them that i’d declined. i hadn’t quite gotten to my reason for saying no – the fact that i was dating my thirty something year old coworker. you see how it all gets a little twisty? because of a longstanding policy of a lack of trust on both sides, they thought that i was sneaking around with the roofer – and considering what i was actually doing, this wasn’t a terrible thing for them to believe.

“i don’t know how you want me to prove it to you.”

“go get me the phone.”

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. shit is about to get real, and quick.

if you’ve never met a woman who will call the dispatcher at a taxi company and ask them if they’ve recently driven her daughter from sayville to bohemia, then you’ve obviously never met my mom, because this was her exact intention. my mother gives new meaning to the term “giving no fucks”, especially when it concerns me and lying. i walked back to the house, seeing my life’s purpose slipping away from me by the second.

there was the tiniest ray of hope and 80% it hinged on me developing a set of balls in twenty seconds flat. the other 20% depended on the kindness of a stranger.

i picked up the cordless house phone and quickly hit redial – if she suspected my plan, she might try this to catch what i’d be doing. but the last recorded call was my call to the cab company, for my pickup, so i was safe. i let it ring, the dispatcher answers, gruff and abrupt as always.

“hi. a woman is going to call you in a few minutes asking if you just did a pickup in sayville with a dropoff in bohemia. i need you to say that you did.” i’m not making a great case (or any case) for myself so far.

“what? did we?”

“no. she wants to make sure i was by myself and i wasn’t, i was with my boyfriend who she can’t know about. i ride with you guys all the time, and you’ll be saving my life if you do this.”

“so you want me to lie for you?”

“yes…” hold my breath.

“uh, ok.”

maybe there is a baby jesus in heaven.

i breathe my thanks to my new savior and click off. walking back outside i am practically defiant in my stride, but i remind myself to tone it down, that i’m not out of hot water yet. she makes the call and my new best friend comes through. she’s clearly still suspicious, but since a complete stranger just corroborated my story, there’s not much she can say. i went up to my room, sat quietly, breathed in and out deeply. and this was the one time i ever got away (at least for a little while) with lying to my mother.

i don’t know if this quite constitutes the biggest lie i have ever told – i turned this prompt over in my head for a while before answering. but it did set the path for what would be my biggest series of lies, which was absolutely this relationship. it was born in nights i snuck out, on beachy cliffs of the north shore where he shouted to the stars how much he loved me. on highways driving too fast in a teal sports car at 3 am. leaned against the car after a 10pm movie, parking lot floodlights on us. pulled over on the side of the road because we never wanted to say goodbye. all of it, at the time, secret. it got out, eventually, and that’s a story for another day…

#scintilla13: fifteen and drunk.

scintilla-twitter-badge I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.

prompt: tell a story about a time you got drunk before you were legally old enough to do so.

i am fifteen years old and i’ve probably never felt uglier. this is where we start. i am right in the middle of heartbreak, i am right on the far side of an eating disorder.

i go to florida for the winter holiday. i’m from here, sort of, or at least i spent several formative years here, and i am sent to visit family once or twice a year. i spend time writing, letters that i will never send, that still live in a gray box, a men’s cologne set box. i have no idea how to feel good about myself.

one of my aunts is ten years older than me, so she is twenty five and i think she is the actual coolest person that has ever walked the planet. when i was five she gave me a pair of jean shorts, and i wore them until it actually hurt my seven or eight year old little organs to do so, because i could not bear to give up on the one cool clothing item i own. she is a mentor in a way and i am at a very sticky age and i don’t know what to tell anybody, really.

she asks me if i’d like to go to a party at her friend’s house. of course i want to go to a party at the house of a twenty five year old person – what fifteen year old wouldn’t want this? my grandmother, her mother, warned her extensively of drinking and driving, with me in the car and all, and after grandma left she turns to me and asks, “the real question is, are YOU going to drink tonight?” i mumbled something about thinking probably not, but the seed was planted. she asks me this as she does my hair and makeup, just like her own. styling and drying my curls into something big and face framing and making me up so much that i probably could get into a bar.

shortly after we arrive, i’m offered a screwdriver and although orange juice isn’t one of my favorite things, it is remarkably mild and tastes just like orange juice and where could the harm possibly be in that? i feel so fancy, so beautiful, and so remarkably adult in this place that i’m not really supposed to be, this place that is far away from home and in this magical situation that would never happen in my real life. people – people ten years older than me – are complimenting my maturity, humor, and the way i look. it’s a universe that i can’t quite process but am perfectly happy to enjoy. i’m sure my humility about it is charming.

we play games (this will be the night i learn to play kings, and it will remain my favorite drinking game). there is music and i dance, and there are a total of four big red solo cup drinks and some jello shots tossed into the mix. there’s a boy who is somehow unaware of my age, who flirts with me endlessly until someone clues him in. he’s shocked at himself and he’s shocked at me and i laugh and laugh and try to convince him it doesn’t matter (he remains convinced that it does indeed matter, for any concerned readers). i am, i guess, getting a taste of what life can look like outside of my tiny little bubble of a world where i am so unhappy. i’m starting to understand that one boy not loving me back doesn’t equate to being invisible and worthless to all boys. and to be incredibly plain about it, i’m having fun, which is something i don’t do often.

the next morning after sleeping on the couch, i wake up refreshed and full of energy and excited, and excited is not something i’ve been in a while. my aunt and her partner marvel at my hangover free youth, and she compliments me on handling myself so well. it is of course understood that this will be our secret. and it was, for a long time.

i drank screwdrivers pretty religiously until my mid twenties, when i just couldn’t take the sugar and acid anymore. my regular drinks are still vodka based. kings, as i mentioned, is still my favorite drinking game. i am still grateful that i had a chance to have this experience under the eye of someone who loved me and who would watch out for me, and that i could feel safe participating in something i thought was incredibly illicit – even i was naive, once upon a time.

priorities. and what i want.

it’s just beginning to dawn on me that this is my life.

i’ve had a torrent of thoughts and revelations since my week in the sun with the bouncer, tiff, and nick. what exactly do i want? why is that a much more difficult question than it pretends to be? i gave in and watched the beyonce documentary today and she said the most difficult question she faced when transitioning into managing herself was just this. and the options, they stretch so far, so wide and god, it is hard to pin them down.

i learned in my 30 days of full on paleo eating that anything can be done when you prioritize it, but you can’t prioritize everything, you have to choose. it’s the choice that’s central. that month i knew what my priority was and other things were structured around that. and when i was flailing, this was a non negotiable because i’d made it a priority. we live in an age where there are new ideas and thoughts thrust at you all the time – literally, all of the time – it is so damn noisy, you know? we are taught to want everything and we are never taught what it takes to get even one thing.¬†

so i am prioritizing. i am imagining, for once, openly, what i really really want my life to look like and what works for me. i’m trashing ill conceived notions that it is because of my own failings and weaknesses that i am not him or her or that. i’m not focusing on all of the things i am not. and there are a host of things that i am not, but there is also a lengthy list of things that i definitively am. so for now, i’m resting in the notion of figuring out the life i want and then, i will make a plan to get there. because when you make one thing the MOST important thing, that is the time you can get somewhere because you finally know what to do.

i’m sort of getting away from myself. it’s just sinking in that this moment right here is my life right now, and i know, that sounds so simple. i know that. but i have labored under delusions for so long now, delusions that have only built upon themselves over the years, snowballed, have buried themselves so deep within me and crusted over with layers, delusions that are implanted and have fused with me. that my life begins when i am perfect. my life begins when i flaunt a size six, my life begins when i learn to like coffee like a real adult, my life begins when my house is effortlessly clean and tidy, my life begins when i am fancy, my life begins when i start to give a shit about fashion, my life begins when i am put together every day, my life begins when i never eat a carb again, when i get up at 5:30 to work out, when i dance the night away with friends, when i spend nights in with my boyfriend, when he plans vacations for us, when i am engaged/married, when we have fancy date nights, when i take vacations four times a year, when people like me on the internet, when, when, when.

sometimes the bouncer wonders why i value quiet the way i do and it is because of that. it is because i spend most moments pushing towards an ideal, believing that i am going to cross a line and hear a bell and yes, THIS will be the moment it all begins.

it’s not like i needed a revelation to tell me this isn’t true. but i did need one to jolt me into altering my thinking, to make me tell myself to stop. to breathe. that this moment right here is what’s happening and it’s valid and it’s not a waiting game. it is my actual life and all i need to do is stop, breathe in, and OWN it.

 

my month of paleo.

towards the end of 2012, i knew i needed some kind of reset with my eating habits. my sugar consumption had gone kind of overboard, i was slowly realizing that i’m at least mildly lactose intolerant, and while i’m not typically a new year’s resolution maker, it was just an easy marker for making a change. i have never in my life been a thin person, and i’m working on accepting the idea that i never will be, so this wasn’t overtly about weight loss. i’ve also struggled with eating disorders and eating disordered thinking for a long time, so i try to be very careful with the idea of a diet, because chances are i’ll get really obsessive and unhealthy over it (although most of this country is obsessive and unhealthy about weight in general, but my body positivity rant is for another time). mostly, i knew i wasn’t doing it right and i wanted to hit the reset button. a month is an easy goal to try to stick to.

all of this in mind, sometime in december, i decided that for the month of january i was either going to go very low carb (which i’ve done before), or i was going to go paleo. for the uninitiated, paleo eating is meant to mimic that of our hunter gatherer ancestors, and you eliminate any and all grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugar and all of it’s cousins, and really, processed food. it’s meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. basically.

so here are the things i’ve learned along the way.

1. eating well is very expensive: the bouncer and i have typically spent approximately $100/week on food for the two of us for the house, and that’s with eating lunch out several days a week at work, and ordering takeout once a week-ish. we probably spent $650-$700 this month on food which is RIDICULOUS. that said, we bought lunch at work a lot less and have barely ordered takeout or eaten out at all. i also needed a bunch of paleo “supplies” like coconut oil – which i spent $30 on for the month, but i have a pretty huge jar now which will last me a while. eating produce and meat all of the time is very pricey, and it really highlights the problems with the politics that surround food in this country. again, a rant for another time. you’re supposed to eat as cleanly as possible on paleo – go organic as much as you can, do grass fed, antibiotic free, humanely raised meats – and i couldn’t do that all the way. i got a lot of nitrate and nitrite free bacon, and i’ve made a habit of buying hormone and antibiotic free chicken, but buying that kind of meat around my area of brooklyn is CRAZY expensive and i was already going way out of budget for this experiment.

2. you actually get used to it pretty quickly: the initial transition is kind of rough, but not for very long. the first week is fine – when you cut carbs in general your hunger cycles change within a few days, or mine did anyway (and usually do). i no longer got hungry quickly and intensely – it came on really slowly and i could go a lot longer between big meals. you can blame this on blood sugar and hormones like leptin, i think. it was about week two where i really craved things, and after that it was smooth sailing. i’d adjusted to my new foods, my new style of cooking, and the process of making sure i had snacks and lunch packed every day.

3. i haven’t really lost weight: this could come in time, or it could not. i know i’m definitely less bloaty and a tiny bit smaller, but for the most part i am the same. i have, however, not been skimping on nuts or fruit, or counting calories. i hate saying this because it feels like an excuse, but i’m pretty sure i have a difficult metabolism and i hold onto fat REALLY well. also, i’m not exercising (i think that’s a project for february). i did some research and i think if i wanted to truly focus on weight loss, i would need to watch my sugar and also start working out. i’m choosing not to be too concerned about it.

4. my energy levels haven’t changed: if you follow my life at all you know i struggle with low energy fairly consistently, and this was no different. i actually felt very, very tired during the middle of the month, but i think i was not eating enough veggies/protein/complete meals and too many nuts/fruits/snacky things. i’ve evened out, but i haven’t noticed a really significant uptick in energy or mental clarity.

5. you’ve got to do it the way that works for you: while i was intrigued by the idea of the whole 30, and it was pretty close to what i actually did, i can’t say i did one because i did knowingly go out of bounds. i had sushi twice, and frequently let myself have a square or two of dark chocolate in the evenings. i ate a few pieces of cheese. i did make sure to REALLY enjoy what i ate when i went off the plan, and i made a very conscious effort to make these small indulgences not in response to emotions. the concept of emotional eating actually makes me nauseous to think/talk about because it feels so deep, private, and shameful to me. what i learned is that i do have the power to treat or soothe myself in other ways, and there are very awesome ways to have tiny indulgences that are glorious and do not feel like derailment.

6. i drank: alcohol is off limits on paleo/whole 30, i think, but i drink pretty infrequently and i wasn’t concerned about it. i had a bunch of wine when i was out for alana’s birthday and i had the very best time, and, maybe not coincidentally, also drank some when i was out with alana and bob the other night. there are times when i unintentionally go months without drinking so, i’m not concerned.

7. this is totally do-able: on february first, i had a salad for lunch. i really don’t have a strong desire to go back to processed, shitty food that isn’t really food, and i’ve developed these habits so i’m of the mind that i’m going to stick with this as a lifestyle, for the most part. the bouncer decided to give himself 1-2 “cheat” meals a week and maybe i’ll follow that path, but i really enjoy the way i’m eating, and i feel like it’s become easier to make healthy food choices. i’m posting this after a week long vacation, and even though i was not at all strict when i was away, i found myself craving the good food i’d eaten throughout january (and i have some cauliflower rice on the stove right now).

8. i do want some modifications for the long term: i am really interested in beans. and cheese. i plan on not being so strict with my consumption of whole grains (quinoa, lentils, etc.) and while i intend to be more conservative with my dairy, i am not living without cheese. have i emphasized cheese enough?

more than anything, i’m proud of myself for making a decision and following through with it. i’m great at making grand, sweeping, declarations of What I Will Now Do with regards to food, exercise, and eating and i assign a lot of rules and i make shit really hard and i always fail. i wasn’t perfect with this, but i did an amazing job and shocked myself with what i am capable of.