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What Timing.

I just watched one of my favorite movies, one I am usually embarrassed to admit liking: Where the Heart Is. It’s something I would usually scoff at- you know, tear-jerking, heart-warming romance. It’s what you might call a chick flick- and I don’t go for those.

This one, though, somehow I just love, and tonight, after watching it, I felt that it arrived from netflix at a rather appropriate time.

I don’t think I’m going to get into grad school.

The deadline for the major application is the 1st. I haven’t finished filling it out yet, because I need some information from my undergrad university. I’ve had a month to get it. Every day I sleep late, then pass away the early afternoon doing nothing. Some days I remember, when it’s far too late to call an office back east, that I needed to do so. I resolve that the next day it will happen- and then repeat the pattern. By now, I have one last chance- get the information (which I’m not even entirely sure I can get) on the 30th or accept that I’ve gone and fucked it up. And I haven’t even written my essays and things, which are due in two weeks. I’ve merely over-thought them until I find everything I have to say worthy of rejection.

Also, I just got my official GRE scores in the mail today, and never before have I felt so fucking mediocre. Let me repeat: mediocre. I don’t feel smart. I don’t feel overly talented. I feel like my impression of myself as an intelligent person, capable and worthy of getting into this school, has perhaps been… off-target. Like when your mother tells you something you’ve cooked is the best thing she’s ever tasted, so with a big head you serve it to others, and find out that it’s really not impressive at all- I feel like that, only I, and my intelligence, my capability, my worth, are the dish.

This really doesn’t feel good.

But! This is an entry about why that sappy film felt appropriate tonight.

Tom hasn’t left my life, but refuses to actually be in it. Every time I think he’s gone, he goes and does something like ‘liking’ a photo of me smiling on fbook. Small, nothing things, but enough to remind me he exists. I’ve realized that- that I don’t feel like I’m good enough for him. I was dating this guy recently whom I found to be undereducated, and felt better than him for it. Tom is far better educated than I. Thus I feel – yes, like I’m not good enough for him. Especially today, when I see my stupidly mediocre scores and wonder if I’ll even pull off an application the day before it’s deadline or not- he’s getting his PHD at this school, and I don’t think I’ll even be able to get into one of the smaller, uncompetitive programs. So I don’t think I’m good enough for the type of person I want to be with. In gist.

The protagonist of this film is a young single mother living through her hardships with the help and love of friends she makes along the way. There is, of course, a romance. The man of the romance is well educated, and, she thinks, too good for her. Or rather, she thinks that she isn’t good enough for him. So (hey spoilers!) she sends him off with a lie that she doesn’t love him.

But then! She realizes that she really does, and drives to his fancy university to tell him: she lied. She lied because she doesn’t think she is good enough for him. And he tells her- get this- there is nothing better than her. They kiss, cut to the wedding, cut to credits.

So as I’m feeling really shitty about myself, like I’m not worth the things I want in life, here comes this film in which a girl who feels similarly is told that she is full of worth. I can’t quite make the leap to applying her lesson to myself- afterall, life ain’t the movies, even the tear-jerkers- but it’s still a timely thing.

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Pre GRE

The worst part about the fear I am feeling right now is the knowledge that no, I have not prepared to the utmost of my ability.

I borrowed this GRE prep book from the library months ago. I intended to study a little bit of it every day, until I got to the practice exam. Then I could take it, and move on to the online study aids. I could work my way through the online practice work until I got to the practice tests, and then I could take them, practicing and practicing, until I knew for sure I was as prepared as I could be.

What actually happened is that I studied for a bit for 2, 3 nights in a row, then got discouraged by the wrong answers I was hitting. The book sat on the floor of my bedroom until I moved it to the table in the living room. From there I moved it to the top of the bookshelf. I carried it with me back east and sat it at the end of my guest bed. I carried it with me up north, and read snippets outloud to scoff at it. I brought it to the theater I was working at and left it in the audience, next to the tech booth. I left it in my bag for days when I was finally home, realizing how much time I’d wasted, and procrastinating further to avoid thinking about it.

Even in the past few days, I haven’t been able to keep a regular study schedule, even with the pressure on. Today I made it through all the strategy sections (not any of the practice ones) clear to the “take control of the test” chapter- all about how to maintain a confident attitude, a positive outlook that would benefit my score. It mentioned the months of studying, practicing, preparation I had been through, the online resources I had turned to, the confidence that knowing I was well prepared brought. As I read, I felt worse and worse- I had spent days, hours studying, not months. I didn’t even realize there were so many online resources. And I am not well prepared. If I had really- here I go- worked up to my potential, I would surely be confident tonight. I would feel certain that I would do well, that the good score I want was in the bag.  But I didn’t, and I don’t.

So now I turn to the same part of the book that tells me how confident I am, and focus on a different paragraph. I quote:

“…this one test will not single-handedly determine the outcome of your life. In many cases, it’s not even the most important part of your graduate application.”

Not even the most important part of my graduate application. Not even the most important part of my graduate application. Breathe girl breath.

I know I will do the best that I can under the circumstances I have given myself. I know that I will probably do better than I expect to, based on the many assurances I have gotten that yes, one tends to do better than one expects, better than one thinks one has. I know that the outcome of tomorrow’s test will not singly determine my admittance to this grad program.

But I can’t help wishing I had given myself better circumstances.

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Smoldering in the Dark

I am sitting on my roof in the dark, watching fires smolder on near by hills and catching the internet signal that is ignoring my apartment. I spent tonight in the coffee shop, having fun with all the folks I talk to online. All too soon, the shop was closing and I had to walk home. It got me thinking.

I’m alone like, all the time.

Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration. I see my mom a few times a week. Every few weeks I see my nutty friend. Once or twice a week I go to the bar to be around people, and sometimes exchange a few words. But that’s about it. Really, I go days without interacting with another person. I’m in one of the biggest cities in the US, and yet so very isolated.

I realized this as I was walking home, feeling like the kid whose curfew came way too early. I found myself wishing I had a roommate, or a young man, someone who would be waiting, who would be aware of when I came home. Or someone to call who cared, maybe even cared enough to call me, just to make sure I was home safe and had had a good day.

I miss Tom calling me every night. I miss that feeling that someone cared enough, and was interested enough, to do so. I miss not feeling so all-all alone. Right now, with no internet in my apartment, no way to even pretend at interactions other than holding conversations in my head (which eventually just serves to make me lonelier), I am keenly aware of this feeling. It feels like, as soon as I walk in, that’s it- I have entered the isolation tank.

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Common State

Day 16: Today I got brunch with Tom. I hadn’t seen him in about 2 months.

Confession: before he arrived I had to make myself sit down and slowly sip some water to calm down. I was sweaty and spastic in my excitement and anxiety over seeing him. I was imagining all kinds of scenarios that, sooner or later, led to some kind of romantic fulfillment. I had torn through my apartment, cleaning as quickly as I could in case he came up. I’d bathed thoroughly, telling myself it was silly, since of course nothing that such bathing would prepare for would happen tonight, but I did it all the same, just for the idea of it.

I realize this afternoon that I have a personality flaw: I pin my hopes on other people, that they will somehow be the one to, in some way or part, allow or help me to save myself. Then, it turns out, they are just as human as I am.

Tom tells me he is Broken. Lonely and broken and lost. He has called a full stop to romantic involvement as a means of prevention, the prevention of hurting anyone else the way he did me or any other girl he’s been with in so many years. I just sighed, because even stronger than the feeling of sadness and disappointment as my earlier fantasies washed away was the feeling of empathy I experienced at knowing and understanding far more than he could ever imagine about what he was telling me. He was telling Broken Girl that he feels broken.

What saddened me most, and concerned me most, was how much he seems to have accepted it. I think of Dylan Thomas-
“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Nothing broken is fixed by simply waiting, thinking that the fix will someday happen, eventually. Here he is just accepting it, which only leads to a longer period of loneliness, lost-ness, brokenness. I know there is nothing I can do about this, that how he chooses to approach this part of his life is no business of mine, but still, it just makes me sad. For myself, a bit- but mostly for him.

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Abrupt Fall

I am always taken aback by those moments in which everything has been fine, fine, happy good and fine, and suddenly it just falls away…

Like tonight, I was watching Buffy episodes and getting things accomplished. I felt good, it was a good day. I was smiley. After I finished my dinner, an episode ended. I hit stop and esc so I could check some things online-

and suddenly it was like everything had just fallen down. My smile, my mood, instantly lost all vigor. My chest felt heavy and I just felt so fallen, so down. No reason, really, no abrupt cause. Just… down.

After a couple hours I have yet to pick myself back up, and I don’t really know that it will happen tonight.

I don’t know how that happens.

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A Whole New Way

Ok, so I fell apart for a little bit there. It happens.

No, it wasn’t all about a boy. He had a lot to do with it, sure, but in a straw that broke the camel’s back sort of way, not a boulder that crushed it kind of way. Point is that I came out of it having learned something important, something that I feel I need to write down so that I can remind myself of it in case I forget (which may happen, and would be an utter shame).

I’ve never dated someone I haven’t settled for before. I’ve always settled. It’s always
oh, he likes me enough or
oh, he’s cute enough, in an unconventional sort of way or
oh, he’s not a slacker, he’s just taking his time to figure out what he really wants or
oh, he says he’s a dick, but he told me he’s a dick, he warned me, so he’s protecting me, so that’s nice, so he’s not really a dick or
oh, he’s big into self education, so he doesn’t need to get a real one or
oh, he’s not really a pothead, he’s just medicating or
oh, he’s not using me, he’s just afraid to admit to commitment or

or or or. And you know what? Screw that. Screw it really hard.

Tom really was the first guy I’ve dated whom I didn’t feel like I was settling for, whom I didn’t feel like was somehow below me, whom I didn’t feel like I had to make excuses for or justify in any over-rationalized way. And you know what? That was nice.

So nice, in fact, that for the first time ever, I feel like I have finally come to terms with Him. When I first met Him, so very many years ago, I wasn’t settling. I felt like I was maybe reaching beyond my means, even. But now, almost a decade later, I see that the compromises, the excuses, the explanations have just piled up one on top of the other with him, until I feel I would perhaps suffocate under them. Before I knew what it was like not to settle, this was ok. I was good at settling, and because of my love for Him, I think I might well have been able to do it and think I was really happy. And maybe I could have been- but not anymore. Now I would just make note of every time I made an excuse for him, everytime I told myself that I didn’t really need these things that I wanted out of life, out of love. Now I know it can’t work.

Last night my dreams even recognized it. For the first time in almost a decade, I dreamed a dream wherin I was not thrilled to see him, was not lustful or swoony, but instead uncomfortable and cringey. This feels kinda big. Kinda major, really.

Of course, this makes letting go of Tom rather monstrously hard, and, in fact, not something I am yet willing to do. His explanation was that he wasn’t ready to be dating anyone, but that he still wanted to talk with me, to know me. I have decided that I will take him up on this, and hope he meant it. It may ultimately hurt more, as I confess that I do have hopes of him changing his mind in my favor, but I’m just not ready to let go of the first person I didn’t settle for, of the person who unknowingly showed me a whole new way.

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Tailspin

I am literally dizzied by how quickly my plan to get productive and focus on bringing myself out of this down turned into an excuse to call Tom.

In the shower I focused on how I’ve been too down to make art for months. I came up with an idea for a new project that would combine old and current themes with techniques I have not used together before. It would involve many steps, as all my handicrafts do, but I would keep it small so as to be able to get it done and not fall back into sadness and frustration. I could start work on it right away, as soon as I got out of the shower.

Then I decided it should be in tones of gray. Dirty wash water gray. No, in fact, it had to be. There was/is no alternative. But I haven’t got any gray dye I can safely use at home. But I have gray dye I could use safely in a lab. I could ask for advice online. But really, I would probably do better if I broke down and just called the only person I know within 3000 miles who uses a lab. I should just call Tom. Just matter of factly, here, hi Tom, I need some chemical safety advice, brainstorm with me, how can I do these things safely without my lab… surely the call could be the only logical thing to do.

And it would have nothing to do with us, no, nothing at all, simply a matter of informed persons taking chemical safety, simply me turning to the only logical person, that’s all.

And he would decide the safest thing to do would be for me to come in and use his lab. And he is kind, and he would be feeling guilty, so he would suggest this. He would suggest I come in tomorrow. And I could wear a cute dress and bring my apron and gloves and respirator, and be all business like and secretly irresistably charming. And somehow this would all work out. Not sure exactly how, but it would.

And then someone online suggested I email him instead of calling, and I thought ‘oh, smart girl!’- and then a sudden rush of disappointment. I began to ‘forget’ she had said anything. And I thought oh, well, I had better check my chemical supplies, because I would need all of the pertinent things, and I realized that I am missing two key ingredients, only one of which I could possibly find without ordering online. So I couldn’t use my dye even when he would invite me to use his lab.

And then I thought- he uses his own lab. He is running experiments as I type this. He has chemicals that sit in there doing their thing overnight or for who knows how long while he checks their progress. It’s not like a lab I use, where one mixes up their things and is done within a few hours. I doubt he even could offer me his lab. And why would he? He could just say “oh, gee, I don’t know what you could do. sorry.” Or he could not pick up the phone at all. Or not even return an email.

And then suddenly my head was spinning at how my attempt to get my head on straight had turned into a mission to see him. I just typed it out, I know, but really I don’t even know how that happened. I feel like I ought, perhaps, to be restrained, even though I don’t need it, even though my shock is enough.

How did I just do that?

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