Thursday, 13 March 2014

Have you ever had your fortune told?

Early in one of my favourite books the main character gets her fortune told. She doesn't expect it, but when it happens, she takes advantage of it. She asks her questions honestly and the results...unsettle her.

I don't believe in fortune telling. Not really. I've never paid to have my fortune told or even pretended to think my friends could read my palm when it seemed like the cool thing to do in high school. But I've always been curious about it and I thought that, if the opportunity presented itself, I would take advantage.

The funny thing about opportunity is that it never looks the way you'd expect it to.

My master's program held a reading tonight. It's the first one we've done and most of us were really fucking nervous. I was shaking the entire time I read, knees quaking and muscles shivering, convincing me that by the time my story was finished I'd have to be dragged off the stage because I wouldn't be able to move myself. Afterwards we decided to celebrate with a pint or five (on top of the couple of pints we'd downed to calm/drown the nerves) and headed out to a few bars. We drank - and drank and drank and drank - and ended up in an after-hours bar. It's the kind of bar you go to when there is nowhere else to go except the REALLY skeezy bar, and you'd rather not go there, thankyouverymuch.

So we found a place to sit down and piled in. There wasn't exactly enough space for all of us, so somehow a friend of my ended up lying down using my chest as a pillow and acting as a chair for another friend. To thank her for this we decided to give her some fantastic ballpoint pen tattoos. So we sat there, exchanging stories (in a great round of Sex Story Poker, our new favourite game), and drawing on our friend.

"Guys!" our newly tattooed friend said. "Buy me a drink and I'll tell your fortune!"

Hmmm. Could be fun.

"How do you feel about cider?" I asked.

"Good. I feel very good about cider."

So I passed her my half-full pint glass and she downed it.

"Okay, what do you want to know?"

"Ummm....shit. Okay. Am I ever going to be a good writer? I mean, a published writer. Am I ever going to get published?"

She laughed.

"What, is that too specific? Should I ask about love? I can do the love thing. Am I ever going to fall in love again?"

"Well, I'm just going to talk about the first one, because the answer came to me. Yes. And it'll be with a big house - Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster. I'm not saying it'll be a New York Times bestseller, but yes. You'll be published."


"Second question?"

"Well, let's do the love thing. Am I ever going to fall in love again?"

She laughed. She held my palm and her fingers were soft and warm, and she laughed again. She looked at me and I couldn't tell what her facial expression was. Bemused?

"Oh God, that's a no face! That's a no. Okay, cool, no worries."

"No! I mean, no, it's not a no face." She laughed again. "Yes. And it's going to fucking ambush you."


"You'll fall in love one more time. Six months. And it's going to really fucking take you by surprise."

I laughed. This is when things started to feel weird. I'm fresh out of a major relationship, I've had my heart broken, it's going to take ages for me to be ready to fall in love again.

"Wait - it's only going to last six months or it'll happen in six months?"

"It'll happen within six months. And it'll be the last thing you think is going to happen. Last question."

"Um. Am I ever going to have to live in the States again?"


My disappointment must have shown on my face.

"It'll be hard, but it'll be the right choice."

Now, I want it known that I think my priorities are in the right order. Career question/life goal question first. Mostly joking relationship question second. Lifestyle question third, once I realized this was Serious Business. But I'm unsettled. I was not looking for this, I didn't have questions I wanted answered. I went with my gut. And as much as I don't really believe that my fortune is a fixed thing or even a knowable thing...there is something about this that feels truer than going to a psychic and paying a bunch of money to hear vague references to possible life events.

I've never given much thought to fate. It seems like something you build for yourself, not something that exists. Fate is cumulative, not something that can be told by a drunk girl with a ballpoint sleeve of badly drawn penises. And yet, here I am, writing it down to remember. To keep. To see if she's right. Because part of me wants to believe it, to sit here and know. To know that the book in my heart has a birthday. To know that I'll fall in love. And, yeah, to know that at some point I'll go back to the States - in part because, if I'm being honest, the only thing that would make me live there again is if my parents got sick, and it makes me feel better about things to think I'd be the kind of daughter who would move back to take care of them.

So yeah, I'm writing it down and I'm waiting. I guess we'll find out if she's right together.
Sunday, 9 March 2014

Mother Trucker! or, a post in praise of climbing

I've been saying this a lot lately. I don't even know why, it's not like I'm afraid to drop the f-bomb anywhere and everywhere. But just saying it amuses me, so odds are, if you're around me, you've heard this at some point in the last two weeks.

My friend Hayley has heard it a lot since I seem to say it mainly when I'm climbing. I've been climbing harder routes lately, tricky ones with shitty crimpy holds (but honestly, better a crimpy hold than a sloper - I hate slopers!), routes I would have thought were way past my ability. But the funny thing is that when you don't understand the grading system and you just look at a route and say, "Oooh, neat! That looks fun!" you can climb a lot harder than you would normally. It turns out the biggest thing limiting my climbing was me.

I still need to be able to do a pull up, though. My limited upper body strength is definitely hindering my bouldering.

The thing about climbing with Hayley is that we're roughly the same skill level, and she's super strong and flexible and just kind of indefatigable. Which then makes me think, "Well, if she's doing it, I'm going to do it!" And so suddenly I'm up on these routes, trying and failing (and failing and failing and failing, in the case of a route that went up last week) and having a mother trucking blast.

And then days like today happen when I don't leave my flat because I'm supposed to be working and I procrastinate and then I don't put on make up and my chin is all broken out and so I just stay put. And on days like today, I realize how trucking lucky I am to be able to climb.

I know that sounds silly, but it's true. I am so lucky to have this hobby that gives me clarity. That takes me out of myself and my worries and the stupid, shitty drama and calms me down. By the time my warm up is finished, I'm focused and I spend two hours just looking at what's right in front of me.

I've had a few moments of clarity in the past week, and I'm positive I wouldn't have them without being in the gym as much as I am. Without removing myself from petty bullshit and letting myself work through projects - to look at them a few times a week, to see them from different angles, to try different tactics to conquer them.

I'm getting my callouses back - the physical ones and the emotional ones. I'm finding the places that wear me down, that exhaust me, that weaken me, and I'm toughening them up. And at the end of this, I've gotta tell you, I plan on being a mother trucking badass.
Monday, 3 March 2014

Ex-Boyfriend revisited (and introduced)

Okay, fuck this pseudonym shit. I kept thinking that it'd be pretty simple to not use names (my name is as generic as it gets, but I date guys with really unique names), but now that I have two exes floating around it's just going to get complicated. So. Ex-Boyfriend - the guy I have ridiculous conversations with - his name is Mal. And Mal is easily one of my best friends, in part because we have conversations like this.

Mal: Come over and cook me dinner?

Me: Nope.

Mal: But I'm sore and hungry.

Me: Sorry.

Mal: Okay, order me food and put it on your credit card and have it delivered.

Me: No.

Mal: But it's my birthday!

Me: Your birthday is in June.

Mal: No it's not, I had it legally changed.

Me: You can't have your birthday legally changed.

Mal: Yes you can.

Me: Can I change my birthday and have it be every day, then?

Mal: No. There's no form for that. How about a massage?

Me: I'm not getting you food or a massage for your incorrect birthday. Or your real birthday.

Mal: You suck at giving birthday presents.

(To be fair, I really am a terrible gift giver. Towards the end of our relationship we gave up on gifts and just took small trips together, or took the day off of work and spent it together doing silly things.)

It's funny - we've been talking on FaceTime a lot. I've had a lot of shit go down in the past few months, and Mal has been there for me in a way I never would have imagined we could be there for each other when we broke up. I thought that something was permanently fractured between us, and that we'd never get it back. But somehow there are these huge parts of our relationship that are so much better now that we're not dating. As shitty as the break up was, I'm so thankful for it because I wouldn't have the friend I have now without it.

I can't/won't say too much about the break up with Caz right now, in part because it's so fresh I can't see my way through it, and in part because I am recovering from a lot of things and I just don't have the energy.

But right now I'm thankful. Thankful for friendships that last, that defy expectations and mass understanding. Thankful for the chance to have a person I adore who just isn't right for me as a partner, but is perfect as a friend. Thankful to have somebody around who understands whole heaps of my life and doesn't need me to give a lot of background into a situation before he can see right to the heart of it. I only have one other friend like that - the kind of friend who knows me so well she can listen to me talk about a situation and see through the emotion and grab the important facts. The two of them have been the glue that holds my overly dramatic universe together for 10 years now and I am so so so thankful for them.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Well, damn.

Oh man, the future guy in my life has a hell of a lot to live up to.

I got a message from a friend of mine today. Let's call him Tim. Because that's his name. Tim and I have been friends for a few years and have been helping each other out, relationship-wise for most of that time. You know how sometimes your partner does something that makes you think, "What the actual fuck?" When that happens, I go to Tim and he comes to me.

So I guess last night Tim and his girlfriend got into a fight and he needed another woman's perspective. And what it came down to is this:

They are crazy in love.
They want to spend the rest of their lives together.
How they plan to accomplish this is a little at odds.

Both of them are looking for reassurance from the other - she wants him to be reckless, to say he cares about being with her more than anything else. He wants her to be patient, to understand he wants to be reckless, but he wants to give her everything she's dreamed of, too.

And this is about the damn sweetest problem I've ever heard.

So we chatted and looked at the situation from a few different angles and talked about potential solutions and how to address this with her. And I told him what I thought she was probably hearing vs. what he said. And he told me how their conversations had been going today. And honestly, I think this is so normal. So painfully normal. So beautifully normal.

I want this. Fuck, I want this. And right when I had given up on it existing anywhere in the world anymore, Tim walks right in and shows it to me. And I am so damn grateful to remember that there are guys like this and lives like this and that, even if I never actually have it happen to me, there is something truly beautiful out there in the world that is worth fighting for. 
Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Once upon a time there was a girl*. She was a fun girl, she was a funny girl, but she didn't really fit in with the cool kids. She liked to wear black and listen to loud music and to go out and get drunk with her friends. Her dad was a Harley guy, though, so she came by it honestly.

If you're wondering, yes, the dog is wearing a hat
She had a soft spot for the punk boys, for the bad boys, for the ones she should have stayed away from.  She knew they were bad news, really she did, but the first time one of them kissed her and the world was reduced to only the places where their bodies were touching, she was a lost cause.

But he went away and when she saw him again, he had changed. She had, too, but not as much.

18 and in love
Their relationship was everything you'd expect from two teenagers with crazy chemistry and not a lot in common. It was dramatic. They broke up and got back together. They spent hours on the phone. The 4 days they got to see each other every two months (long distance relationships are a bitch), they were inseparable. She spent every waking hour she was allowed to with him. Even after he broke up with her. Even after the first (and only) time he said he loved her was when he was screaming, "I guess I fucking love you, then!" at the end of a fight. Hell, they're not even together in this picture.

They were on again/off again for a year and a half when she met somebody new. He was the exact opposite of the guy she'd been hung up on. He was the calm in her storm, he steadied her out when she was all over the place. But when she met him, she was in a rough place. She was lonely, she was scared, and she was trying desperately to fit in to a place that just didn't fit her.

20 and in love
Every now and then she'd find herself with a teeny, tiny crush on a guy. It happens. When you're with somebody for 5.5 years, there are other people who catch your eye. But the guys that caught hers were never ones like her boyfriend. They were always the same...tall, dark hair, wearing ratty jeans and black band t-shirts. They listened to Slayer and the Misfits and couldn't hear you the first three times you said hello because their music was so loud.

But they broke up and she was alone for a while. Normally, this would be good. Normally, it would help clarify things. Who she was, perhaps. Or what she wanted. But she wasn't in the right place for that. Not emotionally, emotionally she was in the perfect place for it. She was in the wrong place geographically. She was in a place that embodied the opposite of what she wanted. It was all about staying in one place, being content, living a fine life and she wanted more. She wanted something different.

And so she spent a year and a half on her own, recovering. And then she headed off to NZ to have adventures and meet people, and she met a very specific person. And he was wonderful. He seemed like exactly what she'd been missing in her little city, and she was ecstatic when he felt the same way. He was even a bit of a reformed punk boy, and she thought she could have the best of both worlds.


Except she couldn't. Because as great as he was, he was possibly just great in contrast. But when she made the leap, when she picked up and moved and put herself on the path she really, really wanted - the path that let her do what she loves and be a little goofier, she found that maybe things were better on her own.

27 and confused

See, she'd been trying REALLY hard to fit in again when she met the last one. She'd been working at being the corporate woman, the one who could sit at a desk 40+ hours each week and get the promotions and do the jobs and make the money. And when she got to a place that fit - a place where she could dye her hair purple and focus on her writing - suddenly the relationship didn't fit anymore.

And then...well, then there was a spot of trouble with a guy that made her feel 16 again, but who would have hated her at 26. And the thing is, both of those people - who she was at 16 and who she was at 26 - are valid. And both of them will be part of her. It's just that they need to merge somehow. And her relationships need to merge, too. She needs the punk rock love that makes her pulse race and the stability of a best friend. She needs somebody who will understand when she gets the urge to pierce her nose a third time but who wants to glam it up every now and then. She wants to headbang in the living room at 1 in the morning because life is that much fun. She wants somebody who will understand when she turns down going out with friends because she's in the grip of a story and it has to come out, and who will go out the next night with her to celebrate having finally finished the draft. And she wants all of this from somebody she can trust, who will care about her - the real her, the one stripped of all walls and pretense - and who will let her care about them.

(And truthfully, for a hot second, she thought she had that last one. And when that ended...well, if there is a picture above labeled "18 and in love" there should be an accompanying video that shows the months of crying and begging and listening to sappy music and crying some more to remind now almost-28 year old her that she's been through this before, that it sucked, but that she survived. She doesn't want to make the same mistakes again - she's an emotional Goldilocks and ready for a big dose of just right.)

She wants to make a home with somebody - a home in somebody. In their heart. In their soul. She wants to be their home. If she were to make a list of things that are important to her, it'd be that they be creative. That they be loving. That they be funny. That they value family and friends. That they feel like adventure. She wants to be challenged and excited and to feel safe.

But truthfully? At this point? She just wants to not hurt anymore.

*This girl might be me
Thursday, 20 February 2014

I can't even be funny anymore

I'm broken. Sorry, guys. Originally this blog was just going to be about story telling, but now...well, now it feels more personal. Except that it can't, because certain ex-boyfriends know the URL and I can't even be honest about what the fuck is going on in my life (and there is nothing going on and, somehow, also so much going on it's unbelievable) because I don't want him to read it. I don't want him to see the truth. I've posted things only to take them down a few days later because I just don't want it out there.

So, yeah. 
Saturday, 1 February 2014


I realized I've made a lot of references to Nick lately. Nick is....well, he's easier to think about than the chaos my life is going through right now.

Nick wasn't the first guy I loved. Nick wasn't even the first guy to hurt me. Nick was...Nick was the first guy I believed, and the first one (only one, really) who ripped me apart.

I think maybe we all have that one. Maybe? That heartbreak that stays with us. The one that you can move past but never get over.

I still remember the last time I kissed him. We were in his parents car and we were going to the airport to drop him off to go start his military service, and he had drawn my nickname on my hand and we were taking pictures, and just before they came back to the car, he gave me a kiss. It was kind of the perfect goodbye. I'd gone there to figure out just what the fuck was going on with us (something that M, the guy I dated for 5.5 years basically mandated that I do before he would agree to date me), and the first kiss of the weekend was...boring. I mean, straight up dull. I was shocked at how this guy who could black out my whole world when he kissed me 3 weeks earlier suddenly seemed like a stranger when I closed my eyes. And so this last kiss, this quick, let-me-lean-over-and-do-this-one-last-time kind of kiss, it fit. We were done, we both knew it. We both felt it. But he held my hand in the car and hugged me goodbye at the airport, and I spent the next hour in silence.

"Did you two talk?" his mother asked at one point.
"We're done."

This was it. The actual end. A year and a half of on-again, off-again, of calling each other and begging each other and loving each other, and it was done. Because the magic in our kisses had faded away.

Nick was bad for me in a lot of ways, and good for me in others. It wouldn't be hard to stop loving somebody if they were all bad for you, you know? He held the pieces of my heart while I fit them back together after getting out of a truly horrendous relationship. He was patient with me, he loved me even when he couldn't say it. Hell, when he could say it, it wasn't exactly the most gracious or wonderful thing in the world.

"Do you even love me, Nick?"
"What does love even mean?"
"It means caring about somebody more than yourself. About wanting them to be happy, even if it means being happy without you. About worrying about them and thinking about them and wanting to do whatever you can to make their life better. And if you're lucky, they'll do the same for you."
"Then I guess I fucking love you!"

I'll never forget that. "Then I guess I fucking love you." This was after we'd broken up the second time. It kind of sums things up perfectly.

But even after the magic faded, long after I'd given up on ever experiencing it again that way, he commented on a picture on Facebook and boom. I was 17 again. Did I mention I dyed my hair purple last year? Purple is a lot of work, it requires a lot of upkeep, and it's generally just a pain in the ass. But for 4 months, I had purple hair. And he commented on it and said he liked it. And used my old nickname.

Those nicknames, man. Not the generic ones, not "baby" or "sweetie" or whateverthefuck, but the real ones, the ones that mean something just between the two of you - those have power looooong after the relationship is dead.

So here is what I did. He commented, and I ignored it because I know his game. He gets dumped, he wants attention, he reaches out. I message back, I don't hear from him until he gets dumped again. So I ignored him and I walked my ass into the bathroom, grabbed the hair dye, and added a shitton more purple to my hair. And then, when I went to rinse it out, I got stupid. I was shaking, I was nervous, I had a bad case of Nickonthebrain, and I walked straight into the shower. And you know the thing about highly pigmented dyes? Even when diluted, they stain the fuck out of anything they touch. Like shower curtains and ceramic tiles and skin.

Yeah. He commented on one picture and I dyed my fucking body purple. Oops.

It's been 10 years since we broke up the first time. Like, 10 years this week. It's funny to me that some of this could be as much about life now as it is about life then. If you're reading this, read it like The Crucible. Keep both settings in mind. Maybe the stories will be different, but it's a damn good reminder to look to the past if you want to see the future. Or not. Who knows.




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