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My mind has gone in a million different directions the past two months.

Actually, scratch that. My mind has toggled between two opposite directions the past several months, maybe years.

Which path? I cry. Which path which path which path.

I don’t want to regret it, I wail.

I want to love it, I say.

I have this idea for how my life should go. And this year—well, it’s been a hard year. I don’t say that like I’ve had much outside stress. There are many people in this world, in this country, in my own circles, who have had much harder years. I’m just saying, for me, it’s been a hard year.

This year I didn’t laugh enough. I didn’t get outside enough. I didn’t hug enough. I hate those feelings because it’s like I’m not enough. My life isn’t enough.

So instead of focusing on the realities of my situation or, you know, doing anything about it, I went into daydream land. I’m very good at daydream land. In daydream land, I can give you a beautiful interview after I’ve just won an Oscar. It’s very humble and giggly and full of phrases like “why yes, I did happen to get engaged on the same day I was nominated!” (I know.)

I like to daydream. I don’t want to stop daydreaming either. Daydreaming can be magical and creative and immensely helpful to writing.

But I don’t want daydreams dictating my life. I feel like I’ve buried myself under layers of okays and fines and talk laters. I’ve covered myself with interviews on Conan and sappy acceptance speeches (for awards and proposals) and Pinterest boards (the secret kind).

Maybe this is too painfully honest. Maybe this seems pathetic. Maybe it really is.

For once in my life, I’m okay with being pathetic if it means looking it reality right in the face. I don’t want to be lost in daydream land anymore. I want to be grounded in reality, but still be able to daydream. I think that’s called being happy.

The thing that I’m realizing though is that this kind of happiness has very little to do with where I am or what I’m doing or any external factor. Those things are important. I’m not denying that I actually want success as I define it for myself: writing full-time, performing, getting married to a good guy, becoming a mom, showering my ageing parents in love, laughing until I pee my pants at game night with my siblings. I want those things so badly my chest physically hurts when I think about them.

But here, in this moment? I can choose success too. I can choose to be happy and to laugh and to face my dirty room and weird thing smelling up my fridge and facial hair and unsolved problems and still say that I like myself.

I can choose to coax my sensitive heart out from under the covers. It likes to sleep in these days. I made it that way. I let it believe it wasn’t cool enough or smart enough or famous enough or pretty enough or just enough. I let it believe it was stupid and ugly and unimportant.

But I choose to be gentle to it now. I will protect it from well-meaning harsh words and not-so-well-meaning ones. I choose to tell it to have fun, stay awake awhile, love on people, and love on me.

Tell me your thoughts, little heart, I say. I will still love you no matter what, you know?

Funny, I find that the most precious phrase in the world, but I never say it to myself. Today I do. I’ll still love you, I whisper.

Home or here? Home or here? I ask it. I’ll still love you.

My little heart opens its scratchy throat; it hasn’t been used in a while.

Home, it whispers. Home, please.

Okay, I say. I still love you.

five stages of flying

For being a child born during George H. W. Bush’s presidency, I began the plane-taking journey rather late in life. I flew for the first time when I was fourteen and didn’t go again until I was over twenty. This caused some personal misconceptions that I have slowly unraveled over time, revealing the truth about flying, the ugly, disgusting, beautiful truth. Using the Kübler-Ross model, I give you the five stages of flying:

1. Denial

I’m not really flying, no. Those aren’t actually homes. That’s the Peter Pan set from Disney World.  Trust me, I’ve been there.

This lasts until that woozy feeling you get when the plane dips a little, making it seem like you’re on a roller coaster for about 0.4 seconds. Then you realize you are on a plane that’s up in the air, and you didn’t really listen to the flight attendants’ instructions, did you?

2. Anger

So anger didn’t really come until I was twenty.  (This is a surprise when we consider that I was stuck in an airport for three days during my first plane trip. However, when you’re fourteen and going on your first plane trip, you’re never really stuck anywhere.)

At twenty, I had a glamorous view of life in the air.  Last time I flew, I had matching capris and tennies. This time though. This time I would fly in style. I’d probably be asked to model the plane, I’d be so beautiful. (I don’t think I understood that planes are different than designer clothes.) I dressed up, complete with heeled shoes that were difficult to get on and off in security (and therefore made everyone hate me).

I boarded the plane, and no one else dressed up. No one would ever be dressed up. In fact, the lady walking through the airport in heels is a beacon of inexperience blinking at anyone who looks at her feet.

Why aren’t people dressed up?  Why isn’t flying this glamorous thing?  Anger.  So much anger.

3. Bargaining

Okay, okay. So the dressing up thing didn’t work out.

How about I just meet someone really great on the plane, huh? Like, obviously he’ll be my soulmate and we’ll live happily ever after, and I’ll never mention the dressing up thing again.

Be careful with this stage. This is how you end up making a birthday card out of a barf bag for a semi-cute, semi-smart, full-on-socially-awkward young man that you will (hopefully) never meet again in your life. True story.

(I should mention that some people really do fall in love on planes. Jill says so, and I believe her wholeheartedly. Yet, I have to let this stage go. I just have to, or I will know too much about the correct way to fold a barf bag.)

4. Depression

This happens when you’ve full-on given up on flying.

For the longest time I had the incredible ability to wait just long enough for everyone in my row to be seated for takeoff before I fell asleep for the ENTIRE flight.  It was a thing to behold.

I wore sweatpants and mismatched socks (if any socks), and I didn’t shower beforehand. Sometimes I’d bring massive amounts of smelly food to eat (because the whole cabin was going to smell terrible soon enough), and I didn’t even bother trying to say “hello” to the people next to me.

It was kind of a sad stage, really.

5. Acceptance

This is the healthy stage of flying (I think). This is where I’m finally at.

In this stage, you make chit-chat with the individuals around you, but you aren’t offended when they don’t want to talk (and you don’t go overboard and make them a barf bag card when they do).

In this stage you do a lot of reading on planes. You do a lot of laughing and crying on planes. I read Hoosier John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars on a plane. Yikes. Talk about giggling hysterically and then sobbing hysterically as I was literally 🙂 wedged between two strangers. But that’s okay because that’s flying.

That putrid smell wafting through? That’s flying, too. So are the delays. So are the missing bags. So are the incredibly intimate moments of falling in love with a book while strangers surround you. That’s flying. Heck, that’s life. And in three hours, you’ll be home, and that’s magical.

big sur adventure

Last weekend was an adventure. Okay, okay, every weekend is an adventure, but last weekend was a really BIG, SURreal adventure.  See what I did there?

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to go to a super sweet writer’s conference in Big Sur.  The experience was magical and whimsical and cold and full of laughs and packed with complete freakouts.

Let me break it down for you.

Friday

Jill drives us from Malibu to Big Sur.  We pass a zebra farm (with an ocean view).  Why not?

photo(11)

We get ready in the bathroom of the lodge’s lobby because our room isn’t ready yet. Great.

At the first workshop, my work is torn to shreds.  Overall response: “Cute idea, but terrible execution.”

I sulk.

I attempt to start a fire.  Please see Jill’s post for The Rest of The Story.  (Paul Harvey, I love you!)

I rewrite my first ten pages starting from scratch.

Saturday

Printing issues.  “Just tell him to bring my laptop to the airport. I’m going home.”  I never thought I was this dramatic.

I remember that the world is a magical place full of redwood trees.

photo(10)

I go back to workshop, and my new pages are well-received.  Overall response: “Always write like this.” Will do.

So much coffee.  Not enough water.

I am on top of the world, and so is the entirety of FAC (First Authors Club).  We sing ROAR with more passion than anyone ever singing a Katy Perry song should.

We eat giant burgers really fast.  “My stomach. I don’t know what’s happening in there.”

Sunday

Bathroom issues.

“Jill, I want to be honest with you. I went to the bathroom. Some things happened. I opened a window.”

20 mins later in the lobby.

Me: “I wouldn’t use the left stall if I were you. Terrible things have occurred.”

Jill: “Was it you again?”

I find out the secret to perfect eyebrows. I will not share this information. wahahaha

FAC shares big (sur) hugs.  So many Big Sur puns out there…

We kick off the drive back with 30 minutes of laughing, screaming, and singing loudly.  It’s a total manic blackout.  I’m just happy we survived.

Overall Experience

I’m so thankful to have Jill and Katie, two brilliant, amazing writers and friends.  I’m so thankful that I write and that what I write has a place in the world.  I’m so thankful I went to Big Sur.

Oh, and I’m so thankful for you… and zebra farms.