Anger & How I’m Done With It

Can I tell you something honest? I was really angry yesterday.

You know those days when your heart just feels heavy? It was like I was anxious without being crazy active. I felt tired and sluggish and bleh without actually being sleep-deprived or hungry or any of the easy fixes. I was just mad at the world, and to be honest, I think it’s been building up for a while.

You see, I was supposed to come out to California and immediately shoot up in the world of screenwriting. The whole reason I chose to go for an MFA in Screenwriting and not a JD (shivers), was because I’m supposed to be really good and very successful at this. I’m one of the ones who is supposed to make it.

Yesterday, I was mad that I haven’t shot up. I haven’t made it as a writer yet. Heck. I was just mad about not having any time for writing, let alone not writing that stellar thing that’s going to change it all yet. I was mad about finances and being homesick and my job and everything that doesn’t seem to be the way I want it to be. And then. And then! I got really mad. I was mad at myself for being mad about things like finances. I was mad at myself for not having an inner joy. The cycle!

So I tried to work through this on my way home, and I got a bit better. I sort of turned the volume down on my anger.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I told anger to leave me the f— alone. The thing is, whether it’s for one day or years, I don’t want to be mad. Anger is exhausting. Guilt is crippling. That exhausted, bleh, muddled person? She’s not who I am.

This morning, I did something a little silly. I took the dog walking just before sunrise (during that great time of day where everything’s blue), and I picked up a rock. I imagined that all of my anger pooled down my arm and into that rock. I filled it up with anxiety and hate and guilt, so much guilt. And when I felt like those things weren’t in me anymore, but were instead heavy in my hand, I threw it. Hard.

And I said a prayer. (Multiple prayers were involved in this whole thing.) I reminded myself of who God is. I reminded myself of who I am.

I am vibrant. I am full of energy (and usually have a knee-tapping problem because of it). I am determined and persistent. I am fun and joyful. I am confident.

Most of all, I’m right where I need to be. I’ll get to where I want to be. I’m not worried about that now. I’m done with being angry at myself, for creating a cage of impossibilities. I’m me. I’m a laugher and a writer and a bad dancer and a talker. It’s time for those things. Now. Not when I’ve sold a screenplay. Now. It’s time to live the life I want before I get it.

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Ch-Ch-Changes

 

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(Estelle Getty would like to thank Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for their consideration.)

I don’t like change. Well, sort of.

“Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

Two weeks ago today I finished the last class of my Master’s. The second year kids went out after, and as I looked out on the basket of chips, I realized I don’t want to move on from this. I don’t want to move on from this place, these people, and those chips.

I’ve had a really wonderful last year of grad school. The first was dramatically less wonderful. The chips were always wonderful.

Why did it all go by so fast? What’s going to happen next? How do they make those chips?

I resist almost all forms of change. It’s a bit of a habit.

A week before I left for college my mom said, “You know, you could stay here and go to [local school] for a couple of years.” It wasn’t an unreasonable thing to say. I was following her around the house for weeks, as I claimed to be storing up “bonding time” before I left for a the great big world of college (45 minutes away).

My first year of college was an epic disaster. I made approximately two friends. The way I bonded with said friends was over a game of Scene It? Twilight Edition. (For real.) I also ate peanut butter straight from the jar and watched five seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. When summer came, I was left to see that I had fallen very far from the bright girl who graduated from high school a year earlier. (That’s very dramatic. Let me be clear, that I was still a lovable nerd, but I was hidden under acne and sweatpants.)

The next year I tried really hard to make friends and to eat peanut butter from the jar only on special occassions. I even forced myself to say hello to all the people in my dorm. (Technically, that was my job as a RA.)

Forcing social interactions allowed me to meet good friends. It allowed me to fall in love with college. It wasn’t love at first sight, but sometimes that slow friendship kind of love can be more powerful. And then, I had to leave.

The move to Cali went slightly better than college. No enormous weight gains were had. No severe Grey’s Anatomy stupors were entered. I watched Vampire Diaries instead. (Concerned about my TV choices? Me too.)

And then California got better. It turns out it’s pretty easy to fall in love with 27 miles of coastal beauty, constant sunshine, and friends who share nachos.

Now it’s almost over, and I have to start over again.

I love that opportunity. Starting over means possibility and personal growth. It means finding new favorite bookstores and their forgotten corners. It means new challenges and a new furniture arrangement. Maybe this time I’ll invest in accent pillows! Maybe I’ll have an oven! Maybe I’ll get to park my car at the apartment!

Starting over also means patches of loneliness. It means not knowing where the closest Costco is (for hotdog purposes, obviously).

It means limiting the number of phone calls I make to my family per day.

It means forcing myself to interact with strangers in the desperate hope that some of them could be friends.

I don’t like that plan. I like the people I talk to. I like having conversations that are little shortbread cookies of pleasure in my day. I like laughing without people commenting on how my nose scrunches. (Friends don’t care about nose scrunching.)

It’s funny how sometimes we don’t get what we like. (Though, I would really, really like the throw pillows.)

I talked about being an RA earlier in this post. I can’t say that I was overcome with happiness when I got the position, but I am now overcome with gratitude for that position. It made college for me. It was nothing like the experience I would have imagined for myself. It wasn’t anything I wanted, but it was what I needed.

It’s funny how sometimes we get just what we need. (Throw pillows and good chips are a need. Right?)

I’m counting on that. I’m trusting that I’m going to be led exactly where I need to be. Sure, this next step might not be a step into perfect land. There might be some straight-from-the-jar nights, but maybe this time I’ll upgrade to cookie spread. Maybe this time I’ll binge on Mad Men. Maybe this time I’ll “have fun storming the castle.” Okay, that didn’t make a lot of sense, but I had to bring The Princess Bride back in somehow.

Bikes & Co.

Today was not a great day.

Today, I screamed in my car twice.

I went to the bank three times.

I wished I could have a do-over about 400 times.

Today was supposed to be the day when I went on a run, finished two novels, made my entire apartment shine, read three books, and solved world issues. (This is how informed I am. I say, “world issues.”)

Okay, so I had high expectations, but by noon, I was left with the first four sentence of this blog post.

Maybe today was bad because a lot of emotional, big changes are coming my way. I have a hard time with change. It can be fun and adventurous and what life’s all about, but it is also really, really hard.

Next week, classes are over. In June, I will graduate, and then it’s…

I have no idea.

I could go home to Indiana and do…

I could stay here and…

I could…

I could…

I HAVE NO IDEA!

This is a nerve-wracking time. It can also be depressing. Suddenly, I feel I haven’t learned anything in the past two years/my whole life.

The reality of that thought pounded and beat on me today. I haven’t gotten better. I never get better. I’ll never get better. 

And then, something happened.

My family is into bikes, not in a competitive, spandex way, but in a three-year-olds-without-training-wheels sort of way. Biking was the summer go-to. It was the transportation of choice to ride to the gas station (that often ran out of gas) to buy Bazooka Joe gum. It was the only time our neighbors got angry from kids ruining their yard (which happened to be a short cut on the way to the gas station). It was the most dangerous thing Mom let us do with smallest list of warnings (that still included: wear your helmet, those better not be sandals, stay in the neighborhood, stay with your brothers, stay with your sister, not too fast, don’t be out too long, etc.).

During those summers, I learned how to do quite a few tricks on my bike: the side-saddle, the no-feet, and the classic feet-on-handlebars.

Okay, so I wasn’t doing BMX, but still, I was decent. There was one trick, though. The one I always attempted, but could never do.

Remember that scene in City of Angels where Meg Ryan lifts her arms out while riding her bike (cough and then dies cough)?

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Well, I really wanted to do that. The hand thing! (Not the other thing.)

But I never could. Each summer, I would try and try, but I could only ever do the one-handed, which isn’t impressive at all.

Today, when I was riding my bike back from my car (don’t even get me started on that), I thought I should try the no-hands. There was no way it would work. It had never worked before. But I couldn’t stop thinking, just try.

So I lifted a hand and then the other, and then the bike stayed steady. I put my hands in my lap, and the bike stayed steady. I put my hands out to feel the wind, and the bike stayed steady.

And the most lovely thought entered my head.

I am better at something. 

It wasn’t writing or planning or job-having or anything important. It didn’t make my apartment shine, or fix every (or any) problem in my life. But, there it was.

I got better at something.

Today, I thought I was a big failure who couldn’t have a good day, let alone a good life, but tonight, I know that if I keep going, I might just get the hang of some of these impossible tricks.

Tonight, I know that I’m getting better every time I try. Sometimes I forget that.