Monday, May 27, 2013

Fear is like a lost spider

In the last couple of weeks my husband and I came to the conclusion that we have to stay in Illinois for another year. Don't worry, it's for a good reason--he's getting promoted! In fact, he's getting one promotion in about 2 weeks, and they want to give him another by the end of July. We're hoping that by December he'll be the GM Apprentice (I know, fancy, huh?). Things are looking up in that regard.

However, with the need to stay, also comes the realization that we will be staying in this apartment. We could move, yes. But nothing else is affordable, since we now have the dog. It's also more beneficial to just stay here and not pay for a moving truck, etc. In general, I'm pretty content living here. The neighbor upstairs is nice (when his girlfriend isn't yelling at him) and the neighbors to our left are nice (even with a crying baby) and the people to our right are probably awesome because A. the lady is in the military and always says hello and B. the guy plays the guitar and I spend my mornings trying to figure out what song he's practicing.

We live on the ground floor, so there's no one under us to bother or worry about. According to this blog from Apartment Therapy, living on the ground floor is glorious and peaceful and sort of pretentious. (Leads into a garden. Ha. I've got a runoff pond and geese, does that count?) But according to this other blog my apartment is also a dangerous place to live, and I should be wary and afraid of pretty much everything, and consult my local crime prevention officer.

While they suggest I buy a safe for all my furs and expensive jewelry, my only real complaint about living on the ground floor is the amount of creatures that inhabit my walls. That's right, I'm talking about spiders. 

About a year ago when we first moved in, I encountered at least two spiders every day. They were not small. They were usually nickel-sized. One was literally (and I promise I'm not exaggerating) the size of my palm, and lived in the bathroom for two days. That was July. We're not quite in July yet, or that intense heat, but I'm already starting to find a spider or bug on a daily basis. If you know me, then you understand my fear of spiders. If you don't know me, I'm sure you know SOMEONE who gets chills just thinking about them. When I have to kill a spider my entire body gets goosebumps and I angrily attack it, sometimes with shrieking and flailing, in order to scare the crap out of the little bug before I end its life. 

Small spiders are easily dealt with, if I act in the manners mentioned above. It's the big ones, or the high-up ones, that give me seizures of panic. When I find a spider I can't immediately vanquish, I call my husband in, and he smacks it with his shoe. (Thus, our walls are covered with size-12 shoe prints.) But the worst thing, the very worst and most horrible circumstance, is when I am home alone and I find a gargantuan spider I can't reach and then it DISAPPEARS. 

Then I have a problem. Because on one hand, I'm glad it's gone. But on the other hand, now it could be anywhere, and might jump out at me. (A spider once crawled out of my computer while I was typing. I almost died.) A lost spider is the pinnacle of fear because now there is anticipation, now there is fearful and anxious waiting for the spider to reappear, only to cause you more fear at its return.

And that, my friends, is the point I really want to drive home. Fear is like this in all its forms. Whatever you're afraid of, you hate to see it. But if it leaves without explanation, it takes a certain strength not to be afraid of its return. It takes willpower to not be in perpetual anxiety that the thing you most fear will suddenly reappear. You have to learn not to wait for it, not to expect it around every corner or underneath the space bar or shift key. 

I lost a spider this morning. It was there all day yesterday, and now it's gone. It was above my desk. In the past I probably would have avoided my desk all day in order to stay away from the beast. Instead, I chose to organize my desk, and write a blog, and hope that if that sucker appears I have something handy to smack him with. But I'm not waiting for it. Honestly, I hope it just went back outside. I don't feel like being afraid of it today.

Like spiders, I was afraid, for a long time, that my husband would never find a job that's worthwhile. I feared we would be stuck in Illinois for an undetermined amount of time and he would move from job to job, and we would be miserable. But that's not the way it's happening. In fact, quite the opposite. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is that he goes to work, has a good day, and has mostly good things to say when he's done. He works with people who support him and believe in him. Sure, things could go sour. Nothing is permanent. People can change. But I don't have to sit here and worry that it's too good to be true.

When the thing you fear is gone, just let it go. 

Friday, May 24, 2013


I have trouble with time, and don't know what to do with my life right now. Perhaps I've mentioned it before, but I'll mention it again. I've tried to become a tutor, or a babysitter, but everyone who wants to hire me for babysitting or tutoring also wants me to clean their dishes and wash their clothes.

I mentioned this to a woman at church last Sunday, thinking she would laugh, and instead she said, "Oh! I just hire someone else to do that, two days a week, you know?" And I laughed, very uncomfortably. Yeah, I totally understand that, especially since I haven't done laundry in a month, and I buy my dish soap at the dollar store. But yes, I find myself completely relating to your life. 

Anyways. I do have one semi-tutoring job, which pays $8 an hour, and is with a dear friend. The company is good, and I actually learn a lot myself in the process because the "tutoring" involves reading her counseling textbooks. This month's class is about parenting, so we're reading through a "how to parent" book. It's totally dry and often nonsense, or obvious. For example: Three pages of tiny print explaining that financial hardship causes stress on children, and parents are oblivious to it. Really? Financial hardship is hard on the WHOLE family? I never knew. 

In the vast void of nothing that is my life post-graduation, I have also begun seeking housewife-y activities and Pinterest adventures. I've spent my free time during the last few weeks organizing my desk. (I even bought multicolored file folders. Imagine that.) I also went out and secretly bought bacon and donuts this morning to surprise my husband, although he woke up before I finished cooking the bacon. And today I'm going to paint the interior of a bookshelf with paint I found in the clearance paint section at Walmart. Yep. I feel awesome.

So there you go. I'm gonna Do-It-Yourself myself into a crazy, painted stupor. And then I'll probably just take a nap, or watch The Cosby Show on Hulu, because that's pretty awesome as too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One Sky

Earlier I was having a conversation with my husband about my birthday. The conversation was mostly about how last year's celebration was anticlimactic. My birthday was actually on the first day of student teaching, blah blah blah, but, that's all beside the point. What I'm really trying to examine here is that I'm going to be a quarter of a century old in about three months.

That's a pretty long time for someone who remembers practically everything. I remember my fourth birthday. That means I have approximately 20 years of memory stored in here. It also means I have a lot of loss in there. My mother told me (when I was about sixteen or seventeen) that I "carry my hurts around with me, and never let them go." Maybe I do. Maybe I don't feel bad about it. It's lead to a lot of excellent writing, eh? Yeah.

I'll be a little honest, and it might seem like "a lot" honest since this is a mostly unread blog, and--who cares if I'm honest, right? Well. I've had my fair share of deep hurts in my relatively short life. When I choose to love something, I love big, I love with all I've got, I love so much that it makes me nervous. I'm not just talking about high school boyfriends (of which I only had one, and I loved him relatively quietly) or pets. I'm talking about things you wouldn't even notice unless you asked me. I love The Book Thief by Markus Zusak so intensely that I read it at least once a year and I think about it almost daily. I have a favorite memory, of laying beneath a willow tree just a few weeks before I started college, and as simple as that moment was I want to go back there, every time I am overwhelmed or anxious.

And I have  had friends that were so ingrained into my daily life that I still remember them often, and then I remember that they won't speak to me, and I walk around all day wondering what could have happened and imagining myself talking to them and trying to figure out how those conversations would go. I don't talk about this to very many people. They think I'm being dramatic. My brother says that I "worry" about it.

It never occurs to other people that I actually love others so much that it hurts me to think about the fact that I've lost them. The smallest things are reminders of those best friends I had, reminders that something went wrong. There are people I've known that literally now refuse to speak to me, and do not acknowledge our friendship, and I have no idea why. No conflict occurred. We didn't fight. Our mutual acquaintances didn't fight. I just woke up one day and these people were no longer connected to me online, and they won't answer my phone calls. And that might sound dramatic, it might be overly sentimental, but nobody likes to be rejected, especially if they don't know why.

I have this other friend, whom I still occasionally speak to, and used to comfort me by reminding me that no matter how far apart we are we're still under the same moon. It was easier to believe when I was in the same timezone as all those old friends. Now I feel as if time and distance have caused some irreparable damage, and it doesn't matter what I say, the connection is just lost. We could be sitting under the same roof and these people wouldn't talk to me. Another 25 years might go by and I could see them in a church at someone's wedding, and they would just scowl, or look the other way.

Most of the time, this blog is about things you find. But tonight I just feel loss. I've lost something and it's likely there's no way of finding it.

I can't accurately say how I feel, and neither will this poem, but it's a start.

One Transparent Sky - by Rumi

Lovers think they are looking for each other,
but there is only one search.

Wandering this world is wandering that,
both inside one transparent sky.
In here there is no dogma and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself,
not what he said or did about the future.
Forget the future. I would worship someone
who could do that.

On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say, There is nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms and take hold
the cloth of your clothes with both hands.
The cure for pain is in the pain.

Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both,
you do not belong with us.

When someone gets lost, is not here,
he must be inside us. There is no place like that
anywhere in the world.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ten Nonsensical Days

As I sit here, ready to write, it occurs to me that ten days have passed since I last blogged. Ten days filled with walks in the woods and illness and paper-writing and black coffee and a glorious lack of final exams. And naps. Many naps.

On Friday the 3rd I turned in the final paper of my college career. (That is, a real paper, not a reflection.) Actually, my husband turned it in for me. I intended on staying up most of the night finishing it. So I posted this picture.
Diligently, and with my (awesome) cup of black coffee, I worked until about 3:00 am. A dizzying tiredness then forced me to sleep, but I swore to be back up in three hours. Two hours into my "night nap" I got sick. Achy, nauseous sick. I got up at 7:00 am, despite the overwhelming desire to throw up (I am actually incapable of doing so), and spent the next four hours finishing my paper. I took frequent breaks to walk around and growl like a bear, because somehow that made me feel better. Once finished, my husband drove to the school to turn in my paper, and I stayed sick for the next two days.

On Monday I went to Starbucks with my homegirl Emily, and we decorated tote bags.

Also on Monday I downloaded a bunch of free music from Amazon. My favorite 2-volume album is linked below, so you can enjoy it as much as I do.
The Power of Independence, Volume 1.
The Nettwerk Spring Music Samper 2013 is pretty awesome too. (and also free!)

On Tuesday Emily and I went to TWO Forest Preserves (because in the Midwest you have to preserve the forest. They can't exist on their own. Apparently.) Here are a few of the many photos I took. 

  Chunky bark.

 Drop-dead gorgeous.

 Because no one appreciates dandelions.
Bright blossoms.

 Nap in the grass.
Just plain awesome.    

On Wednesday I actually had nothing to do, so I stayed home and slept and rested in preparation for the weekend. Thursday I met with a friend briefly, went to my final class of college ever (which included no homework or classwork, just watching others' presentations) and then tried (unsuccessfully) to find a dress for graduation. Friday I spent many hours in commencement rehearsal.

At long last, after 5 years of hard work, sleepless nights, and endless amounts of paper, Saturday came. I sat through lengthy speeches and lovely musical performances. I (barely) held it together, knowing that my parents couldn't be there. I laughed when someone threw beach balls into the section of graduates and then the coordinator, quite flustered, had to retrieve them, and gave us all a shaming frown. And then I walked across that stage, took my diploma cover from the dean-of-something (who was chewing gum the whole ceremony), shook hands with President Williford, and sat back down with the biggest smile on my face. I still somehow managed not to cry. 

Sorry, no hat. It was too windy.

So there you have it. The last ten days of my life. I don't know how I managed to fit in so many things, but I did. I think I made up for it by sleeping in until 10:30 am today. And now I'm off to find something to clean, or maybe just some more coffee.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Visit to an Introduction

A few years back, when I first began this blog, I was an unmarried woman (not even an engaged woman) with large ideas and vast ideals. I took myself a little too seriously sometimes, but I was also pretty silly. None of that has really changed. The adventure of marriage has only added to my unstable sense of... being grounded. I'm definitely not that.

The other thing that has not changed is this: the initial purpose of this blog was to share discoveries--or losses. Because it's called The Other Sock. We all know that sock--the sock without a partner, alone in a basket on the shelf in the laundry room, waiting for its mate who has supposedly gone into the dryer and never returned. There is something desperately tragic about a lonely sock and yet pathetically hopeful because you know, you KNOW, that the missing sock has to be somewhere. It can't just disappear. Growing up, those lonely socks actually were kept in a basket on a shelf in the laundry room, because my mother hoped to someday find their mates. Sometimes she did. Most often she didn't.

But imagine, what joy! at finding that misplaced sock. Especially if it's a special sock. (More about my relationship with my mother: she likes to send me seasonal socks.) How sad I am when I lose a sock with Christmas reindeer, or candy corn embroidery, or cute Easter ducklings. And how overjoyed when the long lost partner appears within the cottony depths of a folded bed sheet or a pair of pants.

Maybe it shouldn't be such a big deal. It's just a sock, right? You have lots of other socks. You can just go to the store and buy more. But it's not just about the possession of socks. It's the mystery of the loss, the hollow sense that something is missing and you don't even know how it could have happened. And then you find it, but you don't know how that happened either. The loss is a mystery, but discovery is like redemption.

The Other Sock has always been about the things you lose, and the things you find.

This last month as we celebrated National Poetry Month, with poems in abundance, I lost things and found things. I slowly lost pieces of myself. Other poets would probably agree with that. When you sit down to write a poem, you take out little fragments of your soul and insert them in different puzzles on the paper. They make a pretty picture, but until someone else sees them, they're still yours. You hold your own soul in your hands and you know it is safe, you know that nobody can judge it or steal it. Sharing those pieces on a public place like a blog--even if there aren't a lot of people who read it--is a little bit like losing part of yourself. It's out there now, out in the vast space of the Internet. It's there to be judged or stolen or misread, because people often misread poetry. It's just sitting there, waiting to be misunderstood.

But with that loss, that sacrifice, something else is found: new pieces of yourself. Before, they remained within. All the poems I wrote last month used to be dormant, they used to be just fragments of emotion and feeling and deep thoughts. Now they are substantial. Now they are fully formed and whole. And, they are out in the world, about to cause someone else to feel something, someone else to find something within themselves that might turn into another feeling, another thought, another poem.

With that said, I am going to take a vacation from my blog. Not for long. Maybe a week or so. Graduation is on the 11th and with it come many goodbyes and farewells. I want to focus on being present with my friends and fellow students during these final days of college. I want to finish strong, without wondering what I will have to say to the Internet. The Internet doesn't care, anyways.

So I will see you later. I'm sure I will find something wonderful to write about before I come back.