"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Open Arms

Not In That Way

practice helps everything:

Monday, July 28, 2014

smitten kitten

this post-breakup life has been one surprise after another. thankfully, things are tending towards the upswing.

let me walk you through the stages of post-breakup grief as i experienced them:

  1. denial (refusing to accept what had happened, pretending that twisted relationship was worth saving)
  2. bargaining (trying to accept blame for more than i was responsible for, trying to change to make him happy, trying to do more than it was in my power to do and do it for the both of us since he was unwilling to make any effort)
  3. denial II (saving mementos, pretending like things would magically return to a better place again)
  4. depression (so much crying and wallowing)
  5. anger (vile hatred for someone you thought you knew, who promised they would never hurt you, who could treat you like detritus and discard you once he was done with you and you weren't satisfying his purposes any more)
  6. anger II (seeing your ex-partner wantonly posting pictures of him going camping with a woman, who you suspect was the one he said "he [is] interested in" when he broke up with you... this hurts because: 1. you always wanted to go camping together and you used to talk about it, 2. he brings up the camping trip he planned and you never went on as a pivotal moment in your relationship, 3. it's been how many fucking DAYS since we broke up?! 4. let's be honest, it hurts the most because it looks like he is just fine and moving on so much quicker than you expected him to and the fact he's posting it on facebook has a smidgen of spitefulness to it.)
  7. acceptance (you remove him from your friends list in facebook and put him in "acquaintances", block his news feed posts, and remove facebook entirely from your phone. you stop feeling angry and feel a bit sorry that he is so quickly moving on to another woman... you think for a moment about them getting married and having babies and feel the rage rise in your stomach but let it pass because you realize "better her than me" and that you are lucky you got away from that dick bag. you remove him from your phone, you delete his emails, you take all the pictures out of their frames and save them in a box to burn at a later date.)
  8. survival mode (clawing my way out of a funk like my life depended on it (it kinda does). applying to jobs like crazy, going to the gym and getting into fighting shape, learning uke and singing until my heart feels happy again, reaching out to friends to buoy me, branching out and meeting new people, consuming literature, news, movies and music, cooking by myself, cleaning furiously, gradually putting all the pieces of my life back together more whole and complete than before. reclaiming my life for myself.)
  9. confidence boosting (i didn't realize until after our relationship ended how unhealthy and destructive it was, for my self-esteem, my sense of purpose in life, my sense of self, and my relationships with other people. now that i have, as my dad would say, "cut that cancer out of my life," all the energy i once spent making sure Ben was happy has turned towards making sure i am actually happy. i'm doing things i love again and not worried about being judged for it. i'm finding space to express myself and be happy and meet people without worrying about how to explain it later to someone else. i'm living my life as me rather than as being defined as "Ben's partner." i'm talking to people again and having conversations i care about, rather than trying to exist in a context and parameters dictated down to me by Ben's circumstances. i am meeting so many good people who were previously hidden from me because i was 1. too afraid/not allowed to talk to them; 2. prevented from meeting them because Ben's and my life never allowed for me to grow and reach out to communities i cared about. post-Ben life has seen a wealth of wonderful people, rekindled friendships that had been starved of attention, new friendships that were allowed to flourish once Ben was no longer a hindrance, and most surprisingly of all, a flurry of new romantic encounters that i never would have had the opportunity to explore while tethered to an extremely jealous and possessive but at the same time noncommittal jerk. now that my confidence is back up and i'm happy and free to do what i want, i have seen the difference it makes in my ability to meet people. hopefully it helps me meet people who i want to be around and maybe eventually, help me find someone to love who deserves everything i have to give and will give equally in return.)
  10. adventuring (once i rebuild my confidence, which will likely take a long, long time, i hope to challenge myself to go outside my comfort zone and push myself to pursue the life i want, to live without regrets, to live and love furiously)
i'm at the 9th/10th stage right now, i think. the last few weeks i've been making efforts to forget about ben and whatever residual guilt/responsibility i feel. it had been so hard for me to even talk to a guy when we were dating, out of guilt and fear of ben being upset, that dating post-Ben has been an exceptional mental/emotional challenge. even meeting up with a guy just to talk and share food felt scandalous. 

this past weekend i made huge strides in that i flew out to Madison, WI on a whim to meet a guy i started talking to through the internet! OkCupid of all places! craziness! he and i started talking because we both used to be teachers and he works at the company i am currently considering a job with. we somehow really hit it off and he offered to buy my plane ticket out to Madison. if that wasn't crazy enough, i agreed to do it, which is totally unlike me. we spent the weekend together, getting to know each other. he's totally unlike anyone i've ever dated (younger, athletic, my height (ok, a little taller), clean (like, seriously, his place was spotless!), a former business major, has a cute Midwestern accent, totally charismatic and sweet (he can sing! Justin Timberlake songs! swoon!), and really, really into me). we shared desserts the night i got in after he picked me up from the airport, walked around Madison holding hands (i want to pause here for a moment just to illustrate the crazy levels of Stockholm Syndrome i had going on: even holding hands, months after Ben and i have broken up, felt WRONG. just touching another person's hand still felt like i was doing something shameful. that is the ridiculous degree to which i had programmed it into my head that i was Ben's possession, that i belonged to him, that being with other people was an act of betrayal. thankfully, i got over it, but come on, how insane is that!??), went to the farmer's market to buy food to make later that night, looked at apartments for my move, went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and saw the butterflies, made dinner together and watched a movie, had brunch, went mini-golfing (where i beat him in the first half of the course, even hitting a hole-in-one on the obligatory windmill hole), bought pots and soil and repotted his plants for his office, went out for a "fancy" date on State Street and went back to his place to fall asleep and wake up early, he held my hand while he drove me to the airport before going to work. 

it was a crazy weekend on so many levels, but the weirdest thing for me to understand is how... good it felt. to be with someone new, exciting, and excited (by me!) and start over. granted, there were a lot of difficult moments when i felt my scars exposed, when i felt guilty or afraid or uncomfortable or sad. there were times when i asked myself what i was doing, when i questioned my motives and commitment, when i questioned his. but to be able to enter into a new situation with another person and be aware of the good that could be, the bad that was, and embrace the opportunity to experience something new was... liberating. i felt like it finally allowed me to shake off the shackles of that last relationship and enter into life with a mind open to being better to myself.

i don't know what the likelihood of that encounter becoming something more is. we may never see each other again. but we shared a weekend together and we were good and we were kind. that is the weird/magical thing i need to constantly have reaffirmed to me: that total strangers can be extremely good to each other. that's what makes love seem so beautiful to me: it turns two total strangers into best friends and partners for life. i don't know what will happen with my friend in Madison, but the fact that we met randomly through the internet and then managed to spend a whole weekend together and were happy doing so endears me so much to the idea of keeping your heart open to anyone you may meet. i no longer fear being alone or never finding another companion who will make me happy. those people abound if you are open to finding them and if your heart is open and courageous enough to be happy. i held onto Ben longer than i should have because i feared i would never be able to find someone else. i never should have let him put me in cages. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


"you just have to cut out all the bad stuff from your life. [the bad people in your life are] like a cancer. cut it out so the rest of you can thrive."
-my dad, giving me post-breakup advice. 
he is so smart, and so so right.

he advised me to get rid of everything that would remind me of Ben and never look back. focus on looking ahead and getting back to happy. he's right. Ben was a soul-sucking cancer. working my way towards healing and beating this thing. i will be a survivor.

Moon River

this is one of my and my mom's favorite songs. happy to add it to my growing repertoire.

p.s. i've noticed that YouTube has flagged some of my videos as "matching third party content" and thus as possible copyright infringement... which is kinduva compliment... i must be doing ok if they can at least id the song i'm playing, right?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

begin again

i watched the film Begin Again today with a good friend and found it to be a perfect movie for right now. the protagonist, played by Keira Knightley, was recently dumped by her boyfriend (for another woman) and she finds herself meeting great people and making music and finding her way out of an unhealthy relationship and towards happiness again. obviously, this resonated with me. plus, i could see myself in Keira's character, right down to the wardrobe (though i wish i sang and looked half as beautiful as she does, sheesh!)

a lot of that film seemed like an echo of my life right now... Ben recently dumped me and though he blames me for all of it, he has started dating another woman pretty much immediately after we ended our 7 year relationship and 3-year engagement... so, it doesn't feel like it was my fault entirely. as my friends observed, it looked like he was grasping for excuses so he wouldn't look like a bad guy. jerk face.

he has also grown a really big ridiculous-looking beard, an ongoing joke in the movie. (what is it with guys i date always growing big gnarly beards after splitting up with me? trying to prove they are "men" instead of cowardly boys? good luck with that.)

and though i'm not the talented singer-songwriter Keira portrays in the film, i've taken up singing and playing instruments as a very committed form of therapy. it has honestly helped me through a lot of the heartbreak in a way i can't really understand... i've always enjoyed singing but have been too shy or afraid to do it very publicly. and singing with Ben always felt weird and aggravating, probably because we could never find the same notes, were always off-tune with each other, and disagreed on rhythm and tone, etc. now that i'm a solo act in more ways than one, it's been liberating and empowering to find my voice, to make music on my own, and to put it all out there on the internet for anyone to find. at first i was scared to be laughed at or criticized, but now i'm ok even with sharing it. take me as i am.

the last few weeks i've slowly worked my confidence back up and feel better than i've felt in years... i realize now that the relationship i was in was unhealthy and terrible for my confidence, my sense of self, my place in the world. i have always been someone driven by feeling happy and excited about life and sharing that outwardly and making others feel that excitement. Ben was never like that, and rather than reflect back positive energy he would get irritated and upset and do what he could to break me down. in yoga class this past Christmas, i remember someone read this quote by Marianne Williamson, which resonated with me so much because i felt it was being spoken about my life at the time:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? ... Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. ... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
i remember wanting to share that quote with Ben to help me articulate how i felt, but didn't out of fear of being ridiculed or having it become an argument. when i look back over the scraps from my life that i've preserved, i'm struck by how happy and big everything was, and i remember how much hope and joy i exuded in every aspect of my life. it has been a long time since i've felt that and i think i realize now this is why i have been so out of sorts, unhappy, unknowingly depressed. i've felt crushed under the constrictions placed on me by a relationship that wouldn't allow my happiness to exist without a sense of it being wrong to feel so happy.

i have a quote from one of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs framed by the door in my apartment, "It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive." and i firmly believe that. i actually believe that being happy and grateful for life, living in a way that is exuberant and glimmering and glorious can be revolutionary in its own way. there is so much wrong with the world, yes, but there is also so much to be grateful for, and sharing some joy should not be seen as a selfish or childish thing but an aspiration. i spent so much of my life the last 7 years shrinking from what i was capable of because i felt squashed by Ben's judgment or inability to keep up. well, no more.

in the past week or more, i have met new people, all of whom inspire me to be a better, happier person. to laugh more, to smile at the sheer joy of being, to talk with strangers and learn their stories, to make connections, to move beyond fear and embrace courageous joy. so much of the world seems to have opened up to me again, just as i thought i had lost so much... it's amazing that in a time when i thought i couldn't possibly lose any more (my job, my love, my health for a brief time), i regained the best thing of all: my sense of self. being alone has been a great gift because i've learned to remake myself into the person i want to be, which apparently is someone who will never be alone because i will have friends wherever i go when i am happy.

so yes, let us begin again (and forget about the asshole bearded boyfriends).

Wild Horses

a new one. i'm pretty much at a rate of one new song every other day. a great feeling!

Friday, July 18, 2014

remembering who you are

one reason i'm glad i kept a blog, and have maintained a healthy web presence (despite how embarrassing it can be when some ppl discover it) is that it helps to remind me of who i am when i forget.

recent events have left me feeling like i've lost sight of who i am and what i'm capable of. finding pieces of myself preserved on the internet have been like a map i made for myself to find a way back to where i belong.

i once was a kid without any fear, with a lot of dreams, a good deal of spunk, and a genuinely good heart who, without pretense or illusions of grandeur, put it all out there on the web for anyone to see. before the anxiety and self-consciousness set in, before the neuroses of adulthood and the need to manicure my web presence became a professional concern, there was stuff like this:

Demon Host

not sure what this song is about... the lyrics are a bit creepy, but i was watching Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley last night (highly recommended!) and this song caught my ear. (it's also what inspired me to try out Skinny Love by Bon Iver).

hope y'all enjoy it. and hope my raspy voice disappears soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Skinny Love

another take, this time in a lower octave:

a woman in crisis

i have not made many stupid, spontaneous decisions in my life.

but in the last two days i have made two extremely uncharacteristic, insanely stupid, totally crazy decisions. old me is looking at this current me, shaking her head and judging her harshly for putting herself at risk, for taking so many chances, for being so foolhardy with things like her body, her heart, her dignity, her sense of self-worth, her sense of hope. i feel so alarmed by this person i am becoming.

all in an effort to try to forget this consuming sadness that creeps over me more and more each day.

so much energy spent to lose myself in small moments where i don't remember how sad and lost i feel. but then i emerge from those moments feeling even shittier and more aware of everything, a sinking hole i will never emerge from as each day brings new depths to this despair.


i know that some of this is due, in large part, to the fact that facebook has made it perpetually impossible to avoid seeing Ben's stupid face on my computer every day, particularly since he has taken to cavorting with women and friends of ours/mine/his so that i'm attacked from multiple angles, multiple times a day and reminded: he is moving on, he is seeing other people, you are a forgotten memory to him, he is happy and you are not.

these daily attacks on my fragile sense of recovery have had the following effects: profuse sweating, a nauseous feeling that rises from the bottom of my stomach and wraps around my heart and causes my heart to pound so hard i think it might kill me, a swimming dizziness in my head that i can only explain as all the tears that won't come out drowning my brain... i feel like i'm being torn down the middle, my skin ripped open and my insides turned to dust and tossed to the wind... like i'm being erased, that everything i cared so much about for the last 7 years mattered to no one but me, that i lived a silly dream and as i get closer to waking up from it more and more details are falling away, unable to be recovered.

Monday, July 14, 2014

get with the program!

of all the frustrating things to be upset about post-breakup, here's one i never expected:

my phone must have an algorithm for frequently used words, because every time i type "been" it auto-inserts "Ben" instead. a source of endless daily sadness. if i can stop myself from thinking about him, my phone will unforgivingly, unfailingly remind me when i least need it.

foiled by technology, again!

Friday, July 11, 2014

the world forgetting by the world forgot

i tried to avoid watching eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, but couldn't help myself. Watching little clips of it on YouTube, bawling my eyes out, which hurts extra much because I was in a bike accident today, flipped over my handle bars because I only got a set of front brakes, and hit my eye socket real hard on the handle bar on my way down.
Watching clips made me realize the process of forgetting, viciously forcing my brain to try to forget how much this hurts, trying to forget how angry and sad I feel in the wake of things. I realized the process has begun, we are forgotten to each other. Memories pushed away. It made me so sad, the thought of all these stories we piled up over the years, now disappeared to where? Two strangers who fell in love, now strangers again. Worse than strangers, because we are actively purposefully trying to remove ourselves from each other. It feels like killing someone, removing the evidence of their existence, the act of forgetting them like stabbing them in the heart until their heart stops and you can make them disappear.
I'm lying in bed crying, my throat sore from a cold, my head throbbing from being bonked. I can't help thinking for a moment I'm back in L.A., in our old apartment, Ben lying next to me in the dark, comforting me thru all the pain. Remembering how it felt to have all that pain and aching washed away from you by someone you loved, who loved you. How we once were that for each other.
I made the mistake of calling him to try to tell him this, how I'm scared of losing all of it, of letting go of the happy memories, because so much of life is tied up with it. Days spent on the beach, by the sea, in the sun, so many memories of being happy and young and feeling unafraid. I'm afraid to forget completely, even though I feel it happening. I want to forget, but am scared to lose it all.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

singing in the rain

it's been storming a lot the last few days. trees torn out by the roots all over town.

i've unfortunately been caught outside during every single one of these storms. i can't seem to learn my lesson, with relationships or with the weather. i'm stubborn, i do what i want.

i've been getting back into music again, listening to a lot of really great records, bought some new stuff at a used vinyl shop before the torrential downpour, and playing some music myself. trying to pass the time productively while i figure out next steps. the best part of this is that it reminds me i love creating things and really enjoy making music. i haven't done much of that lately... i guess one thing i refused to admit to myself was that i really hated ben's singing... boy couldn't sing a note in tune to save his life. would literally make me cringe. he was great at guitar, but had no rhythm. (sorry, cruel words, but the guy's a jerk. and his singing really is awful). so my singing is a little shaky from lack of practice, but it's nice to find a voice again and the space to let it out. i've been playing so much ukulele/guitar that my left fingertips have completely calloused over and turned numb. never has not feeling felt so good. if only i could say the same for my heart.

hope you enjoy listening as much as i enjoyed learning them.

a Rihanna cover on the ukulele:

and if you love Sam Cooke as much as i do, watch an improved rendition below!

Stay With Me

another entry in my growing ukulele/guitar repertoire: a cover of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me"

if you're not familiar with Sam Smith, he's great. his cover of Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know" is so heartwrenchingly good that i feel compelled to post it here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

emotional archaeology

i've been slowly curating a cheering up, emotionally cathartic, half dance/half trance playlist to help me thru the stormy confusion of feelings i'm in. and today i decided i'd share it, since good music is always in need of sharing. and i can't think of anything that would make me happier right now than having others listening to this with me and having little secret/not-so-secret angry happy dance parties across the globe together.

the title of this ever-growing playlist is "cruel summer." (because what is crueller than surviving the winter and making it to summer and then having your best friend/partner leave you on a whim... summer should be for life and exploring and adventure and he ripped a hole in my sail. spending the days depressed and crying inside when the sun is so bright and hopeful outside... that is cruel existence in its real-est).

the playlist was first named "this moment," but i realized that "this" moment was always changing and i shouldn't confine myself to living in "this" moment forever. this sadness will fade, this anger will pass, i will grow out of it and the music will change to fit new moods, and the playlist, like emotional artifacts, will chart my progress. emotional archaeology. i will come back to this one day and laugh at how far i've come.

already i see the way this playlist builds a story of the last few months. sadness in the beginning, a begging feeling of preservation, some moments of denial that seeped into anger, easing now into acceptance and filling the gaps with a certain strength that comes from knowing everything will be alright, you're better without him.

"falling swiftly thru layers of memory, drowning in and out of love"

defying gravity

nothing makes me feel more empowered than doing what seems physically impossible. no better way to remind yourself of your inner strength than mastering an arm balance.

get into this from eagle pose to give yourself an extra boost of confidence.

Monday, July 07, 2014

life is too short to waste any more of it on you

i finally told my parents about what happened. they were amazingly supportive, clear-headed and wise. i don't know why i expected any differently.

the best advice they could have given me was this: life is too short to be unhappy and life is too precious to let bad people break you down and make you feel less worthy of happiness than you are. forget it like a bad dream and move on. you owe it to yourself to fight for what's yours, for the happiness you deserve.

god, i love them.

and they are so right. onward! upward! the past is behind me and i'm not looking back.

all summer long