breath in, exhale.

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oh my good gracious Laaawwwwd, y’all! I did it. I hit send yesterday. several times.

if this is as far as The Anchor goes (no pun intended but laugh anyway,) I am beyond satisfied. A year ago today I started this project and yesterday I sent it out in to the universe. I have had so many amazing responses to this story and it positively overwhelms me. if all that ever comes out of hitting send is that fleeting moment of accomplishment, I will take that and run with it!

I have to take the time right here and now to thank everyone that has read it, asked about it, expressed interest and excitement. I could sit in this chair and say that it was hard to write and that it took forever, but that just wouldn’t be the truth. the truth is that this book saved my soul. it was the easiest thing to write because it was the actions of my insides turning out in the most positive and productive way possible. I was able to write freely in the pit of my marriage and it freaking pulled me out and saved me. my cracked Mac Book from 2006 is my happy place, regardless of the fact that every time I open it I fear it may never turn back on.

I want to take this time to share with y’all one of my favorite moments in the book, Walter recalling the first time he laid eyes on Bridget and what unfolded afterwards. I’ve toyed with posting the first chapter or the introduction…different things to stir interest but I don’t feel like that’s honest. This excerpt is taken from a single moment – tweaked a bit – that happened in real life, as most of the little moments in the novel are. It still needs light editing, and though it is a short teaser, I hope you enjoy!

**NOTE: If strong language and light drug use offends you, you won’t want to read this. I am currently cutting out several of the f-bombs, but this selection has been untouched for the most part. The spacing is weird, apologies.

I remember the first time I saw her, at Harley’s, like it was yesterday. She came in wearing a yellow shirt and dark jean shorts with white Chuck Taylor’s. I remember this perfectly because she was so tan and the bright colors were outstanding on her skin. Hello-Goodbye by The Beatles was playing on the radio and she was singing along while she waited on her coffee and donuts. Her soft brown hair was down and curly, spilling all over her back and shoulders. I couldn’t see her face at first, but I was definitely checking her out. I mean shit, I was 15, turning 16 and while I’d seen some decent looking girls in this town, none of them looked like that.
She turned around to grab some cream and sugar when we made eye contact. She smiled with her eyes as they met mine. I took her in, like I always have. It was like I’d known her forever, a thousand lifetimes in one instant. My teenage self was noticing that front was even better than the back and definitely liked what he saw. Her face was soft and tan, like it is now. It made her dark green eyes stand out even more; similar, comparative to looking in to a deep forest or something. Her smile was beyond. Not only was it absolutely dentally perfect, it wide and warm, and contagious. She wasn’t as tall then as she is now, but her legs looked long and lean in her shorts. I was drooling. I more than liked the short shorts.
We simultaneously realized we were still smiling at each other when her mom honked the horn and squashed the whole moment. She scooped up the coffees with her hands, tucked the bag of donuts under her arm and zipped out with a loud, “bye y’all!” I didn’t know who she was, but I had to meet her. I’d never seen a smile like that before…eyes and everything. I was starting school soon and couldn’t think of anything else but finding the girl in the yellow shirt.
My records took forever to arrive from my other schools, so I had to sit out two more weeks, anticipation of the Yellow Shirt Girl killing me all the while. My first class at West Orange High was English. The class was reading Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and I was a bit behind, though I’d read the book before. I was thumbing through the pages, nervously trying to figure out what page everyone was on without asking. I was the new kid, which did nothing for my nervousness.
I was contemplating walking up to the front to ask the teacher when she climbed in to the desk next to me. Literally, she climbed. She was wild. Messy. She was, “Bridget Vera Ryland, but my friends call me Bridg. Or Brigitte, if I’m feeling Bardot,” she kinked her eyebrow at me and turned her head sideways, taking her headphones out, assessing my confusion. “And we’re on page 53.” I was baffled. What does that mean, ”feeling Bardot?” I had a suspicion she spoke a different language than me, but I didn’t care. I was going to learn the damn language, I was in. The girl had me, hook, line and sinker; anchors away.
“Hey whoa! Wait! I recognize you…were you eating a chocolate filled donut with a chocolate milk at the counter at Harley’s a few weeks ago?” Oh shit, she was actually talking to me. She remembered me? An observant girl. I couldn’t process any thoughts so I just blurted out, “uhhhh yeah…those are the best donuts I’ve ever had.” I was too stunned to make any sort of interesting conversation. I knew I was blowing it. She just smiled at me and said, “uhhhh yeahhhh, they’re pretty fucking great. What’s your name?”
“I’m Walter Branch, the third.” That is my name, right?
“Well, hi Three. Technicalities, you know,” she rolled her giant green eyes at me. “I just got the new Brand New record. Have you heard it?” I shook my head, marveling at how unexpected I found her. “Come hang out after school and we’ll spin it. I wanna hear your life story. I may write it down. I write everything down, and if I’m not writing it down I’m making mental notes. Just thought you should know.” I just shook my head and smiled. She didn’t know me, but wanted to. Interesting. I knew I was gawking at her, but I could not fathom what kind of girl from a shit town like this knows anything about good music. Obviously, this one. Going to her house after school was a command I was willing to follow, without question.
The entire school day seemed to drag. I was ready to see Bridget again. Is this what the rest of high school was going to be like? Agonizing anticipation every day before and after English class?
“Mom, this is Walt!” she said as we walked in to her house. I’d never seen anything so perfect or fancy. It was out-of-a-magazine amazing.
“Hi, Walter,” Mrs. Rosellen said, hugging me,“We hug in this house.” I hugged back without thinking. It felt like muscle-memory though I’d never met her.
“What are you kids up to?” She addressed this to Bridget with many more questions on her face, a classic Ryland trait I’ve come to know and love. And fear.
“Oh, well…Walt’s new in town so I thought we’d spin some records. He’s going to tell me his whole life story and I’m going to write it down.”
“Of course you are Bridg. The house off of Hibiscus?” A question addressed to me. I stiffened and replied, “Yes ma’am,” adding a nod and smile.
“ROSIE! No questions. That’s my job.” Bridget was so direct with her mom.
“Okay, okay Bridget. Tea? Coffee?” she asked, addressing us both.
“Coffee,” we said, simultaneously. I couldn’t help but grin even though I wanted to control it.
“I’ll bring it out in a little, you kids have fun.”
Bridget led me in to the sun-room, another perfectly arranged room. Dark furniture, with white, blue and grey everything else. Bridget plopped down on the floor and opened one of the cabinets.
“My own personal stash,” she said with a wicked smile. There were so many variations of white when she opened her mouth; I was trying to keep up, but she kept distracting me. She handed me a tiny joint, expertly rolled. “Whoa Bridg,” out of my mouth and natural like I’d known her forever. And also completely honest and shocked because I didn’t expect this at all.
“Are you coooooool, man?” she said, smiling only with the corners of her mouth.
“Dazed and Confused!  That’s the best!” The thing was lit and smoked right down to the tiny filter in no time. We laughed forever at absolutely nothing.
“Gahhhhh!  this record is gold. GOLD!” Bridget was flipping Deja Entendu to the B-side when Mrs. Rosellen came out with our coffees and a tray full of snacks.
“Figured y’all would need a little snack or something with all this ‘rocking out’ going on out here.” Bridget rolled her eyes and stood up.
“Thanks, Rosie.” Bridget kissed her mom and they both giggled; I’d never witnessed anyone being so openly close with a parent.
Hours later I was instructed to call my mom and ask if it was okay to stay for, “supper at the Ryland’s,” and of course my mom agreed. She was thrilled I was making friends here, and it didn’t hurt that it was with a, “Ryland girl.”
I met the rest of the Ryland family that night, Bridget’s dad, Mr. Chuck, and the famously beautiful Ryland sisters: Elizabeth (Liz), Marilyn and Lucille (Lou.) “Rosellen has an obsession with classic beauties, son.” Mr. Ryland seemed thrilled to have another man sitting at his supper table. “I’m constantly surrounded.” We all shared a big laugh together, and I was immediately hypnotized; I’d never seen a family bond like this before. It was contagious and I was welcomed with open arms.
From that day on we were inseparable. We took all the same classes in high school and college (mostly.) We ate supper together almost every single night, rotating houses and families. I was always included in holiday plans, if my family plans allowed it. I traveled with the Rylands. Mr. Chuck and I are fishing buddies and I’m Mrs. Ryland’s unofficial handyman. Roles I am happy to fill as trade for being part of a big family. Please don’t mistake how much I love my own family, I do. I just love the way the Ryland family makes me feel. At the time, my family was still healing from losing my dad, but when Bridget came in to my life, and eventually her family met mine, my mom found a best friend in Mrs. Rosellen; something she desperately needed.
Up til Bridg, I’d only ever had guy friends, who were mostly temporary since we moved frequently. Bridget was my first, all-the-time, every day friend. It was so much more than friendship. It was family, it was love, and it was the best kind. My mom, Genevieve (Gene [pronounced ‘Jenny’] to most), adored Bridget, so much more than any other person I’ve ever brought home. No friend compared to her, no girl ever held a candle; not Tiffany or Savannah or Emma. No girl was ever, “the right girl.” My mom and I shared this opinion, no matter how silently.
Our intense friendship lasted through our remaining years of high school and all through college…until graduation day. So many things about those years stand out in my mind.
I got stung by a whole swarm of bees the summer between high school graduation and freshman year of college. It was awful. I had incredible fevers and was swollen to a monstrous level. I was hideous. And apparently extremely lucky because I’m allergic to fucking bees and that SHIT SUCKED.
Bridget ditched all of her awesome summer plans to hang out with me while I healed from the bee-attack.  We watched movies endlessly for weeks and ate too many cinnamon rolls and drank gallons of coffee. We spent hours in the Ryland sun-room listening to every record by every band we both loved, smoking all kinds of pot and being lazy. Our friendship was rock solid, built on a foundation of coffee drinking, music and family. I’d never been more confident in my relationship to someone else. I depended on her and I knew that was okay, it was mutual. I liked having her around. – Liked? Who am I kidding? I loved having her around and never wanted to stop having her in my life.
I thought endlessly about what it would be like to pursue Bridget, surpassing aware of that face I was in love with her; a fact that everyone in town constantly pointed out when she wasn’t around…or with their eyeballs when she was. My high school love for her was one thing, college was something else entirely different. In high school, it was about how cool she was, so carefree and happy. All the dudes wanted to date her and all the girls wanted to be her best friend.  By the time we reached college, we constantly spoke of the future in reference to each other. Bridget would get jealous of other girls, without coming forth and labeling it jealously. I kept my mouth shut more times than I should have, because I worried that I would never get the validation I wanted from her. Not at this point anyway, she wasn’t ready. It all boiled down to timing, which we never got right.
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Speaking of timing…..

While on this life high yesterday, this awesome wave I am going to ride until I crash, something else happened…

I was riding the high of sending out my first query letter hardcore and knew that the only thing that could elevate this excitement would be quality time with my mat. I’d taken a short practice at lunch with some friends, really feeling the energy from that dose of vitamin D , so I thought, “let’s have a little more.”  I rolled out my mat in my room and started my practice. I did my usual Thursday morning flow (since I treated myself and slept in a little today) when I decided to move in to inversions. I took plow for a few breaths, then shoulder stand; a few breaths there. I rolled down and on to my stomach and thought, “why the hell not? Let’s see if today isn’t the day?” For the last 400 plus days, it has not been the day, but I am nothing if not persistent.

I took a deep breath in and rolled my legs in as far as they would go, on my tiptoes and before knew it….I WAS FLOATING!  I breathed deep and realized I was holding a tripod head stand in the middle of my room, unassisted.  WHAT IN THE ACTUAL…. I was immediately excited and humbled and nervous and everything all at once! I’ve been working on that for at least a year and could never quite get brave enough to let go.

So, I know I’ve posted many things this week. blogs yammering on about the picture in my head, how I’m finally finished with my first novel and sending off first query letter. I’ve been letting go of so many things over the last year, the front-runner being fear.

In the days that have passed this week I feel like I unlocked something, a door maybe, but I really envision a treasure chest; I feel rich in so many things. Whatever it was that I unlocked, whatever secret or key or whatever I found…I want to share it!

This is what I’ve been presented with: whether it be by the ceaselessly amazing faith my family and friends have in me and the support they constantly give or my connection to yoga and desire to practice or writing all the time or playing music too loud…whatever it is in the universe that has brought me to this place of strength, I am thankful for it. Resolution check: I am grateful for the strength I’ve found in 2015.

it is truly remarkable what happens when you allow yourself to be strong, to find strength in yourself and truly let go of fear.

Trust the timing in your life. Things will come when you’re ready to accept them.

to top it all off, all my cardigans and concert tees are clean and hanging up in my color-coded closet. my super OCD hipster non-hipster self is super happy. Wednesday killed it.

life has turned surreal.

to the picture I had in my head: a letter.

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Dear Picture I had in My Head,
I would like to start by saying that this letter will be equal parts happy and sad. It will be a jumbled, rambling sort of letter, containing brutally honest statements and observations; probably a little profanity here and there, either for flair or because I’ve been cursed with a sailor’s tongue; maybe none at all, who knows. I implore you with my words for acceptance of this semi-apology for this last decade of my life.

So far this sounds more like an obituary than an apologetic thank-you letter. I suppose that’s typical.

I have had countless opportunity for self-reflection, especially within this last year, and several things have been laid out for me, extremely plainly. I now feel like it’s time to throw some of this back out in to the universe and see what happens.

I close my eyes and think about my high school graduation day. Was that when it all started? Was that the day I began subconsciously grasping for freedom I didn’t know I wanted? Freedom from expectation, obligation and necessity. Either way, I apologize for placing that pressure on you for precision. I have never, in the last decade of my life or to my limited knowledge ever, been capable of fitting anything in to its appropriate place, myself included. I am thankful for the life experiences I’ve come by, by trying to place a square inside of a circle inside of an octagon. Dearest Picture, I hope you know I wouldn’t trade where I am now for all of those mistakes, not even for a second; those mistakes have added character to my road.

I think those of us, that have been blessed beyond measure to see things differently, the ones that are left-of-center and unashamed to the labeled as such, are often viewed as society’s delinquents. We’re wired peculiarly and to many, we’re constantly throwing off the balance of an already upside down world. We’re responsible for what’s wrong with the world. Why can’t we leave well-enough alone? Well, I’ll tell you….

We’re told from day one that we have to think a certain way, fed copious amounts of, “Sunday school answers,” and expected to absorb, recite, rinse and repeat. I am so not okay with this, and it should be mentioned this isn’t how the real world works. Some stuff is learned, other things are ingrained. Us left-of-center kids are screwed here because we go against the grain, asking all the wrong questions and being too curious. I am making no religious attack here, by the way, it’s just the terminology that came to mind and best fit what I’m trying to say. All of that is not to say, that given the chance, I would go back and do certain things better: 

I’d have longer conversations with my dad and ask him all the shit that I ask myself now; I know he would have all the answers, and if he didn’t he’d at least be honest and say that he just made shit up as he went along.

I’d have more confidence in myself and my decisions long before age twenty-five. I never realized what second-guessing didn’t do for my self-esteem.

I wouldn’t have gone to college. I’d sell my car and most of my belongings and spend the rest of my days traveling, reading every piece of legit lit and writing all of my thoughts down as I went.

You see, I didn’t realize while I was graduating high school, living a gypsy life through my early college years, meandering through my mid-to-now-late twenties that the whole point is to grow, and take note of it. I have no shame in out-right apologizing for this. Every single part of my life was planned out for as far as I could see: graduate high school, graduate college, meet a man, get married, procreate, white picket fence, etc. the end. THAT’S JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME. I’ve always known that fitting in to that mold and mindset wasn’t right for me, I just didn’t know how to make myself a better counter-offer. I thought that just by making these larger than life declarations of change that I was changing. Surely by moving from city to city, back and forth from my hometown to some other city in Louisiana, learning things about the history and culture, influencing my musical and culinary tastes and making friends I will have for a lifetime were good enough to mark a woman’s change. These were, in fact, times in my life I’ll never, ever forget. I don’t think, until recently though, I looked back at those images and realized what they all really meant, and for that I am truly sorry.

Here’s a tiny list of other random crap I’d like to apologize for, in no particular order:

– for expecting everyone I come in to contact with to know what it is I’ve been through and to silently apologize for all the wrong I been done….that’s not their problem and I don’t know why we expect complete strangers, hell, even friends, to feel it necessary to apologize for someone else’s mistakes.

– for not ever having a vision for married life, and yet pursuing it to some extent any way. If this is the chance that I get to say this, however backhanded it may be, I guess I’m going to take the chance. my ex-husband was/is (I guess?) a good man. He so perfectly fit the idea of what the ideal husband should look like, I didn’t take in to consideration that specific idea might not be right for me….or for him. I’m sorry for trying to fit my unconventional ideas about monogamy, marriage and what a relationship means to me inside of a perfectly cut cookie marriage. I had no idea what I was thinking.

– for expecting the person that I committed my life to, to love me back, unconditionally. to accept me for all of my flaws and embracing that person, instead of turning away, questioning nothing and tossing any hope for our delicate relationship aside. I’m sorry I imagined grandeur.

– for anticipating all the men in the history of ever to act and treat me like my exes. this is asinine and I only do it subconsciously and I’m making a conscious effort not to do that.

– for reading total crap over the years, because I thought that’s what I was supposed to read. one day, I’ll write a grand toast to all of the banned books with bad language and provocative ideas, applauding them for pushing me to think. I’ll also write a toast to science fiction for making me realize that though Jane Austen had a brilliant mind, she laid it to waste, only trifling with matters of society…a master of painting a perfect picture. (though I will never, ever trade images of Darcy in my head.)

– for not saying what I’ve always wanted to say because it may or may not fck with the picture someone has of me in their head. I’m not here to fit in to your idea of what I should be like. That being said, I’m sorry for not knowing how to best use my words until recently. I used to throw them out at people, often times aggressively and without understanding of what it was I was trying to say.

– lastly, for expectation in general. yes, let me sit on my soap box and apologize for allllllllllllllllllll the nonsense I – along with everyone else in the world – subconsciously expect from everyone. decency, gratitude, courtesy…all of it.

I think of all the different times that I moved, the growing pains and the happiness that went along with them and now I realize that I was by-passing all of them, treating them as passing fancies on the way to the next thing I “had” to check off on my list to complete the picture in my head. What we don’t realize that the picture in your head is never going to be the picture that actually stands before you; that picture isn’t tangible. This brings me to my next point….

It is possible for you, Picture, to step up your game and be real, tangible and present. We manifest our own happiness, it’s as simple as that. Once we embrace this little gem of wisdom, that’s all there is to it. When you realize that there is no 5 x 7 frame for you to fit your life in to…well, things just get much easier.

Once I stopped thinking about what I was supposed to do and started focusing on what I wanted to do, my life shifted. While it is unfortunate that certain events had to take place and a certain amount of time had to pass before I woke up to this revelation, I’m so happy that it’s clear now. Everything about the way the world looks to me has changed. I had all the tools from a good upbringing, but now my life requires more from me. I had to take charge, I had to answer all the hard questions solo and re-evaluate everything without input from others. I had figure out how to be ballsy enough to make a mess and humble enough to realize that I would eventually have to clean it up.

I never pictured any of this. THIS LIFE WAS NOT WHAT I HAD IN MY HEAD. I didn’t picture my dad slipping away from me before I was finished with my first semester of college or what that meant for my mom. I didn’t picture getting married at twenty-three and I certainly didn’t imagine getting divorced by 27. I didn’t think of certain people falling out or back in to my life. Those things you just can’t plan. The picture in your head is honestly only good for destroying hope of what it is you really want. I feel as though, now, that if I live life without any true expectation, without a gorgeous filtered photo in my mind, that happiness can be obtained. And that’s the real picture of perfection.

I’m not saying go through life without a plan or without caring or being involved. I’m saying don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t look quite like you planned. We cannot constantly mourn the loss of things that didn’t turn out…otherwise, we’d be sad and miserable all the time.

Maybe this thing is a eulogy?

…either way. Thank you, Picture in My Head, for pushing me to this place of non-attachment. For forcing me to find gratitude in the things I have learned up to this point and healthy anticipation for the things to come. For reminding me that the picture doesn’t have to add up, be perfect, fit in a frame, be in color or black&white and doesn’t under any circumstances have to be technically beautiful. For making it clear from now on I need only to appreciate the images as they pass by, moment to moment.

Thank you. I will miss having you in my head.

Sincerely,

The Girl Who Decided a Picture Isn’t Always Worth 1000 Words

bubble bath persona

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do you ever catch yourself doing something really, really random and weird and think, “Oh shit….this is who I really am? shiiiiit.” I had that moment last night while in the bubble bath and I had to take the time to laugh at myself. And now I’m giving you the opportunity to laugh at me. you’re welcome.

I know that 90% of what I post is obsessively introspective, but I have no shame in saying that I have absolutely relished getting to know myself over the last year. January 2014 was really when my eyes started to open and see things in shades I never imagined. The kind of clarity that comes when you’re fully awake to the world around you…well, that’s something. Self-recognition is difficult and weird…and beyond beautiful.

I didn’t know that I liked yoga before I started doing it. I had no idea it was eventually going to completely change my life, but it has in ways I will never be able to put in to words as long as I walk this earth. Without my practice, I don’t think I would have been able to keep my sanity.

I didn’t know I could write a book. I knew I was an okay writer, with a semi-decent way with words, but I didn’t know I had so many in my head…and that I could write it down in a cohesive way.

I didn’t know I liked going on long walks around random neighborhoods, but that is exceptionally mind-clearing, and an activity I immensely enjoy. I don’t really make note of the houses or anything, just my feet moving, the wind or the trees. I love it.

I didn’t know that I liked taking bubble baths…

While I was still in New Orleans, trying to make my marriage work while working doubles almost every day at the restaurant, I tried everything to zen out and decompress. My mind was constantly zooming, attempting to problem solve shit at home, make enough money to put food on the table I found solace in taking bubble baths. Ever the quick shower girl, this was hard for me. Just sitting there, waiting for the water to get cool? I couldn’t really relax or enjoy it the way I wanted because I felt like I could be doing something else. I suppose yoga aided in my ability to eventually relax my mind and enjoy the luxuriousness of a bubble bath. It eventually became a fun, safe place for me. I started reading in the tub, which is just such a thing. I don’t know how I’ve taken that for granted all these years.

Once I moved home (in with my mom and stepfather for a few months) I started singing in the tub….and this fast forwards us to last night. It should be noted that though I have been blessed with all kinds of musical inclination, I cannot carry a tune in a bucket. It’s a gene, like math, that though I am a musician I do not possess the ability to sing or do fractions. Sad day.

I usually have some sort of refreshments before a good, steamy, mineral bath. – I’ve started adding salts, oils and minerals to my bubble baths and oooohhhhmigod everything is better. Muscle tension is eased by 100% and my senses really open up. Nothing like a menthol bath. – Refreshments being, wine or scotch, etc etc. Last night, after a ravioli fest (I love carb day) with Jared, I decided I’d take a nice long bath, sans book. I wanted my mind to slow down and just rest for a while, so I turned on some tunes. This turned in to me singing loudly for a solid forty-five minutes, pretty much pretending that I was part of a giant synchronized swim team to every single song. I sang in soft voices and loud voices and singing voices with British accents. During Sleater-Kinney’s Modern Girl I actually tried to sound like Corin Tucker, obviously to no avail. I knew Jared was probably on the other side of that wall thinking, “what in the actual?!” That’s what I get for making such killer playlists I guess. Had anyone walked in on that I would have been mortified, but I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. We all need to take the time to do that every now and then. It makes me feel human!

I’ve learned so many things about myself over the last year and a handful of months. I’m allowed to feel everything that I want to feel, when I want to feel it. I’m allowed to freely express my opinions and not bat a lash when someone disagrees. I get to have the conversations I want, read what I want, write what I want and not have to worry about judgement. I finally figured out that people are going to judge you, regardless of how well-behaved you are, how you handle things, how you smile….people judge you on everything. Once you can detach yourself from worrying with that, the entire world spins differently. I can sing four or five keys off and not give any fcks because it’s not about the pitch it is totally about the feeling I get when I sing. And it doesn’t matter where I do it, in the tub while I’m shaving my legs or in the car or in a bar full of people, it only matters how I feel.

I like my bubble bath persona.

I read this in the tub recently, and you should too –

http://www.doyouyoga.com/5-reasons-to-always-make-time-for-savasana-20797/

Here’s a ridiculous song.

I swear Carrie Brownstein smiled at me.

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I really wish I could write an eloquent piece of all the things that have been swirling around in my head. I’ve had several ideas for a follow-up blog to my last one, but nothing has seemed right so I’m just going to word vomit all over the place about everything.

I finished my book…I mean really finished it. I made all the changes I wanted, added the characters I wanted, made sure Walt didn’t sound like a fruit, change some locations around, made sure all of the locations made sense geographically, I made sure everything was spelled right. I took out all of the semi-colons because the entire manuscript was peppered with them (it’s my favorite punctuation.) I made sure that when you – the reader – closes your eyes, you can see everything; taste it, practically touch it if you wanted.

I struggled with determining whether or not my final sentence was conclusive, if it conveyed everything I wanted to say. I asked myself 91436574125 questions and finally concluded that if no sequel was ever written, that The Anchor could stand alone. It can. It is a project I am beyond excited about and proud of. It tells a story about two people who completely changed each other. It defies time, seamlessly. I think the story of Walter and Bridget is one that can stand up to popular love stories, perhaps surpassing. I feel like I may be overly confident about their love, but it’s a love that resides so close to my heart. Writing the sequel is proving interesting so far because it is incredibly removed from where their story ends in the first novel.

My plan now is to re-read the book, cover to cover, and decide what move to make next. In my perfect literary world, I would post the first chapter somewhere and some fabulous book agent would read it and fall in love with it. Of course, that’s not likely when you take in to consideration how many submissions every agent out there gets per year, so I’m poised to take another approach: self-publishing. THIS TERRIFIES ME. I’m not really sure what to do with it, who to use, how much to price my book, etc. It’s thrilling though; to know that each and every step of this process is going through my hands. I have friends that have been excited and willing to help me with graphics for the cover (still just in the talking stages here) and to help me with anything else that I may need. I can’t possibly say enough for the friends who have read the manuscript over and over and over each time I’ve re-drafted or added something. I’m so over the moon that anyone else besides me has read it and liked it. That’s right…positive feedback. I couldn’t have imagined that either, really. I’ve always felt confident as a writer, but not like now. This sense of accomplishment is REAL!

I finished this book in under a year….which I can’t get over. I never in a million years would have imagined successfully finishing this kind of project, especially considering the year that I’ve had. The Anchor saved me in ways I can’t explain. It took me out of the world I was stuck in for a little while every day and lead me to Beulah, a place that is so real in my mind I wish I was there right now. In the beginning, during the worst of 2014, I was able to write about all the things I was feeling at the time in the form of a story, the best form of therapy, for me. The process was constant. I was constantly daydreaming about what would happen, what the characters were going to say or wear or where they were going to go. I guess as a writer I’m always doing that without knowledge of it. It was a constant cycle of making decisions and putting them in to action, something that was not happening in my every-day life. I loved watching them fall deeper in love as the cursor moved along the document. I enjoyed including personal moments in this book and how writing about them made me feel. There are so many people in my life in this book; my friends and family have colored and breathed such life in to it that otherwise wouldn’t exist. I feel that this is what makes it so special to me…the story is real, the characters are tangible.

I am pleased to finally officially announce that as of April 17th, 2015….17 days before it’s anniversary that The Anchor by Audrey J. Parks, is complete.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
inspiration is everywhere.  

aside from finishing up my first book ever, which is ridiculous and exciting and something I only ever dreamed, I’ve been working to form a pop-up yoga group, aptly named YUP. I am loving sharing my practice with my friends. It’s definitely bringing a fresh aspect to something I am already so in love with.  I made a group on Facebook and started inviting my friends, at least the ones that I’ve seen doing yoga in the gallery on Tuesdays and the ones that have mentioned that they’d like to know more about yoga. I figured if anything I could just bombard the group with all of the yoga and ayurveda articles I read obsessively.

The first meeting was at Big Island, this gorgeous, open area next to the rec softball fields…and people actually showed up. I was so nervous to use my voice to lead the practice, since I usually practice solo and don’t make a habit of talking myself through the vinyasa. Once we were warmed up and ready to start, I randomly found the words and it wasn’t terrible. I was over the moon! Teaching your first yoga class to your friends? Nothing better, except the second time you throw a pop-up and more people come. It makes me practically giddy to share my experience and talk to the group about what asanas make me feel strong, sexy and free.

The third week predicted to horribly rain and I was concerned. “I don’t want to get off track, so where are we going to practice?!” I posted in the FB group and asked if anyone knew of any spaces that could hold 10 or more people, just in case the rain really ruined things and within SECONDS YUP had a place to practice, indoors. The Loft on Third is hands down one of my favorite places in my city as it is, but to host a yoga session there was unreal. The group number stayed the same as the week before, but with some different faces and I am thrilled. I love spreading the yoga love, regardless of how granola that sounds. Personal practice has completely changed my life and I want to share that with as many people as possible. I can’t wait to see what YUP does next.

Just to clarify: I am not interested in having a polyamorous relationship. 

I have absolutely no problem with people who do participate in this type of relationship, but it isn’t for me. I know in my post entitled, “the lebenslangerschicksalsschartz curse,” it may appear that that’s what I was trying to say, and I’m here to make the correction that I am not. I don’t have issues with jealousy, but I’m not a huge fan of worrying with that many people, especially emotionally. I think perhaps I should have used the phrase, “explore these separate relationships,” versus stating that I wished these kind of relationships – emotional, physical and familial – could blend.

I constantly teeter on whether or not monogamy is right for me, I always have. I realize that this divorce has poisoned my thoughts about it, only adding to the reason why I question the idea. I know I said it in some form in the post, and I’ll take this time to say it again: I am a-okay with my friends being the loves of my life. I am also fine with having all kinds of different kinds of relationships throughout my lifetime, but I meant one at a time. I can’t imagine balancing several people in a relationship. If you can manage to do that, well…you get a gold star. I can barely divvy up my time between work, work engagements, trying to stabilize my yoga practice, reading/writing and maintain a semi-social life. Don’t get it twisted, I still dream about, “the one,” only its a different dream now. No documents, no white picket fence, no perfect house, no perfect-perfect. I’m not worried about the timing of things or commitment as far as marriage is concerned. My concerns now lie more with connection. How does this personal stimulate me? Is it artistically? Emotionally? Physically? Do our souls find satisfaction with each other, or are we filling voids?

I feel totally happy and justified with my decision to be unmarried and to spend my life exploring the wonderful world of relationships. Maybe one day I’ll find Mr. I Love You Even Though You’re Weird and we’ll be happy and raise adorable, dysfunctional children with amazing fashion sense and killer music taste. Maybe I’ll adopt and be a solo mama and travel the world with my sidekick, sharing him/her with my friends and family. Maybe I’ll live alone in Paris among stacks of books and coffee cups and seven cats. Either way, I won’t apologize for any of it because those choices are mine to make.

  
To top alllllllllll this off – as if I haven’t been blissed out enough, what with the wrap of my novel and kick starting a fun yoga group – I got to see Sleater-Kinney LIVE in New Orleans on Sunday with one of my bestest gal pals. OHMIFCKNGGAAAAAAD. I was completely blown away with how much freaking girl power was packed in to one show. Aside from Corin, Carrie and Janet being total babes and ridiculously talented musicians, they provided the audience with a perfect set list, perfect venue. The crowd was completely mellow and they deserved to be slapped for that. I MEAN THEY PLAYED LETS CALL IT LOVE and the crowd remained calm. What the hell?! I mean, I know it’s not my fault that the youngsters think that Carrie is famous for Portlandia and that, “her new band totally rocks,” but come onnnnn. SK is one of the most legendary riot grrrl bands EVER, how do people end up at their show and not know this?

Regardless, I was in riot grrrl heaven and so happy and did not care that the group of trees dressed as sorority girls didn’t know who they were seeing. I mean, I swear Carrie Brownstein smiled at me.

How much better does it get? If you’re going to pull the rug out from under me, at least warn me.

i do not feel bad.

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“because you’re tiny!” AND I DO NOT FEEL BAD about it.

I’d like to briefly comment on the common misconception that because I am built petite and am often referred to as, “the tiny blonde in the middle,” this does NOT mean I am always and forever body-posi or in love with the way I look. I occasionally have days where I approve of how things have turned out on, i.e. hair in place, make-up on point, outfit put together….but it makes me extremely uncomfortable when I get, “size small, because you’re tiny,” especially when it’s followed by an eye roll. I realize that you’re trying to pay me some sort of a compliment, but it really does not come out as so.

There was a point, shortly before I got married, that I was not, “tiny.” I’d gained 40lbs plus while my ex and I were dating and I felt horrible. “Oh please, you’re still small!” I hated hearing that because I hated the way I looked in everything and couldn’t standing going to the gym or getting on the scale; it was torture. I nit-picked my body to death…and the only thing that made me feel better about the extra weight was something sweet or a large cheese pizza. Now, I do not feel bad for being a, “crunchy, organic only, yoga, granola,” girl. I like knowing what I’m putting in my body. I like knowing where my food comes from and that they are whole, non-processed foods. I like the way eating clean makes me feel. I know that I’m taking action and doing something good for a body that does so much for me.

In that same turn though, I do not feel bad for eating a whole pizza. I don’t do vegan, vegetarian, fat-free or anything on the nights I feel like vegging out, ironic as it may sound. Saturday night I ate half a pint of ice cream allllllll by myself and I FEEL NO SHAME. I only wish I would have finished it, because now’s it’s going to hide in my freezer and taunt me all week.

I do not feel bad for embracing my almost exclusive yoga ways. I simply prefer exercise that not only stimulates and calms my body simultaneously, but my mind as well. I know there are a handful of stereotypes as to what practicing yoga means. It has automatically put me in to the category of topping everything I eat with flaxseed, hempseed and chia seeds, that I only wear Lululemon yoga pants and that I’m, “real in to trance right now. It helps me memorize the sanskrit.” I realize that people expect me to be wearing mala beads (which I’ll eventually have) and to pass out Kombucha after my yoga classes. I have news….if my yoga outfit is put together at all, it’s probably because I finally did laundry and a yoga outfit that coordinates just makes my little OCD heart so happy. Yoga has completely changed my life…why wouldn’t I want to study and practice it as much as I possibly can?

I do not feel bad for having feelings, or expressing them. I’ve recently had a burst of response to my blog, primarily the last one, and it really inspired such overwhelming feelings of hope. It reassured my faith in my words, that I can actually string together sentences and that people don’t hate them. I go back and forth on shaming myself for having incorrect feelings at the wrong time for the wrong people, etc. etc….then writing about them. I NO LONGER FEEL BAD FOR THIS. The feels are just…the feels. However you deal with them…well, that’s just fine. They’re inevitable and not one single person should feel shame for actualizing their feelings. Ever.

Now for an semi-entertaining list of other things I do not feel bad about:

1. Hitting the snooze button for an hour. –  I know, I could get up and do extra yoga, eat breakfast, really put an outfit together for work, but….half-sleep. C’mon. Nothing better than being a little groggy during your morning shower.

2. Long phone conversations late at night. – Yes, I should be sleeping because I have an 8-5 job that I need to be on point for at all times. I know, I have obligations tomorrow night and that means staying up right now will make me drag ass all day tomorrow. But my best friends in the world are only available to talk at night and I will not give up listening to their sweet voices, not even for a minute.

3. Sex. (self-explanatory.)

4. Listening to music that I’ve outgrown. DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL. There. I said it.

5. Chick-lit. Although it’s always way too fluffy and the sex scenes leave something to be desired, I love it. Clare Naylor is my favorite, particularly because Clare is spelled different. (Dog Handling is hilarious and wonderful if you’re looking for a beach read.)

6. Watching chick shows. Sometimes I just need to unwind and find drama that’s more interesting than my own. Revenge, enough said.

7. Binge reading on the weekends. I love turning my phone off and completely losing an entire day in a book.

8. Patting yourself on the back for a job well-done, regardless of task. If you think you gave it 100%, there is no reason to not internally give yourself a high-five. Over and over and over.

9. Admitting that I hate sleeping solo. Sure, I adore waking up, realizing I’m completely sprawled out and taking up the whole bed diagonally, I love it. But..I also have no shame whatsoever in saying that if I could find a man that’s willing to share only my bed with me, nothing else, I’d jump at the opportunity. NO SEX NO RELATIONSHIP, literally just sleep. I miss that most.

10. I do not feel bad for not beating myself up. I feel like beating yourself up means you didn’t learn anything. Like it somehow associates in my brain as defeat. If you beat yourself up, it means that you’re still working through your issue…not necessarily gleaning anything from it. I believe that it’s okay to allow yourself to wallow in a certain amount of misery for a short period of time, but after that, get your shit together and become a person you don’t want to beat up.

my friend Courtney left this on my wall today, and now I’m leaving it for you. I do not feel bad about this.

the lebenslangerschicksalsschartz curse

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I’m not quite sure where to begin. These thoughts have been trickling down and around my ears and I can’t really hear anything else, so it’s time for me to write it down. I’m sure it’s going to be circular and may not make much sense. A common character trait (or flaw?) of my writing process and thought process in general, which is sometimes helpful, but mostly annoying.

After having one of many long conversations with on of my soul-sisters (yes, I have adopted this word and use it freely and I don’t care how trite it makes me sound) I haven’t been able to stop thinking about lebenslangerschicksalsschartzI don’t know if the word is real or not, if it is an actual German translation of something whimsy and lovely or if it’s just some random string of letters smashed together to convey an obscure emotion by the writers of How I Met Your Mother. Regardless, I am intrigued at the description (taken directly from the show):  it is not something that develops over time. It is something that happens instantaneously. It courses through you like the water of a river after a storm, filling you and emptying you all at once. You feel it throughout your body, in your hands, in your heart, in your stomach, in your skin… 

I know I’ve experienced this, several times. The feels (see previously posted blogs. almost all of them) can course through you like a fever. Doesn’t that eventually always go away? Does it linger for some? Does it last for others? Or are we cursed to only ever have beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstandthe thing that is almost the thing that you want.. but it’s not quite. OH GOD. Isn’t this the worst? You can touch it and taste it and it’s wonderful, but it’s still not quite what you want. Like…when you go to a restaurant and you’re super pumped about the dish you ordered because you thought about it all day, and some how….you’re still not satisfied. How do you ever really know? When does it finally click and what do you do with that moment of recognition? Is it always mutual? Probably not. It’s awful to know that the person you’re seeing/with is beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand and even worse….when you realize you’re that person. Are we ever really satisfied in relationships? Happy?

I am terrified of finding my lebenslangerschicksalsschartz, probably because I thought I already had it, but I was obviously incorrect. I made the statement earlier today that I think I’m okay with my friends being my greatest loves and adopting children and maybe finding someone to share all of that with. That it is possible that monogamy, on that level, may not be for me and that I will probably spend the rest of my life falling in and out of love with all kinds of people.

I asked Jared (and a few other friends recently – I’m a writer, I constantly survey) if he thought various relationships simultaneously was acceptable. He of course gave me a look which meant I needed to elaborate. “Someone to experience life with emotionally, someone to satisfy your sexual appetite and someone to raise a family with.” Another look and a deep breath, and a pause before he replied. Eventually he says, “sure Damsel…but you know that isn’t socially acceptable. People don’t do that.” But don’t we? How is being open about the different people and things that satisfy you in different ways not acceptable? I’d rather be in an open relationship, that’s filled with honesty than be in a monogamous one that’s full of lies.

Is it possible for one person to encompass these things? Is it possible to find that kind of true connection and happiness with one other person? I’m just throwing things out here since I’m mostly just searching for all kinds of answers. My thoughts on monogamy are obviously different, and have been heavily influenced by the recent events in my life. Divorce has left such a bitter taste in my mouth, thankfully a flavor free of regret. A taste I’m not sure I’ll ever forget.I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of hardcore committing to another person for forever and having no other choice but to walk away.

I’ve always felt humans aren’t meant to be monogamous…always. It’s a nice idea, wrapped in a pretty box with a bow and a card filled with such pretty words. I was never sold though…wrong salesman? I don’t know. I realize I’m drawing circles. Oh to be introspective in floral print.

….and now I’m thinking about how harmonious life might be with my true lebenslangerschicksalsschartz. if that even exists. any thoughts are welcome, as I’m positively lost in my own now.