July

When I’m writing this, it is just past midnight on July 1.

Holy shit. July.

When I was seven, I wrote a poem–my first, ever–and titled it July. When I was twelve, I set my first novel entirely in July. And now, in 2018, I head into my busiest July ever. Busier than all those Camp Nanos I can’t even entertain the possibility of this year. Busier than any job or camp or anything.

I start July with a day of packing and frantic emails, then a week in Ireland, then three weeks straight of teaching summer school English, then Newport Folk Festival.

Then finally, in August, I get a breath.

I’ve been trying to attune myself to reiki, to feel the chi universe energy in my fingers, to make myself relax, but my jaw clenches up anyway and my stomach knots itself up and my forehead is perpetually cinched. My mouth is ablaze with canker sores, my face a minefield of acne. My body handles stress nearly as bad as my mind does.

I feel silly. All I’ve wanted for months and months and months was a job, and now that I have one I feel stage fright. That’s my best way of putting it. I’m scared.

July was always such a magical time as a kid, a month I spent all year dreaming about and writing about and waiting for with all my simple heart. Now…

suffering the heat

It’s 96? It’s supposed to be 96. Degrees. Outside.

Does that confuse people on the other system? Probably not by now. People must hate the United States, for many reasons, but mainly for its overexposure. That’s not the correct use of that word, is it? For a Word Major, I’m awful at words.

You can’t watch a movie without being reminded of the United States. You can’t watch the news, either…again, for many reasons.

I hate the news.

Sometimes I feel like people who aren’t depressed are the real crazy ones. How could you watch the news—any news—and blink and shrug and go about your day? How can you just know that there is so much suffering—

This is why I have a problem with “God,” anyway. And this is so typical, I know, such originality coming from good ol’Introvert Playground. But again, again, again, how could a God allow so much suffering?

I hate knowing that one day I will get a papercut and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Life is full of papercuts, and bee stings, and stubbed toes, and broken hearts, and funerals, and shampoo in the eyes and splinters in the thumbs and dead people taking up all the slots on TV.

Television is suffering. Even the fake stuff, the shows and movies, they’re all about suffering. Even comedy is about suffering. It’s like we know we live in the gallows but only the depressed people feel like talking about the elephant in the room. And then everyone gets mad at them for doing so.

“What can be done? Just don’t think about it.”

Okay. I won’t think about the world. But can I think about myself, and all the disappointments I can’t prevent for myself? Failures, rejections, heartbreak?

How does any girl live past thirteen? She feels the pain of a menstrual cycle for the first time and is so happy. It’s the second month that it sinks in. It is going to hurt this bad for so-and-so days every month for forty years. It’s a prison sentence.

I feel trapped by my body. It is strange and alien to me, a vessel to hold my pain.

Summer Approaches

I was here, and I am here again. Look, we are both heading into a blank summer. We will both likely be here next year, me after months of interviews and disappointments, you after sunburns and supermarket jobs and hours and hours in front of your television. My sister watched Grey’s Anatomy twice last summer, all thirteen or fourteen seasons of it.

I was unemployed in high school, thirsting for money and something to do in this boring suburb, and here I am again, four years after my graduation, complaining and lazing like Daisy Buchanan on a breezy sofa.

I’ll get lots of writing done, I say, not writing. I’ll read lots, I say, not reading.

I brush my hair at night until the brush goes through it easy as water.

I sit with my plants and candles, draped in a scarf I never wear outside. I copy symbols and recipes as if I’d ever do anything with them. I play with tarot cards and waste my time. I slice Havarti cheese and eat pickles with toothpicks, souring my breath even worse with white wine, pretending I have the budget to be blasé and aristocratic, pretending the books I do manage to read aren’t affecting me like so many pills.

I take a portion of The Bell Jar and wonder if it wouldn’t be so bad, sitting in a mental hospital and feigning growing health. I take a portion of Little Women and wonder if it would be so horrible to be a housewife, to find pleasure in a washing machine. I take a portion of Anna Karenina and the words wash over me like hot soup and I can’t focus and put it down.

It takes my eyes a long time to focus on things far away.

Infodump: The Musical

I love the sound strawberries make when you cut off their top. You can hear their hollowness. They’re so rubbery.

I’m eating strawberries as I write this, for the full picture. I think visuals are important, especially in a musical. I’m calling this post a musical because it’s going to be like one of those montage musical numbers, when they build the barn or train for battle or Simba grows up while walking across a log or whatever.

Hi. I know it’s been awhile, so, hi. What have I been up to, during this summer of non-blogging? I’ve been working, writing for a local paper. I’ve been cooking a lot, I’ve been getting better at ukulele, I’ve been DM’ing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for my friends from high school, I’ve been playing Pokemon Go, I’ve been enjoying these rare months being in the same state as my boyfriend, and, somehow, I’ve been writing fiction in between. I’ve also been knitting, sewing, crafting, reading. I’m reading Lord of the Flies now since I never did in school and, my, it’s (unsurprisingly) amazing.

I leave for the Netherlands in three weeks. I’ll be travellouging a bit on here I’m sure, as I said I would. I’m thinking of also doing a separate travellouge for my family. I’m also also thinking of doing a travellouge in the voice of Bojack Horseman.

The Netflix series Bojack Horseman is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time, and I thought it might be fun and soul-searchy to write a blog as if I were Bojack. I made a little Bojack doll out of old shirts. We’ll see what happens.

What else? I went to Newport Folk Festival, what a wonderful time. I got into wearing sunhats.I feel like every sentence I write could have been a blogpost, so this musical idea kinda works.

I missed venting to the internet.

As for my head, I’ve been managing myself alright. I’m nervous about having to make new friends overseas, but I’ll manage. Somehow, I’ll manage.

For now, I just have to say goodbye to my boyfriend (again…again) and pack, and in three weeks I can worry about the “friend” business.

The strawberries are gone. The music fades, just like summer.

Hi. This is Introvert Playground!

Schedules

I’ve been out of work for 2 days and I already miss a strict schedule. Days seem to last so long without 11 hours devoted to work/commuting! Yesterday seemed to last a week, and yet I did nearly nothing.

Not only that, but it’s messing up my blogging schedule! It’s funny, I seem to get more done when I have less time to do it. Otherwise, I just end up procrastinating. Like with blogging; if I have 15 minutes to blog I can write two posts and have them ready. If I have 15 hours to blog, I probably won’t end up writing anything at all.

Strange, strange. Why? I don’t like being a procrastinator. I’ve never liked summer, as a kid. It just feels like such a waste of time. And that sucks, because I spend so much time waiting for it.

I guess I just feed off structure. I’ll grow out of that, probably. After all, the world isn’t organized in little boxes, and time never follows the plan.

Catching up on Farmers Markets, summer….

Training Day 1 complete! I can already tell she’ll be a great co-op.

As I transition back into freelancing and new girl transitions into the Globe, I am being less bittersweet and more confident. This is going to be a good, new change.

I start, basically, the day after I leave. I’m covering a farmers market.

I love famers markets. So lovely, fresh, green. People walking around in sun hats, kids walking around in bare feet licking ice creams. The one in my home town offers homemade empanadas as well as fresh-picked strawberries. I like the infamous Haymarket in Boston, too, though that’s less wholesome and fresh and more…Haymarket.

For non-Bostonians, buying something at Haymarket is equivalent to buying a carton of milk that expired yesterday. It’s probably fine today, and will probably be okay tomorrow, but after that it’s a fifty/fifty shot between okay and diarrhea.

Ah, well. I’m exaggerating. Either way, this isn’t like Haymarket. This is a small town market squeezed into the library’s front lawn. This is a market full of fresh fish and ripe tomatoes and all-natural soap.

I love farmers markets. Such a lovely atmosphere full of hard working craftspeople and farmers.

They’re pretty introvert unfriendly, unfortunately. The whole idea is making conversation, approaching people, bartering. I always feel a bit bad when I enter a tent and then don’t buy anything.

Perhaps, like how I dreamt yesterday about the Introvert Boutique, it would be nice to have an Introvert Farmers Market. Though, I suppose that would just be Whole Foods or some other supermarket.

I’m just being silly. I’m excited for summer, I’m excited for farmers markets and sundresses, I’m excited to get back into my favorite version of journalism.

Really though, I’m excited to have more time free for writing and blogging, especially with Camp Nanowrimo coming up. Anyone out there a nano-er?

If not, check it out my friends: https://campnanowrimo.org/sign_in

 

Also, this is my 200th post. Thanks for reading:)

Those who prefer the mountains

I recently found this article in the Boston Globe discussing a study that found those who prefer mountain vacations tend to be introverts, and those who prefer ocean vacations tend to be extroverts. As a person who grew up going to both, this strikes me as both true and false at the same time.

First of all, the obvious fact is that not all beaches are packed tight with people, and not all mountains are lonesome escapes. In fact, one of my favorite beaches is in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, which hosts about ten people in the thick of summer. Then again…well, it’s in the mountains.

As a kid, I always dreamed of owning a private tropical island in the middle of the ocean and living there completely alone. I know, I’m about a level 100 introvert. I dreamed of a single hammock, a heap of bananas, and a few animal friends to keep me company. Just me in the warm sun, surrounded by parrots and palm trees. As I grew up and fell in love I hesitantly expanded my dream island to a population of 2…maybe. After all, even Robinson Crusoe had a partner.

I don’t think it’s exclusively the place, but rather who gravitates to the place. A private island, sure, no one else can go to it except who I invite, when I invite them. It’s paradise! However, a beach is usually flooded with people who like to show off their gym bodies and set off fireworks after dark. They like to jump in freezing water and play volleyball with strangers before grilling hamburgers and hitting the souvenir shops, casinos and bars.

Disregarding the fact that many mountain tourist spots are exactly the same, they do tend to calm down the further from the freeway you go. Those little log cabins do exist, surrounded by hummingbirds and wild raspberries. The people who go there enjoy skiing and hiking, and don’t mind when it rains because they have a bunch of books to keep them company. They like campfires with a few close friends, they like stargazing without light pollution and getting up early to see the sunrise.

I guess it makes sense for extroverts to gravitate to the ocean and introverts to gravitate to the mountains. But I’ve always found the ocean to speak to me more. Especially after most people have left it…a September evening, walking the empty beach in jeans and a sweatshirt. The ocean is gray, soft, cold. Massive. It comforts you with its largeness, assures you that your worries are small and will pass like the tides. Touching the water is to be connected to the entire planet. The mountains let you hide, but the ocean reminds you that you don’t need to.

Grown Up (Short Fic Friday)

Welcome to the first Short Fic Friday! Every week I’ll be posting a new short fiction story, due to the great response to my A to Z Challenge. Enjoy it!

 

 

Alex knelt at the tide pool, her damp knees getting coated in sand. She waved at her toddler cousin.

“Look, Sammy,” she shouted to him, sinking the heel of her right hand into the loose mud. “I think there’s a crab, or something, under this rock. See?”

Sammy wobbled up behind her, holding a red, plastic shovel he refused to let go of. “Crab?”

“Yes, a crab. I think he went under there, do you see him?” She leaned over the tepid water at far as she dared. The pool was still but teeming with creatures she had a nervous fascination with. She pressed her other hand on a rock coated with barnacles. The crevice between rocks was dark, but the water was a crystal green. There was a slight shift in the sand.

“Crab? Crab?” Sammy repeated, trying to replicate how Alex was standing. He leaned his shovel against the barnacles.

“I think so. Let me try to catch it. Can I use your shovel?”

Sammy held it out to her, but just as she was going to take it he yanked it out of her grasp. She sighed, laughing.

“You got me. Fine, you want cousin Alex to get pinched, I’ll get pinched.”

Alex swallowed. She knew she wouldn’t likely get pinched, but if she did, what would she do? Her mom was way back by the towels, and Uncle Max, Sammy’s dad, was further down the beach at a different tide pool with his older daughter. Well, whatever. No going back now. She slipped her little hand between the boulders, feeling her way around the rough barnacles. She touched sand and recoiled, then went down again, feeling along toward where the crab had escaped.

Sammy sneezed, loud and adorable. Alex smiled but kept going, not looking back.

“Nose,” Sammy said, his voice muted.

“Yeah, you sneezed, buddy. Bless you.”

“Nose!” He patted her calf insistently. Alex looked under her arm at him.

His face was covered in huge boogers, gooey green and dangling past his mouth. He looked about to cry, his head hunched over so the snot didn’t touch his chin.

“Oh, Sammy,” Alex said, then a sharp pain shot down her arm from her ring finger. She screamed and fell backward out of the tide pool and onto the sand, grabbing at her hand. Sure enough, the little crab had got her. Luckily it let go quickly, but her finger was still red and throbbing. It hurt more than when she caught it in the car door last winter.

She sucked on her finger, salty and covered in sand. Sammy was crying now, scared by her scream and cranky because of his boogers. Alex fought back her own tears, smacking sticky sand off her back, legs, and bottom. She had to be the grown up now and help Sammy. No parents were around, fine. Alex was nine, now. She could do it.

“Okay, it’s okay,” she said. “Come on, Sammy.”

They walked to the ocean together, she sucking on her finger, he hunched over and whimpering. No matter what, she did not want to touch the boogers, but she didn’t have anything else but her bathing suit. She paused at the water’s edge, looking for a seashell or something to scoop his face clean.

Sammy cried at the sand, the booger long and swinging but still hanging on. He clutched his shovel.

Alex considered holding him above the water so just his face got wet to wash it away, but then thought better of it. She put her hands on her hips, her sore finger pressing hard.

“Sammy, I need your shovel.”

“No!” he howled, gripping it with two hands.

“You can still hold onto it after; I just need it to clean the boogies.”

“No!”

Alex groaned and dropped to her knees. She took a breath, looked away, and snatched the boogers off his face with the tips of her fingers and thumb. She dunked her hand in the water and shook it furiously, then did it again, pinching his nose perhaps a bit too hard and then shaking it off her with vigor, gagging.

“Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew,” she chanted through the whole ordeal. Finally, he was clean.

He sniffled a little. Alex stood up and sucked on her finger again.

“I’m never having kids,” she told the snotty ocean.

Sammy hugged her leg tight. “Thank you!” he said, and offered her his shovel.

Alex smiled. “You’re darn cute, though,” she said, and reached for the shovel. He giggled and yanked it out of her reach.

Finding balance in summers and godmotherliness

My cousin is now two months old, which means my godmotherliness is two months old as well. It’s strange being a godmother, because it’s extremely…not strange at all. Nothing changes for me, or for my godson. It affects only who’s in his baptism pictures. And yet, it feels like there should be more to it.

My godmother took me on an amazing trip after I graduated high school. We went white water rafting down the Grand Canyon, and spent a few days in Vegas as well. She’s always been in my life, as a very close person to me. It helps that she’s my aunt as well.

I’m just Joseph’s cousin. Sure, I’m nearly 20 years older than he is, but I don’t have Aunt status. What does my lowly godmother status even mean, for any of us?

Nothing, I guess.

Even so, I decided not to take it lightly. People can benefit a lot from parent-like influences from non-parent sources. I already love his two older brothers with all my heart, and even though he’s an infant and all infants are basically the same, I love him too.

I decided to keep a little notebook for him. I’m writing to him daily about just, whatever. Maybe I’ll give it to him when he graduates if I can’t afford to take him to the Grand Canyon and all. Maybe I’ll do it for another few months and forget it. I guess we’ll just wait and see.

It’s February, and people have given up on their resolutions. What makes us do things? What gives us the energy to change something in our everyday lives? How do we make something a habit? These are all questions I hope to address in my own life. With my boyfriend in Mexico and a crazy –hectic work schedule, I’m trying to figure out a way to organize my life so I have ample time to write, practice music, read, and study, but even without the extra stuff I’ve barely time to sleep.

The other question here is, how much is too much? I thought work and class would be too much…it’s a lot, but it’s not too much. So now, with my time, I feel like I need to fill it with enriching myself. I was talking about this coming summer, and how it will be difficult to find a good internship since my current one lasts until June, and most summer internships start in June. My mom suggested I take a break. The thought had never occurred to me. Take a break? But I have a future to build…a break?

It sounded better and better the more I thought about it, but also more and more frivolous. A break? I could work on my internet presence, this blog thing I’m trying to get going. I could write, I could follow my boyfriend wherever his internship takes him, I could spend time with the aforementioned godson. Submit to literary magazines. I could even like, do nothing.

So, summer and godmotherliness combine into one: what do we do with these open concepts? Nothing, or everything? Fill them with meaning, or let them collapse into what they are present-day? Do I put all my energy into something people expect me to do nothing with, or make something out of it?

There are pros and cons to both. I will probably do what I believe is always best in any given situation—find balance. I can be a godmother without being a mother, and I can have a productive summer without doing everything (or nothing). Balance, I believe, is the key.