Category Archives: self-reflection

Ant Attack

Ant horde
Ant horde by Jonathan Fox used under

I think the apartment I currently live in was built on an ant colony. We have them all year, but they’re the worst in the summer. Mostly they come in looking for water, but sometimes they find the cat food. And in very horribly moments they find the crickets (I am so very, very sorry, crickets).

See, I have a small mammal that adores eating crickets. I don’t always keep them on hand because she doesn’t eat them as fast as I would like, which means I have to then add crickets to the creatures that I have to keep alive. And they are tricky, sometimes. Plus, they are insects, so their life spans don’t always wait her appetite out.

My relationship with the crickets is complicated. I feel bad when they die in the cage they stay in until it’s time to put them in her cage to be eaten. Sometimes I think this is a silly sentiment, because I don’t feel bad when they get eaten. Perhaps this is because I have made their fate food, and when they die stuck in a tiny, plastic cage, their lives lose some of their meaning. And then part of me remembers that they are, in fact, crickets. But they are still living creatures, and I feel bad that I have cause their lives to be less than their wild existence would allow. When they are attacked in the tiny, plastic cage I’ve trapped them in by a horde of ants, I am horrified. As soon as I see their tragic turn, they get released in a effort to provide some space to live – because being eaten alive by an ant horde seems ghastly to endure.

And I am sure people will think that this response is unmerited for creatures that are generally despised. It is my philosophy that a person’s true nature is revealed in how they treat beings that are completely helpless. I buy the crickets for my small mammal to eat, because I have taken her from her natural habitat and shrunk her space to a 40 gallon fish tank. She seems happier when she has something to chase to eat (since most of the time she just has a bowl of food). But in doing so, I take on creatures even more vulnerable that I feel obligated to ensure only suffer when they serve as food.

At a time when so much is not good* in the world, remembering to care for the most vulnerable creatures that surround us seems to be the fastest pathway to making the world good again.


*A post about how I use the word good is forthcoming, because I see it carrying so much more weight than its typical use indicates.




nor till the poets among us can be
‘literalists of
the imagination’–above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them’, shall
we have
– excerpt from Poetry by Marianne Moore

I haven’t always loved poetry. It’s confusing and obtuse and frequently leaves me frustrated. But I can’t quit reading it.

Because in the cadence of the words there is truth. Poetry is the fastest way to share the indescribable  elements of reality without music. Those real toads are especially difficult to deal with when their hardens are imaginary.

Which is why I hardly ever share the poetry I write.

Not that I write poems that often. In fact, I can really only write poetry when I’m surprisingly happy. And the poems are never very good. (Which is another reason I hardly evershow the poems I’ve written to anyone)

But, despite all the current madness in my life currently, I’ve been writing poetry. These ones would have to be revised (which I don’t have time for), so they’ll still probably never be read, even if they weren’t so revealing.  I’m just glad to be writing them in all their terrible glory.



I am spectacularly terrible at interpersonal relationships. I have several theories as to why, but I think my primary source for the exquisite ways I manage to damage my relationships stems from my inability to stop thinking.

The very first time I read “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot, my first thought was “That’s me!” I probably should’ve reigned in my enthusiasm because poor Prufrock is a mess. He wanders through the whole poem noticing details that bear no weight in his life and asking himself if he should act to change his course. And at the very end of the poem he hears the mermaids signing and remains so indecisive that he doesn’t act and the moment passes. Prufrock over-thinks his entire life and so ends up caught when the human voices wake him. Which is funny in that sad way funny moments in stories often are when they ring too true.

I also really love Prufrock because of his similarity to another of my favorite characters: Hamlet. But Prufrock doesn’t see himself as the lead in his own life. In fact, Prufrock explicitly states he’s “no Prince Hamlet”. For those of you playing along at home, we call that irony. Because Prufrock is Hamlet in poem form with less blood on the stage. Neither character can make a decision to save their lives. Hamlet just has the weight of the realm on his shoulders, while Prufrock has a dinner party.

Both of these men have to decide but find themselves stuck in their indecisiveness because they are thinking through every possible situation and possible outcome: they over-think.

And this is why I love both of these characters.

Because I frequently find myself stymied when it comes to making a decision. All of the layers of information weighing on my decision slows the process. Just to decide what I want to eat takes evaluating numerous elements, and that’s just for me. I turn the decision over to someone else when I’m with a group, because I’m never able to decide out of fear of making a bad choice. So I think over the question and my many possible answers for a long time. But, most of the time, this thinking ends up wasted because I always second-guess my decisions. The human voices wake us and we drown.

And so, when I read Hamlet and Prufrock my first semester as an underclassmen, I knew I was finally in a place with kindred spirits who take their decisions very seriously. And while this realization that such sad characters reflect such an innate personality trait might lead other to despair, I found comfort in knowing that others have felt like me. Probably less often, but, still, other existed who understood.

It is not, however, all doom and gloom. There is always a pathway for connection through the indecisiveness. I have met some interesting people along the way because I’ve hesitated, which allowed them the space to stop and chat. And, actually, the easiest way I’ve found to get a stranger to stop and talk is to look a little lost.

I’m still not entirely sure what to do when the human voices speak, but I’ve decided to try to look a little lost more often to try to meet those real people who can relate to Prufrock and Hamlet. And I’ve decided that it’s time to start sharing my thoughts on this poem that has so captivated me I want to pin pieces of it around me. I’m sure I could write books on the different meanings the poem has had for me over the years since I first went wandered through the half-deserted streets with Prufrock. But this post will suffice for now. I would love to hear your thoughts on the poem, so please do share in the comments!

My final thought will be to you with the recording of Eliot reading the poem himself below.

Sometimes it has to be shared

This is a fair warning post.

I’ve written a number of posts that are very self-reflective that I’ve never published. They’ve been coalescing in my drafts folder until such a time as I was ready for other people to read them.

Now is that time. For some of them.

Keep in mind you don’t have to read any of the posts. If you think you’ll think of me poorly, or like a real person with flaws, or you just don’t care, or some other take altogether, that’s cool. Don’t read them. I certainly won’t be grading you, and you’ll still be welcome to whichever posts you want to read and comment on.

Please do share your thoughts, questions, anecdotes on posts with comments! Sometimes the idea has to be shared in order to make room for new ideas. And if any of my posts do that for you, feel free to use the comment section!

(Though I will remove all names connected to me from comments, and will remove comments that are simply attacking or belittling me or anyone else along the way. This is my space, and I expect this to be a space of respect (which doesn’t mean agreement).)

Getting Older

Business card holder. Or the history of the earth in your hand.I’m not sure when growing up transitions to getting older, but I think I’m in that stage now. Later this year will mark 30 years that I’ve walked the planet, but I think reading this blog post by one of the high school students from my work drove home the realization that soon the joke I have of what I will do when I grow up will move to absurd.

But even when the joke is absurd, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’m grown up. Maybe it’s because I’ve looked pretty much the same (with the exception of the length of and amount of gray in my hair, and the addition of glasses) since my sophomore of high school. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always been told I’m an old soul (though less frequently as I add years).

I don’t really know. How does one every know when they’ve grown up? Based on the social milestones passed? Or do you just wake up one day and realized you’ve finally grown up? Or perhaps you grow up when you realize you aren’t invincible and that death is a part of life. (If that is it, then I think I realized that early enough that it’s part of my life already so perhaps I’ve always been getting older and never growing up.)

I’m not sure that I want to grow up. Not because I have a Peter Pan complex, but because I think that if I felt like I’d grown up, I wouldn’t have any new goal to continue striving for. I’m content with who I am, yet there are still many things I’d like to do. That transition to getting older seems so final, and I’m not ready for final. I don’t even like making solid plans longer than a month or so. And even then, I only solidify what I have to. Like plane tickets to visit friends.

And perhaps this random collection of thoughts stems from nostalgia that comes with age.

Or maybe I’m just getting old.


I've measured my life in coffee cupsDo  you ever have those moments where you can’t even think about what you have to do when the sun rises (or whatever time your day starts) without your breath catching?

I have them more often than I would like. And, through the years, I’ve developed lots of coping skills, but they’re only good if I recognize fast enough that I’m either in the midst of, or on the brink of, one of those times. Like Tamaflu’s prime effective window is with in 2 days of getting the flu.

This one snuck up on me. I’ve been really good about writing in my journal (which is vital to my mental health) as of late. But I realized yesterday, when a non-issue at my work became a thing in my head, that I’m(hoping) in the middle of one of those times.

When my hair was long, I would randomly cut it during these times. But now I keep my hair short, I’d probably get the same looks Debra gets in Empire Records. I wouldn’t cut it out of frustration with my hair (honestly my hair is one thing I’m vain about), but because my hair and its length were solidly within my control. Having that element of control when everything else feels out of control continues as one of my favorite pet illusions.

But I didn’t have that. I did what I will apparently always turn to – travel.

I planned 2 trips for the next 6 weeks in 1 day. I’m going to visit friends and leave my current life behind for just a moment, because the bell jar is beginning to close in, and I need to breathe. I am trying very hard not to plan the details of my trips. I have my transportation. I have places to stay. And other than that, I’ll leave it to the mood that takes me at the time.

Because when my coffee cups pile up, it’s time to get out of dodge for a minute and hopefully learn what life holds by stepping out of my life. When I come back, my hope rests on having the energy then to face the next work day.

So I’m off on grand adventures. Or at least mini mental health retreats. Because no one wants FAFSA advice from a crazy person.


Second steps

Santa Anita Canyon hiking tripOn the hike the other day, we ended up at this waterfall. We’d crossed the streams several times, and while watching everyone, including myself, balance on rocks, I had an epiphany.

I am learning how to accept the fragility of beginnings and learning how to give them the space they need to solidify. And though I knew beginnings were tricky, what I learned while navigating the wobbly rocks is that sometimes the second step is sometimes even trickier.

Because the second step requires the first step to have been stable. If the first step crossing the water on slick rocks isn’t solid, it usually results in a fall into the water when you shift your weight to continue your journey. And these falls can result in cuts and bruises or broken bones, if you’re particularly uncoordinated.

Falling and dealing with the resulting pain would normally be enough to keep me from trying (I really hate pain), but if I never take the first step, I miss out on all the fun and adventure on the other side of the river. I don’t want to simply stand in the place where I am or where I was; I want to stand in a new place. I know that the new place might not be better than where I’m currently standing, but I’ll never know if I don’t visit. And sometimes the trick to making the second step successful is making the third step faster to build momentum so that the steps take care of themselves.

And if I fall in the water, at least I’m en route to a new place and on an adventure. The journey begins whenever you step outside your door, and you never know where the second step will take you – possibly to the treasure chamber of a dragon.

So I will take the second step. And the third. And see where I end up, even if it means walking through the Mines of Moria or the Wasteland. Because sometimes the only way home is through a gate that was never there before that requires a second step to reach.

On having an audience

Queen's BathI haven’t written in awhile, and I was wondering to myself why I stopped obsessively writing here.

I still love writing. I still think and process information best with either a keyboard or pen and paper handy. I still think of myself as a writer more than anything else.

But it’s been a long time since I posted.

Sure, I got promoted to full-time just in time for the craziest part of our work year, and I went on vacation, and I’m moving. But still, no thoughts to process and post on my blog? Just when people started commenting more and being involved in the conversation here? How lame of me.

And why would I let the other things get in the way of my writing? I’ve published through more stressful times than my job is currently or has been in the near past. To say I’m too busy simply functions as an excuse everyone will accept without question.

But I finally figured out one major underlying, and rather bizarre, reason for my neglect: I have an audience. Continue reading On having an audience

The Middle

Revisits don't always go as plannedI realized today that I’m in a new story. I’m lost and confused and feel like I’ve missed some important piece of information. This means that I’m in the middle of it, which is a place to start from if you can’t keep it together enough to recognize the beginning when it happens.

But the middle is actually my favorite place to start, because you don’t have to worry as much about the annoying set-up and character building. I just want to keep going and pick up the essentials on the fly. Not that the world-building isn’t important, The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones would be significantly less awesome if the time to create the world was skipped. But when it comes to my life and stories, I get bored with the set-up as I look for the next action scene. Continue reading The Middle

On being anti-social

Coachella main stage 2011The thing no one tells you about growing up is that one day, you’ll look around and realize that all your best friends, the people who have chosen to walk with you through life (unlike family who are stuck with you), will move away (or you’ll move away from them) and begin the process of leaving you to your own devices. People will also neglect to tell you that, while this sucks, it doesn’t have to define your current reality.

Today was that day for me. And I’m writing this post to convince myself of the latter statement. Because I don’t want this sadness of life changing, and everyone moving far away to be the only side of life I focus on. And also, because I’m the one who kind of made it this way.

I tell my friends all the time that I love people. All but the people who know me best or least snicker whenever I say it. Because I don’t like talking to people I don’t know; I don’t like touching people I don’t know; I don’t even particularly enjoy being around large groups of people I don’t know.

Because I’m rather anti-social. Continue reading On being anti-social