Friday, August 17, 2012

at a crossroads

so I am about to get my degree- that thing I have worked for on and off over the course of 15 years.  And yet, I feel incredibly ambivalent about it.  I'm not really interested in hunting down the career of my dreams, mostly because I don't even know what that would be (see previous post regarding motherhood).  If I really were able to have my choice, getting this degree would mean I could finally do what I really long so badly to do- be a mother.  Unfortunately, without doing something else for a career as a means to an end, this dream isn't possible right from the get-go.  Which kind of ticks me off in a very I-am-a-child-and-I-want-my-way-right-now kind of way.  so this whole degree thing is one of my crossroads.  But wait, there are more.

Another one has to do with the circle of friends I have created for myself.  While some have been life-long, others a 1/2 year long, and some fall somewhere in between that spectrum, I am beginning to feel a break, a crevasse, beginning to form between them and myself.  Many of them are interested in using substances to squelch emotions and heartaches, and while I have definitely used those methods in the past, I feel I'm out growing them.  I long for real and present communication, a meeting of minds, which is quite hard when those minds are cloudy and fuzzy with inebriation.  Part of me thinks this may be too emotionally "needy" of me (I do struggle with that issue), but another part stands firm in a NO, that's not it.  I deserve to surround myself with people who are open, present, and emotionally equipped to deal with life without getting shit faced.

It's really hard, though, coming to the above conclusion.  It means that 90% of my friendships are not fulfilling me on the level I would prefer them to.  I understand that we are all grown-ups now; we have to deal with work and bills and life and in some cases, children.  But is it so wrong of me to want something more?  Something more "real" than smoking pot and getting drunk all the time?  And it's not just the tendencies to use substances that is the problem- the real problem is a lack of real connection; a lack of understanding.  It's unfortunate that I have rarely felt that from any of my friendships for a quite some time.  It's time for some new friends.

And then there is dating.  This cultural activity (ritual?) that simultaneously has the potential to thrill and disgust me.  Meeting like-minded friends is hard enough, but meeting like-minded and potential mates?  It's a tedious, time consuming, tumultuous nightmare.  I've been on and off of dating sites for the past 5 years now, and out of maybe one hundred people (not even kidding) only a handful have had even slight potential.  So I am still single and still on the hunt.  I guess some of my angst comes from my unwillingness to accept mediocrity, which I so desperately accepted the first time I was married.  I learned my lesson the hard way, but I would rather be single for the rest of my life than to feel trapped and unhappy in a marriage ever again.

So all aspects of my life are in flux and trying to stay afloat though waves of uncertainty.  What is in store for me?  What is going to happen next?  What do I need to do to be the happiest and most fulfilled person I can be?  We'll see which roads life takes me down, I guess.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Morty, The Fleetwood Diner

If the Fleetwood Diner were a person, it would be a cranky old man named Morty who wears a tattered fedora and suspenders holding up his ridiculously loose pants.  He tells dirty jokes to inappropriately young women.  He has an aversion to taking showers and he may or may not smell like dirty socks.  But despite Morty’s shabby exterior, people are drawn to him.  Drawn to him like hippies to a summer music festival, like bar hoppers are drawn to late-night, deep-fried snacks.  He is a character, and one who attracts a crowd.
            A person such as Morty is even more likeable (albeit tolerable) when one has had a few drinks under their belt, and the Fleetwood is no exception.  All of the previous times I have visited the restaurant have been after a night of concert-going or drinking at nearby establishments, so many of the restaurant’s less than spectacular qualities did not appear themselves to me at all.  Rather, I saw the endearing eccentricity through the haze of my post Cherry-Bomb buzz.  I didn’t pay attention to how dirty the floor was because there were so many people packed into the place that I literally couldn’t see the floor.  
            But tonight was different.  My sister-in-law, niece and nephew and I were one of three parties at The Fleetwood, despite the Art Fair’s having attracted thousands into the city.  The Fleetwood seemed lonely and ignored.  I imagined Morty in his human form, standing outside trying to cajole strangers to eat at his restaurant, asking them to come eat in one sentence, and then spewing insults at them when they decline and pass by in another.
            It was odd to be in a place sober that I was so used to patronizing when I was not.  I paid much more attention to the details of the restaurant itself.  I noticed all of Morty’s age spots- the rust patches and water stains on the ceiling, the pop and coffee dried up on the black and white (although I use the word white loosely) tiled floors.  But Morty is not concerned so much with how he looks as he is with serving good food that people will wait outside in the freezing cold for thirty minutes or more to eat.  Morty is unapologetic for his oversights, and unselfconscious about his appearance because of them.  Morty is who he is, as is The Fleetwood Diner.
            And the Fleetwood invites its customers to be the same. A place that offers up a comfortable haven for absolutely anybody, from lawyers to change beggars to kids with brightly colored Mohawks (I actually saw one while I was there), to teenagers to the elderly who dine at the Fleetwood in the hopes of reliving a fond memory from their past.  Everyone has a place and everyone is welcome.  It’s like once we eat there we are one of Morty’s friends and he always invites us to come back.
            So I was excited and a little nervous to introduce my niece and nephew to the Fleetwood- excited for them to experience the retro “blast from the past”-ness of the place and nervous that they wouldn’t share the same appreciation for it that their mother and I did. I couldn’t wait for them to see the splattering of stickers on the wall, ranging from bands to bumper to bubble gum.  I thought they would get a bang out of the authentic looking stools lined dutifully at the counter and the novelty of being able to watch the cook prepare our food as we sat. But to my chagrin, they had no appreciation for the details that, in my mind, make this place so unique. To them, Morty’s bygone era quirkiness went unnoticed; their attentions focused more on playing with the silverware than noticing their surroundings.
            I noticed, however, the almost uncomfortable blank silence that hung heavy in The Fleetwood like the metal awnings outside.  Usually, (by that I mean at 2 am on any given night) a mix of music as eclectic as the clientele blasts from a little boom box propped on top of one of the refrigerators behind the counter, it’s blown speakers blaring scratchy sounds like Bob Marley, The Sex Pistols, or maybe even a little ‘50’s Doo-Wop.  But tonight all I could hear were the volcanic pops of hot grease, the AC blasting its little heart out and little (boring) snippets of conversation from the people around us.  No music at the Fleetwood?  It was as if they ran out of Hippie Hash- something significant was definitely missing.  The silence amplified the Diner’s sleepy mood. 
            Our waitress seemed sleepy, too.  She was efficient, but not overly friendly or engaging.  She did, after all, have the whole entire restaurant to serve.  I counted six the  stools at the counter, fourteen seats at the inside tables, and there had to be at least 4 tables outside seating about 4 at each- that’s over 36 potential seats to one little waitress.  That was a lot of people to serve, so the fact that she plopped a pile of silverware and napkins on our table for us to distribute didn’t bother us so much.  I imagine her as Morty’s great granddaughter, the “you-can’t-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks” attitude being concentrated through the passing on of generations.
            Another thing that adds to the personification of Morty through the Fleetwood is the attitude.  There is a unique manner captured amongst the sheet metal walls- one that is almost devil-may-care, or on the contrary,  the devil-does-care, and he wants you to eat at his restaurant.  It’s not only the attitude of the restaurant, but also the demeanor of many of its customers.  During my late night visits, the inevitably inebriated patrons didn’t mind waiting a half an hour, didn’t mind the slightly less than presentable appearance.  Going to the Fleetwood isn’t about getting gussied up and fancy, it’s about slinging a greasy spoon, fork and knife while fraternizing with your fellow bar hoppers.
            Instead of a varied, colorful crowd, tonight’s patrons were just plain and simple.  There was the newly-dating couple in their 20’s who sat at a table by the front window and made small talk, the college-aged girls sitting by the back jealousy window (which doesn’t open to the outside, but rather to the basement stairwell), and us.  A few people came in and out to get carryout orders, but that was the extent of it.  I noticed how much bigger the small diner felt when it was not bursting at the metal seams with people.  The space seemed expansive with the longing for capacity to be fulfilled. 
            In an effort to try and redeem myself as the “cool aunt”, I brought my niece and nephew down to the bathroom for a pit stop (they had been asking all through dinner to go down there).  We opened the door to the back steps (the bathroom is in the basement) and a wall of heat and stink and mustiness assaulted our noses.  Trapped underneath the black rubber mat that covered the stair landing lurked smells that should not be found anywhere near a place where people eat.  The stench was a mix of bleach, mildew, and bread gone bad.  The odor that warned us to turn back around only encouraged my niece and nephew to follow the stairs down to the bathroom.  It was like we were in the belly of an old ship- dark, dank, and damp with the black walls emanating an unfriendly vibe  (That, or the inside of Morty’s belly).  We turned the corner after the stairs and there was the bathroom- its unevenly hung door opened ever so slightly, daring us to even have a look.  I pushed open the door and turned on the light.  One of the walls was painted a chalky black, and the other a deep, dusty blue.  Graffiti and phone numbers were scattered all over the walls.  The garbage can underneath the sink was overflowing with used paper towels. The stink of “bathroom smells” was so strong my niece had to hold her nose to keep from gagging.  “Awesome!”  My nephew exclaimed, anything disgusting and putrid piquing his interest.  I was disappointed that the thing they got so excited about was also the least appealing attribute of the place.
            I was also disappointed at my reaction to the Fleetwood this particular Friday evening.  I had looked forward to seeing this place as I was used to seeing it- busy, loud, and boisterous.  Instead my expectations slumped like a runny egg yolk on one of the Fleetwood’s hash breakfasts.  It seemed everything that had attracted me to this place previously was missing- the eclectic and friendly crowd, the garbled boom box tunes, and the party-like atmosphere.  It was quite a letdown that instead of showing my niece and nephew a rockin’ good time in a retro restaurant, they had a mediocre time experiencing the Fleetwood as a drowsy, derelict diner.
            While its ambience was lacking this particular evening, I know had we gone a mere 5 hours later I would have seen the Fleetwood Diner I know and (somewhat begrudgingly) love.  “Morty” would have drawn in his usual crowd of friends and been in full swing- slurring rounds of dirty jokes and stories to anyone were they listening or not, his loose pants held up by suspenders as he danced behind the counter to the tunes all night long.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

trying to upsell myself

So, in an effort to actually meet people when it seems all facets of my life lead to isolation (being a writer, living with my grandmother, etc) I posted a profile on a dating website.  Here it is.  Please let me know your thoughts, opinions, additions, etc.  Oh, and hang in there... it's a long one.

Number one: I live with my 93 year old grandmother to take care of her. My father (her son) passed away when I was a teenager and I have taken on the responsibility of making sure that she is safe, well fed and very well taken care of. Some of you may think that's just "so sweet "and others of you will run for the hills. Please, go run. If you think me taking care of my family is lame then I wouldn't want to date you anyways. She took care of me my entire life and I feel it is an honor and privilege to take care of her. That said, I am not a saint and do not claim to be one. I just love my (very small) family.

I am currently finishing up my very last semester at U of M Ann Arbor and will be receiving my bachelors in Film Studies (essentially) in August. It's been a long time coming and I have encountered many road blocks, but I never gave up. I'm proud and cannot wait to reach that milestone for myself.

Along with doing school work to keep me busy, I am also being paid to write a movie. It's nothing spectacular, just a chick-flick, but I am hoping it will be something that will be profitable and marketable. Or at least get my name out there!

I dream of living in Paris and attending Culinary school there, being a writer in New York City (I will live there someday), having one of my movies get made and seen in a theatre. I also dream about my future children and being a mommy. I think that one can achieve their dreams and have children, too. All the better, in fact, so the kids learn how to go after their own dreams.

I enjoy grocery shopping, making lists, road trips, camping, being outdoors, foreign films, writing, iPhone photography, indie music, going on adventures, traveling, cooking, naps, and being active and busy with a goal ahead of me to achieve. I love spending time with my niece and nephew and I also love my cat, Tortellina (or "T", as I call her). We love to snuggle together everyday. Well, she snuggles and I pet her ;-)

Ok, so that's what I do... Here's who I am (they are separate, you know):

A creative, free-spirit type whose life is her art. I am sensitive (some say overly, but usually to those who are "underly"), kind, thoughtful, intuitive, generous, intelligent, funny, inquisitive. I have been curious since birth and my favorite question is "why?" Not to be obnoxious or annoying, but to increase my understanding and get to the bottom of a situation. I have all of those great qualities but I have faults, too. Nobody's perfect and I am no exception. Some of those are: tendency to procrastinate, can get jealous, maybe a little complain-y sometimes, can be judgmental, a little flighty. I try to be aware of my shortcomings so I can always work to improve myself. (Oh, I also attend a weekly support group and periodically see a psychologist to help out with that, too.) I am a real person- open and honest and present.

What I want more than anything is to have a family. One that is healthy and strong, unconditionally loving and supportive, and what I live for. I want to raise my children to be healthy (emotionally and physically) and happy independent individuals who genuinely care for others and treat them accordingly.

Here's who I hope you are:
Intelligent, funny, attractive, witty, thoughtful, considerate, open minded, responsible and not too dependent on any sort of substance. You enjoy many of the same things as I do, but may throw in a wild card or two to make it interesting. You are mature and in touch with your emotions, able to ask for and communicate what you need and are interested in improving yourself constantly as well. You are ambitious with big dreams/goals and you recognize something amazing when it is in front of you. You are a deep thinker- you ponder things bigger than yourself every once in a while. You're quirky or weird in some way, no status quo for you.

Wow! Did you make it this far? Good for you. In celebration you should send me a message!

Monday, July 16, 2012

goodbye, JETNOIR

Today the one thing of value I own in the world was pronounced dead.  My car, lovingly coined "JETNOIR" ("jet black", a triple entendre referencing it's all black interior, nod to the old Saab tag "born from jets", and my own jet black hair), a 2002 Saab 93, was pronounced dead at around 11am this morning.  I will not go into the gory details of it's death, but I will say that my eyes are still puffy and red from crying.  This was much more than a car to me, it was my independence.

Every since I was 15 and had the promise of a driver's license on the horizon, cars have meant independence to me.  Back then a car was my ticket to getting the cuss out of my house (the last place I wanted to be) and to the rest of the world (well, at least the continental United States).  I also decided back then that the cars I will own will say something about me, they won't be just random hunks of metal with wheels, they will make a statement about who I am, what I like and what kind of person I am.

What did JETNOIR say about me?  I am a little sporty (it was a hatchback), a lot quirky (it had only one cupholder in the whole car), I stand out in a crowd (there are not too many of these on the road nowadays) and I appreciate a more boxy, Euro-designed vehicle.  I am flexible (the rear seats folded down and offered ample room for a bike, or bookshelf, or random, street-found easy chair) and I have great style (the car was utilitarian yet fashionable).  This car basically said I rocked, but in an unpretentious, understated way.

It surprises me how upset I am about losing this car.  I was always very attached to it, but essentially, it's just a hunk of metal with some rubber and leather and plastic thrown in the mix.  It was something that got me from place to place. But, I feel as though I have lost my cool best friend- the one whom hanging around with, just by association, made me somehow cooler.  Goodbye, JETNOIR, you will always have a place in the garage of my heart.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

becoming what i will become

            Somehow, there are all these women out there living the life I’m supposed to be living.  The late-twenty something TV show writer, producer, actress who is literally living THE life I feel I should be (Ms. Lena Dunham, to be exact); the early thirty something momma that calls herself the Hipster Homemaker on Pinterest; the city girl who writes for Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food magazine and keeps up a very popular food blog.  I’m going through a time of crisis, of catharsis.  I am 33 years young (and on a good day feel like I am 25- TOPS), live with my grandmother taking care of her and all I have are visions of how I want my life to be.  I want children with a desperation that puts Scarlett O’Haras to shame, yet I have no boyfriend, no prospects for a boyfriend, and no desire to put myself out there to try and find one.  Yet the longing I feel is such it almost brings me to tears.  There was a time around when I turned thirty I felt the biological push so strongly to have children that I became quite promiscuous, but that didn’t really pan out.  How it is that something I want so, SO badly can be eluding my life so, SO constantly?  Usually, when I pray to God for something, I get it.  Not that I am spoiled by God, but it seemed that we just had this unspoken agreement- I ask, then I receive.  But I have been asking for a child for years, ever since I had a miscarriage at 24.  Yet, my requests have been met with absolutely no human baby.

So I started wondering if maybe I am not meant to have children of the human persuasion- that maybe my legacy will be with my prose instead of my offspring.  I started thinking this because I began to look at what God was giving me while I was begging so desperately for a child- so many opportunities to birth, but none of them resulting in a human baby.  Opportunities like being paid a living wage to write a movie, and being in the position to finally finish my bachelors degree by taking my dream writing class.  Maybe I am just doomed to be a spinster writer who stays in her apartment for days on end without leaving, surrounded by a clowder of cats and half-eaten baked goods, those bristly hair curlers tangled up in my matted, dirty hair.  Doomed?  Doomed sounds so harsh.  After all, these are gifts from god and are the fabric of the purpose of my life.  But is this really the purpose?  Is this really what I am good at?  Is it what I am meant for?  And how could this be it when it feels like something else is really “it”?

I’m learning to trust God, but it’s hard.  Maybe, I think to myself, God will reward me with a family and a baby when I finish this other stuff first.  I recently read an article by Lena Dunham honoring the late Nora Ephron.  Ms. Dunham expressed similar concerns as mine to her director friend to which Ephron replied: "You can’t meet someone until you’ve become what you’re becoming."  When I read that line, it all made sense.  That was why I hadn't met the man of my dreams and why I had no children- because I was in the process of becoming who I am supposed to become.  Not only did it console me because now I had a reason, but other women had gone through this same time of uncertainty and made it through to the other side.  Now all of my "stuff" made a little bit more sense.

But why does it just feel like “stuff” to me?  Why can’t I embrace the amazing opportunities that have been so generously given to me?  I cannot tell a lie- my desire to have a family of my own is so primal and fierce that it is cellular.  With every fiber of my being it is what I want, down to the stray-growing hairs on my toes.  I want to create and live in an environment of love and support, where I feel needed by my children and partner (boyfriend or husband, I’m not too picky about that part) but also where we are all appreciated for and encouraged to be the individuals we are.  I want to be the matriarch who maintains the balancing act of love, life and family so well her friends tell her she should start an advice column.  God, I need some advice- why do you keep turning around the direction of my dreams?  Let's make a deal.  You take away my desires for things that are not of this time for me, and I'll do my best to muddle my way through the "stuff".  Help me become what I'm becoming now so I can become what I am to become later.  Hopefully, that's a mommy.