Category: Life

Twenty-twenty vision…

Livermore Cemetery, PA // 2020 Copyright Meghan Tutolo

2020, you’re dumped.

If this were middle school and I were 11 again, that’s exactly what I’d say to this year thus far. Here we are. Even with the naive hope that this year might be good, make up for the roller coaster of last year, I can say officially that 2020 is en route to Blowstown. Something like Death, in fact.

No, no… I’m not trying to Emily Dickinson y’all by personifying death, the concept; I’m talking about the tarot card. Number 13 of the major arcana. That Death.

Death is depicted most classically as a skeleton riding a white horse. Often there’s a person or people under that horse with distressed faces—pleading, maybe? It can be interpreted as something like “death comes for all.” It’s more than that, though. While it seems grim and morbid, there’s more depth to the Death card than that.

Rider Waite Tarot - Major Arcana Death XIII

 

I’m not going to lie, though. When I draw this card for myself or others, it’s pretty unnerving. I mean, who wants “Death” to pop up in their spread? The image itself is creepy. But just remember: the Death card is about change, typically an abrupt and sudden change that leads to something new. A transformation of sorts? A death of something? Maybe you didn’t initiate it or plan for it, but sometimes a forced switch of the gears is necessary.

Grim reaper dude here gets a bad rep, for sure, but Death can be a positive card. While change is scary, it’s mostly necessary for growth. So you know, sometimes you have to play the long game? Look at the big picture, as they say.

So… I’m not sure what the Death card means for me personally, but I’ve never been good at dealing with change. Most transformations feel traumatic. The letting go of things is hard—even when what I’m holding to is toxic. I don’t always see it that way. I too often embrace the difficult, the challenging, the things that make me question my own worth. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Change is something I often have to dare myself into. But here we are, 2020, and already I can say the year has been difficult… eye-opening.

Ok, so I get it. Life is a chaotic culmination of wins and losses. I’ve got all these damn feelings, and so I’m the type that straps in for it for real, ups and downs (for better or worse). It’s not the usual for me, but I got pretty low recently, more than I’d been in a long time. I guess what’s so scary about it was that I forgot how fucking hard it is to get out and up again.

Snowballing. It started with an injury that had me limping and kept me from the gym. Without that physical outlet and the restraints of literally hobbling around, I caved in on myself. The shit piles that appeared were harder to navigate. Sometimes it’s just the timing and quantity of bad things (no matter how small) that can sink you. At some point there, I found it hard to get out of bed, to find the reasons, you know? This is not my typically sads, but it seemed like everywhere I turned, I hit a wall or a rejection or a silence.

Not to be dramatic, but it’s devastating to learn how very alone you are. It’s like that Dorianne Laux poem I like to reference, “After Twelve Days of Rain.” Nothing is really yours. You are no one’s. None of that matters. This realization can be either liberating or ruinous. I thought I knew this truth. had felt it even. But this latest valley made me realize how easy it is to lose—especially when you don’t have a family—and how important genuine human connection is. (And no, I don’t mean Facebook comments or text messages, but the kind of connection that exists without the white screen.)

God, even the word “need” makes me cringe. I mean, who wants to need anyone? My stepmom used to say, “Your dad wouldn’t ask for a bite of a sandwich if he was starving.” I relate. Too much so. And as you can see, this cycle of needing and then shaming oneself for needing is kind of dangerous. Particularly so when you’re at the bottom… when you need a sandwich.

Maybe this was my abrupt and sudden change? My Death card is a wakeup call?

I’m here rambling to try to figure it all out. That’s part of why I write in general: things get too abstract and tangled upstairs. But also, sharing these things feel important too, because someone out there might need to hear it and know they aren’t the only alien floating around in outer space. Before this, I thought I had my people, but you know, maybe not. And that’s okay. It has to be okay. (I’m telling myself this as much as I am telling you.) Our people are out there. We can throw a pity party for eternity and block out all the good and trust no one… or we can hold our hearts hopeful. We’ll only be extra alone if we don’t stay open. We’ll only become “get-off-my-lawn” old and miserable. Can you dig it?

No matter what, I think I will always carry around this burden of “unlovable.” It’s a chain around my neck, the lack of unconditional love, a family, growing up. I now know that’s what my dad felt and what he has passed onto me. My heart breaks for him. Though I didn’t realize this when he was alive, I think some part of healing myself might just heal him too. Is that crazy?

So here I am. Back to the gym (finally), trying to believe, trying to hope, trying to give myself everything I hoped to get from people who loved me. I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow, but this is how I feel today. It’s okay. I’m telling myself this as much as I am telling you.

mt

 

 

3 big things

Moto views in Pittsburgh // photo by Meghan Tutolo

Had my younger self caught wind of all the big things going on in my life right now, she never would have believed it.

My preteen self would be awfully disappointed about the way things shook out. I am not a famous Broadway star. I have not had any plastic surgery. I do not own a swimming pool with a huge deep-end nor an Icee machine of just red and blue. Most years, I miss out on going to Kennywood (even though I now live within a few miles of the joint). I have not tried to find out where any of my celebrity idols live and casually run into them at local bars and restaurants. What a waste of adulthood!

Really, though, I’m not talking about this self. She was a baby and kind of out-of-touch with reality, no? I’m talking about the younger adult me… even who I was 7 years ago wouldn’t have fallen for this shit.

Every once in a while, I have these moments where I can see myself so clearly—objectively almost—as an outsider would. More aptly explained: it’s like I am the observer seeing someone else entirely. I’m not sure if this is common or normal or anything, but it isn’t something I do on purpose. It’s like my brain is thrust just out of frame. (Dissociate, much?) As weird as it can be, it’s been a useful tool, like superhero-strength awareness.

Anyway, this happened the other day after I parked my wheels, as I was taking in the events of the day, taking inventory of the worries and thoughts circling upstairs.

Holy shit. Who am I? None of these things sound like the me I knew.

I have to admit I got a little panicky. I mean, if this isn’t who I thought I’d be and what I thought I’d be doing… is this actually what I want? As I write this here, I’m realizing just how melodramatic this all sounds. Ha! But you have to understand, I live my life at a pretty fast pace. At the beginning of our relationship, A used to laugh astonished at “how many days we had” that day. She caught her first glimpses of how much goes on in a day when you spend it with me.

Because I live this way, it seems more likely that I might wake up one day like “OMG, WHERE AM I? HOW DID I GET HERE?” That shit is terrifying.

Exhibit A. Motorcycle

Black Suzuki TU250x 2019 // Photo by Meghan Tutolo

Yeah, you heard it here, folks. The “chicken” is rolling around on two wheels. As of recently, I have graduated from the scooter—which was already a mind fuck, to be honest—to a motorcycle. I never ever ever ever wanted to ride on one, let alone own one. I thought it foolish and frightening. I mean, why would anyone put themselves in danger like that? And unnecessarily so? I know now.

Exhibit B. Stained Glass

Round panel stained glass creation in the studio // photo by Meghan Tutolo of 1flychicken creations

It’s not that stained glass isn’t beautiful. I’ve always found it fascinating. I got a taste for it in 11th or 12th grade, when I went with the Art Club to a local stained glass studio to learn how and to make a suncatcher.

But let’s be real: I can barely wash the dishes without cutting myself. Glass? Lead? A 600˚F soldering iron? Get out of town.

I know there are more dangerous arts and crafts, but this one is certainly up there for the likes of me. Besides it being risky to the digits, creating stained glass takes some serious time, practice, money, attention span, etc. But here I am and I’m loving it. I started producing it for 1flychicken creations and selling my suncatchers at art events and online.

And the coolest part about it is that people seem to be digging it as much as I dig making it. I am so excited about it. It’s bananas.

Exhibit C. House?

Instant film, new home in Pittsburgh // photo by Meghan Tutolo

No way. I still can’t believe it. I have flat-out told people—even just months ago—that I would never buy a house. I don’t even watch HGTV. Nope. Hell no. And don’t you even try to talk me into it.

Why was I never into the idea of buying a house? BECAUSE. I. CANNOT. BE. FEELIN. TRAPPED. IN. ANY. WAY. More debt? Unforeseen issues I may have to shell out for? There are so many reasons to be absolutely terrified of owning a home. I am not rich. How do people do this?

But would you look at the damn thing? It’s incredible. We fell in love instantly. It’s just as charming on the inside, if not moreso. It’s perfect in so many ways, not just because it’s so quirky and fun looking… but I’ll stop here, because this could easily become a tribute to my new digs.

So listen. Besides the threat of losing the house in some way or having to sink a ton of money into it, my worst fear is becoming on of those people, the middle-aged, handy home-improvement types. You know who they are. They always have a project going on, always in the home improvement stores and aisles, always wanting to talk about what they’re doing to their house like anyone cares.

Likewise—and these folks fall into the same category as the people whose lives are dictated by their dogs’ bathroom routines (sorry!)—I just refuse to spend so much time on the house that I never leave to have a life/socialize. You know the type? If you’re not sure, just ask them what they’re up to this weekend. These hermits are likely to respond in one of the following ways:

“Welp, I’ve got to stain the deck this weekend.”

“I’m probably going to re-grout the tile in the bathroom.”

“I’ve got some plans to sand, stain and refinish the kitchen cabinets.”

Nooooo! That sounds awful and boring and isolating. I don’t want to miss out on life because I’m too busy working on my house. That’s exactly what I don’t want to do. But I know me. I know that I take care of things, that I like to learn new practical skills, that when I put my guts into something, I go all the way… please don’t let me become a home improvement hermit? I’m counting on you.

Are you a home improvement hermit? How do you manage your time? Do you hire out for your maintenance work?

Gulp.