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I don’t know how I know, but I know.

Lake Chautauqua Sunset

That was my response after answering a question—with confidence—that I couldn’t possibly know the answer to.

Knowing but not knowing, you know?

These days, I live by logic. Mostly. I still run the gamut of emotions, often frustrated and bubbling over, but now I make decisions. I wait. Younger Meghan? Oh, she donned a reckless impulsivity that could’ve easily ruined me. No, really. I was somewhere like a 7 or 8 on the Richter Scale, a Tazmanian Devil sort of swirling around in a self-made tornado of sadness, loneliness and self-deprecation. I took it to a new level. I wore black girl-sized Dickies and dyed my hair a shade to match. Raise your hand if you feel me.

Knowing without knowing isn’t a science. It’s not sensical. It’s not even like the lesson of maturity I learned (late) in adolescence: Will you ever learn to think before you open that mouth of yours… damnit, Meghan!

(That was my mother’s voice in case you didn’t recognize it. “Damnit Meghan” was more of a household name.) And no, I will learn, but it’s something I’ll wish I could unlearn. At least a little bit.

Knowing without knowing is more like intuition, a phantom kind of thing I’ve always had but couldn’t count on. I’m no mystic, no wizard. But these days I’m counting on it more. Is this a getting old thing? 30 going on 80, yep.

“You need to learn to trust yourself. Right now,” warned the tarot reader who sat across from me, taut-lipped with her hands folded across the table.

But that was in 2012. I’ve made a conscious effort, really, but trusting my guts is worrisome for all kinds of reasons. Just the other day, my guts decided it was ok to spend an hour online trying to locate a rare book of short stories. The day before that, my guts thought it fine to indulge in a plate of General Tso’s Chicken—breaded, fried, glistening with grease, married to a huge helping of oily fried rice. I mean, for someone who relies heavily on logic to keep her in line, intuition is about as grounded as a beach kite. I mean, I stop at Sheetz gas stations at like 11 p.m. for gummy bears so what do I know? I find, however, denying ones guts leads to another set of issues.

So ok, it’s balance I’m looking for in my 30’s. Oddly, where my teens were teary, flailing and faltering, my 20’s were for exercising control and maybe, sometimes, too much (see: picking lint off the floor, having meltdowns cleaning bathtubs…). It only makes sense that I come to this, convergence.

The struggle is the limitations of balance, what the old me might have seen as boring—stagnant and idle—I should now embrace? Kind of like a see-saw, but just because it’s level doesn’t mean there’s no one on it… right? Maybe there are just two forces of equal weight. Precise, shaky, going nowhere? I’ve always hated even numbers…

Man, I could go for a smoke.

Livejournal or bust

HermitTarot

Oh, I remember those days.

I used to spew my guts on Livejournal.com like some sort of uncensored, four-eyed mutant with a lead role and more feelings than dollars in my weekly Giant Eagle paycheck. Writing often, I would weave my emo thoughts and rants with bolded song lyrics. I would choose 100×100-pixeled avatar images of faceless girls in sad corners or dead-flower GIFs with flashing text reading shit like “it doesn’t even matter anymore.”

But that’s just it, it did matter. Everything mattered. Probably too much mattering.

Today as I ventured back into that world of “Everybody Hurts” and ambiguous crush speak, I stumbled upon a quote that struck me:

“The more profound you are, the more meaning you need.”

It doesn’t feel too long ago that everything hurt. I was an open wound walking, or so the cliche goes. I walked around like that for years in corduroys and striped sweaters, a heart dangling from my seams like a loose thread.

But the years wore me down, maybe. Here and there, we lose people to lack of humility or pride, to distance, to miscommunication, to disinterest, to one-ups and to one-downs. Each time a gut blow. (It’s tremendous, honestly, how much friends mean to me. Without much of a traditional blood-related crew, my friends have always been my family.) And then came a divorce-like split after so many years.That loss was more than familiar or romantic or plutonic, but all of it. Necessary and healthy, maybe. But not without pain. Still, even then, I went forward with my guts between my teeth, handing them out like hard candy.

And then my favorite person in the whole world died.

So that was it,  I guess. The last time I really remember feeling like that, a live wire under my skin. And I say, if this is growing up, it blows.

I told A the other day (after dealing myself a nearly-all-reversed spread of cards): “I guess I had to shut something off recently… to deal with the stress of small and big things. And maybe I just haven’t turned it back on. That’s where I am.”

I’ve never seen a spread that blocked and I’ve been reading cards since high school.

But it’s been more than just recently (more than this jet stream of bad luck I’m refusing to whine about any more on my blog). I’m stuck now wondering, years later, after her death, will I ever learn how to turn it back on? Don’t get me wrong, I feel a flicker on occasion. I’m absolutely ok, and you know, sometimes my heart gets full and round and I can hear the blood pulsing in my ears. But is that it? I just want to know.

Is strength, is growing up, really just dulling the nerves and dumbing down our hearts… is the only thing that really changes the things that change us?

I don’t buy it. I can’t won’t.

mt

Anniversary of bad things

meanddlast

We celebrate the past by dates and times.

But what is an anniversary anyway? What is time? We make this shit up and then decide to grieve or to pine or to celebrate at the same moment every year, as if every day isn’t as poignant or painful. Do we really save up all our tears or grateful gushing for just this one pin-point on an invisible time map… WHAT? Or is it just a permission slip?

Yeah, maybe I’m having some existential lapse, or a “Matt moment,” as I like to say about my former roommate’s vocal ruminations. On occasion (prompted by who knows what), Matt gets tangled up in the weirdness of the world, looking at it through an oddly “non-human” and objective way. For instance, we once melted a penny atop the metal grate of a fire pit in the backyard, for no reason other than we could. Matt couldn’t get over this. Instead he went on and on about how strange it was that the penny just didn’t exist anymore. Here, then not. No trace even, no liquidy metal puddle. No burnt round edge of where the thing was. It was just gonezo.

People can be gonezo too. And it doesn’t make sense either.

No matter how many times my brain circles it, no matter how many books I read or things I feel, I don’t get it. And I can’t decide whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate that my brain does this with everything that I can’t understand… it’s relentless. Like a lost helicopter or the cloudy grey debris stuck inside a tornado. But the only difference between that penny and humanity is that people leave and leave something behind. I know it’s on the inside or it’s supposed to be, but sometimes it creeps out, sometimes it’s just as tangible as a black eye or a broken bone.

But maybe that is the point of an anniversary: one day we don’t have to stuff it all in. Because Guts Out Mode isn’t necessarily a space one can live in. We have to do things like get out of bed, go to work, shower, dress, clean things, eat, shit, you get it. And grief, for one, is immobilizing. Maybe that’s why it feels so “go through the motions.” That’s what we do to survive, save it all up (the big part of it anyway) for 364 days.

Fuck that. I grieve every day. Still, when I wake, it’s one of the first things I have to remind myself. Maybe it’s a habit now. She’s gone. A part of me gone. But unlike that penny, I’m the liquidy puddle left behind, the burnt shape around where her body was. “The power of what isn’t there…” Somedays I feel like that void, walking.

I still can’t believe it’ll be two years since D died (tomorrow). But isn’t that how it is for everyone who has lost someone? It feels like both yesterday and forever ago.

I rarely put whole poems up here, but this one seemed fitting. Written last year around this time.

HOW I LIVE NOW [IN THREES]

You are the only thing
that dies each morning.
Sticky with sleep and

too many cigarettes, I
reach for you, the coffee
you taught me, creamer

first. You are dead and
it’s 10 AM so I shower,
remind myself explicitly:

you were never mine, and
to leave the conditioner
in longer. I hear it’s warmer

than winter outside if
I’ll have it. Every time,
you die when I drive.

I have nothing. It’s
sudden. The radio hiccups
some song I never heard,

but the sky is on fire,
the day leaving in that
blaze, the same dress you wore

after you died, everyone
frozen how you left us there,
alive like that, living.

 

<3

mt

 

What’s with weather

The sky has been loud.

See, most days the only way I know how to feel is from this: sky, weather, the way the sun hits and colors. It’s not that I don’t wish it could be more personal, but lately the sky has been steering me, been more demanding of me. I’m not used to it.

Just this year have I become unlike myself, my self. I’d like to split them. “Self” as a word seems hokey, but recently it hasn’t felt like mine. This shift, I like to believe, is my trying to be healthy, the idea of relying on myself (my self?) for happiness, because this is what we are told to do. This is what I have resisted my whole life, for various reasons.

You shouldn’t depend on others for your happiness. It’s unhealthy.

I know, I know, I know. Really, at the end of it, there is nothing or no one you can depend on. “Depend” as a word seems faulty now, as does “loyalty” and “whole.”

So I’m sitting here in my button-down and my sweater and my khaki-colored corduroys asking: now what? I have shut down. I have shifted. No one has that ability now–or barely. Now that I have lost some sort of connection with “others,” or more aptly the “underworld,” I have begun looking up for answers? Not for some omnipresent guide or god or being, but for something as simple and surface as weather. C’mon… what’s worse?

Today when I stepped outside of my office, around 3:30 p.m., the world seemed at war: grey clouds huddled on top of each other like walls of puffy sandbags; the darker greys poked from beneath and east; and the sun, in an overwhelming orange, surged to topple it all. Every minute or so, a tentacle of light would peek out from its cage of clouds to grab me with an orange fist. I just stared. I don’t know what it means… what? But I knew that I felt: “hope.” And that pseudo-tangible thing called “sky” could mean things without words or touch.

I may have laughed to myself. I do this sometimes. If the cat isn’t around to join me in my tangled thought processes, I talk to myself (which is also new). To be fair, he talks back. Er… meows.

So now, hours later, I’m thinking again (surprise), but… if “hope” were an image, it just might be that sun trying to boulder its way through the clouds–all that brightness and warmth slamming its back against the grey blanket of Earth. And why, then, I hadn’t thought that way is beyond me. I mean, it makes complete sense now: maybe the sky is a way of feeling and telling and not really touch, but touching.

And so I thought of the day, the sound of my chiming alarm (one of five alarms set) and the sleepy sun that comes at us earlier than before… I imagined it reaching in with that same fist to shake me awake, to rattle me alive. Why am I resisting?

mt

My History with Music & Trouble

I’d normally begin this history with a longer summary of my youth… something about arguing with my mom in the car about her Adult Contemporary radio selection. (Though, there’s really something about Phil Collins and Don Henley that really does it for me these days. HA!)  Or, taking it way back, let’s talk about how I accidentally taped over my cassettes, one Disney soundtrack at a time, with this kiddie recorder I had. In the middle of “Hakuna Matata,” there were, at least eleven, abrupt intermissions in the music, followed by a giggle or a squeal or a less original, “HELLLOOOOOO. 1 2 3.” Apparently that’s all the higher I could count at 5.

Proof of the wee chicken with her first exposure to stardom.

Anyhow, let’s bring it up to speed a bit. I have to admit this weekend seemed a little goofy from the beginning. I had no “legit” plans for Friday night. See, this is already trouble. There is something about ending the work-week with a bang. No matter how sleepy or lazy I feel by Friday at 5 PM, I’m ready for action. (Usually making time to nap first.)

After a feast of Southern-Style BBQ with friends (which fiasco I’m purposefully omitting from this tale because of my seemingly unhealthy obsession with food and over-eating), we gathered at my house to decide the next course of action. We had no ideas other than “not drinking,” which already makes me sound lame, I know.

Three guy friends and I stood on the front porch in a nerd-like panic. OMG?! IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT! DO WE HAAAVE TO GO OUT? DO YOU WANNA GO OUT? I MEAN, WHERE WOULD WE GO?… I GUESS I COULD. DO YOU WANT TO, THOUGH? After a long series of go-no-where questioning, spotted with vacant moments of expressive stares, and can-you-just-read-my-mind eyes, we finally caved. Coffee? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

There is nothing wrong with coffee: nothing wrong with the morning cup at work, the “Hey, let’s go get a cup of coffee” between old friends, and of course, the occasional caffeine mania when most every other young adult in this city is already, at the very least, tipsy and eyeing up some unhot bartender. It was 10 PM, and though, the tall/small/tiny/littlest was an option, I opted for the largest. We all did. “Go big or go home,” they say. I’m pretty sure that phrase had nothing to do with coffee, and more likely something a bit harder like Miller Lite.

For the record, I’m a huge fan of iced coffee. Especially since the weather has been giving us a little more sun and a little less snow. [Us Pennsylvanians are all feeling eager to smack ourselves into the next season (today, in fact!), SPRING.]

Yep. Like I said before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good ol’ caffeine rush among friends on your porch, on a Friday night. Until someone gets the bright idea to sing, that is. And still…

Now this is where I’m going to reverse for a moment and remind everyone (and myself) of my first high-school-aged offense. I had gotten into the routine of flailing down the hall in a silly way—specifically, doing my best opera-style “Hallelujah.” It was fun, loud, and best of all… obnoxious as all get out. What else is a freshman to do but live up to the stereotype? I obviously had no choice. My operatics had skidded their way under the radar over and over. In fact, when teachers did start catching on to my screechy proclamations, they laughed. I won.

Until one day, a certain math teacher decided to call me out on my inane (and honestly, awful) singing, when I barged into his classroom, the trail-end of my melody snailing with me. I was told to stop, mostly in a polite way. Still, I didn’t enjoy being told this in front of my peers, nor the made-up rule at all. And like most ridiculous crap teenagers had to endure, I protested. “Why? But I’m just singing? Is it really against the rules to sing in between classes? Do you not want us to be happy, Mr. So&So?” He ignored me. Of course. I was hitting too close to the truth, I thought, and decided I would do it over again the next day and see just exactly what this fool was after.  I hallelujah-ed the following day, ripping through the busy halls in song. And, boy, did I think I was brilliant with this one; I would silence myself at the exact moment I crossed the threshold into his classroom, a blatant sass-ass. Technically, I wasn’t singing in his classroom, so I wasn’t under his jurisdiction, right? I was immediately sent to the principal’s office, where after a good ten minutes of amazement at my “crime,” the principal sent me off with an obligatory detention slip. My second detention EVER was for writing: “My mom is drunk and naked on the street corner,” in Spanish. I was definitely the queen of getting absurd-sounding detentions.

Anyway, back to the much older, modern day criminals: we giggled and gabbed on my front porch on Friday night, until it was someone’s bright idea to sing. I don’t recall how it began. Perhaps someone just started and we all pitched in. Either way, our harmonies moaned and chirped over the dead-nothingness of my suburban neighborhood. The rows of houses were our acoustics, the feral rabbits our audience. We were quite pleased with ourselves, too: inserting the right “boo-ba-boos,” just the right tone or key, even the way we could mimic the sounds and backdrop beats of the original jams. And once we cleared the “Star-Spangled Banner,” “Amazing Grace,” and “Mr. Sandman,” we realized we had no other song knowledge in common. So…

Bearded One and I started with “O’ Holy Night,” and, as a group, we ran the gamut up until “White Christmas,” boosted by the bass of Hat Boy’s low vocals. We were out there for about an hour, I’m sure,  laughing at ourselves, singing, trying to remember the words to obscure second verses. Until the cops came.

Apparently, someone ratted on us. I felt an immediate sense of disbelief. REALLY? Really? really? Just as ridiculous as my 9th-grade offense, only Mr. Cop Man was nicer. He told us someone called to say we were having a “really big party” and he could see this wasn’t true. I felt like a loser. A 25-year-old chick, surrounded by her guy friends, with nothing better to do on a Friday night than overdose on iced coffee in her pajamas and sing Christmas carols, mid-March, on her porch. It’s fine. It is really fine.

Life Lesson #1875: Next time the cops get called on you, actually be engaged in something worthwhile: like intravenous drug usage, or the selling of Black-Market handbags. <3