I Miss People

Personal, Slam Poems

I’m not speaking about certain individuals like a lost love or the fatality of friends

I mean the sincerity of strangers threaded throughout our thumbprints

Those unsung spirits

Heroines and heroes sans egos but with in-erasable emotions

I miss someone wearing their heart on their sleeves and instead of shooing them away, I would roll mine up in turn and say,

Let’s see how we can work with this

 

But instead, I work to brighten the smiles of people on a screen

Chained to a desk, the only heartbeat I feel is the pulsing of the mouse underneath my hand

The only connections I see are through a glass screen into a false reality

I miss hellos that led to handshakes and handshakes that end in leaving hugs, and all of that spectacular serendipity of connectivity in between

 

Give me a dive bar where I may go swimming in the hearts of man

Unchain me from the chain restaurants that source their livelihood from the masses

Give me someone local and lean, whose meat is juicy like their stories.

 

It’s no wonder that en entire generation of people connecting online oftentimes feel themselves a little bit disconnected

A poke is a joke and a like is like a fleeting lark

Momentarily engaging but all of this social interaction is ultimately leading to absolute isolation

And there is no sharing in the longevity of loneliness

 

While we spend hours cramming the best parts of ourselves onto the Internet

We’re leaving the focal point of ourselves back in fundamental fibers

Those beautiful inconsistencies of humans

That recognition of a counterpoint in another soul

But instead we counter online arguments

Facebook battle war zones littered with text instead of empty bullet casings

Fueling the hate with blank boxes of ammunition

Igniting fires we are trying so desperately to escape within ourselves

Reignited by the artificial flames of the media and the ‘other’

 

Even the tinder we have today cannot seem to spark because it will never be able to match that feeling of going weak in the knees

LOL no longer an abbreviation but a code of letters standing for the idea of laughter

But there’s not shortening like the shortness of breath from laughing so hard you cannot stop

With Buzzfeed ringing in my ear like the banality of busy bee

I sit at my desk, my fingers type out messages I yearn to speak aloud

My eyes scan pictures I wish­­ to witness

My heart longs to experience it with humankind instead of the holograms of the herd

 

This petty poem will never placate the palpable nature of people

This pandering of the populous will never play out the way we planned it

Until we fight for the friendships we’ve forsaken for Facebook

Until we stop idolizing instant individuals.

Until we stop teetering on the text of tweets

We will remain in our attempts to recreate this rapturous reality we’ve tried so hard to replicate

Until the only thing that lingers are the hallowed hearts harboring hardened hardships

Ultimately pining away for that palpable perfection of people.

 

 

MADE: I Want to Be a Slam Poet

Personal
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Who would have thought this dumbass could write poetry?

 A few months ago I started to watch TED talks at work to help break up the monotony of music I had become bored with. So instead of my background noise being random beats and lyrics, it became rhetoric by scientists and authors, adventurers’ sharing their journeys, and soon: slam poets.

My favorite talks began to be ones done by Rives and Sarah Kay. Their words resonated with me and I found myself replaying this talk over and over again, just to watch Sarah Kay’s initial poem she begins her talk with If I Should Have a Daughter. One day I found myself actually watching the entire talk over again. Since you’re probably not obsessed with spoken word and probably not going to watch the entire talk, here’s a synopsis: Sarah Kay began doing poetry at a young age and found a world of encouraging poets who helped her to find a voice from a young age. She then started her own program helping teens to do the same through their own writing.

And I found myself thinking: I wish I could do that.

And then I found myself thinking: Why can’t I do that?

And then I decided to do it. Be a slam poet that is.

When I decided this was something I wanted to do I began devouring anything and everything slam poetry. Hours flew by filled with videos from topics ranging from thighs to drug dealer’s daughters. Poems filled with passion, intelligence, conviction and people literally baring their souls for anyone to listen to.

And then I found myself thinking: I’m never going to be good at this.

It’s a discouraging thought, yes. But it was also the first time in a very long time that I had found something that I wanted to do – but wasn’t good at initially. I felt like my writing was sub-par, immature, and trite. Nothing I seemed to write lived up to anything I was watching. But I found myself still trying, still pushing, and still believing that if I worked hard – this could eventually be something I was good at.

Then I started going out to open mic/slam poetry events in Fort Worth (thanks to a very wonderful friend who gratefully brought me with him) and saw the range of poets that exist outside the realm of Youtube views. Real people, even realer stories, and the same supportive community that Sarah Kay had found.

So I began talking to people in the community and asking advice. Everyone just told me to keep writing, to keep trying, and to finally just bite the bullet and perform sooner rather than later. But I found myself still scared to even tell people this was something I was attempting to do and the idea of being onstage again terrified me.

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Side note: I did theater for almost 8 years. I have performed in poetry events such as this growing up, but always with the words of others. The catch is that I never felt I was good enough because I never advanced in competitions. I always felt inadequate or never quite good enough compared to other performers (see: reasons why I didn’t major in theater) so I had a stigma in my mind that this was something I had already proven wasn’t a good fit for me. Despite my internal negativity, I kept telling myself how much I had changed since high school, how much more confident I am in myself now, and how this sense of self (and an overly determined self) would be the key to actually succeeding.

So…I did it.

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Chyeah.

 

After finally writing a poem that I felt accurately reflected me for my first piece, I did spoken word at an open mic. I’ve performed it twice now and I am in love (albeit still terrified). It’s something I think about daily and it’s a creative and challenging outlet I find myself enjoying more and more every day. The people in this community are incredible and inspiring in themselves and just being able to try to become a part of this is exhilarating. My friends and family have been nothing but supportive throughout the process and without their ears to listen and their own words of encouragement ringing in my ears – I never would have had the balls to do it.

While yes I’m writing this as a reflection on my own personal process, I also want to just tell you that YES, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU SET YOUR MIND TO. It can be small, big, scary, exciting, uncomfortable, stupid, silly, daring, or whatever you find yourself yearning to do. Just bite the bullet and believe that you CAN. I may not ever be an ‘amazing’ slam poet, but I will always feel amazing knowing this was something I set my mind to and accomplished, despite being intimidated and feeling inadequate.

And if you’re curious how it went….

Big Girls, You are Beautiful

Personal

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools or oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you have a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative [and beautiful] life, of imagination and radical silliness. It’s going to break your heart.” – Anne Lamott

There are songs about it. There are videos circulating the internet about it. There are Pin-spiration quotes. There are magazine articles written about it. Studies over it. Conversations. Presentations. Lectures. Movements dedicated to helping women to accept their bodies. I can’t help but wonder when women are going to stop striving towards an unattainable and manufactured ideal crafted by an industry founded on a $56 billion revenue (in 2013 alone).

That’s a lot of shampoo, lotions, perfumes, diet pills, eyeliner, tanning memberships, fitness clothes, and waxing appointments for the beautiful ladies of the United States to be purchasing each year for the sake of living up to someone else’s standard of beauty. It is not only an industry, it is comparing ourselves to another person’s interpretation of beauty. They are determining how we view ourselves and how we interpret each other – whether it’s a stranger we pass by on the street or our best friend or even our mothers – who could all be construed by the media as ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’ in some form or fashion.

Nobody calls my momma fat or ugly. Better yet, nobody calls me fat or ugly.

From seeing the positive in all situations by writing down what makes me happy every day to crafting outfits from essentially the discarded garbage from people’s closets – I’m not exactly adhering the norms of everyone else around me. But every day I find myself questioning my body, my hair, or my facial features and wondering, “Am I even pretty?” and most of the time the voice in my head – essentially someone else’s voice – is saying no.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

When I stand in front of the mirror and I look at my body – I’m not worried about it. I think my eyes look nice (sans mascara), I can feel the strength in my legs that I’ve been cultivating in yoga, my hair is finally long (for me), and I can look at it with love (most of the time) rather than disdain. But place me beside another woman and I’ll scrutinize, compare, contrast, and dissect every small difference between us and end up feeling like a terribly misshapen troll.

Robyn Lawley

For what? What purpose does this serve anyone? By cutting ourselves down – are we helping anyone? By placing one person on a pedestal and another on the dirty ground are we not encouraging a caste system of sorts in the realm of the beauty world?

At 23, I feel as if I have two options. Love my body now and embrace it for everything that it can and can’t do, that it will and won’t be, and learn that self-love radiates more than any self-tanning lotion could ever. Or, do I continue hating it, trying to change it, alter it to match someone else, and spend an unnecessary amount of time worrying about my thigh gap (or lack there of) until I realize the former to be true.

Hm. Let me think.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” – Says everyone, ever.

So I’m cultivating my own sense of beauty. Fuck, if I’m going to develop my own sense of style and way of thinking, shouldn’t my standard of beauty also be self-tailored to my own ideals? So here it is, not for your judgement or your adoption of it, but for myself.

Beauty is drinking beer because you love it and not giving a damn about your belly. It’s putting on red lipstick and nothing else, because even on your worst days a smile is all you need. It’s hair that may or may not have been combed or may or may not be dried with a hairdryer or the wind out of your open window in the middle of Texas summer. It’s natural skin tanned by the sun or pale like the moon. Curves in all the right places and all the wrong places – the difference is knowing when to flaunt them. Clothes that you feel good in, that you can sit down comfortably in, or high five in, or bend over in, or cuddle in.

Beauty is knowing what makes you beautiful. For me, I have a mind, a witty sense of humor, big boobs, strong legs, and sense of who I am and who I want to become. I am a babe because I choose to be one, not because someone told me that I am.

beau·ty: (from dictionary.com)

1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives deep satisfaction to the mind

2. a beautiful person or thing of beauty

3. What you decide to define it as. 

 

Inspiring links: No You Don’t Look Fat in That Bikini! Some Say This Model Is Fat.

Previously On

Advertising, Personal

As of late I’ve experienced a tremendous shift in my life. I’ve often times reflected on my life and thought to myself that I’m starring in a sitcom that God would refer to as his ‘guilty pleasure show’. So I’m comparing my current life changes to the end of a sitcom’s season. The finale is full of drama – they’ve made sure to keep you hooked throughout the summer. For me it was leaving the winery without really having a plan – so it felt like that writer’s strike all over again: Where the fuck are we going with this now?

Then I was unemployed. It was like patiently awaiting the return of the series, wondering how the hell they’re going to tie up those loose ends. During the hiatus, you’re bored with too much time on your hands. You find a new hobby outdoors and it’s fulfilling and all – but something is still missing. Just when you think you’re at your wit’s end, after you’ve had enough reruns to stave off the hunger for your favorite characters’ antics, it’s time for the new season to premiere. The premiere starts off with

Previously on (insert clever sitcom title here)…

There’s flashbacks of life and it’s all coming back. They show you clips from earlier seasons, making sure you’re prepped for whats to come. My brief internship stints. High school ad design. NSAC. Every Strategic Communications class I have ever taken. My graphic design classes I took when I was studying abroad. Words about tracking and leading and kerning and Adobe shortcuts and packaging files and staring at computer screens and nudging words half a pica and anything I have ever learned about advertising and design. All my professional highlights scroll through in a series of blurred knowledge – like I just finished an entire season on Netflix in a day – I know what happened, relatively, but it’s a lot to process.

Now you’re somewhat caught up to speed. They made the theme song longer so it takes you a while to get to good stuff (much like my new commute to work). You’re a little uncomfortable at first. It’s the same, yes, but things are just a little different. They’ve changed the setting of the show. (like when they moved Piper to that crazy-ass prison in Chicago – you were like:)

There’s some new characters and you’re not sure how they are going to play out throughout the season. You’re in a whole new time slot. I went from being a late night show, full of boozing and inappropriate social situations that you couldn’t help but laugh at when it’s past 2 a.m. Now I’m in a prime time spot. And my series would be airing before DVR and TiVo – so you have to be right on time to see it.

As you get into the show, you realize they’re make some attempts to tie in the last season but their having difficulty. And you start to feel like this:

But then there’s some of the same wittiness returning to the show. And the spark of hope is back and you realize why you love this show and why you would watch it anyway.

But in all seriousness: I love my new job. I feel empowered, smart, capable, and more confident in myself because I’m acknowledging my abilities once again. I’m also a contributing member of society once more. This time, however, my work is valued by my employer. I work hard and get to play hard on the weekends – I’m making the most of it already with planning to float some rivers, exploring some kayaking spots, going to California and ATX, and already planning on how to spend my vacation days in South America next year – so I don’t feel like I’m compromising too much of myself. But still, I can’t help feeling like I sold out a little bit. Or truly, I sold out one part of myself. “Fun Briana” has been reigned in exponentially more and sooner than I had expected. Granted she got some badass airtime last season (and a whole lot during the hiatus) but now she’s only a minor character in the majority of the episodes. Tucked away, used for comic relief during the stressful and dramatic encounters that now dominate the show.) But it’s not like I was forced to kill her off or anything, so there’s that. It feels weird when I go and get coffee right after sunrise and commit myself to spending roughly the next 11 hours at new job. Then again, I’m thriving in it.

By the end of the episode, you’re hungry for what’s to come. You’re not sure what to expect, but you are anticipating some plot twists, preparing yourself for some predictability, and still pining away for the romance to finally bud (Lord knows I’m getting bored with this whole ‘single girl’ angle they’re taking) and ultimately you’re satisfied and ready for more.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode…

 

 

What I’ve Learned Working at a Winery

Drinking, Personal

I graduated in May 2013 and since then I have not really made any progress towards getting a job relating to my degree. But it’s due to a lack of effort or desire rather than rejection.

I started working at winery while I was still in college and I fell in love with it. My co-workers brought me joy, my customers made me happy, and my product made me drunk. What exactly was there to complain about?

But like any job, people come and go, procedures change, and customers cycle out over time. It’s inevitable. I still love my job, but since becoming a college graduate and then taking on a role as an assistant manager I’ve come to look at it from a very different perspective.

The set up of our winery is a bar and we are located in tourist part of the city. I’ve seen people from all over the country and world walk in. I’ve met people who know about vineyards and wine regions to those who deem Moscato and Boone’s Farm to be the ultimate wines. Ultimately I’ve begun to judge people based on how they walk into the winery. Do they look confused and lost? Do they look thirsty? Are they wearing anything bedazzled? Is there hair teased? All these check marks mentally run through my mind as I causally greet them and introduce our little business model.

Boones Farm: Your virginity never stood a chance.

Regardless of these seemingly pre-programmed questions, I’ve also been taught and re-taught not to judge a book by it’s cover. The woman with the thickest redneck accent is the wealthiest and most generous customer who I’ve encountered. The rough looking bikers who have become close friends who encourage adventure and portray a beautiful image of high school sweethearts 20 years later. The loner male wearing sagging jeans who wandered in on a Monday asking for Chianti with an impeccable Italian accent who wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and for someone to listen to his time stationed in Naples, Italy. The woman who just spent three weeks away for work, whose first place she wants to arrive is the winery because it literally feels like home to her.

These people remind me daily how many beautiful individuals there are in the world and how lucky I am to serve them and help them bring a bit of blurriness to their rather hectic every day lives. Moments like these punctuate the day in and day out at work and remind me why it matters that I am here. Strangers: I recognize you, I listen to you, and I deeply care about how your day was when no one else really gives a damn that you had an eye infection that caused you to lose your dog and now you are crying into your glass of Merlot and I’m bringing you a napkin to wipe up your tears.

On the flip side, there are those individuals who make you feel ashamed for being a server. These people relish in the idea of being demanding and ordering someone around, dangling a tip in your face in exchange for a smile, a glass of water, conversation, three glasses of wine, endless questions about how the wine is made, and two bags of bottles later they scribble in the tip line a measly two dollars and scurry out after turning the receipt paper over to hide their gross injustice to you. These people are small and weak in their every day lives and want to make someone, just for a moment, feel as insignificant as they feel daily. I feel sorry for them because they see me as a pair of hands holding a bottle, rather than for a person capable of being much more to them.

Throughout the myriad of tasting glasses, empty clanking of bottles, spilled wine, drunken laughter, and handshakes I hope that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life even if it was for a moment. I hope I am part of story later on down the road. I have faith that I am more than just a lowly wine-tress because I believe that I am.

More importantly, however, is the fact that I allow people to become a part of my story. I enjoy seeing their faces and hearing about their lives just as much as they enjoy the wine I serve them. At this junction, over a year into working here, I have come to love the people more than my co-workers and the wine. When my time comes to a close here and five years later I am applying for a job and I’m asked to explain a gap in my resume, I want to simply reply, “I was busy learning how to treat people they way we all want to be treated deep down by strangers.”

And I truly hope that’s sufficient because I’m not sure that, “I was busy being a wine-o” will be.

My Last Hundred Bucks: Normal Texas Stuff

Drinking, Personal

Where’d your last hundo go, Briana Wucinski?

$4.93: Starbucks large venti soy latte. It worries me that almost every one of these begins or contains an unnecessary coffee purchase. Then I realize how essential caffeine is to the world and I once again understand.

$15: Gas, because you can’t get anywhere in Texas without a car. Thank you wide open spaces.

$4: I chipped in for tacos with a friend. You also can’t go a week in Texas without tacos.

$25.98: Two bottles of wine I bought for our group of friends. Luckily this was paid back in copious amounts of cocktails at the next bar(s) we attended that evening.

$10: Brewery tour on a Saturday. This was possibly the best money I’ve spent so far, because not only did I get three fancy craft beers, I also got to keep the pint glass. My entire glassware collection has been cultivated from brewery tours’ free pint glasses. I consider it a thrifty bonus to getting day drunk on a Saturday afternoon.

$19: Splitting a very, very large pizza that ended up feeding me for my next three meals.

$24: Spent at various bars on booze that fuels my young 20-something blood. I ended up $4 short at the final bar and my friend had to spot me. Guess I’m out until my next payday.

Worth it.

Briana Wucinski lives in … Texas.

*Originally posted on The Billfold as part of their It Was Here and Then It Was Gone series.

Somewhere Outside of New Mexico

Personal, Travel

110 degree truck stops and nights sleeping on a ground so cold you felt like your nipples would freeze off. Cities of millions to towns of barely a hundred. The coast of the pacific to the flatlands of Texas. Every mile in between filled with a sense of limbo. In between one place and never quite fully in another. Blue skies that are littered with the clouds you see from old world paintings. Empty nothingness stretching out for an endless eternity with nothing to look at but the paved road ahead. This is a road trip.

You wouldn’t think that two girls in a white convertible stuffed to the brim with anything and everything you could imagine would get a lot of looks. Well. Maybe you can. Maybe that’s why we bought tacky hats at roadside gas stations to obscure our red lipstick and blatant disregard for the standard look of a weary traveler.

We zigzagged between cities bustling with people, friends we were heading towards full throttle or strangers that would eventually meander into our journey. After a city we would nestle ourselves into the abyss of nature, huddled around a campfire that we built barely by the skin of our teeth and helluva lot of ingenuity and old business cards. In the darkness, we’d eventually come face to face with the startling fact that we were the only ones around for miles. Along the way we stopped by abandoned roadside diners that remind you how easy it is for life to come to a close. We’d screech the brakes to a halt to take a picture of a sunset, train tracks, rainbows, or a row of mailboxes so out of place that we had to document them. We would sit still in the night and look out onto the mountains or trees or oceans and just listen to the natural noise of the earth. This was our road trip.

If you want to hear the most stifling quiet on earth, stop along Route 66 in the Mojave desert around the edges of California. You won’t hear a thing. Not a bug, not a car, not a voice, not even a shriek of wind to break the unbearable silence. Just stifling quiet.

If you want to feel the enormity of nature, go to the Redwood Forest, where trees make skyscrapers seem manageable. Hundreds of years of growth, corralled in by mountains making them that much more unattainable. You look up and you realize no matter how low you ever feel, you have the memory of these trees to encourage you to keep growing up into the confident and magnificent person you were planted on this earth to be.

If you want to feel close to the edge of the earth, look down into the Grand Canyon. But don’t just look down, look out into the vast expansiveness of formation. See colors of gravel you didn’t know existed. Throw a rock down into the cavernous earth and relish in the reverberation of its noise. Drive into the campground at 1 in the morning and confuse a statue of a moose for a real, monstrous-sized elk moving into the woods. Allow yourself to wander alongside the canyon during the midnight hours and feel terror at the darkness. Allow yourself to feel bewildered. Allow yourself to feel the majestic nature of this world and feel bliss in knowing that you are witnessing it.

“If you want to see everything awesome and terrible about America, go to LA.” Stay in a house that reeks of weed with homemade art littering the walls. Lie on the ground of a bedroom that’s only decoration is an LED candle illuminating the emptiness of the room. Meet people you may never see again and reunite with those you can’t imagine never having met. Sit in traffic and still hate every waking moment of being there.

If you want to get to know someone, drive with them in a car for 9 days straight. Hear horribly pitched notes to your favorite song. Laugh uncontrollably at the most awesome rendition of Don’t Stop Believing you’ve ever seen. Feel someone looking at you with eyes that don’t judge, but rather know how your feeling without speaking a word.

But hear the same spoken words a thousand times. “Where are the jalapeño chips?” “What’s the exit? Fuck you Siri!” “I have to pee.” “Can we listen to Colors of the Wind again?” “Is your phone charged yet?” “I’ll have a latte with an extra shot.” “How many beers are left? We need another six pack.” “I have zero bars.” “Does Amaro or Lo-Fi look better?” I need to buy this.” “We should check out the Goodwill here.” “Of course we’ll make it.”

Spend hours looking at America together, listening to the same reggae CD on repeat, eating in the most unladylike way with the most grotesque food and smile because you have shared something together that will transcend a period of your life into a timeless memory of youth.

If you want these things then take a road trip. Go. Flee your life for brief moment and get perspective on what matters in life. When you return, everything will still be waiting patiently for you. See America for everything that you’ve never known it could be. Witness what the world looks like with nothing shining down on it but the moon and the stars. Escape your responsibilities and troubles, knowing that you’ll eventually have to come back and scoop up up the littered remains of your life. Feel the lightness from being in a moment so free from attachment. Realize you have nothing holding you back from such a trip but the life you yourself have created. So if you want to see creation, leave what you have manufactured to witness what the world created of itself.

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I Think They Call This a Breakthrough

Dating, Drinking, Personal

It’s amazing I was single.

At the ripe old age of 14, I was in lOvE with boys. I had my fair share of unrequited teenage crushes which resulted in a devastating amount of hours listening to Blink-182 in my bedroom decorated with collages of teen heartthrobs who I would never meet. Thinking back, I realized it’s not too far off from today. I’ve traded Blink for the Black Keys and the collages for photos of European places I ca’t return to quite yet, but ultimately I’m still pining away for the unattainable in my bedroom.

And it’s amazing I still am.

Why do we sit and wait for the right time or the right man or the right thing to magically manifest itself while we causally sit at home drinking wine? (besides the fact that wine makes everything better in general and increases the flow of time exponentially)

I think my inaction stems from a fear of getting hurt. I’m not sure if that’s the entire reason why I’m reluctant to put myself out there – but it’s definitely part of it. Just like everyone else in the world.

So that’s why I’m not having it. I’m keeping my butterflies in the cocoon. I’m ripping the buds off before they bloom. I’m humming in the drizzle instead of singing in the rain. (I’m also realizing I don’t really know many metaphors for being in love).

I’m picking men I can’t have relationships with. Foreigners who will eventually take their sexy accents back to where they came from. Or I’m the foreigner who will be taking my un-exotic self back to Texas. They have a schedule completely opposite from me. There’s construction on the way to their house. They live 20 hours away. They are too old. They are in a different place in life than me. They aren’t happy enough or they aren’t making me happy. I don’t want to be someone’s girlfriend but I don’t want to just be a piece of ass.

From one extremity to the next, I’m toeing this line between what I want and what I can get. But this the kicker – I have no idea what I want. Just like every other woman on the planet.

Realizing that is all fine and dandy but what’s there left to do? This obviously:

And it’s amazing that I will continue to be single until my untimely death due to alcohol poisoning. Cheers!

And afterwards? In all of the inexplicable abyss of options, I’m left with an inability to make any decision that seems right. That’s why your twenties are about doing and then learning (ah!) and I’m learning that whether I’m consciously making the choice to be with someone who is unattainable, I’m making the choice nonetheless.

Someone pass me a beer. All this personal reflection is making me thirsty.

I’ve also made the realization that I may use alcohol as a numbing agent. Whoops.

Tolerance of the Temporary

Dating, Inspiration, Personal

As a religion minor, I get the great pleasure this semester to learn about Buddhism. I think what may have piqued my interest is the image of the Buddha as a fat, bald, and happily barefooted icon, which is a complete contrast to the bearded, long-haired, thin, sandaled and somber Jesus Christ I grew up with. Of course I hope it’s not as simple as that though.

Either way I’m really getting into the course and in the process of applying some of the teachings to my life. The main ideal the Buddha encouraged humans to strive for was a balanced life. He was a born as prince, given everything he would every need in life and then was exposed to disease, old age, and death. He then left that life to live as an ascetic (wanderer of religious truths) where he starved himself, practiced intense yoga to achieve meditative trance states, and basically was a baller at life. But these two extremes didn’t bring him any pleasure and he came live The Middle Path, in which he balanced the extremity of his two lives.

Then he came to realize the 4 Noble Truths which go as follows: The disease is suffering, the cause of the disease is desire, the cure is nirvana, and the path to nirvana is the 8 Fold Path which includes “right truths” such as morality, livelihood, and meditation to achieve mindful awareness, and compassion.

Still with me? Great.

Well the cause of all suffering is our desire for permanence. Buddha taught that the inevitability of life is death. Attachment to pleasures or pain causes suffering, because we are attempting to cling to the conditional things, like the security of permanence, but that everything is constantly going to change, regardless of our attachment or desire, time continues onward. We will never be constantly in a state of pleasure or pain, every emotion is temporary. True happiness comes from the ability to get beyond temporary happiness to a sense of freedom, tranquility, and internal serenity.

I’ve been meditating on these concepts with the help of incense, this radio station, and the insatiable desire to understand this concept of balance. So I pondered, contemplated, speculated, and mused over these teachings. When I finished I had a sense of clarity, an insight into how this affects my life.

I’m emotional. I feel the extreme joy in life’s moments, but I’m also insanely affected by the perception of others and the stress that creates in my life. I’ve come to accept the temporary nature of a thought – negative or positive – but I want to choose to feel more moderately and balanced with a tendency toward happiness. I want to allow my feelings to move through my in a fluid motion of mild detachment, ultimately knowing they cannot affect who I am.

I was recently put to the test when I was hit hard by a new crush. I was so excited about the potential in this new guy, his intelligence and wit were awe-inspiring and challenged me to think critically during our conversations. Oh and did I mentioned he had the chiseled body of The David? Which is ironic because we talked about Michelangelo’s famed statue.

But seriously, how do I get this lucky sometimes?

Ahem, back to my point. I was so incredibly excited at the idea of someone who could actually keep up, if not top me, so I let that excitement get the best of me. Against my better judgement I tipped the scale in the favor of an attachment to the idea of perfection that could possibly come from this individual.

Only to get stood up. Yes. Stood the fuck up for our third date.

As you can imagine, infuriating doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. Outraged, vengeful, and murderous are some of the emotions that coursed through my veins along with disappointment and embarrassment. I had allowed my emotions to overwhelm me in the beginning and in the end they once again bested me.

So this morning I woke up. Did some yoga, drank my coffee, and realized that my life is going on, regardless, because that’s the only way that time moves – forward. This miniscule person has no effect on my personal well-being.

I am the captain of my soul, the sole author of my story, and the only owner of my sense of self.

And for that, I am grateful to that lying bastard. (I’m still working on the compassionate nature the Buddha also encourages. Baby steps.)

In a Relationship with Myself

Dating, Personal

Time for the utterly shocking news that I am once again single. If that is in fact shocking to you, read further for clarity.

I thought I was ready for a new relationship. I truly thought that after 5 blissful months of bar hopping, single girl swag, and celebrating my fabulous self that I was at a place in my life where I would be ready to commit to someone else and accept their commitment to me.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

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I was excaping myself through my friends and my short-lived crushes. Numbing myself from actually exploring who I am with internships and shots of tequila after work. I wasn’t growing, I was just adjusting. Right when I was at the peak and beginning to accept myself while learning to embrace who I actually am without someone else molding me, I met The Bartender. Then poof. I was right back where I started. Spending time with him instead of working on myself. My thoughts and concerns centered around him and his feelings instead of my own. My rickety self-esteem collasped on me, enduring insufferable blow after blow. Yet I accepted this because I was happy with him.

What I realize now though is that I was unhappy with myself and I wanted to be with someone who found joy through me because that gave me purpose.

Once I came to this conclusion I had no other choice but to conclude my relationship with The Bartender. I hated having to hurt someone again using the same rhetoric of finding myself and still being unable to reconcile with them that it wasn’t their fault but my own.

But onward and upward. It’s a new year and I finally understand that in order to become who I’m meant to be, I need to be on my own and face myself for the first time, without the hope that another man is going to come and rescue me from…well…me.

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Just for the sake of the new year, here’s my resolutions if you’re interested. Hopefully the more people that read them, the more of a reality they will actually become:

1. Treat others how you want to be treated.

2. Don’t let others define your happiness.

3. Start believing that everything will work out and stop stressing about what could happen.

4. Have the courage to trust myself and be confident in myself. Commit to actions that push me forward, instead of holding me back.

5. Be happy and healthy.

And lose weight. But everyone says that.

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