I find myself in a series of situations where I have to sit through a lot of complex feelings — quickly — to restore the status quo.  Not just restore order — I must Get Excited.

Would that the heart and head could be so cooperative.  I am finding this whole thing…Difficult.

Paul and I are buying an apartment, and while this should be an occasion for champagne and celebration, I am Freaking The F*CK OUT.  Having now lived by myself for five years, I know I should be excited about How Great This Is, and I am.  Also, I am Terrified. I am scared of the quotidian struggles that destroy relationships.  I fear the burden and expectations of others looking in and saying, WHAT DOES THIS NEXT STEP MEAN?!?!  (Ans: It means we are buying an apartment.) I am even afraid of picking the wrong paint colours and window treatments. 

My problem, really, is that I am terrified of being tied down; stuck. Like tonsils, or an appendix, the only purpose this fear serves is to become infected and engorged — becoming bigger, heavier, and harder to bear than it needs to be.

I have always been light on my feet.  Because what if I suck at whatever comes next?  Better to make a quick and graceful exit than be caught flat-footed like a fool.

Right? 

Because what if I have to be a Real Girl, Living a Real Life? My entire life for the past few years has been a 1990s romantic comedy. You may get that impression from some of my writing, but in reality it has been more like a Nora Ephron written-and-directed-film-starring-America’s-Former-Sweetheart-Meg-Ryan than you may actually believe.

I have been taking Adventure Travel Towards Self Realisation, and have swooned over the Wrong Men in the lobbies of the World’s Finest Hotels. I have had the kind of romances that most women only dream of, but these men — they’ve always left me at the doorstep.  And now, now I’m going All The Way, with someone who might actually be The Right Guy.  Now we’re opening the door; we’re buying the house, we’re going through the threshold and building the future and doing it together…

And I’m scared.

About paint, and walls, and curtains.  And, for that matter, what if I’m no longer Interesting if I am suddenly so tied down and boring and solid and staid and … I am making all of the silly excuses that serve to prevent the real thing from happening. I am stalling. I am buying time.

I’ve always been good about being good. I’ve always been a know it all; I’ve long been obsessed with being right, and preventing myself from getting hurt. I’ve protected myself from some of the More Bad decisions I might’ve made.

But this has kept me from some of the More Good.

Tonsils and an appendix can easily be removed by a surgeon. My own fearful ego is not so easily excised. At this stage of my life, I just need to get out of my own way.

#Reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, KatSarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Transition | Transition of seasons; from single to couple; from couple to parents; from one to many.  It’s that time of year when the high summer sun starts to sink, and we all start to long for long sleeves.  How is your life changing.  How are YOU changing?

Almost ten years ago, my blogger friend Cara sent me this questionnaire to complete, and I posted it on my (old) blog. At the time, it was A Thing that people were doing. At the time, I was a relative newly-wed; a newcomer to New York City; I was transitioning from being a law student to working full time and going to graduate school. My body was doing weird things, and I was in the process of being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Everything was changing.  In mostly good ways — I was figuring stuff out.

Last weekend, almost immediately after coming back home from a week in London for work, my computer broke.  And I had to clear all the files off so the Geniuses at Apple could repair the logic board.  In doing so, I came across my answers to this quiz from nearly a decade back, and thought that the best way to measure transition would be to take the quiz again.

Where am I now? I’ve spent the last decade continuing to figure stuff out, in vastly different ways than before.  But I am mostly the same.  Though now, I am fundamentally a New Yorker; I am safe in my own skin. I am okay in my identity as a professional; as a woman. I don’t look at myself in reference to others anymore.

What I am saying is that I’ve faced some scary personal and professional stuff in the intervening years, but I was somewhat relieved to find that, at the heart of things, I still leave wet towels on the bed; I’m still heavily focused on making out with James Bond; and, my snacks of choice are still mainly sweets & salty carbohydrates.

I have edited the old answers for space, but otherwise, here are my answers from then and now.

Then:

10 Years Ago: I was in high school.  I think ten years ago was also the last time my hair was this long, and this blonde.  I wore it curly all the time.  I was dating the drum major, who later left me for a dude named Jeff.

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(2014 note: Matt, I love you always, and I still marvel that we thought it was a good idea to go as Juan and Eva Peron to Prom. Not sure our conservative California town was ready for us, then or now.)

Five Years Ago: I was in college; dating my most recent ex-boyfriend.  He was the stereotypical fraternity boy.  At that time in my life, I just wanted to be like everyone else. 

One Year Ago: I was finishing law school; doing a legal clinic. I was spending 60-70 hours a week working on comments to the FCC on female and minority broadcast ownership.  I was insanely depressed about the status of my life and career.

Yesterday: I went to lunch with my father in law.  And it was totally weird.  It really seemed like he wanted to get to know me.  It was really nice.  Then I came home, and built a china cabinet. Which came with terrible instructions.

Five Snacks I Enjoy:  1) Jordan almonds, 2) naan with mango chutney, 3) honey Teddy Grahams, 4) soft pretzels, 5) saltwater taffy

Five Songs I Know All the Words To: 1) Los Angelenos–Billy Joel, 2) Dry Cleaner from Des Moines–Joni Mitchell, 3) Make Your Own Kind of Music–Cass Elliot, 4) Don’t Sleep in the Subway–Petula Clark, 5) Bless the Broken Road–Rascal Flatts

Five Things I Would Do With 100 Million Dollars: 1) pay off my law school loans, 2) buy Andrew a new car and pay to garage it (btw, to garage a car in Manhattan, it would cost more than some of my friends pay in rent in Los Angeles), 3) re-do my parents hideous kitchen which they have been dragging their feet on redoing since the 1994 earthquake, 4) take extensive lessons in the cooking of all different Asian cuisines, 5) create a veterinary school scholarship and establish a fund to provide veterinary care for people who can’t afford it.

Five Places I would Run Away To: 1) Mendocino County, CA, 2) Newport, RI, 3) Nassau, Bahamas…eh, I’m out of places.  Everywhere I go, I find people I know, so I am safest in the comfort of my apartment.

Five Bad Habits: 1) leaving wet towels anywhere they fall, 2) buying too many fancy conditioners, 3) ordering take-out too often, 4) begging for a dog too often, 5) being a hermit

Five Biggest Joys: 1) my loving, wonderful marriage, 2) pedicures, 3) my relationship with my parents, 4) my new iPod, 5) the glimmer of hope I feel about my career prospects and my life from this point on

Five Fictional Characters I would Date: 1) Thomas Crown (of “The Thomas Crown Affair”), 2) Indiana Jones, 3) James Bond (in any incarnation)…that’s about it. 

Today:

Ten Years Ago: I got conned into going to Disneyworld with my then-fiance after a rough summer. We were within an hour’s drive of my grandparents, but didn’t go see them. I knew my grandfather would’ve talked me out of marrying Andrew and Andrew didn’t really want to make the drive anyway. I never saw my grandfather alive again. I have almost no regrets in my life. That I didn’t make that stupid drive is probably my only one.

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Five years ago: I had just signed my separation papers; I was free. I’d left my husband and I was on my way to spend several months with a client on the California coast. It was fitting, because at every transitional point in my life, I’ve fled for the Pacific.

One year ago: I was in Canada, at Bethany’s nuptials. She was the first of the WoW’s to let hope triumph over experience. I was grateful to be even a small part of that day; blessed beyond measure to have officiated the service. Bethany is one of my nearest and dearest, and I admire her and respect her so much.

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Yesterday: I was furious with Paul because he keeps his phone on silent all the time. I know it; I expect it; and 99.999% of the time, I am nonplussed by it. But I needed his input on something important and he was unreachable, and if I could’ve reached through the phone and throttled him, I would’ve.

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(Photo was snapped in Japan last year; I was equally annoyed yesterday)

Five snacks I enjoy: 1) Salty carbs; 2) String Cheese; 3) Spicy Lemonade; 4) Strawberries with cream; 5) Sundry other sweet & savouries beginning with the letter “s,” (I swear, I didn’t do that on purpose).

Five songs I know all the words to: 1) Flicker, Rosi Golan; 2) Hearts & Bones, Paul Simon; 3) Make Your Own Kind of Music, Cass Elliott; 4) World on Fire, Sarah MacLachlan; 5) To Love Somebody, the BeeGees.

 Five Things I would do with 100 Million Dollars: Invest it wisely.  Five times over.

Five places I would run away to: No use. Trouble follows. 

Five bad habits: 1) Leaving wet towels on the bed; 2) buying too many fancy wrinkle creams; 3) ordering take-out too often; 4) buying too many clothes I don’t need; 5) being a hermit. 

Five biggest joys: 1) running; 2) writing letters; 3) solo travel; 4) vanilla milkshakes; 5) long phone calls with friends. (This is a non-exhaustive list, these are just a few that are on my mind today!)

Five fictional characters I would date: Only one. James Bond. It’s always hard for me to choose between the Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan iterations, though.  If you know me, you shouldn’t read too deeply into that.

Sean Connery as James Bond

I know a man/he came from my hometown/
he wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown
He said “Dolores, I live in fear/my love for you’s so overpowering, I’m afraid that I may disappear.”

- Paul Simon, Slip Slidin’ Away

Here are the things that I am afraid of:

1) Ebola

2) Financial regulators (global)

3) Little people, and the various television shows about them (this is an irrational fear, but we are being honest, here)

4) Living without passion

5) Never being loved the way that he loves Dolores

California I’m coming home
Oh will you take me as I am
Strung out on another man
California I’m coming home

 – Joni Mitchell, California

I ran the Big Sur International Marathon last weekend.  This was significant for a whole lot of reasons, all of which require me to tell the back story of Daily Angst, and my once-upon-a-time life on California’s central coast, and how I got into Marathons in the first place.

I’ve been writing Daily Angst for ten years in October, and started writing it on this site five years ago this year. At the time I started writing here, I was still in private practice and working very closely with a client in Carmel, California helping to close down a business.

At the time, I was young, new divorcee who literally did not know a single divorced person.  I think my parents had one, chronically divorced manchild friend who had a collection of wives, and a collection of Porsches, but that was basically my only example of How To Do This.

So there I was.  In Carmel.  Alone, but for a rag-tag bunch of executives from the client, and a marathon training plan for my first marathon, and the occasional middle-of-the-night phone call to Asia or from my insane then-boss.

I had started running marathons in the first place for two reasons: 1) because I had made a list in the end of the nineties of fifty things I had wanted to do in ten years, and I was coming to the end of the time limit in which to do them, and the only thing that remained from that list was “run the NYC Marathon,” and 2) my ex-husband used to say he was “allergic to exercise” and truly resented when I would go out and run — in fact, I recently found some old writing where I recounted that he’d held off proposing to me until I’d agreed not to train for a marathon — ever.

(I don’t think I’ve ever told people that before.)

Running, in my mind, was freedom.  Probably the first self-care type-thing I did upon leaving Andrew was investigate options on how to obtain a marathon entry.

So my  life in Carmel was a lot of late-night whisky, and chocolate cake, and running on country and coastal roads.  And I survived; I made friends; I thrived.  Then I went home and began again.

And life went on.

Late last year, when someone tweeted the date of registration for the Big Sur Marathon, I knew that I would sign up.  My marathon days are getting small — partly because of motivation; partly because of my health.  I have been running injured for a few races now — I tore the cartilage in my hip about a year ago, and it’s not improving.  I’ll probably have to have surgery and the recovery is long and painful.

So it seemed right, and good, that Big Sur might be my final marathon — at least for a while.  It also made sense to end things where I began things, and the Big Sur marathon begins in Big Sur and runs north up Highway 1 into Carmel.

eee and I flew to San Francisco last Friday, and drove down to Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur last Saturday to pick up our race numbers then spend the day relaxing on the coast.  We arrived at the hotel I had once shuttered, which had re-opened in the late Autumn.

This is where I ran away to when I got divorced, I laughed.

It’s a nice place to get divorced, she said approvingly.

It was a strange and familiar homecoming.

Here is the pool, and here is the parking lot, and here are the pathways I walked with friends.  Here is the fireplace we sat by that one night after that dinner with Maria Shriver, before we knew her own marriage was hanging by a thread, and where that weird lounge singer and his lawyer friend offered to fly us down to Esalen post-haste.

Don’t you remember?

It was so much tension, and so romantic, and such a wild adventure!

But there was no time to reminisce — we had to grab dinner then go to bed, since the buses left for the start at 3am.

So.  I ran.  It had been nearly five years, but I was there to run.

big sur marathon 2

One of the great thrills of the Big Sur marathon is crossing the Bixby Bridge, because not only are the sweeping views simply to die for, but there is also a tuxedo’d man seated at a grand piano on the bridge’s northern side.  People remember what he was playing when they crossed.

When I ran my first marathon — NYC 2009 — by some magic, when I crossed the 59th Street Bridge, my iPod queued up the 59th Street Bridge Song.

And when I ran Big Sur, as I crossed the Bixby Bridge, the piano player struck up Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Sometimes, things just work.

The run was hard, and the run was long and slow, but I finished it.  I met old friends at the end.  I went back to the places I had been before and I made it through them with new and wonderful memories; possibilities.

What I am saying is, going back to the places that hurt is not always equal to “being stuck” or “dwelling in the past.”  Sometimes, it’s the most glorious and triumphant way of moving forward.

#Reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Kat, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Luck: Is luck what you get?  Or is luck what you make?  When have you been lucky?  When did you create your own fortune?

I have had this in draft since mid-March.  When I did Sarah’s podcast, we talked recovering from perfectionism (a topic on which Sarah muses frequently); tinkering with writing; me having over 250 drafts in my drafts folder on WordPress.

I’m not kidding about that — I do write a lot, and often, but it seems I can’t gather my thoughts as well as I used to.  I’m pulled in a lot of different directions, and my life is very different than it was a year ago; two years ago; five years ago.

That said, here’s how I’ve been lucky this year:

1) A few weeks ago, I ran the Rock & Roll DC half marathon with some of my best girlfriends.  I’m so lucky to have such amazing friends, whose interests are so similar to mine, and who have been there in the trenches with me through everything these past few years.  Love these girls (and Bethany’s wee babe on the way!).

RnR DC

2) Having the chance to see Witness Uganda in March.  Matt and Griffin’s show was gorgeous, moving, and generally incredible, and I’m so grateful to have Matt in my life and to have spent some time with Griffin.  We are going to be watching their shows for generations, I think.

Griff Matt Mere

3) This great spa Paul took me to in February.  I generally feel pretty lucky we live a charmed life.

monart

4) And finally, this boy.  Every day I remember how lucky I am that he chose me.

roo in montauk

Do I think we make our own luck or take what we get?  I think it’s probably a little of both.  But I think, overall, I’ve been very, very lucky.

I left five years ago this month.

We were in Las Vegas, for his best friend’s wedding.  But things had gotten so bad that he had convinced himself that he was the best man in his best friend’s wedding.  Except he wasn’t.  So we’d come to dusty Las Vegas in the start of April for a wedding that he wasn’t in, for a rehearsal dinner we weren’t invited to.

I was trying to find a job; trying to sort out my life; trying to stop secretly smoking when no one was looking.  We landed at McCarran and I was instantly on the phone with my psychiatrist, who was just as crazy as I was.  She was an ex-model, who had been photographed by Richard Avedon for Vogue, and who had been a Pantene girl in the ’80s, and who used to sit in our sessions and talk about her lawyer father with me, because I was a lawyer whose then-nonexistent practice reminded her of her father.

When we landed in Vegas that day, I’d immediately called and asked her to call in something to steady my nerves.  She’d replied that most states didn’t let you call in that sort of thing, but she’d try. Thankfully Nevada was still the sort of state that let you take care of that kind of business by telephone.

A few years later, in the beginning of April, when the whole nonsense of leaving was said and done, within the span of one weekend, I found out Frederic was marrying someone I knew, rather unexpectedly; I got hit by a car; then I found out my then-significant other was cheating on me with my friend’s sister.

It was the sort-of 72 hours no one wants to live twice.

While I try very hard to think of this time of year in terms of the promise of rebirth, and new life, and all of the hopefulness of Spring, it all seems rather…dreamlike; rather…post-traumatic, now.

There are things you do when you have left that you might not do if you had stayed, or if you’ve never been in that position.  I think you choose your battles more carefully.  I think you learn to let go of things that you see others holding on to.  You laugh/cry when people accuse you of “holding on to the past” or “dwelling on your divorce” because you wonder: Well then how the heck am I supposed to talk about that near decade of my life, if someone asks me about something I did in my 20s?  Should I not reference him, or that, or those life events?  Or what about Stuff and Things I used to have?  Can I talk about those?

It seems weird, sometimes.  Am I allowed to join conversations about being married, when the lunch table or dinner group is discussing it, because I once was married, but if I do, then I’ll have to explain I am divorced, but then I’m dwelling on it?

Or can I talk about having owned a car in Manhattan or having been the owner of small dogs, but if I do, then I have to explain that I no longer have those things because my ex took them?

It’s so dumb.  So dumb.

April is when I physically left, and every year around this time, I think about it, because at the time, I’d never been on my own.  August is when I legally left, and that was hard too, because when I filed those papers, I didn’t know any divorced people.

But my point is that it’s okay for me to mention that I had a life before the one I live now.  It’s not disrespectful to Paul, and it’s not weird or strange to mention having been married when I bring up a story from my twenties.  Talking about it doesn’t mean I dwell, it just means that I’m a whole and complete person who doesn’t cut out a part of her history because the present is very different from the past.

To acknowledge that the past exists is not necessarily to dwell.

The point is that it’s okay to have a Past.

#Reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Kat, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Please check out the #ProjectReverb main page and join in.

Heart:  Show us your heart.  Let it all hang out.  When have you thrown yourself into a challenge, or shown/received love?

The last few months have been chaotic.  And strange, and scary, and even a little sad.  This is maybe even true of the last few years.

In my group of friends, over the past three years or so, we have experienced the following:  cancer, unemployment, baby loss, divorce, MRSA, infidelity, visits from financial regulators, betrayal, serious injury, several major surgeries, infertility, moving house, and so on and so forth.

We have also experienced: engagements, marriage, pregnancy, career success, dream jobs, new relationships, incredible joys, and so on and so forth.

The last few years have been…A Challenge.  A joyful, horrible Challenge.

Infuriatingly, no one tells you in advance how hard this stuff really is.  TV and movies make it all look like your thirties are a goddamned piece of cake.  Like you’ll finally have a little bit of money, and you’ll be married, and settled, and working on being a homeowner with your 2.5 kiddos in the ‘burbs.  Like there will be some sort of upbeat theme song playing you through. No one prepares you for the fact that your thirties will actually be a constant stream of airports and meetings and doctors’ offices.

At least, this is the experience I am having.  As I write from an airport lounge.  Again.

What I am saying is that this is not Leave It To Beaver, folks.  This is War.

There is no instruction manual for divorce, or cancer, or how to be kind when you would really rather be a jerk, or how to say a gracious “yes” when you’d prefer to say “no.” And no one tells you that you just have to throw your heart into whatever you get, and that whatever you get is what’s meant to be, and it’s all perfectly normal, and it’s going to be Okay.

No one holds your hand when all your friends are passing around the Great Job Today, Momma! Facebook posts, and it sort of breaks your heart, because there is no special, congratulatory post for Great Job Today on Not Being Ready or Able to Have a Baby.  Or, Great Job on Having That Tumour Removed.

Great Job Today on Being in the C-Suite By Age 30 And Actively, Thanklessly Promoting the Careers of Other Women Instead of Just Re-Tweeting Jezebel/Nick Kristoff/85Broads links about The Status of Working Women and Waiting for Something to Happen.

Great Job Today on Being Enough — Whoever You Are, Whatever You Are.

I don’t begrudge anyone anything, but I am here to tell you that there are other hearts that are tender besides your own. There are hearts that need encouragement and a special Facebook post set with Comic Sans on a cheesy sunset.  I am here to tell you that Absolutely No One has it easy.  None of us.

But what I am really saying is: Even if it hasn’t been easy, on the whole, it has been very, very Good.  I have had it So Good.

If that isn’t Heart, I’m not sure what is.