Friday, February 19, 2010

One Year Later

365 later...

When I was in thick of this thing, maybe 1 month in, and the shock wore off, I started scouring the internet for answers. I read breakup blogs, support sites, and just spent a ton of time getting myself out of my own head by reading about other people. On one of the nights I was reading random stories, I read about this woman who had spent the last year going through a divorce. She wrote about how it took her about a year before she had begun to really move on from it and she refered to the last year as “a tough year” but now she was doing much better. I thought about that phrase a lot.

“A tough year.”

Reading that statement felt like I was reading a prescription. To get through a breakup all you need to do is get through one tough year. Take one year and call me in the morning.

My one year is over and, yes, it was a tough one (to put it ever so mildly) but I made it. All the ups and downs and bad choices and good choices. I had to fall down and get back up again. And I want to say to anyone going through any kind of a transition in their lives, be it a breakup, a divorce, grieving a loss, or any kind of major life event that shakes you to the very core, that it will get better. Time does heal all wounds. You will be okay.

I swear it.

I never thought I’d be okay, honestly. I never saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I thought I would feel the way I did forever. Not every day was horrible and not every day was easy, but I had to do a lot of work.

My identity was so tied into my relationship that when it was over I had to figure out who I was all over again. I’ve said it before, my relationship framed my 20's and that was a substantial chunk of my adult life. Those years defined who I was and still am. Learning to be an individual on my own was a daunting task with a very unsure outcome. But throughout this year, I have learned how to be on my own.

My circle of friends is completely different (worlds apart actually) and I love that. My new home is all mine. It's warm and comforting and bright and sweet and I love that too. It gives me proof that I can start over. I can rebuild a home for myself. I can push myself outside of what is comfortable and meet new people and create new and meaningful friendships. I can be a good judge of character and make good choices. I can start over.

And so therefore, it is 365 days later. I was awarded my ONE YEAR chip on February 16th.

I spent that day traveling to the sunny, cheerful, and warm west coast to spend a week with my bestie, her husband, and their amazing son, my little nephew, Mr. O.

We will be baking a cake, drinking champagne, making each other laugh, eating vegan bacon cheeseburgers followed by nauseating amounts of holiday-themed candy, and thinking about this time last year when I got off a plane 4 days after my breakup and I asked her, "Will I ever feel better? Will I get through this? Will I ever be okay again?"

I didn't believe it at that time, and I couldn't have predicted it then, but the answer was yes, yes and hell, yes.

P.S. To read more about this past year's anniversaries take a look here:

Photo by Ugo Rondinone.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day, Dear Followers.

Celebrate your awesomeness.

I (heart) you big time.

Le Bonheur

So have some flowers,

a sweet little pupski (I'm currently babysitting this little cutie),
some candy hearts,
some macaroons,
a beauty product indulgence (loving Benefit's Poisetint right now. a perfectly bright, fresh pink lip stain),
some John Hughes romance,
do your eyemakeup totally crazy,

and be awesome because you so totally are.

Photos by danske and miss_yasmina,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's next?

Photo by Old Sarge

I've been feeling very strongly that I need the next "big thing" to happen. Be it moving to another state, changing my job, or going on some kind of adventure. And by adventure I mean that I'm thinking of visiting the strange and faraway place called MAINE. Ohhhh... scary. For realz, I really want to see Portland, Maine. It seems like the place for me, not sure why, but I've grown obsessed with it. I keep wondering if it will be my next home.

So in this spirt of moving on, I'm working on some kind of momentum towards my goals. Step 1: Finishing my portfolio and CV resume to hand off to my contact at an architectural firm in Chicago. It may not be the job for me (plus I do really want to move out of this area) but at least I'm getting it out there and seeing what kind of response I get. I got this started last weekend and I plan on finishing it this weekend. For me, this is one step closer to at least trying to make some big changes in my life. It's something that has been hanging over my head for a while and once it's done and out of my hands, I can move onto Step 2; meet with my school counselor and research more design jobs outside of the midwest.

Taking these steps and figuring out a plan for my future makes me a little anxious. I want so badly to get closer to my goals, but doing that makes them real and when they are real they are that much more vulnerable. What if it doesn't work out? What if I don't get a job outside of Chicago? What if I get my dream job and I don't like it?! All this is scary stuff.

But I know that I have to try, because I don't want to waste my time wondering, "What if...?" If this breakup has taught me anything, it's that I can't just wonder about what might happen, I have to go for what I need, or want, and see how it pans out. Good or bad, at least I tried and that's so much better than safely wondering about what might happen while life passes me by. Good or bad, reality is so much better.

And so, I have to make these goals real and give it a shot. Perhaps publicly posting my intentions on this blog will make my future plans tangible and will hold me to them. Or at least I hope...

So, Dear Followers of my humble blog, have you begun thinking of the next big thing in your life? Are you working towards any specific goals right now? How's it going? Are you feeling motivated or anxious? Or both?! I'd love to know...

P.S. Doesn't Portland, Maine look dreamy? After I've done some job research, I'm going to reward myself with a trip to Portland. I simply must find out why I'm so crazy about a place I've never been!

Photos by acadia62

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Limbo

A disjointed, little chocolate pudding narrative that I had been writing got me to realize that I am in dire need of a worthy accomplishment.

Here's what I mean:

Finding myself craving chocolate pudding about a week ago, I decided I would accept no imitation, store bought pudding wasn't going to cut it, and so I ran out to the convenience store across the street for some Jell-O instant pudding mix which I then made with soy milk. I ended up with cold, chocolate goo. It tasted awful and in the trash it went. Very sad.

A week later, still on the pudding kick, I found a box of organic pudding mix and had high aspirations that this just had to be better than the icky Jell-O. Well, it wasn't. The result was more pudding-like, less like goo, but it never got that skin on the top and it kinda tasted like carob, like healthy pudding. I ate it. All of it. Albeit begrudgingly.

Then after a few mediocre pudding cup experiences, I decided that if this whole pudding thing was going to be put to rest, then goddamnit I was going to have to make it from scratch. I flipped through my much beloved copy of "The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook," the first cookbook I bought when I started cooking. If you don't know about it, it's pretty fantastic. It's from 1975 and was a cookbook that came out of a commune in upstate New York. It's not too culty, but actually just a little, and complete with grainy black and white photos of hippies picking cabbage and stirring huge vats of tofu curds and whey.

Regardless, the recipes are incredibly easy, simple and delicious. The pudding did not fail to impress, in fact is was great and pudding-like, not like cold goo, and even had that skin on top. At last...

And with that, I ended the Chocolate Pudding Narrative and thought to myself, "Umm, so what?" I couldn't figure out the point of the story.

I think I could probably have created an analogy here that relates dating to making pudding; you might have unsatisfying attempts before you find the right combination. But I think the moral is a little more straight-forward than that. I was absolutely beaming after I tasted this pudding and considered it an accomplishment and it made me realize that what I've really been craving, besides pudding, is a true accomplishment, not pudding-related.

At this point, I'm feeling slightly like I'm in limbo. The breakup is over, its been nearly a year, and although I've blogged about closure and letting go recently and how that's been difficult to come to terms with, I've been feeling more and more confident that I am letting go and that I'm very close to getting past this.

So that leaves me feeling like, well... now what? I spent a whole year blogging about a breakup, getting through it and starting over, and for a long time I felt like it was the only focus in my life. But now, it's over and that feels a little strange. I'm somewhere in the middle of being in it and getting over it. I bounce from place to place and in the middle I'm finding that I'm not really accomplishing much.

I have a great job which I don't totally love, but it pays the bills and leaves me the time to do things like travel and is flexible enough to allow me to cultivate a wide range of obsessions and make ridiculous amounts of chocolate pudding for one person. But I'm not really moving on at the speed I'd hoped to move.

I wanted to move out of Chicago last year and pursue a job in the field I went to school in, but the rebuilding of my life sucked up a lot of my time and energy and now that my life is well underway, it's time for the next thing. It's time for a change, it's time for some new accomplishments, and going forward means that my future accomplishments really can't continue to be pudding-related.

Dear Followers, if you are feeling a pudding craving coming on, try out New Farm's, its delish. And by the way, I'm a big fan of celebrating accomplishments, no matter how small or pudding-related, because even if they are small, I bet that each little one is going to get you closer to something bigger. Or at least that's how I like to see it.

New Farm Vegetarian Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Mix together:
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cornstarch

Then add 3 cups soymilk, mixing constantly. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, still whipping constantly until the mixture thickens, then lower the heat and cover. Let boil gently for 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and whip in:
3 Tbsp. soy margarine (I use Earth Balance, it's the best.)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pour into individual dishes and cool in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Counting from Nine

If you've been following along here, you know now that my relationship lasted just one year shy of a decade, nine years. It ended on February 16, 2009. On that day, the life I had lived for nine years ended too and that's when I began starting over.

Each day after February 16th that I woke up, got out of bed, took a shower, got dressed, worked my job, ate food at various intervals, and then retreated to my room at night, was an accomplishment.

I remember the end of the first day at my parents house (where I moved to after I moved out of the apartment I shared with my ex), I was sitting in bed and I thought, "Okay, I got through the first day, this was Day 1, and I made it." Each day that passed was one day further away from the breakup, one day further from the end of that 9th year, and so I started counting from nine.

But the idea of counting off the days goes a little deeper. It began shortly before my break up.

One night, while I was still living with my ex and we were in the thick of the breakup negotiations, I was in a panic (per usual) and my mind was swirling with emotions, images, questions and dread and I knew I had to get all of those feelings out of my head and somewhere else. So I picked up my laptop, opened a blank page, and starting typing up my stream of consciousness. When I was done, I typed the date at the top of the page, February 3, 2009. After I dated it, I read it. The words were sad and painful and it was all there, on the screen and out of my head. When I read those words over again and I looked at the date, I thought:

"This is how I feel today, but someday it isn't going to be today anymore. I won't feel this way forever. Tomorrow it won't be February 3rd anymore."

Just thinking that made me feel a little better. I realized that what I was going through that night was going to be in the past and that the next day would be, perhaps, a small percentage easier. In my mind there was an inkling that time was going to pass and someday enough time would pass where I would feel better again, and not so fractured. That's when I started to think about recovery, the passing of time, and documenting what I was going through.

A few weeks after I moved out, I started this blog. The phrase "time heals all wounds" was something that I clinged to then and so I began counting down the days, then the months. I documented almost every month like an anniversary. I was documenting the passing of time and the changes that came with it.

I also had a sense that I needed to try my hardest to not dwell on what happened, because I could very easily argue with myself about who said what and who was wrong or right, but if I was going to get past it then I had to focus on how I perceived what happened to me, and to us, how I was going to deal with the ramifications of it, and what I was going to do in my life to change things and make my life better. And so that's what I've tried to do here. I also felt like there must be other people going through the same thing and I wanted to connect to them, which I have, and this has been one of the greatest outcomes of this blog.

Recently, I read what I wrote on February 3, 2009, and it was painful to read. It feels unbelievably raw and personal to post it here, so I won't. I'll keep it to myself, but I will say that I realized then that what was happening to me was heartbreaking, but I also knew what was best for me. I knew something had to change and when I shined a spotlight on the mess we had made, we both knew what had to happen. It was very difficult and we loved each other right up until the end. It was only after I moved out that I started to get angry. Angry at him for not giving me what I gave and angry at myself for not voicing more of what I needed, and so I wrote about it here. Writing these posts has helped me work through so much and, in a way, continues to help me find a voice that I felt I lost.

I realize that I may never know what he thinks of our breakup or me. And in the end, getting him to understand me or getting me to understand him wasn't the goal of the breakup. It isn't even why I started this blog. I did this for other reasons. I did this to help me and make my life better, and that's all I have control over; and not him or his perception of me.

So this is how Nine was born. This how I came to the conclusion that I had to recover somehow and I had to connect to other people in the same boat. Meeting you, Dear Followers and Readers, has been a hugely supportive part of this process. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me and for encouraging me and listening to me.

Today is February 3, 2010. It has been one year from the night where I discovered that words were going to help me recover. Thank you, Dear Followers and Readers of my humble blog, for reading them.

And I can say today, beaming with pride, that tommorrow it won't be February 3rd anymore.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Distraction Device

Tomorrow night, LOST begins its final season.

finally.... the world breathes a collective sigh of relief....

I didn't start watching LOST way back in 2004, when apparently it first aired. I had no idea what it was and was never interested in watching a single episode. My obsession with LOST began, as many other obsessions in my current life, with my breakup.

I even blogged about LOST back in March when I proclaimed that LOST was my binky. I started watching the show in January of 2009 and when the 100th episode aired that April, I was caught up on ALL 5 seasons. Yes, that means I had watched 100 episodes in just 4 months. To me it was like my own personal distraction device. Back then, getting into that show was something that helped me get out of my own head and focus on something else, something other than the breakup, the difficult choices I had to make nearly every day, and the emotions I was constantly cycling through.

I remember the days when I would be talking to my best friend about the most recent breakup negotiation and I would end the conversation with, "Okay, well thanks for listening. I gotta go now, I need to watch an episode of LOST." That's how it was back then. I watched an episode after coming home from my many bin buying trips, after calling my parents to figure out when I was going to move in with them, and right after I called the movers and set the date for my move. After every painful thing, I watched LOST because it calmed me down by focusing my mind on something else and allowed me to lose myself in its complicated, wacky, wonderful, suspenseful, confusing interconnected world.

LOST was my binky once. It was my "distraction device." And now that it's back, nearly a year later, I'm very glad that I no longer need it as a distraction anymore. It goes to show just how far away from this time last year I've come. Plain and simple, it served its purpose at a particularly unpleasant time and now it's one of my absolute favorite shows which never fails to be bizarre and entertaining and sometimes feels a lot like Twin Peaks. And on that note, I am pleased to share my most recent discovery, all the Twin Peaks episodes online. Enjoy.

So, Dear Followers, did you have a "distraction device" to help you through a tough time? What was it? I'd love to know, because I know I'm not alone.

P.S. If you'd like a distraction, it never fails: Watch Lost (or, of course, the wonderfully bizarre and complicated, Twin Peaks).


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