momentary vs. lasting

I want to numb the pain. I want to follow suit with everybody around me and do something morally irresponsible just to distract me from the turmoil that’s going on inside me.

I want to.

But I can’t.

Because I have rigid morals, and I can’t not toe the line. It’s obedience for the sake of obedience, for the sake of not doing anything wrong. It’s perfectionism.

I vaguely remember that at one time these morals I’ve formed meant something to me. I’ve made the behavioral choices that I have because of one really big factor: I have been loved perfectly by the Father, and my heartfelt response is to follow the guidelines He’s set before me.

I vaguely remember all that. But I don’t feel it tonight.

Tonight I remember just enough of high school youth group to know that this is wanting to ‘treat the symptom instead of the cause.’ Tonight I am processing just enough to know that dumb decisions now can mean hefty consequences later. Tonight I am present just enough to know that tired, emotional thinking is not rational thinking.

I could easily drop out of school right now. This very instant. I am more than ready to gather the few belongings I consider most precious, climb into my car, and start driving West until I have to pull over somewhere to sleep. Then I’ll sleep just long enough to find the stamina to keep driving, and carry on that way until I’m home. I could. Right now.

I could easily get drunk right now. Sloppy, pass-out drunk. From everything I’ve heard, it’s a great way to get out of your head. And if I get drunk enough, then it’s not me making whatever dumb decision comes next: it’s the alcohol, so I can blame that and ignore the fact that I’m still the one in charge of whether I’m drinking or not. I could. Right now.

I could easily take everything out on someone right now. Friends are passing anyway; why not just pick a friendship to end abruptly in order to purge myself of some of the ick I feel? There are plenty of nasty, hateful things that have fluttered through my head in the 19 years I’ve been around, so it’s just a matter of reaching deep inside, retrieving them, and phrasing them so they’re most effective at tearing apart the heart of whomever I’m targeting. I could. Right now.

There are plenty of other options. None of them wise. None of them leading to abundant life.

Because the temporary relief that this world offers is a cheap knock-off of life. (Aka ‘Melissa: remember how we both know that you know this, so don’t go do something we’ll regret later!)

Right now it hurts inside, and I can’t see God’s bigger plan from where I’m standing, and that kind of sucks. But I know that I know it’s still there, and I know that I know why I’m trusting in it.

I could whisper my fears and my doubts and my hurts to the one who designed my heart. I could trust the truths that I’ve stored away for moments like this and remember that however dark the night may seem, joy comes with the morning.

That’s what I choose.

Right now.

Because numbing the pain won’t fix anything.

And I know the one who will fix everything in its time.

– Melissa
“When My Heart Is Torn” by Phil Wickham

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loneliness

I miss having a friend.

I know, I’m overtired and hyperemotional, but I do.

I miss having a friend who knows me better than breath.

I miss having someone always around to talk to in the middle of the night about everything on our hearts and everything trivial in our days and everything in between.

And I see the people around me, my friends, and it seems like they’ve found that. Like maybe it comes easier for them or maybe they just got lucky, but either way, it’s them.

I feel like a third wheel sometimes.

I remember curling up with my dad over Thanksgiving of my senior year and sobbing, because I was terrified of the future and still heartbroken over a friendship gone bad, and together we prayed that I’d find someone at school who’d be a best friend. Who I could share my heart with and who would share her heart with me.

It’s nothing I’m guaranteed. Nothing I’m entitled to.

But it’s still a cry of my heart.

And it’s still unfulfilled.

And that hurts.

I have good solid friendships here. I’m so grateful for that, because that definitely isn’t where I was this time last year. And I have amazing friendships at home, and I know that we’re going to be able to weather whatever distances life may impose on us, because we love each other like sisters and we’ve been through too much together.

But I still feel really alone tonight.

I think I probably just ought to go to sleep.

Actually, I know I should.

But what I want to do is go wander around campus in the dark and get lost in conversation with someone.

I don’t know who that someone is. I keep hoping I’ll find out.

I wish Lubbock was closer. I wish Bakersfield was closer. I miss my sisters.

I want to go home.

– M

Homecoming and Mud and Everything Else

It is currently 11:45pm and I am so tired that I can barely function. So what am I doing?

Writing a blog post. Duh.

Tomorrow morning’s gonna be rough. I’m just gonna call that right now. But, hey; whatever.

It’s Homecoming Week at HSU, so things are hopping around here. As if advising season and sorority/fraternity pledging season weren’t enough to fill the campus with general tumult, add in homecoming prep and daily activities and this crazy event we at HSU call “All-School SING!”

From a performance standpoint, SING is…madness. It is chaos. It is too much pressure and too much singing and a much coveted title of Champion.

From a technical standpoint, SING is…complete madness. It is utter chaos. It is too much pressure and too much singing and directors who don’t understand that we aren’t actually trying to ruin their lives when a cue goes wrong.

Guess who’s working SING Tech…?

Yep.

This girl.

The one sitting at the house-left side of the booth in front of the computer, running projections.

It’s not an awful job, actually. A couple of the shows don’t even have projections.

And it’s easy to amuse myself, intentionally and otherwise.

Like, on Tuesday, I added one slide to a slideshow, turned to talk to the director, turned back and found that I had also added 236 additional slides besides the one I wanted. So that made me giggle way too much.

And today, before the show began, when the curtains were closed and nobody in the audience could see what was being projected, I found a picture of a baby chimpanzee and made him think encouraging things for the people backstage to see. That was fun.

So yeah. I’m amusing myself and getting paid and trying not to dwell on how tired I am or on the people who I’m letting get under my skin.

Aside from SING madness, it’s been raining here!

I love the rain!

I love to run around in it and splash in it and soak up the annual rainfall of Bakersfield in my clothes in the space of an hour.

However.

I learned today that Toby’s pen does not particularly love rain. Or, rather, it does. Much too much.

My dear, hydrophobic horse is now living in a lake, ruling over his wet domain from two little islands. The water is at least four inches deep. Plus another two inches of mud.

I am very glad that I own rain boots.

And I am very ready for the sun to come up and evaporate the lake. Because Toby is not a seahorse. He’s a horse horse.

Really, if I’m entirely honest, life has been crazy and weird on all counts for a while now.

And by crazy and weird I don’t mean all and sunshine and roses.

I mean that lately there have been some grey-colored days, and on those days I am just grateful for people who come into my quiet to let me know that I am not alone and that it’s going to be okay. Hugs are sometimes the best things ever.

I mean that recently I have had spinning-like-a-top days, and on those days I am so grateful for people who don’t get scared of me and who keep up with my mad energy and join me in adventuring into all sorts of mischief. Camaraderie isn’t just a word I can’t spell or pronounce.

On Sunday I was ready to drop out of school.

I’m totally serious.

I was curled up at my aunt’s house with first my sisters and then my entire family, and there was not a single bit of me that wanted to return to Abilene to this drab little dorm room to resume my life as a student.

And so I didn’t return.

Or, rather, I put off returning until I finally left so late that I didn’t get back to campus until 11:30pm. I still managed to go to bed earlier that night than I am tonight. Oh well.

Life’s buzzing in my head, feverishly reminding me that there are a million and one things I want to say, but my tired mind is out of words and so I think I’m going to call it a night.

One final thing, though: Why does my hair always look nicest in the middle of the night?! For realzies! What’s with that? My only option is to sleep on a head of curls that will look frizzy and slept-on tomorrow morning.

So not cool.

– Melissa
A Happy Song

12:00 AM

It’s funny how things evolve.

Now, don’t hear me buying into the idea of Evolution of present day life from an amoeba.

I’m talking about how things like emotional responses change over time.

Because I’m still crazy homesick. But ‘crazy homesick’ is manifesting itself differently this semester than it did last semester.

Last semester, the longest I ever went without breaking down in tears stemming from my vast desire to no longer be here but instead be there was about a week.

I’m less weepy this semester.

Last semester, it felt like every waking hour was filled with thoughts completely centered on home, and whenever I did end up distracted, I noticed.

I’m less single-minded this semester.

Homesickness is more of a persistent ache this semester. It’s fixating on what I hear about life at home and on the pictures I surround myself with. It’s relating every bit of life back to something about my family. In other words, it’s more subtle to me but probably still glaringly obvious to everyone around me. Maybe even more obvious than last semester. I don’t know for certain.

The play closes tomorrow.

And, on one hand, I’m super relieved. I’ve been so exhausted the past week that I’m only certain the week happened at all because a) it’s a different weekend than it was last weekend and b) homework’s turned in that I had to have turned in during the week of February 9-13. The hustle and bustle and socialness of a show has me drained even when I’m getting enough sleep.

But, on the other hand, I’m super dreading the cessation of this show’s run. Because I know me fairly decently by now, and I consistently come down with a bad case of post-show-blues upon the close of any and every show. Even shows I hate. Even show’s I just worked backstage for and spent two weeks bored out of my mind during.

Anticipating how awful something is going to be usually makes it worse, psychosomatically and all that, so I’ve been trying very hard to talk myself out of this sense of impending gloom. Yet history speaks pretty loudly and clearly.

I’ve even taken actions to prepare myself to get over the hump I presume (know) is coming: I’ve started prep work to begin the legwork for putting on a show at home this semester (stay tuned for details as they arise) as well as stocking my plate with various other projects to engage in.

The truth: I’d rather just shut my emotions down and go into hiding for awhile.

Turtles have it good: they take their shells with them everywhere.

And armadillos (which I personally like to call darmarillos just for the heck of it) have armored plates on their backs and the curl up and look ridiculous and are fairly well protected.

And porcupines have awesome terrifying quills bristling everywhere.

(Have I ever mentioned that I have a slight phobia of porcupines? Oh, and also of fire. If you don’t believe me, ask the two idiots who, with a lighter, had me cringing halfway across the stage before the curtain came up for Act 2 tonight…)

And then there’s me: I can be as prickly or turtley or tough as I want, and I still have to deal with people and life.

Ugh.

This is normally where I’d get spiritual. Talk about how what I’ve been learning in my quiet time or in Bible class relates to all this. But it’s midnight and so I’ll condense it to just saying that I’m really really trying to remember to do life not on my own strength. To forgo comfort and safety and do whatever it takes to bring glory to God. I’ll also say that it’s not that I feel that I’m entirely failing. It’s just that the Christian walk isn’t easy. It goes against everything in us. For me, it means dealing with people. And boy oh boy am I over dealing with people.

Okay.

It’s late.

I’m going to sleep so that I can be alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic for church and Hay Fever and set strike tomorrow.

Blessings on all your heads. And maybe water balloons, too.

If any of you have a random water balloon materialize over your head and fall down and land on you with a splat and drench you in icy cold water just as you’re reading this, a) you’re welcome and b) please tell me so that I can laugh in delight at your misfortune while also marveling at the awesome weirdness of God.

Adios!

– Melissa
Check this out.

Hungry Hungry Miles

Perhaps one of the crueler inventions of an already callous world was the idea of making someone drive 1453.4 miles to a destination she didn’t want to ever attain. Perhaps I’m making a mountain of a mole hill. But either way, I am officially exhausted from three days of traveling.

I never wanted to learn to drive.

Now I never want to drive again.

(I’ve actually loaned my car out for tomorrow afternoon, which is neither here nor there.)

Semester numero 2 commences tomorrow.

Not excited.

The thing about 1453.4 miles is that it gives you a lot of time. Even with talking to your little sister and with making her life difficult and having your life made difficult by her and with the occasional scattered phone conversation and with music and music and music and with trying not to hit or get hit by anyone on the highway, there is plenty of time. Time for thinking and mulling things over.

I mull things over a lot anyway. That’s actually part of the reason that I have a blog. That, and I love having an audience. Even if it’s only, like, two of you and my parents. Simply the idea of having the opportunity to speak to the world is enough to satisfy me.

But to get back on track: mulling things over.

I wrote, like five or six good blog posts over the last three days.

In my head, of course.

If texting and driving simultaneously is illegal, I can’t imagine what typing out a blog post on a laptop while driving is.

No, I can imagine what it is.

It’s insanity.

Which I did not partake of.

And now all those wonderful, well-thought-out thoughts…they’ve vanished. Lost in the oblivion of physical weariness and emotional weariness and a battle against an already aching homesickness that I refuse to give the reigns of my semester to.

Now all that I can manage is a muddled attempt to shatter the walls around my thoughts and a garbled attempt to tell the people who care about me that yes, I’m alive, and yes, I did make it back to this place after all, and no, I’m not going to drop out of school this semester, and yes, I do need your prayers. Desperately.

I miss my awesomely weird friends. I miss my wacko sisters and my zany brother. I miss hugging my mom and butting heads with my dad and making fun of my idiot horse to his face and getting nuzzled anyway.

Everyone has told me that the first semester is the hardest. Which would, in theory, mean that these next four months will be easier than last go round. But I’m afraid to hope and then get my hopes dashed.

But at the same time, life without hope is like a blank canvas.

No, it’s worse than that:

Life without hope is like a wooden frame rudely stripped of its canvas covering and hung in the art gallery all the same.

The next week is going to be full of reacclimating and adjusting to a plate full of new classes and rehearsals every night.

But Christmas break was a beautiful mess, and I’ll try to scrape up some time to rehash some bits of it.

Maybe some of those lost thoughts from all those miles will come back if I ask very nicely.

Most immediate, though, is my need to call it a night and let these tear-watered eyes get some sleep. Tomorrow’s a new day, full of possibilities and classes and people whose scars run just as deep as mine.

Have you ever pondered that: that each of those million-or-so cars that zoom past you on the highway is full of a person who’s thinking about something and who loves someone and who’s going somewhere? It blows my mind. Every time.

The world’s so big that it scares me. But it also makes my problems pale in comparison.

Yet he sees each tear I cry and hears me when I call.

Wow.

On that (rather unexpected by my-weary-self) note, I shall bid each of thee a good night and a beautiful and blessed tomorrow.

Make a difference. Or at least don’t be afraid to try.

– Melissa
He Knows My Name*

*When I was in fourth grade, our little children’s choir sang this song. This version isn’t as good as ours, of course, but it’s still a beautiful song. Also, the YouTube video linked is titled differently, but don’t be confused—it’s the same song. Just mistitled.

to you, my __________

I miss you today. With the swirl of holiday joy about me, your absence is keenly felt.

But who is ‘You’?

You on its own is just an empty pronoun.

You are the ‘friend’ who wasn’t, who I had to walk…no, run away from but who still haunts my thoughts at unexpected moments. And I wish things had worked out differently. And I wish I could just text you to say, ‘hey.’ Safe doesn’t mean easy. Safe doesn’t mean desirable.

You are that feeling of absolute abandon, when the game ceased to be a game and became life and somehow that skinny child was a horse and somehow I really was a world famous horse breeder and somehow we really did win all kind of ribbons and trophies and acclaim without ever leaving our corner of the yard. Growing up has had its benefits. But imagination free of self-consciousness was pretty great too.

You are four legs and a mane and a tail and all the mass of muscles in between. Kind eyes and soft nose and a shoulder to cry on. You’re an idiot, and you’re afraid of everything, but this semester has been so long without you, and the three days until I see you again seems an eternity, and there’s a little pang in my heart when I know that you haven’t missed me. Not really. But there will be adventures together in the next month and I’ll pretend that another goodbye isn’t in our future.

You are laughter in the safety of camaraderie, that feeling of belonging among people, of simple blissful rightness. The too-late nights and the afterward wondering if we’d squeak in by curfew. The radio volume that should have deafened us but only made us giddy. I keep hoping I’ve tasted something here akin to our friendship. I’ve found friends, but not friends; not soul-siblings.

You are someone I’ve never met. Someone Mom used to tell me will love me more than Daddy does—and that’s gonna be pretty hard to accomplish. And let me tell you what, Christmas-time of all times reminds me that you’re not here. Don’t believe me? Listen to any Christmas song. If it’s not about a baby in a manger, then nine times out of ten it’s about you. You may not be All I Want For Christmas, but I do miss you, somehow, deeply, despite your unfamiliarity. And some days I look at the mess of me and wonder how you could even exist, how I could have a future that involves a ‘me’ being united into a ‘we.’

You are the stars. Pure and simple. A galaxy-filled sky to lose my eyes in and whisper my fears to. The campus is too bright to find you here. And Colorado was too full of…other things. I don’t even know what exactly. But I miss you and your light, and I’ll try to carve a bit of the next month to come and reacquaint myself to you. Do you remember me? Or have you been watching me all along, hiding in a seemingly dark sky?

You are my best friend. And texts and phone calls and Skype don’t begin to do our friendship justice. You remind me to keep my chin up and somehow know when my eyes fill with tears. Even though you shouldn’t possibly be able to know. You hear all my schemes and nod with silent willingness and get dragged into all kinds of mischief. Your loyalty blows my mind and pushes me to be a better person. And I don’t know how our story ends, because life seems intent on keeping us in different states for a while. But I know that someway it’ll all work out. I cling to that. I cling to the God that brought us to meet each other. And twenty-eight days is just enough time for us to get into real trouble.

All in all, I miss you. Achingly much. I guess all the emotions of the end of finals and the end of this semester and the idea of being home in just a few days decided that they wanted to express themselves in tears of longing. But I feel better. At least a little better. Even with the missing still there.

Maybe I’ll get to see you again. And maybe I won’t. Maybe sometimes there’s no room for maybes. Maybe I need sleep.

You seems such an empty pronoun.

But it’s so much more than that.

– Melissa

November 13, 2014

That moment when you can finally take a deep breath, stretch out your tense muscles, and mutter on an exhale, “Yeah. That’s over.”

I am finally at Thursday afternoon, and while I do have one remaining class for today, it’s just lecture and turning in an assignment I finished polishing up this morning.

In other words…it’s the weekend. And what a weekend it will be.

Thanks to the fabulous generosity and love of my parents, I fly out of Dallas tomorrow for a crazy fifty hour whirlwind-weekend at home in California. My sisters and I have already discussed that sleep probably isn’t anywhere on the agenda, and we’re okay with that. Life’s too full of friendship for sleep to be anywhere near important.

As I’m pretty sure I’ve communicated, I’ve been pretty homesick since moving to school, and while my family visiting last month was a major blessing, it didn’t lessen my longing for my horse or my best friends or my favorite haunts (namely, church, my bedroom, and the barn-thing in the backyard). And in less than twenty-four hours…I get to see all those things!

Yay!

I just have to make it through these last twenty-three hours. At least I get to sleep through a decent fraction of them.

Anyway.

Deep life thoughts aside from the fact that I finally get to visit home.

I decided last Thursday night that it was finally time to cut back on the amount of sugar I consume. Because sugar affects me. Majorly. And so for the last week (excepting Sunday, when I had to bake a cake for a potluck thing, and it’s impossible to bake a cake without licking the batter off the spoon and sampling it fresh out of the oven and licking the icing off your fingers) I’ve avoided anything blatantly sugar filled. So, basically, almost all of my favorite things. (I know that there’s sugar in pizza and macaroni and cheese. But not as much as in ice cream, so I didn’t count those.)

And you know what?

It’s been okay.

Now, sure, I want to have a meltdown every time I walk into the caf.

And I totally miss riding the sugar highs—I like to let myself forget about the inevitable crashes that are oh so unpleasant.

But non-sugared Melissa is a little bit more grounded.

That crazy sugar-induced panic in my chest that I get when I’m facing two exams and a major project on a single day (yesterday…) wasn’t there, and I could just be stressed and exhausted without melting into a puddle of tears.

When I spout off some ridiculous nonsense (today I was singing about deer at the beginning of hunting season to the tune of Best Day Of My Life by American Authors as I ate lunch) I know that it’s actually me talking, not some crazy hyped-up version of me.

I will never get drunk.

Nor will I ever do drugs.

The ways that sugar plays with my head are quite adequate for me, thanks.

All that to say, it’s been a grand (though interrupted by a Sunday) experiment, and I guess I don’t totally regret it. At all. (Wow. I can’t talk in a straight line today. Good grief.) And while I won’t be making this a permanent change, I do envision cutting back on my sugar consumption to at least some degree, especially on crazy exam weeks. (Now that I say that, I need to plan on doing this again during Finals Week. Glad I thought of that.)

The world’s a crazy beautiful place, even when it is consistently below freezing temperatures and you’re from California and you’ve never been this cold in your life, and I’m pretty grateful to be a part of it.

And I’m also really really grateful that before too long I’ll be somewhere where it’s not below freezing and I might even get to run around in shorts because it’ll be above 60 degrees. Yep. Good things.

Well, not too much longer before class, so I may as well start walking that way.

I hope you find your own reasons to smile today!

– Melissa
Food for Thought