We’re all the lucky ones

Because it was on a weekend this year, Valentine’s Day might have passed without me noticing if it weren’t for a few Facebook friends sharing photos of bouquets and festive table settings. Unlike some previous years, I wasn’t bitter or envious of those in a pair. Sure, it would have been nice to have someone be like, “SURPRISE! Here’s a first edition Lolita with a butterfly doodle on the title page. Now let me buy you a steak!” but I wasn’t aimlessly hurling frustration just because I don’t have a guy to buy me flowers and a card.

When I think of Valentine’s, I recall an album I heard a few years ago: Daughter’s “If You Leave.” It was a dark winter morning & I was getting ready for work and I decided to buy the album on Amazon on a whim. I was groggy, craving soft sheets, snuggles, and the adoration of someone else and the lyrics hit me in the gut.

And if you’re in love, then you are the lucky one,
‘Cause most of us are bitter over someone.
Setting fire to our insides for fun,
To distract our hearts from ever missing them.
But I’m forever missing him.

It was a melancholic day in my cubicle. I spent most of the day thinking of loves lost, envious of those lucky ones who took their companionship for granted. I missed the days of democratic valentines when I didn’t understand the holiday, I just knew I was going to get 28 poorly torn and folded cards from my classmates. In middle school when I actually did get the holiday, the first three weeks of February were a slow roasting hell, seeing the halls covered in advertisements for the carnation sale. I think I received two $1 carnations – both were from female friends whose generosity felt cruel because they weren’t boys. High school was where I started seeing that it wasn’t so much about love and affection as it was about the things guys bought girls. Since boys weren’t buying me anything, it was fortunate that it was cool to hate Valentine’s Day.

I had several vaguely memorable gifts Valentine’s Days that I can fondly recall; The lunch, latte, and bouquet from the produce boy. The blood red roses from Jon. My first Kindle & pearl studs from Bill. The Second City tickets from the professor. Last year’s dozen roses delivered at work after a first date.

What I hate most about Valentine’s Day is how reductive it is. That list isn’t representative of those relationships. They ranged from simple blushing and hormone-heavy infatuation to complex and sustained commitments. But somehow, whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around, the first thing that comes to my mind is all the previous February 14ths – not the relationships I was in at the time. It takes a while to recall how the produce boy made me blush every time he delivered a white chocolate raspberry latte from my favorite coffee shop – longer still to remember how badly I craved any sign of love from Jon and how deeply I celebrated any instance of affection. It’s somewhat easier to recall the easy tenderness Bill and I shared, and the thrill of the professor’s support of my hobbies.

I listened to “Youth” again the other day, and it didn’t hold the same sadness it once did. Instead of focusing on the lingering bitterness over someone, I consider myself lucky to have experienced such a range of love and despair. It means I’ve been able share myself with a person and he’s trusted me enough to share himself with me. A successful relationship isn’t necessarily one that ends in marriage and eternal commitment. A successful relationship can also be one of mutual discovery and growth. Even the relationships that ended badly were ones that lead to further self-awareness. It’s cliche, but it really is better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all.

While the ego bruise from Valentine’s Day might still be fresh for some readers, I still want to tell people to treasure wherever they’re at. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, don’t place any importance on this arbitrary day. Just treasure your moments and savor whatever you’re doing.

Vonnegut sums it up better than I can tonight: “We are here on earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

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Throwback Thursday: It Gets Better (Seriously.)

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the left and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday August 8, 2001

“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” Romans 6:10

How do you feel when you know you’re loved? 

           Really giggly

I so don’t know what to do. Ok, I was checking my e-mail when I came across one from Nikki. She replied to a bunch of questions I asked her, then she was like, “Well in case you haven’t guessed, Cory’s been calling like 10000x for me to ask u. So just give me an answer so I won’t be bugged anymore.”

I wrote back, saying I didn’t get what she meant, to buy myself more time. He wants to go out with me. What do I do? Should I say yes and see what happens? Or say no and not take the chance? I’m afraid I’m going to get freaked out like what I did with Tony and dump him a week later. I’m also afraid he’ll try to pull something on me. But I seriously don’t know what to do. But then there’s another thing: I barely know him! I’ve talked to him maybe a total of 5 times. I didn’t even know who he was till Nikki’s B-day Bash in February!

Oh Jesus. 

Luv ya, Ash

I need time to think. 

Good lord, I’d like to smack this girl. You know what you do in this situation? You say no and tell Nikki to give Cory your phone number and tell her that if he decides to grow a pair, he can ask you himself. Then you move on with your life, like a self-respecting young woman.

It’s not so hard.

For the record, I’d like to say that I’ve matured quite a bit since 2001. I don’t accept second-party boyfriends. I don’t keep boyfriends around unless I am absolutely crazy about them. I do this because wasting time in this fashion is frustrating and painful for both parties.

The handful of “boyfriends” I had in middle school came to me by way of Nikki. She was the pretty popular one, but in a pinch I would do. One of them was a boy named Tony, whom I remember only for looking like a pumpkin. Eventually Cory got my number and we would awkwardly stand next to each other at lunch and while waiting for the buses after school, so yeah. It was pretty serious.

I got the feeling that they felt they were settling for me, but I was just happy to have the attention of someone for a while. Being able to say that I had a BF was prize enough – I didn’t really care who it was. This is probably why I spent the first part of my dating life believing any guy’s interest was genuine. I figured they were just bidding time till a prettier girl came along. It didn’t matter if we were just hanging out in his dorm room while he organized his Radiohead discography or if he had planned an afternoon of hiking (complete with disposable cameras, granola bars, and a thermos of cocoa) with homemade chili in the slowcooker at home – I just refused to invest myself. I’d like to maintain it was because I wasn’t sure I felt a connection with him, but you could just as easily attribute my commitment reluctance to self-preservation. Eventually I met men who intrigued me for years at a time, but that’s for a different post. But if there was a message I could relay to Young Ashley, it would be this:

You feel really giggly when you’re loved? That’s the best you could do? I don’t think that’s the kind of love your bible’s devotion was asking you about. Even though you lack critical thinking skills, have some faith in yourself. If these turds don’t see how great you are, don’t waste your time, energy, or emotions on them. You’re meant for greater things than to be the second-choice girlfriend of a pumpkin.

Heart shaped glasses

If I had kept these glasses, I never would have had an issue getting a boyfriend.

Throwback Thursday: How to be a Doormat

Every Thursday, I dig out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Monday May 29, 2000

Dear Libby, 

Sorry, but I was just thinking about what an idiot I am. Did I tell you the Jocelyn dumped Benjamin? Well, the other day, I wrote Benjamin an e-mail saying: 

    Ben, I’m sorry to hear about Jocelyn dumping you. But If you need to talk, I’m here for ya. Just tell tell me when to get on aol or just e-mail me. 

    luv ya, ashley. 

    P.S. :*(sealed with a kiss.)

I am such an idiot! ‘sealed with a kiss’?!? How stupidly insane can a person get? Probably no lower than me! But eww! Sealed with a kiss? Ugg! I can’t believe I put that. 

~*Ashley*~

I had yet to develop empathy – I just figured that since he wasn’t with Jocelyn, it was somebody else’s turn to be his girlfriend. I expected  he would be so taken with my willingness to tie up the phone line to IM him on AOL that he would drop a note, declaring his love into the slot of my locker. As you can probably guess, this isn’t how things went.

Before I roll my eyes so many times they get stuck like that, I’d like to offer Young Ashley some advice:

When pouncing on a dude who’s on the rebound, it’s best to not remind him that he was just unceremoniously dumped by a girl. I know you haven’t been romantically disappointed yet, so you don’t understand that the purpose of post-breakup flirtation is to swiftly bolster one’s ego. Also, from what I remember, he wasn’t flirting with you, so calm the hell down and put up your away message with the N’Sync lyrics.  Was ‘luv ya’ a casual way to sign emails or were you actually telling him you loved him? And was it necessary to note that you were signing it with a kiss? The emoticon wasn’t enough? Because seriously, you are the epitome of Crazy Girl right now. You’re the exact opposite of “suttle” (I’m assuming that’s how you’d spell it). The sneakier way of doing this would have just been to say, “BENJAMIN I LUV U. LETS DATE NOW THAT UR SINGLE!!!!!!!!!11 LUV U LOTZ, ASH” You don’t know what they are, but you are doing the exact opposite of what The Rules advise.

crazy-girl-YouTube

I have a headache. I forgot that how often I roll my eyes when reading these old diaries.

Jaggerbombs & Sushi: Determining Romantic Compatibility

A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about new relationships. He was developing a theory (he’s always developing a theory) about how you can usually tell if you’re compatible with someone by just a few criteria. It varies between individuals, but everyone has some small collection of questions he or she uses to weed out potential partners.

When I asked him to clarify, he gladly did (he’s always happy to clarify). “I like to ask a girl what kind of sushi she likes,” he said. “And if she says she doesn’t eat sushi, then why the fuck am I even talking to this girl? And if she’s like,” he paused to change his voice to high-pitched and squeaky. “‘Oh, I like california rolls,’ then I’m like meh, okay, we’ll see. But if she’s like, ‘I get octopus, yellowtail, squid salad, and a new roll each time,’ then I’m like DAMN GURL. ”

I didn’t bother asking for another example because I knew he would go on.

“Second point: the kind of car she drives,” he said, probably pausing to drink wine (he likes wine). “I mean like, the car she chooses to drive. If we’re younger and it’s just like a matter of circumstance that she’s driving a Geo Tracker, I won’t judge her.”

“The Tracker was awesome and you know it,” I said. He wasn’t going to get away with dissing my bitchin’ ride during high school.

“But the car she chooses to drive – the one she bought when she could choose what ever she wants. If she drives something like a Neon, I’m probably going to hate her. And she probably doesn’t read a lot.”

“Just like if a guy picks me up in a truck. I bet he’s listening to Big and Rich and probably won’t get my Arrested Development references,” I said.

“Yes. Point three… how does she like her steak done? If she gets it well-done, then shit – why not just order a hot dog?”

“Might as well be eating leather,” I said.

“Point four….I haven’t thought of. I’m still developing this theory,” he said, then probably changed the subject to something he saw on Twitter the other day.

I wanted to come up with a list of my own criteria, but I liked his too much to get rid of them completely, so I decided to include them in my list. Before you judge me, just know that I can do ridiculous things like this right now. As a girl woman who is 1082974937% single, it’s responsible to be thinking about how to distinguish between the men I tolerate and the ones with whom I’d like to drink craft beer.

I don’t pretend true compatibility is so easily reduced, but these are a few points that will need to be addressed or determined by some means within the first few dates.

  1. What kind of sushi do you like?
  2. Realistically, what kind of car do you see yourself driving?
  3. How do you like your steak?
  4. Red or white wine?
  5. Have you done a jaggerbomb unironically in the last two years?
  6. How often do you talk to your mother?
  7. What do you wear when you work out?
  8. Do you use Netflix for tv shows or movies?

While there aren’t correct answers to these, their answers will indicate the level of our compatibility. I’d like to date someone who is adventurous (tries new food), responsible (doesn’t waste money on needlessly jacking up a car), unafraid (steak is rare to medium-rare), spontaneous (red and white, OBVIOUSLY), intelligent (idea for a thing: jaggerbombs that lower sperm count), independent (a pleasant conversation or two each week), confident (no t-shirts cut from the shoulder to the hip, showing off his pecs), and easy-going (tv shows).

That being said, if Ryan Gosling picked me up in a rusty Fiesta to drink Coors and jaggerbombs while he talked about how much he benched that morning, I’d probably still look forward to his “Wut up” text the next day.

Hey girl. I heard you like Cinderella's pumpkin, so I decided to drive it.

Hey girl. I heard you like Cinderella’s pumpkin, so I decided to drive it.

SWOON.

SWOON.

My point? Ryan Gosling is hot & women are fickle.

Throwback Thursday: Dear God, I met a boy…

Every Thursday, I dig I out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!

Sunday August 29, 1999

My mom and I had a looong talk. She said that when God takes us up to heaven, even our thoughts are judged or whatever. Lately I’ve been trying really hard not to think bad thoughts and keeping  myself spiritually clear. I’m going to get involved with the church. Today we went to the church picnic and I had a great time! I’m going to try out for the church orchestra, join youth group, and read my bible every night. I’ll try to each day I write in here to find a good bible verse for that day. End. I have a prayer, Dear Lord, please have my mind be clear of all evil thoughts, please have you be my first true love and not to get caught up with materialistic things of today. Amen. End. (again)

“Because you are specially and deeply loved, you are priceless.” Psalm 139:13-16; John 3:1

August 30,1999

I know I don’t have many pages left and lots of the thoughts that I wrote in here were evil. But I thought I’d put “Dear Jesus” on top of my entries. So that when I’d write it would be like talking to God. I’d tell him all my troubles just weeping because of my sin in his arms. 

Speaking of men/boys Corey made friends with a really HOT boy named Austin. He is thirteen, has dark brown hair, dyed blond on the top sort of, brown eyes, so cute. 

Real love is decorating his name whenever you write it.

Real love is decorating his name whenever you write it.

Sunday September 5, 1999

Dear God, 

I can’t get over Austin! He’s so adorable with his dreamy blue eyes, curly brown hair. He is so cute! And he treats me very, very good. I really think he’s musclur.  He’s so nice. He even likes all the same Christian groups I like. Like DC Talk, Jars of Clay, Newsboys, he is so cool. Most of the other boys I like haven’t even heard of DC Talk, so I think it would be cool to get together with Austin more often. Austin, if you’re reading this, I hope you like me, cause I sure like you! I’m not saying “love” cause I know I’ll (I might) get over him and see someone else I’ll really like so oh well. When I’m around Austin, thoughts spin in my head such as “Is my face oily?” “Is that pimple really read on my nose?” “Is my hair messy?” “Why is he staring at me?” 

I really hope Austin is a little bit interested in me. When we were at the high school hanging out, (It was just me, Dustin, Tiffany, and Corey) I was hoping that Austin would come outside. then all of the sudden, I was talking to Tiffany and I turned around and saw a bow riding a white bike – Austin! I’m like, “Tiff! There’s Austin!” (whispering)

“Omigosh!” she squeals. So then we were hanging out. Tiffany thinks I’m obsessed with him. But I can’t help it! He’s so nice, I could probably spend a whole day with him. End. 

Since I’m extremely tired and I think I’m starting to get a cold, I’ll keep my commentary pretty short today.

  1. My daily bible verse lasted precisely one day. Way to go, Ashley. 
  2. About 70% of my thoughts are probably evil by Young Ashley’s standards. It’s a good thing I’m neither catholic nor jewish. That guilt would be unbearable.
  3. I’m sure gushing about my crush isn’t exactly “evil”, but I don’t think calling a guy HOT with radiating steam rays is praiseworthy or godly.
  4. It’s probably okay though, because he liked DC Talk. We cool, God? We cool.
  5. This is the beginning of my religious period. I ended up playing in the church orchestra and joining a bible study where I met several friends who I was close with until high school came around. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but at some point, the friendships fell apart. I think I held those friends to a higher spiritual level, so I was disappointed to see they could be just as mean and two-faced as the kids I went to school with. Eventually we’ll probably also see my faith retreating.
  6. All crushes prior to Austin meant nothing. He had everything I was looking for: HOTNESS and an “i” in his name that I could dot with a heart.
  7. At eleven, treating me “very, very good” apparently meant letting me stand on the pegs of his Gary Fisher BMX bike while he peddled around the neighborhood. SWOON.
  8. Austin is probably the reason that, to this day, I have a soft spot for guys with dark curly hair. Either him or messy haired Patrick Dempsey. Anybody’s guess, really.
  9. I’ve never been good with eye color. I’ve had two separate relationships that each lasted two years and I can’t recall the color of either man’s eyes. I’ve probably suppressed the memory of one, but there isn’t really an excuse for the other. I think his eyes changed colors depending on the light and what he was wearing. That’s my final answer.
  10. Stay tuned for more on Austin. He’s a recurring character as I grow up.

Alright, I apologize for the brevity, but seriously – Momma needs some soup and quality time with her Kindle.

Throwback Thursday: The one where I learn about sex.

Every Thursday, I dig I out an old diary and share an entry sans editing (in hopes we’ll all see my grammar and apostrophe use improve) with a short commentary. If you like laughing with/at Young Ashley, feel free to use the handy search bar to the right and simply type “Throwback Thursday” and you’ll find the whole archive. Thanks for reading!
 
I apologize for not posting in between Throwback Thursday posts. For the first time while addressing an blog absence, I can say that I’ve no actually been busy with productive things. Vince and I went to see Second City on Friday night. On Saturday, I had a surprisingly productive meeting with my writer’s group that inspired me to revisit and draft old essays. I’ve been working on a new design for the blog (if you didn’t notice, I finally bought the domain). I had a photo shoot with my brother to replace the selfie that serves as my face to the internet (“Make me look less fat” was an actual quote from that night). I’ve been working on an application for a scholarship to take some writing classes this summer, and I finally got my ass back to the gym. If everything goes as planned, you can look for the new design this weekend and I’ll be down to my goal weight in three weeks. 
 
I bet one of those things won’t happen. 
 
Without further delay – here’s this week’s latest Throwback Thursday!
 
 
Friday June 11, 1999
 
Today Katie has a camping party till Sunday morning. Two nights away from Corey and Ryan = H – E – A – V – E – N, heaven! It will be heaven without them, hopefully it doesn’t storm though or otherwise we’ll be stuck in the camper all weekend. Lucky that “Huckleberry” campground has an arcade. (Please have an indoor pool, PLEASE!)
 
C rapy weather – 
A lways for the Ottos
M aybe not this time
P lease have good weather
I wish
N ow I
G uess it’s END. 
 
This should be the sole example of why acrostic poems should be banned from all elementary school curriculum.

This should be the sole example of why acrostic poems should be banned from all elementary school curriculum.

 
still Friday June 11, 1999
 
It was supposed to storm alot today, but it didn’t. (And I’m glad!) When we were coming, we listened to “Kiss FM” the new song from Backstreet boys was on. “That way” We (me Katie, Danna, and Emily) were singing along with it, it was fun! Then when we got here, we threw the ball in the water for Dude, Katie’s dog. Then we went to the game room. The Game room has a jukebox type thing. I played “Livin La Vita Loka” by Rickie Martin and “Drive myself crazy” by N’sync. It was fun. Then we went swimming, for about 20 minutes. I’ll write more later. They’re playing poker, they’re betting tons of stuff. It looks interesting! See ya!
 
Saturday June 12, 1999
 
I could NOT get to sleep last night. Danna and I kept on talking, there was this really sick story that Emily told us, which I will NOT write (Sorry Corey!) So we got up ate a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs with milk. A VERY good meal especially for camping. Then we went swimming for like 45 minutes. It was preety cool and fun. Then we went to the arcade. I played a game of air hockey with Danna, she won, and one with Katie, she won. I stink at air hockey. We went for a walk and at lunch we went to the bar for lunch. We were so freaked out. While we were ordering I saw this sign that said “BEER – helping ugly people have sex since 1862.” Isn’t that sick? Then there were these games where if you got so many points then the lady on the computer took of her pieces of clothing one – by – one. = S – I – C – K!
 
Okay, enough of the past, now the present. I’m sitting by the campfire listening to our RUDE camping nehbiors practically yell to talk to each other. 
 
I experienced one of those blinding moments of a resurfacing memory while rereading these entries. The story Emily told – about seeing two girls playing with each other in the showers at the public pool – was one of those stories that was seared into my mind. Probably because it was the first tale of lesbianism I had ever heard. My christian upbringing had instilled such a healthy sense of homophobia that the story made me sick to my stomach. I could picture it and every fiber in my body told me it was wrong. The strange thing was that I was sure it was wrong not because it was two girls, but because it was a sexually charged moment. I think I would have been just disturbed if it had been a boy and girl playing with each other in the shower. 
 
This weekend was apparently my first experience with sexuality. I had such an idealistic view of love and relationships – one that didn’t ever veer into the sexual realm. I was terrified of all things sexual. I was disgusted by most of my body (I think the only thing I didn’t completely hate was my hair), and the idea of anyone touching or coming near my “private parts” was grotesque. Sexual thoughts were bad. Sexual feelings were sins. Sexual acts of any kind were completely forbidden. It’s not at all surprising that I thought talking about sex was essentially damning myself to hell.
 
I was fairly certain the devil was preparing my quarters (I imagined a corner red, black, fiery, with rusty chains, where I’d be doomed to watch him eat spaghetti for all of eternity. Not sure where I got the spaghetti detail from, but that was what I imagined) when I sat through the first sex ed class in fifth grade. This wasn’t even the one where intercourse was discussed – it just addressed the fact that boys had penises and girls had vaginae and breasts. But yeah, I heard the word “penis”  and I heard the word “vagina” and I seriously considered writing a letter to my principal, telling him that I was a child of god and had no business hearing words like that. Hearing terms for my body parts? UNACCEPTABLE, Mr. Demilio. 
 
Now, I’m not saying that my parents raised me wrong or that they made me terrified of my own sexuality. I scared myself all on my own. On several occasions, I remember my mother telling me, “Sex isn’t bad – sex is really beautiful when it’s shared by a husband and wife who really love each other.” My mother handled it well. My father never addressed it, not that I expected him to, really. I give props to every parent who has the guts to talk to their kids about sex. I’m debating if I ever even want kids, just so I don’t have to deal with that whole deal. Children are so inherently weird about these things. It’s a shame that our bodies mature so much earlier than our brains. Our bodies long to be touched while our brains still laugh at the idea of a boner. The concept of making love is completely absurd; we don’t realize our bodies are emotional objects. We don’t learn that almost any physical sensation affects our pysche until much later – usually after we’ve made a few mistakes first. 
 
I knew sex was supposed to be something beautiful and significant, and that’s why the images in the bar disturbed me so much. At the time, I didn’t have the capacity to realize I was wasn’t disgusted by them – I was saddened by them. The image of two people having sex only when enough beer had been consumed was heartbreaking. Maybe because I always feared I’d be one of them. Or maybe I feared I’d be like that blonde girl on the pixelated screen, getting male attention only by slinking down a catwalk while peeling off my clothing.
 
I didn’t want to think that lust had anything to do with relationships and love. These first encounters with lust were scary. Lust made you animalistic and hungry only for the violation of another person. Lust had the ability to turn love into a selfish compulsion. This deeply depressed me. 
 
I’d like to say that I’ve completely lost these feelings and that all of my experiences have proved Young Ashley wrong. the truth is that intimacy isn’t always intimate. Looking back on some of my relationships, I can name, without hesitation, several occasions when the selfishness of lust stole the show. These were moments where I was so dumbfounded by what had just been taken from me, I wasn’t able to react. At the time, I pretended like everything was okay, but some of these moments disturbed me so much that I’ve written drafts and drafts of essays and stories trying to figure out what exactly happened – to no avail, for the most part. Maybe we can credit some of my cynicism here: people can be the most awful to each other in moments of pure vulnerability. 
 
I guess you could say that Young Ashley was a prude. Ashley of Today thinks that intimacy isn’t valued highly enough. I’m not saying that I think pre-marital sex is wrong. I’m no longer religious, and if you’ve got half an ounce of intelligence, you’ve probably picked up on the glaring hypocrisy if I made such a statement. What I’m saying is that my mom was right – sex can be really beautiful when two people love and respect each other. 
 
If I had to tell Young Ashley anything, it would be the following: Sex is not terrible. You will not go to hell for wondering about penises. Your vagina is not the source of all evil. Treasure yourself. And stop journaling at campfires with your friends. You look like a weirdo.  
 

This is a post about Valentine’s Day.

I know, I know. This is supposed to be Throwback Thursday. Due to excuses I’m fabricating in my head, it’s not happening this week. I’m just not in the mood to look through my sixth grade journal and reminisce.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten serious here, and I’m not really sure why. My head hasn’t been here for a while, I suppose. Work has been busy. I’ve had an actual social life for the last few weeks (don’t worry, couch: I’m about due for a week-long introverted self-huddle). I’ve been reading great books on my new Kindle (The Best American Non-Required Reading, Margaret Atwood’s Positron, and e.e. cumming’s six nonlectures). I’ve been working out (my 5k on Monday night was almost four minutes shorter than last week’s). I’ve been baking. I’ve been cleaning. I’ve been playing my violin (I sort of want to apologize to all of my neighbors because my Bach sounds terrible). I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I’ve gotten into a weird pattern of waking very deliberately each morning around 1 or 2am, walking to my kitchen, pouring a mug of milk, and eating two cookies. I only have two left, so I guess tonight is my last night, so I wonder if it will stop on Friday. I do this in an attempt to get myself back to sleep, but really it’s just an excuse to eat an extra 400 calories. In the morning, I just pretend not to know why there are crumbs in my sheets or why my milk is gone.

Anyway, Valentine’s Day. Before you all freak out, I’ll let you know that I don’t have plans. I mean, I do. Thursday is cross-training, so I’ll be doing 45 minutes of rowing and weights. But romantically-speaking, there are no plans. This is by choice more than circumstance. I was seeing someone for the last few weeks who said he had made plans for us, but it didn’t feel right committing to them. He’s a nice guy, but spending Valentine’s Day together makes things serious, doesn’t it? If a relationship goes from casual to committed, it should happen naturally, not because the calendar dictates.

I had intended to write some meaningful diatribe about Valentine’s Day and how it’s not as big of a deal and people make it out to be, but by even mentioning it I’m participating it the same hoopla I’d be attempting to condemn. When it comes down to it, the pre-packaged and pleasantly arranged tokens of love we’re presented with from December 26 – February 14 make us fall into one of the following categories:

True Love

ee cummings

Neither is superior. At some point, each of us will experience love. At another, we’ll feel bitter and jaded. The beauty lies in the fact that we’re capable of experiencing both of these states. With the right attitude, bitterness can  be turned around to be the promise of something better. What that “something” is is for you to decide: a more honest relationship, a more contented sense of self, or a stronger connection to your reality. And love? Whether you’ve been in love or you have yet to experience it, you know that e.e. cummings perfectly captures that sense of blissful isolation that only love produces.

So instead of being focused on whether you’re in love, out of love, done with love, or having fun with love, why not just be content that you’re capable of it?