Like a black hole, but with emotions

In a perfect world, I would have posted more in the last year, because so many wonderful things have happened. I fell in love and started a new career. It felt like my real life started. But it’s not a perfect world. Instead of posting, I was learning about business analysis & writing requirements by day, kissing & laughing with Mike by night.

I’m posting now because it’s the only thing I can think to do. When my heart feels fractured and my contacts salty, my mind gets restless. For the last few months, I’ve sought easier outlets than writing: HBO, new crochet projects, wistful novels, adult coloring books, and binge-drinking. Writing about pain is difficult. Writing about personal pain is exhausting. Writing about family pain is dangerous.

Yet here I am, about to dig in.

The specifics aren’t important, but the basics are probably necessary. The last time I saw my mother was on my birthday, February 29. She left without notice in early March. The last time we spoke was mid-April. She filed for divorce sometime late April. She’s been with a man in Oregon since early June. The last time we exchanged texts was Saturday, while I was recovering from a hangover. The night before I either instigated an argument or cornered her into confessing her sins, depending on your perspective. Either way, I blame alcohol.

Part of me is terrified to write about this – privately or publicly; the other half doesn’t give a damn – it is what it is. These thoughts and feelings have been churning for a long time, and I haven’t been able to do much with them. I talk to Mike. I see a counselor. I try to spend time with my dad and brothers. I take vitamin D and sleep in on the weekends. But when I slow down, I realize I’m buckling under the weight. I just want to be past all of the frustration.

I thought my depression phase of the grieving process was very short. There were only a few days in June where I couldn’t concentrate and slept so hard I woke a zombie. Other than that, I’ve been angry. My counselor assured me that I would likely be going through cycles of grief for the next few years. The idea is daunting. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’ve never had to deal with something so emotionally massive.

This isn’t just something I’m going to have to deal with over the course of the next few months. I’m going to have new questions, frustrations, and concerns as I hit my own milestones.


My emotions, circa spring/summer 2016. Everything is at the event horizon, basically.

I want my rhetorical questions to have answers.

How? When? Why?


BlogHer ’13

So, I’m just kind of throwing things out here right now. Maybe it’s because I’m out of it, or maybe it’s because I’m leaning so far back on my couch that I might as well be lying down, but whatever. I’m in a sort of ridiculous planning mode. By that I mean, that I’m thinking of all these things I want to do and not seriously considering how to get them done.

For instance, I’ve been wanting to organize my room for the last week or so. It made sense that it was a bit unorganized last week, what with working 60 hours and all. But it’s Tuesday and I’m rolling into another week with three pairs of boots in front of my closet, today’s jeans, yesterday’s tights, and half of tonight’s pajamas on the floor. Will I eventually clean them up? Yes. Probably on Friday night, because that’s what my life has become: WORK work WORK work WORK work CLEAN CLEAN drink drink drink RECOVER sleep FIVE HOURS OF GLEE heat up soup for dinner, repeat. It’s pretty amazing.

But here I’m planning the next year or so of my life. Loosely, of course. My quartet starts our Christmas gig this weekend (Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker music played at least 10 times each Saturday night and Sunday afternoon) – that will run until January. Then I’ll have a major implementation (doesn’t that sound important?!) taking over my life as the year ends. After working a ton, I’ll be taking a vacation in March – some place warm with tropical drinks just a pretentious flick of the finger away. The most recent addition to my plan is the BlogHer convention in July. That’s about as far as I’m looking tonight.

I’ve never been to a convention of any kind, but I figure it will be a great way to jumpstart and motivate me.  Also, it would be refreshing to turn the screen-socializing to actual socializing, right? Anyway, right now there is a discounted rate for bloggers that runs until the end of the year. The whole reason I’m writing this is that if you blog, you should go.

So hey – blogging friends: Meet me in Chicago July 25-27 at BlogHer ’13!

[excuse the random photo of wine and perfume. it seemed to capture the essence of my blogging. or something]

Thanks, Merci, Danke, Takk, Dzięki, Gracias

Yesterday, my phone was blowing up with emails from WordPress. I got about 300 emails telling me that I had a new subscriber, comment, or Like on a post.

The most exciting part of it is not seeing the view count go up (though that is pretty awesome), but seeing that people are reading and enjoying what I do. It’s great to connect with my friends and family over my posts, but it’s an entirely different feeling when I can do the same thing with virtual strangers.

It’s funny, because the post that was Freshly Pressed was one I wasn’t sure about posting. I was feeling obligated to post something and I dug out the beginning of an essay I had started a few months ago. I did a little editing and attached my favorite picture of me and my brothers and posted it like any other day.

I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to read. I’d like to invite my new subscribers to Like Everything is Blooming on Facebook. There you’ll be able to see new posts and bonus content (by bonus content  I mean Instagrams of my writing areas, embarrassing excerpts from my high school journals, and other things I think my readers my find interesting). If you’d like to be a Superfan, you can follow me on Twitter where I share microblog posts like “The LOUDEST cricket in all of existence has been sitting outside my bedroom for the last two hours. I want to kill a bitch” or “As a grown woman, I’m probably more excited about the new T Swift single than is appropriate”.

Thanks for your support!


After a boring and unnecessarily long day at work, I came home with the intention of getting some good work done. By good work, I mean get through a few chapters of The Marriage Plot. I’ve been reading that book since November. Every time I pick it up, it flies by. It’s the sort of book I want to savor. I’ve restarted the book three times now, just to make sure I remember everything that happened previously.  I did the same thing with The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. I know it’s redudant, but I’ll say it anyway: I really like Jeffrey Eugenides novels. Anyway, before reading, I wanted to get something written in my journal.

I did what I used to – I flung off my shoes and cardigan and lay stomach-down across my bed with my journal and pen. My bed used to be a creative hotspot. When I was growing up, that was what I did: I just came home and wrote for hours on my bed, taking breaks for dinner and violin practice. It was a sanctuary. When I got to college, that all changed. My bed was used for sleeping and the occasional makeout session. The few times I did write there, it felt like a novelty – a sort of quaint encore performance.

Today, after twenty minutes of writing, I got melancholic and nostalgic for better days. I got all teary eyed and felt incredibly lonely. I was about to curl up into a ball for maximum sobbing potential when I heard a key in the door and Carissa walk in.

“Ashley, did you put this package outside our door?” She called.

I pulled myself up and wiped my face. I met her in the living room. “What?”

“Oh – to Miss Ashley E. Otto!” She said, handing me the package. “Oooh, are you okay? What’s going on?”

“I’m just feeling lonely and sorry for myself,” I said.

I sat on the couch to open it up. There were about four layers of tape and I decided to not use a knife. I was in one of those modes that made everything more difficult. I could be more sullen and exasperated if everything was cumbersome.

It was from Joelle, a girl I had met my freshman year. She was my mentor for a single credit one-on -one writing seminar. She was the first person to give me valuable feedback and ideas for revising my writing. We sort of fell out of touch over the years, but I followed her blog when she traveled to Poland and she followed my life via facebook pictures. Every once in a while we would exchange a few messages, but nothing very intimate.

A few months ago, when Bill and I broke up, she asked if she could send me a care package – one without wine or chocolate even though that was probably all I wanted, it wasn’t what I needed. Of course I accepted. Her life must have gotten busy because she wasn’t able to send it until now. But it was the absolute perfect thing for me to see tonight.

It contained Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, a small box of truffles (chocolates ftw!), a journal, novelty gum, and flower pin. I read through the Silverstein book and promptly had a very cathartic cry. It was fantastic.

You know. I’ve said before that I don’t believe in a god, but beautiful coincidences like this make me think twice. Sometimes it’s comforting to believe that there’s some big orchestration I don’t understand yet. My logic overcomes my whimsical side. Circumstances on Joelle’s end prevented her from sending it till now (according to her card, the package saw three living rooms before reaching mine). I created my own perfect storm by recovering from last week’s bout of extroversion (I was occupied every night other than Thursday) by working overtime and spending the last five evenings with books and a box of old journals, but it all culminated to a single moment in which I was reminded I was not alone and people still do wonderful things for each other.

[also, these are the cutest truffles ever]