When Happy Up & Walks Away

How perfectly draining to at the same time always feel like far too much and yet never quite enough. – Tyler Knott Gregson

Be prepared;
Insecurity is going to come
It will not knock, but break down your door during a dinner date
Invite itself in and sit at the table,
Foam at the mouth like a hungry dog
It’s okay, let it in, set an extra plate
Tell the boy he has to leave, it’s not a good time,
Insecurity has something to say and you need to hear it
Feed it and love it, for this is a gift in disguise

It has a message and it goes something like this:
You are confusing the people you should love with the people you shouldn’t
You are confusing the people who love you with the people who don’t

Insecurity is here to teach you a lesson about packaging
The boy has a great singing voice, he makes a lot of money
He does things you wish you could do,
Volunteers with children and uses a French press
He showed up on your doorstep in a shiny new package
And when the magic hits you, you forget the reasons you are special

In the brightness of his light,
You forgot all the reasons you love yourself
After all, the package you are wrapped in was stamped and sent decades ago
You were swept away by all the reasons you love him,
it’s okay. Insecurity is here to teach you that new isn’t better,
Shiny isn’t superior, trendy isn’t triumphant
When he held your hand while you dreamed, you forgot the magical way you can quiet your own mind when it’s time to sleep
When he rolled with you down the hill, you forget that you once climbed a mountain all by yourself

And when it’s over,
You might be scared because your happy seemingly just up and walked away,
You are confused because lonely looks different than you remember it
It’s no longer an empty room,
But, rather, a room filled with thirty people and none of them want to hold your hand

It’s okay, remember, your happy isn’t gone;
Your happy is just no longer 5’9” with strong arms,
It’s the tall peppermint latte you buy yourself on a long day.
It’s a short trip to the bookstore to buy flimsy paperback books.
And, it’s okay, it’s still your happy. It just looks a little different now.

And, baby girl, remember your strength isn’t gone just because insecurity outstayed it’s welcome

Don’t forget; strength isn’t a penny pressed in a factory,
It is the painting that didn’t come out like you wanted, but still looks beautiful
Your strength hangs limply on your wall, when everyone else’s dances in the night
The rest of the world has strength that screams out loud, and yours never speaks up
It’s okay; your strength is quiet, maybe different, but it’s there
It’s spending the day simply just trying to survive your unwelcome visitor
It’s learning how to weather phrases like, “I just don’t like you that way”
It’s being brave enough to cry when your mind tells you not to

In time,
You may wonder if anyone will ever notice how hard you are working
The person next to you just fed fifteen homeless people
All you did was get out of bed.
It’s okay, keep working.
Your strength doesn’t have to grunt like a jock at the gym,
It just needs to get the job done.

And, now, finally, insecurity will pack its bags and leave
Because you gave it everything you had and it still took more
It chewed up your carpet so now you can build sturdy hardwood floors
Ripped off your packaging so now you can choose your new design
Your colors will shine brighter, you’ll wrap yourself in translucent paper
So people can see your humble soul instead of just your tough skin,
And, maybe now, it’s time for that dinner date again

-M.Noelle

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when bagels become a big fucking deal

Atticus said that Jem was trying hard to forget something, but what he was really doing was storing it away for a while, until enough time passed. Then he would be able to think about it and sort things out. When he was able to think about it, Jem would be himself again. – To Kill a Mockingbird

The past few days I’ve been stressed. Abnormally stressed. The type of stressed that makes its way deep into your bones and, no matter what, will not shake itself free. I’ve tried running, listening to sad songs so I could maybe cry it out, and long drives in my car. I’ve tried distracting myself with TV shows or hanging out with my friends. And, honestly, I don’t have the time for all that. My bills are falling behind, my room is a mess, and my to-do list seems to double itself every half hour.

On the way to work I listened to angst-y punk rock bands hoping it would be cathartic. Then I switched to Adele and belted out sad tunes. When that failed, I pulled up to Dunkin’ Donuts thinking a French Vanilla coffee and a bagel would help. I had fifteen minutes until work but the store was right around the corner, I’d make it in plenty of time.

The line was longer than usual. I practiced my order ahead of time, since I usually get nervous and blank when I get to the counter (much to the annoyance of the people behind me in line.) When it was my turn to order, I gave a flawless delivery and even gave myself a mental pat on the back for making great time. I haven’t ordered a bagel this well since before I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in 2007. Things were looking up.

However, there was a new employee behind the counter who didn’t know how to use the computer yet. I repeated my bagel order 3x and immediately all of the stress I was trying to run from started bubbling up within me. This morning “treat” was supposed to help my stress, not aggravate it! Still, I kept calm knowing in my head that everyone has to learn when they first start a job. It wasn’t that I was rude to her and I didn’t completely lose my shit like you might see in a movie, I just didn’t like the way this minor road bump made me feel. But I guess that’s why people tell you that it’s valuable to learn how to sit with negative emotions rather than always acting on them.

After three people who were behind me in line got their orders before me, I realized that my bagel was taking a very long time. And while fifteen minutes is usually long enough to grab a coffee and bagel in the morning, I was now three minutes late to work. But, from the way my blood was boiling, you’d think it took a half hour.

It must have been written on my face, because the guy behind the counter apologized 20 times, even though I really hadn’t complained.

As I got into my car and drove to work it hit me. The man behind the counter apologized so many times because some customers would probably lose their shit about it. Knowing how close I was even though I’m usually a relatively calm person made me a little bit scared.

I started to think about why our society is so high strung over simple, minuscule things like bagels, and I realized that our society isn’t strung out about bagels. We are strung out over the stress we endure at jobs we hate every day. We are strung out because between all of our obligations we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. We are strung out because we want people to like us but it’s exhausting to always be on our best behavior. So, when the poor guy behind the counter messes up our order, it’s easier to take everything out on him rather than take it out on someone we actually know and love, like our family members.

I thought about the night before when I laid in my bed and actually tried to cry, hoping it would release some of the stress. But when it wasn’t really working, I decided that I could better spend my time watching New Girl or sleeping so I could get up and run at 6 am.

I don’t know where it stops. I don’t know when “giving ourselves a break” becomes a normal habit. Maybe sometimes people get depressed because sinking into a deep depression is the only way we can call off the shots for a while and recuperate. I’m not sure. I can’t even figure out how to relieve my own stress, let along solve the problem for society at large.

But for the sake of bagel makers everywhere, I hope we can all figure it out soon.

rosy noses

“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

First things first, although I would love to be the most honest person in the world, I’m not. But I chose this quote because I believe all great novels have an element of human honesty that we all want to achieve but can’t. Even if you hate Holden Caulfield, you have to admit the guy was true to himself. How interesting would Catcher in the Rye be if Caulfield just put on a smile and waltzed through life, anyway? I dare say not very.

Take me for example. From the outside, you’d expect roses to start blooming from my nose at any given second because my demeanor is cheerful. I remember saying to a coworker once, “I love sunny days!” He just grumbled, “I know. You have a sunny disposition.” The thing is, with all the time I spend with myself and my thoughts, I’m not sure sunny is the right world. I’ve always been mostly cheerful, mostly happy, mostly put together. My hair is messy, but just a little bit. My make-up is smeared, but just a little bit. These are not signs of mental chaos, just sloppiness. I’m a girl who cares enough to put make-up on, but doesn’t care enough to make sure not to smear it. Well, hey, I have more important things to do!

Alright, I’ll back up out of fear I’m not making sense. I mean, I will if I can. It’s just a tad bit difficult for me to “back up” because how would I know how far to go? It’s not like there was ever a beginning or an end. Life is just a stream of intertwined stories and tales and it’s not neat. It’s not whiskey on the rocks. It’s more like a long island iced tea – a whole laundry list of strong liquors that come together to make an amazing tasting drink or a shitty tasting drink, depending on who makes it. Isn’t that a lot like life? You have all these thoughts and feelings, and depending on who you are, you can make them taste good or make them taste awful. Ah, the power of optimism.

There are no rules; one story doesn’t have to end before another one starts. A person doesn’t become depressed and then get over it and start a new story. No, rather, you get depressed and while that’s happening, while you are working on not falling apart, picking yourself back up, etc., you still have to attend weddings and try to figure out if you want to fall in love with the guy you’re dating and make sure you can pay your bills. So, while you’re busy telling your sad sob story to anyone that will listen, twenty other stories begin and you don’t really have time to sit down and write it all out.

Okay, hold on, let me start here…

Am I happy?

If you are anything like me and 99.9% of the people I know in this world, that is the million dollar question. That is the help-me-figure-this-out-before-I-self-destruct question. I would argue that a single question like that can lead you to so many places – the hospital, rehab, imaginary places fueled by chemical substances, the debt collection agency, and the casino.

And you’ll never get your answer, trust me.

Am I happy?

Okay, I’ll answer in the best way I know how. Yes and no. I was happy last night when I ate wings. I was unhappy a half hour ago when my stomach protested my choice (TMI? Sorry.) I was happy when I met the last person I really, truly liked. I was unhappy when I found out he didn’t feel the same. I will be happy in two weeks when my sister gets married. I will be unhappy in a month when I realize I’m still not even close to figuring my life out.

Hey, remember a few paragraphs ago when I said people think roses are going to grow out of my nose or some dumb shit like that? I say that because I’m really fucking good at smiling. And laughing. And making fun of myself and making fun of everyone else. I’m not saying I’m acting, because I’m not. I really enjoy all of those things and I enjoy the company of people and even my worst days turn happy when I hang out with my friends.

I hate being alone, though, and that’s where the trouble starts. Because I am 25 and single and I’m alone a lot. On average, I spend an hour and a half in my car each day. If songs are about three minutes long, that’s 30 songs. Or, that’s an episode and a half of Ira Glass’s voice if you are a podcast nerd like I am. All the time I spend with myself, driving to work and then to class and then home again, there’s always a nagging question in the back of my mind – what am I doing all of this for?

Don’t get me wrong, those songs help, especially with the thinking. And even Ira Glass’s interpretation of what makes the American society tick helps divert my thoughts. I understand why people say characters from books become their best friends. One of my favorite authors, John Green, made this observation when he said, “Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

I have to beg you not to take this as I’m in trouble or anything. I haven’t been lonely for a long time and I don’t think I will be forever. Plus, like I said, I’m happy some of the time; I would even argue most of the time. I can’t possibly believe that no one else feels this way, either. Otherwise, why would we have movies and songs and books that give us all the feelings?

Still, how do I outwardly say this is how I feel when I know it makes me look too sensitive and too needy and too emotional? Because, yes – I am sensitive and emotional, and even needy, too, I guess. However, I’m also great at listening and I like to laugh and I’m spontaneous and adventurous and fun. I’m strong as shit. Oh, and I can make a great fucking playlist.

I guess I should also say that I hate when people think they need to save me. It’s annoying. I mean, I know there are fucked up parts of me and I’m actually okay with it. If I didn’t have those parts of myself, I wouldn’t be so interested in people like J.D. Salinger and Kurt Cobain and Alexander Supertramp. My favorite books wouldn’t be The Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Without those things, who would I be? I’m not sure. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I’d have to sacrifice the feelings I get from reading those books and relating to those fellow fucked up humans just to be happy all the time, I wouldn’t do it. I’d keep my unhappiness and my deviant thoughts and enjoy understanding the minds of the crazy people. The crazy people are my friends. They understand.

I can’t really give you a synopsis of what this blog will be about. I write poetry and I write essays. I have good days and bad just like the rest of the universe. I am scared shitless. I am very much Sandra Bullock’s character at the end of The Proposal when she whispers to Ryan Reynolds, “I’m scared.” I’m scared of the things I feel and the way I interpret the world and most of all, I’m scared if you are reading this you won’t understand.

Still, I’ve had several people ask me when I’m going to start this blog – I got rid of my previous one because it felt like a chapter of my life I needed to close.  But if my words are even slightly in demand, maybe I’m doing something right. Maybe you don’t all understand and that’s okay, too. But one of the best things I have in this life is words. So good, bad, ugly – I guess I’ll work on sharing them with you.

-m. noelle