And So What?

Today, write about any topic you feel like — but you must reuse your opening line (at least) two more times in the course of your post.

And so what?

That’s the default question I pose to myself about certain topics. My mind is a runaway train and I ruminate as easily as I get up to go pee in the morning. I went to a counselor in college who taught me this game: keep worrying, but after each worrisome thought ask yourself, “And then what?” Of course, you then need to explain yourself. Eventually your explanations make no sense, and this is supposed to be a tactic to put your anxiety back down by your toes. You might worry about gaining weight, and by the time you’ve played this game for five minutes, it ends up that because you gained ten pounds you also lost your job, went bankrupt and are now a homeless crackhead.

Back in the days of my nearly debilitating anxiety, this phrase taught me that the world probably would not fall apart for my minor failings, trouble dealing with people and fear of the unknown; my anxiety, however, would continue to make life uncomfortable until I confronted it and used tools to banish it.

These days, the phrase has evolved into, “And so what?” So what if she becomes thinner than me? I don’t have a good answer for that. So what if I find out I can’t get pregnant? Another shoulder shrug. So what if I haven’t been updating my blog? Quite frankly, I doubt anyone except me has noticed.

It’s my anthem for 29-year-old me. I entertained the idea of flying back to the East Coast and having a major blowout for my 30th birthday next year, but I’ve learned my best friend won’t be there and I don’t really see the point of a party anymore. And so what? I’ll turn 30 with or without a party to commemorate the experience.

Saying “so what” to the world is a method of gentle defiance, a way to stick my chin up and do my best Alanis impression. (BTW, listening to Jagged Little Pill right now.) A way to glue my smashed ego back together, put things in perspective and realize that these things might not matter as much as I think they do. Yep, I’m a high-strung, neurotic ruminator.

And so what?

Making Friends

When I was little, I made friends everywhere I went. It was because of my mom. In her matter-of-fact way, she told me it was simple to make friends: “Just say hi and ask them if they want to play.” Lo and behold, she was right; at the doctor’s office, on the playground, at the library or anywhere else, I made a new friend simply by saying, “Hi, my name is Joanna. What’s your name? Would you like to play?”

People laugh at me when I tell them about that, but the shimmering innocence of it makes me long to be 5-years-old again. If you approached someone in this way at the age of 29, they’d probably call the cops. At the very least – and perhaps even more hurtful than a harassment charge – they’d laugh in your face and make you feel like an inadequate human being.

Making friends as an adult is hard.

The odds are against me, having moved to a town filled with retirees. The church I attend has a vagrant population of tourists, so not much hope of me finding a hang-out buddy there. I don’t have kids, so I can’t be part of the Exclusive Parent Friendship Club everyone keeps telling me about. No matter how nice your co-workers are, it’s hard bridging the gap from work-friend to friend-friend.

Every once in awhile, you find someone you think you hit it off with. That’s when you realize you are basically dating platonically. You chat up this cool girl, trying to hint that you should do something sometime. One day you exchange numbers and you hold in your excited squeals as you walk away. “Gotta play it cool, don’t want to seem desperate,” you remind yourself. Eventually you hang out and you want to book the next adventure together RIGHT AWAY! You’re so afraid that if you don’t make a date, you will never hang out again and the friendship will DIE – and then so will you, of loneliness, of course.

I have to remind myself constantly that these things take time. I do this by going through my friends, one by one:

Caitlin and I – friends since we were babies… seriously, we couldn’t even talk. We are still friends now. It’s a beautiful thing.

Deanna and I – friends since first grade. 23 years!

Sam and I – real inseparable friends since 15-years-old. 14 years!

Emily and I – est. in 2009. Five years!

Emma and I – late 2009 – 4.5 years!

Melissa and I – 2010 – four years!

Even these newer friendships are creeping up in years. It’s possible, then, that the groundwork for new, meaningful friendships is being laid right now. It may just be that like everything else, we adults just make things too darn complicated and put too much thought into things.

On that note…

“Hi, I’m Joanna! What’s your name? Would you like to play?”

The Pretty One

You’re the pretty one,
the talented one,
the nice one,
the best-liked,
the favorite.
More useful than me,
better mannered,
more compatible.
The one with good hair,
more adventures,
better stories,
more fans and followers,
more people who care.
More likes,
more comments,
the only one that’s acknowledged.
The successful one,
the faster one,
the cultured one.

Better than me for eternity.

Tuesday Thoughts

It’s getting harder for me to find the time and/or motivation to write as my job ramps up. Summer is our busiest time and while I welcome this happy, bustling activity, it makes it hard for me to get in some creative writing. I finally realized that something was better than nothing, so I present some random afternoon thoughts to you.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Hennes & Mauritz logo - H&M to the layperson.

Waiting for your H&M order to arrive is exciting! Will the jeans I ordered fit? How wonderful is it that you can finally order off their website?! Since 2007, I’ve had to drive an hour to shop there.

If you want someone to pay attention to you, move 2,000 miles away. It’s even more effective if you DON’T want that person’s attention.

As a kid you say whatever you want; when you're elderly, you feel that freedom again.

I want to write, I just don’t have anything to say. Actually, I have plenty to say, but because it’s going online it all has to be censored.

On that note, I miss the carefree days of my 13-year-old self who never cared if she hurt anyone’s feelings or said something controversial. Becoming an adult makes you censor yourself constantly.

I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

PoppiesThere are so many poppies in Estes Park!

I miss wearing high heels.

I could eat the world right now.

Taissa Farmiga in American Horror Story: Coven

Taissa Farmiga in American Horror Story: Coven

I wore a big black sun hat today and I felt like Taissa Farmiga in American Horror Story: Coven. My hat was the source of many comments and compliments throughout the morning – these mountain folk aren’t used to fashionistas.

My tarot card equivalent in numerology.

It looks like another event foretold by my Tarot cards may be coming true. With each event/situation that lines up with the reading I had, I wonder about another event that was foretold by my cards. I also wonder about going to have another reading to get some help with certain relationships (or lack thereof) in my life. Psychics are there to help, people!

Your Inner Villain

Last night I was slowly and methodically taking off my makeup when Erik came around the corner with a puppet-like oven mitt. While this normally would have made me laugh and squeal like a toddler, because of the person who gave him the oven mitt, my expression was more like this:

Evil Queen by Walt Disney

Evil Queen by Walt Disney

Immediately I had a brilliant idea to write a blog using Disney villains’ facial expressions to explain my feelings about certain things. Why, you ask? I’ve spent a large portion of my life bottling up “bad” feelings because I thought it was wrong to have them. The last time my mom visited me, she even said, “It’s my fault because I told you girls to be nice to everyone!”

Slowly, I’m learning it’s OK to feel anger, jealousy and envy; however, I still have a lot of trouble expressing these things. That’s when I thought, What better way to get something off my chest than poking fun at it in a vague blog?!

When you’re in the car replaying an entire bad conversation/event in your head, thinking of how you’ve been wronged:

Cruella Deville by Walt Disney

Cruella Deville by Walt Disney

When you see a picture of someone you don’t like and they look like they’ve gained weight, aged, look terrible, or any combination thereof:

Maleficent by Walt Disney

Maleficent by Walt Disney

When you have to remind someone that they did not RSVP to your event so no, they are not welcome:

Evil Queen by Walt Disney

Evil Queen by Walt Disney

When you realize someone complimented and/or acknowledged your success just because they did better than you, and you are convinced that if you had trumped them they’d be silent:

Wicked Stepmother by Walt Disney

Wicked Stepmother by Walt Disney

When you know how an event or situation really played out but you hear how a liar retold it to save his or her own butt:

Wicked Stepmother by Walt Disney

Wicked Stepmother by Walt Disney

When the aforementioned liar finally gets caught in his or her web of lies:

Cruella Deville by Walt Disney

Cruella Deville by Walt Disney

When I took Zimbio’s What Disney Princess Are You? Quiz I was surprised to learn I was Aurora. “One of the most pleasant princesses,” the quiz said (I’m paraphrasing). Riiiiight… Pleasant? Me? I thought for sure I’d end up as Jasmine or even Ariel – two of the more headstrong Disney gals. I didn’t know much about Aurora, but I found that we do indeed have some things in common: cheerfulness, positivity, living in the forest. Therefore, even when I’m feeling like these evil villains, here’s what comes out:

Princess Aurora by Walt Disney

Princess Aurora by Walt Disney

To me, she looks half-sweet, half-mean here – a good summary of how I usually feel, especially when I’m having a hard time expressing my so-called bad feelings. Of course, put me in a situation with people I really love, like, admire and feel safe with and this is what you get:

Princess Aurora by Walt Disney

Princess Aurora by Walt Disney

What’s the point of all this? Well, I think it’s quite alright to imagine your inner bad-ass when someone is being a jerk. After all, there’s a reason we all identify with these ladies from time to time: we all have a beast inside of us, we all have a dark side. As Deanna once said as she shook me by the shoulders, “Not everyone has to like you!”

So if you feel like being HBIC instead of a princess, go for it!

An Olio of Personalities

I came across a new-to-me comic strip the other day: Zodiactopia by Miki Spink. Occasional poor spelling and grammar aside, it is an astrology geek’s dream! A few in particular jumped out at me:

By Miki Spink

By Miki Spink

I have had knock-down, drag-out fights with the Librans in my life. I read an article once that put it perfectly: “two sides of the same coin.” One of us – most likely me, the Aries – is heads and the other is tails. We may not always see eye to eye, but we share a lot of traits. We’re cardinal, bossy, judgmental, optimistic and sensitive. It’s really in the way we express these traits that our differences come to light. We Aries are independent and me-oriented, while Librans are relationship-driven and we-oriented. As I frequently tell my Libran best friend, “We’re such good friends because we balance each other out.” Without her sense of peace and fairness, I’d be more apt to bark in someone’s face; without my fearlessness and decisiveness, she’d be more likely to stay in an unhappy place. And while we don’t always follow the other’s advice, it at least helps us gain a new perspective on any given situation.

By Miki Spink

By Miki Spink

Speaking of barking in someone’s face… There is nothing more pitiful than a Joanna who can’t sleep. I’ve frequently read articles that call Aries the toddler of the zodiac. While I resent that remark as any self-respecting ram would, I definitely turn into a toddler if I can’t sleep at night. Fortunately it’s rare for me to experience sleeplessness, as the Aries with Gemini rising in me keeps a breakneck pace all day until I finally collapse in front of South Park and go to sleep.

By Miki Spink

By Miki Spink

Impatient? Moi? For those of you less astrologically-inclined, that fair maiden is Virgo the Virgin – Princess of Meticulous Helpfulness and Doing Things the Right Way. These fine arts just haven’t landed in my lap. If I have to wait for something, chances are I’ve drawn a countdown calendar for it so that I may delude myself by crossing things off, for isn’t crossing something off an action to distract me from the inaction occurring?

The thing I love most about this comic strip is that it sums up astrology perfectly: we’re just a big olio of personalities! On that note, I’ll leave you with my favorite one yet:

By Miki Spink

By Miki Spink

Most Perfect Love Story

There’s a perfect love story that hasn’t been written yet.

I was a young teenager in Hubbardston, imagining what my life would be like. I wrote stories and drew pictures almost daily, dreaming these possible worlds. I’d live in New York City and be some sort of famous artist – painter, designer, illustrator, writer – it didn’t matter, as long as I had a killer Goth wardrobe and fancy apartment with floor to ceiling windows. Of course, it would be nice to share this success with a guy. He’d have to be skinny, with hazel eyes, shaggy hair and a big nose. Of course, he’d also have to be intelligent, funny and sensitive – a lot like my best friend Caitlin.

Well, there certainly weren’t any guys like this at Quabbin Regional High School, but I knew my search wouldn’t end there. In fact, why would I want to get tied down with some high school guy? I wanted a fabulous, interesting life, not a married-out-of-high-school life.

I moved on to college in Boston, but I brought a guy with me. For the next three years, I spent a lot of time in seclusion under his thumb. Even so, I never saw “my guy” in college. I was surprised that there weren’t the type of skinny guys I imagined there would be in art school. No, most of them were just pompous windbags, “too cool for school” hipsters – and back then, hipsters were still wearing bandanas around their necks. Even though I was saddled with steady boyfriends throughout college, I was pretty disappointed with the slim pickings I saw there anyway.

College ended, and I moved back to Hubbardston and started working, just like an adult. Eventually, a college friend and I moved in together and we were great for encouraging obsessive behavior in each other. We were fixated on men who loved to string us along to have a fan base. Soon after moving in, I was set up with a young lad who seemed like a great fit. We dated for a whole eleven days before he smashed my heart with a hammer.

I had never been dumped before, and I was not okay with the way it felt. Sleepless nights, tears, nausea. I desperately tried to figure it out for two weeks. Why wasn’t I good enough? Why wouldn’t he just talk to me? Couldn’t we be adults about this? I just wanted some closure.

Here I was: moping around the tattoo parlor I was hanging at, looking for answers, and this guy Erik started showing up more and more. I thought he was a good friend to the kid I had been dating, so I kept asking him about it. He said he’d talk to him, and then spent the rest of the time nervously making jokes and conversation.

Day one: Good, maybe Erik can get me some closure!

Day two: Here’s Erik, good! I’ll ask him about that kid.

Day three: Erik’s pretty cute…

Day four: Let’s go get ice cream! What kind of ice cream do you think I should bring back for Erik?

Day five: I hope Erik comes around tonight.

This was probably taken about a month into our relationship.

This was probably taken about a month into our relationship.

And so on, and so forth, until I looked for Erik every day and noticed the thrill I felt when I saw him. Eventually, we started dating and the rest is history: yes, it really was that simple, because we went on one date in December of 2009 and have never really spent time apart since. Here are the two things about this story that make it so perfect:

  1. As my good friend Sam put so eloquently the first time she saw Erik: “He is like, your guy!” Yes, Erik was a perfect physical, mental and emotional representation of the soul mate I had been writing about and drawing since I was 13-years-old.
  2. More importantly, Erik had caused the very break-up I had been lamenting. He had laid eyes on me a couple of weeks before while I was dating his young buddy, and knew right away that he wanted to be with me. He convinced this kid that we weren’t a good match, and then swooped in after the break-up.

Erik still laughs at me for dating that kid, but I don’t regret it. How would we have met if I hadn’t dated him? Thanks to him I have my soul mate, best friend and adventure buddy.

Indeed, I have a perfect love story.