Saturday, January 15, 2011

The In Between

Sometimes I don't want to write. But I know I have to. This is one of those times.

I know that seems weird, a little bit, to those of you that aren't baring your souls ON THE INTERNET, but I think for those of us that have had diaries since we were in second grade, the ability to write down the thoughts and parse out the ideas and maybe, just maybe, get some feedback is how we handle all the utter crap in our brain.

So first, one of those standard Lisa digressions: I'm obsessed with Being Erica. I dunno. The message, not to sound ridiculous, speaks to me (ABC is about to ruin it with it's own version). Just, if you could change everything you had a regret about, would you? And even if you did, wouldn't you still be the same person? Something about that makes sense to me. And it has all these great quotes from philosophers. And Yoda, who many guys in their mid-30s probably classify as a philosopher. My favorite so far happens to be from the philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel: "Dare to be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality." I'm not familiar with his work but I'm now curious. And I find myself wanting to live that.

I know, it probably seems ridiculous to be inspired by a stupid Canadian TV show. I dunno. I'm not much for powerful works of poetry or what have you and I've never read a Purpose Driven Life because I'm not down with new age self help crap but ya know, I'll sob like an idiot at Rudy. And now, apparently, this too.

Because I can't handle all heavy: I think there is a Canadian TV rule that all love scenes be scored by Sarah McLachlan. Not a bad rule, if I do say so. (I was 17 in 1997 and attended the first ever Lilith Fair, before it was even called that, with my dad, at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley with Sarah, Susan Vega, and Paula Cole. Yep. Fun fact. Bonus fun fact: Dad therein developed a crush on Sarah M. And probably red heads, too. Now he's engaged to one.)

Anyway, the reason I bring any of this up is my usual round about way of getting to a point. I have one. And it is this:

The funny thing about waking up grumpy yesterday morning was that I went to sleep blissfully happy because I had an epiphany.

For the first time in MY ENTIRE LIFE I actually know what I want. I am NOT, by my own admission, one of those five year plan people. I float. I let things happen. I start something, I go down a path, I take a turn. Pretty much everything that has happened to me has been a happy accident. I shrug my shoulders and think, "Sure, why not?" I don't make plans. I don't HAVE plans. It all just...IS. And it's a great adventure. Until suddenly I realized I wasn't making ANY choices except the choice NOT to make a choice. (Fuck, sorry for the caps. Better or worse than italics?)

More digression: I was always obsessed with Hamlet. Always been my favorite Shakespearean play. Or any play really. I was obsessed with his lack of decision making. That NOT making a choice is ultimately a choice in and of itself. I always want to grab him, shake him during the play and be like, "DO SOMETHING! Anything! Just DO it!" It fascinates me that the absence of choice creates it's own choice. That things will happen around you whether you want them to or not. And I realized I'd become Hamlet lately. The absence of decision making, or piss poor decision making, was creating it's own consequences. And I am fucking tired of it.

So yesterday, as I was slugging through this bar stuff, it suddenly dawned on me: I, for the first time EVER, know exactly what I want. I see the shape of my life. I see who I want to be and how I want the next 5-10-15 years to go. With obvious room for error written in, because it is still me.

I've said it before but I want to say it with the conviction and force to be believed because EVERYONE I tell this to thinks I'm out of my mind or crazy or tries to talk me out of it. Drunk in bars, sober with my friends. Doesn't matter. They think I'm out of my mind. And maybe I am. But it's my mind to be out of. I have thought about this. I have thought about this more than I've probably thought about anything else in my life. And ya know what? It is the only thought of a career path that makes me HAPPY. Because the thought of sitting in an office filing motions for the next 30 years sounds like a version of hell I want no part of. But this? I'm scared to type it only because I'm afraid it won't come true. But I also realize that I, and only I, have the power to MAKE it come true. Through my series of tiny choices and decisions every day, I can make things happen. And it is this: I want to join the Navy. I will be an officer. Hopefully I will be in intelligence but whatever they tell me to do or whatever they need me for, I'll do it. And eventually I want to be in charge of an aircraft carrier. And if I'm really really good at it I hope to be one of the first women to sit on the joint chiefs of staff. I'm not doing this for any great belief in the wars we're fighting or the score on either side but I will say this: this country, faults and all, is pretty great. And we have, for better or worse, a powerful military. And if we want to continue to have the safety we are used to, we need to keep a well cultivated military. I want to be part of that. Also, despite whatever flaws my family has, they are all government workers. They are part of something bigger. And I totally admire them, for their myriad of reasons, for doing that. It is pretty selfless. I want to be part of something bigger. I also have my own reasons for wanting structure and discipline and the sort of things I lack in my life. I also want to have impact as a supervisor, to have some influence on people younger than me. I think this offers me all of that. Now, I fully realize I could get there and hate it. I've factored in that margin of error. It will be no more than 6 years of my life if I do hate it, at which point I can change course and find something new. I also like the security of government benefits. I'm nothing if not practical. I won't get rich doing it, and that's fine. I'll be comfortable. And that's fine too. This isn't some altruistic bright eyed kid idea. I have no belief that everything our government does is right. But I do believe in what it can give me and what I can do as a part of it. The best change comes from the inside too. It is very truly what I want. And I would do it yesterday if I thought it was prudent. Some days I can't come up with a reason not to. (Other than that I have to lose weight before I can make this happen. Literally at least 60 pounds. That doesn't happen overnight.) Still trying to convince myself that the bar exam is a necessary evil...

The next is probably a little more surprising. You have heard me in the past rail against believing in the silliness of love. I used to say I would go into divorce law. And I still think I might, someday. I just...I don't really get it. People don't seem practical in love. The things they do. Sigh. But part of me thinks that's because I have never bothered to open myself up to it. The control freak in me reigns supreme here. I don't like the vulnerability. But for the first time in forever, with a fully sober brain, I'm actually ready to take that leap. To find someone I more than just..., ya know? I've found myself wondering what happens when there is someone who just straight has your number and how it would be to be caught up in the orbit of that person. Call it personal growth. My friends are fantastic and I flipping adore every single last one of them. But I think I may, finally, actually be ready for more than just flirting in a bar and deep meaningful friendships. To be secure enough with who I am to let someone else in. It's a bizarre and unsettling concept for me. I straight held all the cards in both of my other long term relationships. This'll be new. And terrifying. I still have no delusion of roses and hollywood romance. But something real and tangible? That I think I'm ready to at the very least explore. So I'm putting it out there, in the universe.

The last thing is the long term thing: someday, when I retire, despite not having been on a horse since I was bucked off on my 26th birthday, I want to own an adorable little ranch. Some cows, chickens, pygmy goats (I freaking love pygmy goats), and definitely horses. I could envision it being in lush Louisiana farm land, just outside of Baton Rouge, across the river, and I could have season tickets to football games and be one of those ridiculous alumni. Big white house with a huge wrap around front porch, a big red barn and a riding rink. I will have a gorgeous paint pony and name him Ares after my dad's sign, and the Greek god of war. And I'll still go on vacations and see the world. I won't have kids. That's never been the agenda, but I will spoil the beejusus out of my brother's (inevitable) children and teach them world politics and left leaning philosophy because he won't.

There you have it. The girl who never has a plan suddenly has a plan. Now...for the execution. Sigh. That's the scary part.

I titled this posting thus because I want all of this to start NOW. And I know it can't. Which is what creates the conflict in my life. I HAVE to take this test. I HAVE to prepare for this test and do as well on it as I possibly can. And yet it's the 15th of January and I've barely scratched the surface of studying. But as Lindsey amazingly said: you will take the bar. and you will win. think of it as a competition. the more we allow the bar to get the better of us, the more we sabotage our abilities to move on with our lives, to get skinny, to make out, to travel, all of it. the bar is between you and everything wonderful. kill that son of a bitch. I'm trying to remember that for the next several weeks til I get to the part where I can live my real life. I've spent so long hiding, not wanting to be a grown up, that when I finally decide to be a grown up, I want it to happen like YESTERDAY.

Patience. Never my virtue.

Wish me luck, won't you?


  1. For posterity: Good luck.

    Also: Set off the "I want to join the Navy" line. You're hiding it in a block of text on purpose. Own it.

  2. "Also: Set off the "I want to join the Navy" line. You're hiding it in a block of text on purpose. Own it."

    Andy is brilliant!