on: something new

I’m dating a guy. He is kind and good, and things are simple. I don’t get anxiety thinking about whether or not he likes me, or worse, whether or not I like him. We like each other. We tell each other that.

I read something a few weeks ago. A girl wrote a blog about her boyfriend and she promised her readers that the right guy was out there for them, too.

Meh.

Love, and the in-between words you use before you get there, is a hell of a lot of things. One thing it isn’t … is floating around in the netherworld. It’s inside of you, right? That sounds silly and trite, but it’s true.

You don’t need someone else to make you happy (unless that someone else is a dog). People can add to your experiences. They can not create them. Well, they can, but it never feels quite whole, ya know?

I haven’t had a boyfriend since my last boyfriend, which will be three years next February. The word scares me (it’s just a word! they say. but it’s not), not because it feels permanent — it does and it doesn’t — but because it seems to threaten something I have become.

In the past six months I have fostered such a lovely growth spurt of independence that casually throwing around the phrase, “my boyfriend,” is terrifying. Emma Louise (dog, age 3) and I have become the dynamic duo of my dreams, pushing through boundaries imagined and otherwise, carving a space for ourselves. Me, carving a space for myself.

I’m not afraid of commitment and I’m not gun-shy when it comes to relationships; I’ve never been burned. I’ve been bored, frustrated, and unfeeling. But not hurt so badly that I can’t trust another human.

I wonder if I can trust myself, is the thing. Will I hide behind that phrase, “my boyfriend?” He, the boyfriend in question, is nothing but supportive of who I am and what I do. He wants to help me clean my car, and I think, if he knew the “service required” date, he would tell me to take it in to get the oil changed, too. But other than that.

I got promoted last week at work. I’m the City Paper’s new arts editor. Hip, hip, hooray. That’s me, my name, just me. That’s not, “the girlfriend of …”

That’s not even, “The dog mom of a beloved 50 lb. mutt.”

Or, “Mary Scott’s twin.”

I struggle with my independence — I shy away from it, I revel in it, I question it.

I question this blog, about the point of writing, about how so many people say so many things, are we all just creating a bunch of noise. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, people riled up about a number of things they should be riled up about. I get riled, too. Just ask anyone who’s seen me grunt, fling my arms, shout, “I’m on one!”

I don’t think, though, that I’m wise enough to speak about so very many things. I’ll rant on here again, I will. You’ve gotta yell sometimes, because, shit, if you stop, maybe others will too. Silence is no good for anyone.

But here’s what I know right now: I’m kind of giddy. I’m happy. I am, in my eyes, as successful as 25 year-old Connelly could ever hope to be. I am constantly questioning and balancing and exercising then drinking then sleeping then working and wondering which one is best for me.

And, welp, I have a boyfriend.

There it is, a public proclamation of me trying to be myself, and to be with someone else too.

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

the good, the bad, and the gas stove

Today I left my gas stove on. All day. My sister’s boyfriend discovered the smell when he got home. He called my sister, she called me. “I wouldn’t have left the gas on,” she told me, accusatory. As she should be.

I hung up, left my office, got in my car, started sobbing. I guess the house could have burned down but mainly I couldn’t get the image of my dog out of my mind, either slowly suffocating or burning to death. That sounds a little extreme, but it isn’t, really, because it could have happened.

Emma Louise is fine. The cat seems fine too. The emergency vet hotline says that unless they show signs of distress, they should be fine. When I got home I put Emma on a leash and poured a tall glass of vodka and walked for 40 minutes around my neighborhood, whimpering, ignoring calls from my sister. Feeling like shit.

But Emma is fine. The house is fine. It’s OK.

The last thing I blogged was short and reactionary because Jesus Christ don’t sexually assault a woman or think about it or anything remotely related to harm. Is what I was getting at. I don’t need to talk about that anymore, because I don’t think I could stop.

I’ve wanted to write since then, you know, put the daily diatribes to paper, to internet, whatever.

Y’all know I’m happy, right? It’s almost boring, same old shit, Connelly doing just fine. I had a good day today (and this is where, if I were a lifestyle blogger, I would tell you how to make the vodka drink: three quarters vodka, some ice, two splashes of hot water from your kitchen faucet because for some reason the cold tastes funny). It was busy and some things went wrong and I was anxious and I have feelings etc., etc. And then I found out that I’d almost killed my dog — she’s my very whole heart and world and you know all that shit — and I fucking lost it.

I’ve been thinking about religion lately, prayers specifically. I don’t pray, but I’ve been thinking that when I wish really hard for things sometimes it’s like a prayer, for me at least. And also, how I feel about prayers doesn’t matter, because everyone can feel and think and hope how he or she wants to and as long as you aren’t pushing anything on anyone, that’s kind of how the world goes ’round, right?

And what I’ve wanted to write for so long now, and what I remembered when I was walking around, staring at Emma Louise, chastising myself for almost killing her (maybe, I don’t know, but even the thought is enough to do me in), and just loving the shit out of her sweet dog face and how she’s my best friend and she’s gotten me through so much … I remembered that thing about people.

Maybe the world is going to shit (my mom is reading this and she’s thinking, Connelly I love your sentiments but I wish you wouldn’t say ‘shit’ so much), but there are good people in it. There are, and I see them when I least expect it. Or someone you know and care about shows an even better side of themselves and maybe that’s you or maybe a friend or a new friend and it’s pleasant as hell.

People are pleasant surprises.

A) Don’t leave your gas stove on all day. B) Take a deep breath, open your eyes, see what’s good. Get worked up about the bad stuff, too, though, we need to keep doing that. But maybe every once in a while take a break, and, ya know, be surprised.

 

 

don’t be an asshole

This is a short blog.

The other day a guy I know said that he assumed that he would hook up with a certain girl over the weekend, and he was upset it didn’t happen. He made this assumption because they had hooked up before.

He didn’t ask her or anything, just, you know, assumed.

Guys: don’t do that.

Don’t be an asshole. Worse, don’t be on the edge of pushing a girl into a situation she didn’t ask for or want.

Fin.

Loneliness, renege

Two summers ago I wrote a sad piece about how lonely I was. The first version is gone now — I had to edit it for my blog so it didn’t sound so freaking sad. The thing was, I was really sad. I was lost, confused, painfully lonely.

I’ve always been a little bit lonely. We all are, just to varying degrees and in different ways. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I have a twin, if sharing my DNA with my sister robbed me of … something. I tell my mom that in the womb, we split our cleanliness, which is why we’re both so messy. Does it work that way with loneliness? If so, you think we’d have less of it.

I feel things deeply, often in rapid succession. Happiness, wonder, joy … terror, frustration, and yep, loneliness.

Two summers ago I was depressed, as I sometimes get. I haven’t been that sad in, well, two years. I remember the week I grabbed the reins of my lonely life: It was in September, 2014, and I made a friend. Loneliness: 0, Connelly: 1.

Making friends is difficult. My sister and I have always done it together. In Charleston, I’ve mostly done it by myself. I go places by myself all the time. Two years ago, I would not have done that. I would have moped in my bed. Now, right now, I’m sitting at a brewery drinking my favorite beer. Sometimes one of the bartenders has it ready for me. I come here by myself that often.

I started pondering loneliness last week, when I was alone at another brewery. Drinking Alone is definitely the name of some memoir, but y’all can tack it on my headstone as well. I told a coworker today that I would also like, “We need more vodka,” on my headstone, because, at that point, we definitely would.

Back to my solo brewery: I walked out onto the patio, trying the place’s new IPA, which was what my visit was about, and a group of youngish guys asked me to join their human-sized game of jenga. You know, the one with really big pieces. I had wanted to sit, drink the beer, stare off into the sun — anytime is a good time to catch a tan — but I obliged. They were a bachelor party, of course, they were nice, kind of dorky, but christ they probably thought the same thing about me.

“Who are you here with?” one man asked. “Myself,” I laughed, as if it weren’t obvious after the ten or so minutes we’d chatted. He was taken aback, nodded, said, “Cool.” I looked at him and continued my train of thought … “I go places by myself all the time.”

He smiled and we kept playing the game. I didn’t win or lose, which is a delightfully neutral way to ease yourself out of a short-lived scenario. I finished my beer, we waved goodbye, I drove off into my lonely, lonely future.

But it isn’t lonely. It’s just alone.

Two years ago I was struggling with that distinction. To clarify, I was both alone and lonely, and I wasn’t sure how to reconcile the two. It had been this way for years, with each year of college forcing me into a hermit-like existence that I didn’t want, but which I was too lazy to fight. I glued myself to my sister, my then-boyfriend, my few close friends. I couldn’t be alone.

I have friends now (see my September savior above). I also have plenty of time alone. Even some of that time is spent without my dog, who I whisper to every morning, “You are my best friend,” like she knows. She may know it. We often get beers together, which could be my litmus test for best friendship.

I am not the patron saint of battling loneliness. I still get lonely. Sometimes I think I’m fooling myself, being so blessedly content by myself. And then I remember the years of my youth, which I guess is kind of a joke since I’m only 25. High school roof sessions — you know when you climbed out of your window and sat on your roof and cried about being a teenager. And also smoked shitty joints.

And I think about how I struggled so much, at times, in college, wanting to open myself up to everyone, backing myself into the corner of a select few (a really great few, but, still, there was room for more).

And then I think, I deserve this shit. I catch myself being happy, just sitting in my backyard, drinking vodka sodas and skimming old copies of whatever magazine I have on hand. I wonder where else I could be, who else I could be with. What could I be doing right now. The question used to torment me. Now it passes. Am I growing out of something, or into something new?

I think what I want to tell myself, but I can’t quite yet, because I’m really not into finality … is that it’s OK to be OK. It might feel weird at first, after years of struggling through your own storm of thoughts and feelings. But it’s OK. Embrace it. Maybe next week, I’ll fall into the oblivion of something I can’t predict. For now, I’ve got, well, I’ve got my very own self.

a response to a response

Today I had a column published in the newspaper where I work. It’s a little scary to have an opinion piece plastered on pieces of paper that travel around the city — my friendly Facebook friends like my blogs, what strangers will hate my column?

The column was an edited version of this blog. It makes for a great little opinion piece because the subject is focused on one word and its implications. I’m not arguing against sexism in general (god help me if I could fit that into 800 words), but the use of a single word, “crazy.”

(Don’t use it, y’all. Or, well, try not to.)

I expected some negative feedback, you open yourself up to that. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the lack of negative responses*, and the number of positive ones.

*There have been negative responses ranging from my favorite, “go make a sandwich,” to “boo hoo this sounds like a millennial problem.” But I expected far worse, so, ya, know.

There was one response that wasn’t really negative or positive, but rather, freaking illuminating.

A man was disturbed by this line that I wrote, “I’ve stood, baffled and frozen, when a stranger groped me in a bar.”

He wrote a blog in response to my column. He writes about checking his privilege, not knowing what it’s like to be a woman. He questions if I’m exaggerating the groping situation, if I am, in fact, crazy. And I respect his response. It opens my eyes to what I’m kind of, but not really, saying.

Because, I have been groped in bars. But most unwanted touching and obnoxious come-ons happened in college, or a couple of years ago when I first moved to Charleston. If I guy grabbed me in a bar now, so help me god. I wouldn’t stand for it.

Which is where this stranger — this stranger who took time out of his day to contemplate my life, women’s lives, society — made a valid point. There are certain women who allow (allow isn’t the right word, but what it means is. Women who are afraid to say no or perhaps uncertain of what to do next) men to grope them in bars. They are my younger self, and your younger self, and maybe, at this point in time, you.

You know the whole “tons of sexual assaults happen in college” statistic? Yeah, well, there are plenty of reasons for that.

But one of them is the stigma of admitting you’ve been sexually assaulted. Or even almost sexually assaulted, which still counts as some bullshit, OK, don’t forget that.

If a guy is cute, if he seems OK, if he’s groping you … do you really push him off? Or do you shrug it off? I know I used to. I don’t think I would anymore. But then again, who are we when we’re two drinks in and having a good time?

Are you a buzzkill if you knee a stranger in the balls?

(The answer is no, of course, but this is my almost-25-year-old answer. This would not be my 18 or 19 or 20 or 21-year-old answer).

We grow out of insecurities. We grow into our confident and powerful selves.

Random commenter was so right: if you are groped in a bar, don’t throw it casually in a column! Do something about it.

I realize that now, and that is my message now, to women in college, in high school, and hell, anywhere in the world. Your hurt is no less than anyone else’s. Someone else’s disrespect is not your burden.

In my column I am suggesting a new way for women and men to respect each other. But I don’t want you to think I stop there. I just wrote 800 words. I have a lot left to say. The first thing? Respect yourself. Know what you want and what you don’t want.

And don’t take any shit.

no gaps

My family has a running joke we started on vacation a couple years ago. Sitting on the porch of a marsh front house in Ocracoke, my dad asked my mom if she’d remembered to bring his swim trunks. “Of course,” she said. He asked about several other items and she nodded each time. “When Mama packs for a trip, there are no gaps,” she assured us.

So, now, we’re constantly shouting “no gaps!” when we embark on one of my mother’s carefully laid plans. She plans like a goddamned machine.

I don’t. I mean, I have days — productive days I call them. Sweep my bedroom floor, do laundry, pay parking tickets before their price doubles. That last one happened earlier this week, if you can’t tell, I’m still proud of it.

But I’m generally scattered. Clothes everywhere. Pens, paper, scraps of notes everywhere. Four-five coffee cups growing mold in my office. Little pieces of almost-but-not-quite sprinkled throughout my daily existence.

I get tired sometimes. Today, at around 8:30 a.m. I thought, “Jesus, I’m burned out.” I’ve been working out more, etc., etc., but this was a different kind of exhaustion. Sometimes my brain gives up on me and it whispers quietly, “Don’t you want to take a nap.”

I want to be everything I can ever possibly be. Do you know what I mean? I want to be a brilliant writer all of the time and also a fitness enthusiast of sorts and then at the same time very zen but a little bit sexy and dangerous and mostly just kinda drunk.

And that can be exhausting.

What I’m trying to get across is this: I feel every second of every day. I always have. I used to hide from this. Now I embrace it and, often, end up asking too much of it. Because sometimes the clock ticks, here’s the next minute, and I don’t know where I am or who I want to be.

I fall into boredom, I feel uninspired (as I did today), I choose mindless activities over ones that require effort and I hope I’ll light a fire under my ass tomorrow.

Sometimes I even wonder if I’ve created a messy, unorganized persona for myself, just to be lazy. Or just to have a persona. A self-deprecating joke on the docket. The piles of plastic water bottles in my car suggest that I am, at my core, a true slob (and a detriment to the environment to boot.)

But who knows, the mind is a powerful thing.

I long for no gaps. I don’t like dead air. Right? Don’t they say that on the radio. I don’t like the confusion of feeling, the surge of uncertainty associated with every other thought.

And then I think of myself in college, collapsing onto a bench, crying into my phone, feeling so sad, angry, and alone for no apparent reason at all.

I would have killed (probably, actually because I had terrible anger issues) for my life today, sitting at my dining table, drinking a pint glass-sized vodka soda, telling my dog to stop barking so I can start writing an article about Charleston’s metal detecting club. Because that’s all this moment is — a sum of those very real moments. There’s nothing dire simmering beneath the surface. Dead air gives me space to empty my dishwasher.

What kind of gaps am I looking for anyway?

The answer to most questions of this nature is ten deep breaths, a glass of water (sans vodka), and some words from someone who loves you. My mom recently sent us a card telling us how proud she is of us. Sissy got a new job. We’re keeping the animals alive. We’re happy.

And the stirring and the shaking and the feelings I have, all the good and bad and confusing and maybe-this-is-pointless-what-in-the-actual-hell-am-I-doing ones are OK. And there are a shit load of gaps. But they are one day, one week, one long string of moments. They’re just a blip in time.

My mom knows that. My dad knows that. They’ve helped me create this messy, super-feeling, beautiful life. Time passes, we heal, we wonder why we ever worried in the first place. Those disparate pieces fall into place. No gaps.

 

 

 

 

feelings: I accidentally have them

There are some things I don’t blog about. Super personal stuff, well, shit, I know I need to keep it to myself. There’s one blog that I sent my mom and my sister over a year ago, a draft. They said, “Please don’t post that.”

I never will.

On an unrelated note, I’ve started online dating again. Phone app dating, to be technical. I hate it. I want to meet someone in person. I don’t like the regurgitated bullshit I spit every time I meet someone. But, I feel this hole I need to fill. I haven’t been with a guy since the last guy and I split up with four or so months ago. Were we even dating?

I need a distraction.

I distracted myself too much this weekend. I met up with a guy  I ended up liking a bit too much. Pro tip: don’t like a guy you meet on a dating app. You know what I mean by like.

Confusion ensued. Why am I here? Why is he here?

I take myself far too seriously. For the past few months I’ve grown so happy (maybe the happiest, ever) just being with myself and my dog and my couch. I’ve been content out the wazoo. Out the wahoo? I’ve been so happy. But not with a male.

So I thought, obviously, that I  could move to the next level of joy with a male presence.

Don’t do it.

It doesn’t always happen like that. There are so many little juicy details I could give y’all if I wrote that kind of stuff, but I’m here to tell you this: listen to yourself.

A few weeks ago I was in a waiting room for a therapist’s office. I was there to audition for some show thing (irrelevant), and the building was multipurpose. But I knew it was a therapist’s office. I know what those feel like.

For weeks I wanted to write about that. I wanted to write about how I’d overcome that waiting room feeling, the one I’ve guarded since I was 16 and first talked to a stranger about my feelings. I don’t need a therapist anymore. I am happy. I am OK.

Instead, I tried to take myself to the next level. Let’s date someone!

When you’re whole, accept that you are whole. Relish it. On your couch, with your dog. Bring someone else into it later. You’re young. You feel enough as is. Feel yourself.

I’m laying on my couch, my sweet dog at my feet. I didn’t spend my weekend here. I don’t regret that. But I would regret not returning. To this life? This life of simple pleasures, this life of knowing what I want? Yes, this is right for me.

For right now.

Wherever you are right now, is perfect.

Someone will change that one day. I promise you (I promise myself), you won’t meet him on your phone.