False perceptions.

…that’s what social media allows – even prompts – us to portray. Be it “my life is so good; envy me,” or “my life is such shit, pity me,” or, “My life is so full I can’t even be bothered to care what you think.” I’ve had fleeting moments of that last, and it’s been a damned good feeling. Not because my full life is in any way superior; just that it is wonderful in and of itself.

I’m willing to state here that, even while my life is coming together in ways I despaired I’d never see, I am frequently painfully aware of the things and people and feelings I miss. The losses I’ve suffered – many by choice – in order to gain a kind of freedom I’ve been told will benefit me in the long run. And sometimes I can see, intellectually, that gain. But often, it is buried deep by the feeling of loss, on an emotional level.

i share my high points via social media. I don’t wanna be one of those people who posts passive-aggressive fb updates or cryptic song lyrics or whatever the hell else I could do that would be indirect communication with the people whose presence I miss in my life. I’ve done that – it doesn’t do anyone any good. And I still do it when my judgment is impaired by one or more of a large number of factors ranging from hormonal to chemical to astrological. It is what it is.

So I guess this is me saying, yeah, sometimes things suck hard. And I don’t share that with the world. But I do share it with a couple of people who love me and totally get what I need and who will support my decisions and understand why I question them and reassure me that even though it hurts and doesn’t make sense and I want to do anything but what I’m doing, I’m doing just right.

But right now, and often, I wanna do what I know is “wrong.” And it takes more effort than I can describe to stop myself from sending a text or making a call or clicking a social media “like” button that would give me away.

i am imperfect in so, so many ways. And while Facebook may not tell you that, I will. I want to. Because it’s important to me to be authentic and genuine and true with you, and with me.

So, yeah. There ya have it. I’m gonna go to bed now, and hope I’ve done the right thing. Because honestly, I never know. I’m always guessing. And my guesses get better with time and experience and self-reflection and hard emotional work – but I will never know if they’re dead on. This is life, this is relation, this is people connecting with other people and each connection has its own trajectory. It’s kind of awesome, if you can ditch the whole “What will people/person/you think if I say/do this thing?” I haven’t forgotten it, but I’m trying really hard to ignore it. Let’s see how that works out.

Revelation.

Sometimes lately I find myself going about my evening, or morning, or lunch break, or weekend, and half-jokingly asking myself or someone else, “Who is this person, and where’s the real Kirsten??” And tonight it hit me that, this IS the real Kirsten. Or at least, more so than I’ve ever been before. This is almost the Kirsten I’ve worked so hard toward becoming, the Kirsten I’ve tried, and failed, to force before her time, berating myself the whole way. My journey of growth and change and self-discovery and then more growth and change – and all of the pain, and joy, those bring – is far from over. But tonight, I’m pleased with who I am.

I need to say that again, because even though I wrote it, and typed it, it’s still kind of surreal, because as often as I’ve used each of those words, I don’t believe I’ve ever, once in my life, put them together in that order:

I’m pleased with who I am.

Not even just content, which I would have been thrilled about not too long ago (yeah, I know that doesn’t make sense semantically. Artistic license). And this is a novel, and damned fine, feeling.

Thank you all for loving me even when I didn’t love myself, and for showing me “me” through your eyes. While I haven’t always – or ever – known how to accept your praise, empathy, support, or simple gestures of love with grace and humility and genuine appreciation, I have felt and remember and treasure each one. They have been among the largest and sturdiest stones I’ve tread along this path to this night and this realization, that I am happy to be me.

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Satisfaction.

As I was logging in to post here just now, I started thinking about the word “satisfying,” and its meaning. Without going to an actual dictionary definition, I consider being “satisfied” as the feeling you get when you have a need or needs met. More than contentment, which I think of as the absence of strife, it alludes to a process of taking action to fulfill an absence, a requirement. I don’t think it matters if you identify the need ahead of time – satisfaction can come even if you didn’t realize you were meeting a need through your action.

What got me on this train of thought is that I have had one of the most satisfying weekends I’ve experienced in a while. Brainstorming on my book idea worked my mind; rearranging my room and setting up my new bed frame worked my body; and spending time in my seaside nook reading, writing, and soaking in the sun and salt spray worked my heart. I am beat, but I am satisfied. And while the weekend was over too soon, as they always are (even when we don’t lose an hour), I’m ready for Monday, with its later sunlight and its fresh starts and opening my eyes from a new place, both literally and figuratively.

I hope you found some satisfaction in your weekend, as well. Here’s to Spring; may she arrive SOON!

Talent Show.

Two years ago, I brought my brother to two Portland Pirates games, two nights in a row. As it happened, the chorus and band from the middle school he’d just left when he came to live with me were performing the national anthem and America the Beautiful at those two games.

Two years ago, I came as close as I ever have to punching a twelve year old in the face.

Details are unnecessary, if only because I don’t want to perpetuate the poison these children had learned to put out into the world.

What matters is that, when I went to the Portland High School talent show last night, I saw not only talent, but personality, innovation, and courage on that stage. And in the audience. Not every act had it entirely together. Not every person who took the stage hit every note, pronounced everything correctly, or struck each chord they intended. But every single kid who got up on that stage was rewarded by their peers for the guts it took to do so, regardless of the accuracy of their performance.

Portland High School students, well played. You are going to represent our city well.

Schoolgirl Blues.

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything at all about the inner financial workings of this or any other university, how and when they get paid by government and private loans, etc. This is from the perspective of a frustrated student-hopeful who is tired of receiving shrugs and sympathetic nods and business cards as I’m sent back to Go.

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It’s no wonder young people have been leaving the state of Maine at such a rapid and consistent rate for years; the University of Maine System makes it nearly impossible to enroll unless you fit a precise mold. As if the whole process of applying to college isn’t daunting enough, particularly for a recent high school graduate! For someone like me, well… I know USM has a fairly high percentage of “non-traditional” students by comparison to other universities, but I fall a bit outside the norm is all. My high school transcript has been lost to the wind since my school closed, so while I can’t prove to USM that I graduated, I don’t qualify to test for a GED because I did, in fact, graduate from high school.

*blink blink*

Hey, maybe when I contact Portland Adult Education to take the GED, they’ll dig around hard enough to ensure that I don’t have a diploma that they’ll come up with my high school transcript so I don’t have to take the GED after all! And while I am damned proud of people I know who have not finished high school and have gotten their GEDs, is there really a need for both, particularly when the money I spend on the test could go toward my college fund? City College of San Francisco took a chance on me and I paid them out of pocket and maintained a 4.0 until my life flipped on its head; shouldn’t that count for something? Oh, and scholarships? Yyyyeaaaahhhh, not so much for the transfer student. But once I get in, there are more options! Oh wait – still don’t have a HS transcript or (redundant) GED. *headdesk* Seriously, college – stop making it so difficult for students to enroll in your classes and pay your faculty and staff. Take our money, please! Give us the opportunity to learn the skills and gain the experience that will keep us in our communities here in Maine rather than going to bigger cities with lower cost of education, higher pay rates, and in many cases equal cost of living.

And then I see something like this, and I wonder if I should even bother.

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Photo snagged from Sasha T Goldberg,who shared knowledgeoftoday.org‘s “The College Conspiracy EXPOSED!” documentary

Seriously, what is wrong with this country’s higher education system? Is there a single thing RIGHT with it?

So, after all that, it doesn’t even matter today if I have my high school transcript or my GED or both or neither – the next step that makes the most sense is to complete 6 more credits toward my core courses at Southern Maine Community College where the classes will cost less, and then I’ll have enough total transferable core class credits for USM to waive the Entry Year Experience course. Because apparently 17 years of being an adult doesn’t cover those specific and exquisitely necessary basics.

*raised eyebrow*

Okay, okay, now I’m just getting snotty. Here’s the thing. I dig you, USM. I think we could hang. But you’re awfully hard to get to know. Give me a shot. Let me in. I promise you won’t regret it.