physics and life.

Last night, I was driving with my friend Minnie from her house on the north side of Charlotte, North Carolina to Indian Trail, just before the South Carolina border.  We’re playing in the Southeastern Region districts and, if we win, we will be traveling to Boston for USA Hockey Nationals.  We had just carpooled from Raleigh and had a lot of long conversation about life right now.  And school.  And GMOs.  And Physics.

“I hated Electromagnetism,” said Minnie.

“Really?  Physics II?  I hated Physics I.”

“Physics I, I can understand that.  I can SEE it.  Electrons?  No.  I can’t see it.  It doesn’t work for me.”

“Huh…for me, because  I can see it, I think I know what I’m looking at and I make false assumptions.  With Physics II, I’m given the rules that I can’t see, so I work within those constraints…”

“I see,” said Minnie.  “With the stuff you can see, you transpose your experiences too easily on what you’re doing and you cloud the truth.”

“Yeah, I overanalyze it…”

Just like life.

I overanalyze life.

I’ve noticed lately I’ve become more and more confused by things that are simple.  I’ve been over-thinking everything.  I’m never sure anymore what’s a real answer or an appropriate response to an emotionally-charged situation.  I keep longing to just tell everyone to slow down and just stop overcomplicating things when they could just be so simple.  And knowing that there are simple answers just makes my complicated outlook that much more confusing and unbearable.

So life as of late has become my Physics I while my head is so occupied with Physics II, with the itty bitty pieces that are making things work but the itty bitty pieces that I also can’t manipulate, the ones that will do what they do without my help.

Sigh.

Dear Mister.

Dear Mister,

If you saw this, you would probably know who you are.

There are so many things I wanted to tell you this weekend, but I didn’t.  If I told you those things, they would sound like excuses.  If I told you how I felt, that would sound like persuasion.  No, I have to wait.  I have to wait until you ask the right questions, and then I can only hope that those answers will come as easily as they would when I withheld them previously.

Mister, there are so many things I wanted to tell you yesterday when I finished that book.  I couldn’t say them, though.  At first, I couldn’t say them because you asked and I was still a few pages away from finishing and I couldn’t possibly have gathered my thoughts by then.  Then I finished it, and you asked, but there was someone in the room and I couldn’t say the truth with him there.  And when it was all good and I was ready to tell you how, wow, a silly book has…proved me really wrong… well, you never asked.  And if I made you ask, it would seem too cunning.  I just hoped you would ask.  I really wish you would ask.  But I’m afraid to answer if you do.  I’m afraid to be that vulnerable, to have been that wrong, to say kind words and have you judge them whether deservingly or not, but I’m especially afraid of how it will change the future.  My future with those who have suppressed this kind of thing before, as well as my future relations with you, mister.  Because I don’t want to come off as ill-intentioned.

Today, mister, I had so many feelings.  So much anger.  I was so frustrated, I needed comfort, and I was still piling on hurt from yesterday and feeling sorry for myself.  There were so many things i wanted you to do, to say, to ask, to whatever…but you didn’t.  And so I now feel foolish, because I acted cruelly and you would never be so cruel but you let me be cruel anyway.  I wanted so many things, but I got nothing.  You left without saying goodbye, not in person at least.  I was hoping all week to see you after work, but I won’t have that either.  I always think, what if what if what if something goes wrong, with my road trip, with your– no, I won’t even think that.  But what if we never got to speak again?

This week I have wanted to start so many conversations.  But I think, because I know they’re the conversations that you long to hear, I am avoiding them at all costs.  Because I know they are the conversations you want, and that I want because you want, but I wanted them before you wanted them because I wanted to have what I couldn’t otherwise have.  And they never happened because I could never deceive or lie like that.  But then suddenly everything changed, like I got punched in the face in such a way that it almost felt like a caress.  And now I want to scream to you, “I understand!  I understand!  I was so wrong…I still don’t get it all, and I’m still scared, but I love this too much to let it go…” but I know you probably would rejoice to hear that, yet have skepticism that I’m doing it because I’m trying to get what I want…which is not true…but I would rather never tell you than have you believe that.

I’d rather loose everything than seem false.

Am I foolish?  I don’t know.  I’m so confused.  You’re probably the only one who could make sense of this, yet I doubt you’ll ever read this. Ever.  And so maybe an opportunity will slip by because I can’t find the courage to do this.  Maybe that’s the test.  I’ll probably fail. I usually find a way to fail…

Mister, all I want is some solid time alone with you to work this out.  Without feeling deceptive.  Without feeling confused.  But I think we also have to meet somewhere in the middle…

Love,
K.F.

Life on the End of a String.

photo1

It’s amazing how independent I aim to be because, when it’s all said and done, I’m an attached, clinging mess.  I say I don’t need people, but I really do.  A lot.  But it’s true that our relationships – or lack of them – with other people really define who we are, how we spend time, how we think, and how we set our standards.  In the words of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

And I like to think I’m undeserving of much, but I certainly accept too less.

“Too less” — what an oxymoron.

Today I spent some amazing time with someone close to me.  He probably didn’t mean to, but he made me feel normal and like I can accomplish anything.  Maybe it’s just an ego boost I get when I can see how comfortable he feels with me, like I’m some safe-haven of normalcy in our mutually chaotic lives.

But I also couldn’t help but realize how opposite I felt just a few days ago while in or lacking his company.  I didn’t feel that security then.  I didn’t feel like his go-to for normalcy.  I felt like the outlier.

I guess that’s why I so often feel like I’m living life on the end of a string – someone else’s string.  I’m always tethered to them and always dependent on them, but they’re only dependent on me when they want to be.  I kind of orbit around them, each of us caught in the eddies of our own lives, but we only collide when they tug my string and pull me back.  It’s a fragile string, but I don’t resist and they don’t pull very hard…but it’s a string nonetheless.

I don’t like feeling like a convenience.  But at the same time, I’m fairly convinced I’m the only one who thinks I’m being treated that way.  (Why am I always overreacting?)

around and around and around
aroundandaround
around

I wish I could see things for what they are.

 

 

Remembrance, Emotion, and Human Follies.

I love referring to emotion as the greatest folly of mankind.  I believe that our intellectual capacity increased as a compensation for our physical ineptitude in the realm of survival, thus we tend to “outsmart” other creatures in order to overcome them by means other than one-on-one combat.  It helped us survive up until this point.  However, that intelligence fosters the ability for us to overanalyze, hesitate, and even remember things not crucial to our survival.  This mental clutter, to me, is a flaw rather than a blessing.  I like to think very pragmatically, so I see emotion as being a hinderance to instinct.  Yet that doesn’t keep me from remembering things.

I look at my cats and I wonder how much they remember, think, and feel.  I believe they do feel emotion because they express love and fear and gratitude.  I’m not so self-centered to think that is some superior quality that only humans have, to feel.  I used to think that cats really didn’t remember too much, like they had some kind of short-term memory.  When I moved to Ohio and their crates opened for the first time in my new apartment, they had total fear in their eyes and suspected everything because it was unfamiliar territory.  I expected the same thing to happen after they got used to my place and we visited Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving.  I was wrong.  I opened the crates and they came pouring out and ran to their favorite baskets or scratching posts as if they’d never left months before. I confirmed that cats do remember over at least a span of several months.  However, also I do know that cats have a lack of attachment, and memory is certainly different from emotion.  I’ve seen cats meow after their lost kittens for a few hours, then move on as if nothing happened.  It’s life.  They don’t intend to have another litter because they probably aren’t conscious of how they end up with one, but, when they do have another, it’s the same instincts that take over.  It’s all about survival.

The only creatures not fixated on survival appear to be the humans so enamored with the idea that Mother Earth is living hell, that God will save them, and that they’re only getting by here to reap everything in heaven when they’re done.  Because humans think too much.  Because animals live in the present.  Animals inherently and naturally understand what it takes to be a successful, integral, non-destructive part of this planet. I try to imagine what my life would be like if I could have more animal-like thinking patterns but still live in this artificial human bubble of protection where all it takes is a turn of a dial to change my room to a comfortable temperature setting.  I can confirm that I’d have less personal growth.  I would be less transfixed on intelligence and self-improvement because those would get me nowhere as an animal and somewhere only as a human functioning in a human-made society.  I would essentially live the life of an innocent child who speaks without thinking, tells no lies, and sees things for exactly what they are, albeit everyday murmurs or something completely jaw-droppingly amazing and inexplicable.  I wouldn’t search for reason; I would accept and move on.  I wouldn’t question why I am here, what that moment means to me, or where I should be going.  I wouldn’t contemplate right or wrong because those things would be null to me, completely moot to survival.  I would just live.  Aren’t we all just meant to live? Instead, I am stuck with a crippling ability to feel.  I overanalyze, I dwell, I suffer.  I cry when I am not physically wounded.  I cry just because I haven’t cried for a long time and I feel like my body needs it.  BUT WHO DOES THAT?  Humans, yes, but only humans?  I think only humans.  My cats don’t cry.  My cats don’t miss their family.  My cats don’t go to funerals.

I think that’s when I started thinking the most about remembrance, when my cousin died this week.  It made me start to recall memories of my family and all of the things I’ve done this year and all of the people I may never see again, whether they’re alive at the time I post this or long gone.  I try to think of the “purpose” to all of these moments and then I try to decipher whether or not such things have “purpose”.  What is “purpose”?  Is it only a spiritual thing?  When my agnostic mom tells me things happen for a “reason”, what is the “reason” of which she speaks?

I don’t have many memories from my family outside of my direct line.  My cousins have never played a large part of my life, but I do keep cousins whose families haven’t had common ties with mine since the 1700s – because we are few, far-flung, and in need of someone who understands us.  Too many family quarrels have limited even my most direct ties so that, essentially, I am left with siblings, parents, and grandparents to go to.  That means I have my grandma and little else.  But that wasn’t always the case.  And so in recalling my cousins who I knew less than I’d wished, I start to think about those moments I don’t have any longer, the moments of remembrance that define me as a human.

I can’t imagine who I would be if I didn’t have either houses of my grandparents’ to visit.

On my one side, I used to have both grandparents – and many of their siblings – but that all drastically changed in the course of just one year.  Without those grandparents, I wouldn’t have my grandma’s perspective on religion, my grandpa’s indifference, the obvious love that glued them together, their passion for the outdoors, or even that community spirit where we need to work together to improve ourselves and search for something more.  I would say those grandparents made quite a life out of what they were given.  The gardens, the knowledge of how to live off the land, long bike rides through thickets of trilliums (my grandma’s favorite flowers), singing hymns, watching the 8’o clock flowers bloom, sipping sweet tea on the gazebo with a mason jar of lightning bugs, a day of fishing, making salad from grandma’s homegrown loveage, swinging on the same tree mom swung in, feeding the birds, writing poetry on the typewriter, making crafts in the cellar with the musty smell of dried flowers and moss, putting giant magnetic spots on grandma’s car (because she was, after all, “Lady Bug”), listening to grandma storytell, PapPap grouching when we tell him to leave the football game in the TV room and go mow the lawn, his “jungle” garden and train set, the smell of their air-conditioning in the summer (they were the only elderly people I knew with air-conditioning), trying on grandma’s square dancing dresses, playing Pass the Pigs on the porch, the smell of grandma’s homemade biscuits in the kitchen, imagining my mom, her brother, and her sister living in the same rooms, falling asleep to the sound of distant cars and their headlights flashing on the ceiling (the only house I knew near a road), running out to meet the mail woman when she came down the lane, realizing I never saw the attic, wandering through the greenhouse and trying to remember the outdoor garage when their horse Bootsy lived there, crates of Coke bottles, Christmas and Easter when it actually had a meaning, skiing in the front lawn, the mantel clock that chimed a hymn, all the things that we could have done and they could have seen if only we had had more time…

On the other side, the farm.  Driving until we were in the middle of nowhere, then taking a turn into nothing and driving some more.  The lane that wasn’t a driveway but supposedly a “road”.  That road splits into four, and I still go there when I visit home.  One lane now jogs over to a temporary home for our friends.  Another shoots off into the forest, having once served the oil companies.  A third lane runs along the bottom of grandma’s garden and splits, one side going to her garage, the other continuing past a series of buildings that make up the abandoned pump station she bought years ago.  That lane continues through a cornfield until it dissipates from lack of use.  The last lane also splits again, heading up towards grandma’s house and then going either left to the dog pens or right towards the brick-layed yard that divides grandma’s two large barns.  I remember years ago when grandma still lived with her half-brother and how he was always mixing concrete in a trough between the barns and feeding his pigs.  My brother and I would play on the play set he concreted into the ground, then jump on some old rocks surrounding the chicken coop, toss rotten apples that fell off grandma’s tree into the well beside the house that had a broken plywood cover, chase each other through the pastures catching butterflies (or lightning bugs, at night), go “bale surfing” (when we would run across the tops of hay bales and try to get them to roll), run across steel beams Uncle Mike had laying around the barns for his new construction, chase kittens and stray cats that grandma feeds daily in her barns, climb in the hay loft to look for kitten holes or make “castles”, poke the corn bin in search of a black widow, stir leaves and sand in a giant rain catcher every time it rained, paint any window we could find with a Rose Art kit, draw grandma’s dogs with chalk on the patio, climb a tree that we didn’t realize our great-grandfather had planted in the sixties for our dad, roll down the hill in the front yard, sneak around the abandoned buildings in search of treasure, follow our parents to the open dump and jump on piles of tires and furniture before we realized open dumps are actually illegal, walking food over to our neighbors a few miles down the lane, hearing Joel come over to crank up the tractor or a bailer, listening to the crickets at night, grandma flipping on the lottery at 7 each night so she can interrupt the Wheel of Fortune and write down numbers in a book she keeps in the candy door, the clicking of the fan, the smell of the old rooms with furniture dad used when he still lived here, photos of a grandpa we never knew, pierogies, nut rolls, chicken noodle soup, coco-wheats, coffee with cream and sugar, corn flakes with sugar on top, motorcycle helmets for our toy bikes that we took racing down the gravel lane, grandma’s stash of Coke in the basement, feeding the dogs “dog lasagna”, cooking in both the upstairs and the downstairs ovens, filling buckets of water during hurricane season and lining the halls with them, boiling water in kettles to wash my hair because the heater was broken, stories of all the cool cars grandma bought while she worked the factories, trips out to Uniontown and the mall, those sweet summer nights with dogs and bubbles and a setting sun,…

I even remember the days when I would go to grandma’s sister’s.  It’s not the way it used to be.  Now her husband has died and her son has moved back in and my brother and I no longer play at the baseball field in the summer.  But we used to.  And we used to stay after games, watch our uncle do crosswords, sneak Skittles from his dispenser, watch TV on my aunt’s 4″x4″ black -and-white kitchen screen, eat Fudgesicles from the basement freezer, throw powder in the fireplace that made the flames blue, do puzzles, ride the stationary bike, lay on the tweed couch, play Don’t Break the Ice on the red carpet, poke at the overweight dog, sit on the porch pouring too much pepper on our fresh and local ears of corn, tying up tomatoes in cages in the yard, trimming the bushes by hand while dressed as the Ingall sisters in sunbonnets and dresses, climbing the backyard tree, watering plants out of the rain barrel, doing something that earned a spot on my aunt’s photograph-littered cabinet, pushing wheelbarrows of mulch, sitting at the bottom of the drive with a cardboard sign that said “vegetables for sale” and selling the vegetables, the feeling of the grass when we rolled down the bank just after it was mowed, the hot asphalt (and the only asphalt I knew), playing computer games for the first time (the only old person I knew with a computer!), the squishy toilet seat, packing my “Going to Grandma’s House” suitcase for my aunt’s house and her forgetting that I wasn’t actually her granddaughter, being called my mom’s name, the neighbor kids’ awesome new shed (I had never seen a store-bought shed before, so I would hang out in it with the neighbors and my brother), sloppy kisses, the smell of my aunt’s onion for breakfast, chocolate Nesquick milk, the Clap-On lamps, the Russian doll set, the impossibly white carpets, getting TY Beanie Babies for Christmas, family visiting from Virginia and North Carolina,…

These memories make me remember the little things so that I always appreciate them.  I don’t want a big, glamorous city life.  A small life where I can remember vegetable sales and the way a couch feels is enough for me.  Nothing compares to the feeling of a summer night of playing catch, jarring lightning bugs, and sipping homemade tea.  That’s a good thing, when those memories make me appreciate silly things.  But it’s also bad.  Because now I’m stuck far away, out-of-state, with people who don’t understand my background and who don’t have the same country experiences that I do.  Baking, cooking, farming, gardening,… those are all huge parts of my family time.  A lot of people here, in this drab city, don’t have those things in their past.  They look forward to a much different kind of thrill, the kinds that you don’t get in the woods, on a hunt, just being outside.  I think about that a lot and I convince myself that I cannot stay here, in this urban Ohio.  Not permanently.  But, in the meantime, it will make me appreciate what I left behind.  The mountains, the freedom.  And as for the people, many of them gone, I can’t forget those times – I doubt I can ever forget them.  As much as I could let it bring me down, maybe I can also let it pick me up.  I can hope for a future that will be filled with those same emotions, with people that I can share those times with in another place and another generation.

Memories can bring us so quickly out of the present.  It makes me wonder, where are those people now?  Those times?  It’s so easy to say those people are in heaven and those times are never forgotten but, in reality, I say neigh.  Those people are gone, there is not heaven – that is wishful thinking.  They are gone, and that realization is what makes us appreciate them the most heart-wrenchingly way possible.  You cannot take the present for granted because it is so fleeting.  To think there is redemption, that is foolish naïveté.  To hope for something better when you’re done here is greed and a wholesome lack of appreciation.  Things are meant to be seen simply and fully, like the animals around us see them.  We’ve been granted with the ability to perceive perhaps even more and so we need to use it.  That perception can help us define ourselves and better ourselves whilst we are so transfixed on how we are perceived and how we are changing our own lives. So not everything on this planet feels as much as we do, but we do feel it and we have to learn to live with it.  In the meantime, we can practice remembering those things that we want to carry with us and use them to spark us for the better.

There’s no use in trying to forget an integral part of your past, but dwelling on moments won’t progress you either.  You have to strike a balance.  For that reason, I’ve decided I need to accept what is here and what is gone, take away from it what I can while I can, and then continue to withhold my traditions because that is, in essence withholding a deep part of myself, the static part I want to keep as I continue to grow.

Embarrassment.

What a funny word. Did you know we haven’t had the word “embarrassment” in the English language for more than 300 years? It’s a relatively young word that actually comes from French meaning “to block” and which can be applied as “feeling awkward” of sorts…which is why the Spanish word for “pregnant” is quite the same. Yes, not only that but embarrassment can be a thing as well as a state with three different implications: confusion or disturbance of the mind, difficulty from wanting money to pay debts, and difficulty from a cardiac disease. Embarrassment encompasses a heck of a lot of spectra, much like my face when I’m red from an embarrassing situation.

I’m a firm believer that the greatest flaw in humanity is emotion. I think emotion too often overrules our natural responses and instincts. It causes us rage that goes beyond adrenaline and necessity and assists evil doings. It causes us to make hasty and improper decisions, then saddles us with regret shortly thereafter. Regret. That’s a pretty bad one, too. But regret lets us feel like we have room for improvement. Embarrassment on the other hand… sometimes I wonder if that’s the worst emotion ever. Grief and regret are things that hopeful pass or inspire, but embarrassment is like a memory branded in your mind and you can replay those moments so vividly that you inadvertently relive them.

But why do we get embarrassed? What causes people to feel embarrassment?

For me, it can be a slow process. It could be an article I spent a long time writing and poured my heart into only to have it torn apart grammatically and ridiculed for its silly content. That’s embarrassing; I was proud of that now mangled mess.

For me, it can also be a split second of failure. The first thought that comes to mind is when I try to run in lovely Shaker Heights and catch my toe on its splendidly uneven slate sidewalks. In front of traffic. Country bumpkin over here running, sorry. Don’t mind me. I don’t often wear shoes and sidewalks are kind of a new thing for me…

Yet why do I care? Who cares if I make a lot of mistakes in my work if no one gets hurt by it? Who cares if I think differently than other people or they just don’t get something I’m trying to say? Who. Cares. If. I. Trip. But really? So what? I’m running, I fall, I get back up, whoop-de-doo. Oh, you were driving your car when I fell? You were NOT exercising and I was? Who should be embarrassed? Alas, it’s still me. I’m embarrassed. But I don’t want to be embarrassed. And I can remember my moments of embarrassment better than any moments of success – or a dynamics equation.

Since embarrassment is such a personal and intrinsic feeling, I try to think about what spiritual leaders would be telling their followers. They always seem to have good advice on handling others and keeping your cool, so what would they tell me about embarrassment? If I had to guess, it’d be something like this: None of us are flawless. God/Allah/some other spiritual being has made us the way we are, all unique, and has provided us with these moments to remember our imperfections. It’s grounding, it’s humiliating. Humiliation is how you learn to be humble.

In fact, thinking of humility, shame, and moments that cause us to reflect as such reminds me of a sermon I visited this fall when my friend invited me to his church. To confirm my speculation that a spiritualist would tell me that my embarrassment is a humbling eye-opener, I have rediscovered this passage from that sermon:

“When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is He eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners?’ And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
-Mark 2:16-17

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t, I think all holy scriptures are like additional Aesop’s Fables to life and I love to use them to reflect. This quote from the book of Mark, one of the many brought up in the sermon, makes me realize that I feel embarrassment because I am able to be humbled. I am not so righteous that I am perfect or in my own Nirvana; I have flaws that I need reminding of. And what’s better yet is those moments when I fall – whether figuratively or literally – are always those moments when I am overconfident. I am embarrassed because I realize maybe my writing isn’t as fantastic as I thought it was. I am embarrassed because, for a moment, I was caught up in thinking about myself too much that I tripped and realized how feeble I am.

In conclusion, I have decided that embarrassment is really just a blessing. Without it, we would be blinded by overconfidence and not realize how foolish we are being at times. Embarrassment does give us a chance for redemption, but only if we actively seek it.

Overthinking How Others Perceive Me.

I am so often consumed with how I come across to other people.  I was never made aware of how others might interpret my actions until a friend pointed it out to me a couple of years ago.  I was glad she did, and yet now I overthink even more than I already do.  Now I apply my internal logic for deciding how I’m going to act, but then I also contemplate how others might see me acting under different motives.

But really.  The quiet, timid Kayla of two years ago who used to walk into the locker room without looking at anyone, play a game, and walk right back out…she would do that because she didn’t think she was worth anyone’s time.  She would sit back and observe instead of talking (okay, I still do that a lot).  She would (and still does) stay far away from a physical or emotional injury because she could see someone was getting enough assistance and didn’t want to crowd them or impose herself, because, were the tables turned, that might be.  That’s why I don’t rubberneck; I sure as heck wouldn’t want anyone looking at me if I had help but was in a messy situation.

That’s when two of my newer friends at the time came up to me individually and said, “Gee, I thought you were a really mean person when we first met.  I’m so glad I got to know you because that’s not true at all!”  Then I thought, seriously?  I try so hard to be that person who stays out of the way and respects space, and now you think I’m mean?  You just can’t win…

I’m just such an over-thinker.

Seriously.

I’ll walk into a room and enter a silent state of panic.  Who’s here?  What are they talking about?  How do I look?  I don’t look like I’m trying to impress anyone though, right?  But I don’t look sloppy?  Did I walk in with an attitude?  Did I walk in unnoticed?  Do I look suspicious?  Of what?  Should I smile and say “hi” or let everyone to their own business?  (I usually choose the latter, because I hate being interrupted if I’m really engrossed in something.)

And I never want to believe people actually like me.  How could you like this?  This mess of emotion and chaos and uncertainty.

I’m so awkward around people, especially one-on-one, that I’ve been known to get up and make tea just to have something to cling on to.  I mean, they don’t know that’s why I’m doing it.  But that’s why I’m doing it.

I so easily loose hold of my composure and my normal faculties.

Intelligence and the ability to analyze a situation, it can be such a curse.

Crushed.

Two days before Linda’s would-be birthday, I’m wearing her November necklace, I have a lot on my mind,…

and I’m delivered a crushing blow.

I never see those coming.

Then someone else lifts me up.

I’m in limbo.

I feel like my heart has been ripped out and yet being saved from my sadness only makes me hurt more.  Because I realize I have nothing figured out.  I’m so confused.  The let-down in crushing, the raising-up is crushing.

Can’t everything just settle out for me already?  I’m exhausted from trying, from trying not to care, and from trying to care again.