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Two posts in one day – craziness! And so close in time – madness!

I want to share something in the hope that it will lend itself to holding me accountable. I am awful at setting goals. I once dated a guy who asked me about my 5-year plan (I was 26-27 at the time). I like to think that was the moment when I knew he and I were doomed, but I knew waaaay before that moment (I was so dumb). In processing him asking about my 5-year plan, of course I panicked thinking this is something everyone does but never mentions to me, I am doomed, I will never be successful, I’m doing everything wrong, I’m never going to grow up*, I need to make a plan, and Oh, my God, I don’t even like making plans for the upcoming weekend…. Eventually I talked to my dad about 5-year plans. He was, like, “No.” Looking back, I think my dad has always been trying to tell me to do my own thing and be my own person – whoever that is. Like, always. I just didn’t listen, which is not entirely surprising. I have come around. I don’t make 5-year plans. If you do, please tell me how and why. Also, how do you handle that pressure?

Anyway, the point of this post is to share my goals for this upcoming week. I may be able to do this, one week at a time.
See below.

Wk 1

I know you’re all wondering: Maggie, what is this enchanting paper you used to document your goals for the week? It’s a Chick-fil-A napkin I left on the coffee table yesterday. There’s no shame in my game, y’all. Try to keep up.

* I still have not grown up.

Interweb Mistakes.

I make a lot of mistakes on the Internet by looking at ridiculous shit. I recently noticed a trend in telling readers how to journal. For maximum effect, I will repeat: I recently noticed a trend in telling reader how to journal. I mostly see this on Pinterest accompanied by professional photographs of “fancy” writing in “fancy books” with multiple colors of ink, doodles, charts, graphs, etc. I see books with pockets for keeping items, stickers, bookmarks, paperclips with stuff glued to them…. It looks expensive and overwhelming.

I don’t remember when I started keeping a journal, but it was back when I still called it “keeping a diary.” I remember owning a lavender diary with a cat on it. I hate cats. I remember that diary. It had the goofy, flimsy lock and the key that had the strength of a paperclip – a low level paperclip, not one of those serious paperclips that can easily manage 18 pages.

I’ve written here about my current journal here – an emerald green moleskine that I carry in my purse. I would prefer nobody read it, but if someone grabbed it from me and ran off as if to humiliate me with what they found inside it, I don’t think I’d do much to stop them. They might learn something.

The idea that I need to be instructed or taught how to journal is offensive, unless the instructions are:
1 – buy a blank book, notebook, index cards, whatever you want to write on;
2 – buy a writing instrument you like to use;
3 – write whatever you want in whatever fashion you want in the item you acquired in Step 1.
What else is there? Am I missing something?
Realistically, you could scrap all of these (3) instructions and just write whatever on whatever surface with whatever instrument. If I really need/want to write something down, and I don’t have my journal or some kind of paper handy, I’ll write on receipts, napkins, old grocery store lists, etc. Whatever I can find. Later, I’ll copy it into my journal or maybe just put the written-on scrap between some pages. I wrote it down. It’s there. That’s all I need. It’s not uncommon to find napkins between the pages of my journals.

Even considering that I journal incorrectly (that I need to be taught how to do it) or that I don’t journal effectively makes me think of being advised that I need to wear make-up all the time. I don’t do that. If you follow me on social media, you may remember that the caption for a picture of me & Todd the night we went out for my birthday dinner refers to me rubbing dirt and chemicals on my face. I do it when I want to do it. I also do it when I know I’m going to court, which I have to state specifically because that is a time when I don’t always want to do it. The point is, I am the same Maggie whether I paint my face or not. My journal is as valuable and effective and correct, regardless of how it’s done. As a special note, if you wear make-up every day and that’s what you want to do, *high five* You are kicking ass. If you wear make-up every day and you don’t want to, please talk to me about this. I have seen this other side of life, and I can tell you that nothing bad happens. You will still be you – worthy, valuable, important and loved.

Journaling seems like one of the last things we should need several items to do it effectively. One writing surface, one writing instrument and you’re set. What if someone was interested in keeping a journal and they saw all of these articles about different ink pens, stickers, etc. and decided it was too expensive, too overwhelming or required so much skill? That’s absurd. The special lettering and doodles may do someone in. I don’t draw and my handwriting is sloppy, but I keep my journal. I write what I want to, when I want to. But if I tried to start journaling and felt that to do it correctly I needed to master all of this lettering and special doodles…. I wouldn’t do it, because that’s not my area. I’m a word person, not a shapes and lines person.

Journaling doesn’t require special skills or equipment. Depending on your motivation for getting into it, it doesn’t even require a special commitment. The idea of writing in my journal every day sounds great, but I also like reading, going to the gym, spending time with Todd, spending time with our [four-legged] girls, watching TV/movies. I don’t always make time to write in my journal. If/When I feel moved to write, I do it. Sometimes, like today, it gets done here and not in the moleskine.

Whatever day it is.

My Grandmother passed away Tuesday in the early-early morning.  My dad called me around 3am (my time) to tell me.  When I spoke to him Wednesday afternoon, just to check in, he couldn’t remember if he had called me or not.  He admitted to feeling “scattered.”  No kidding.  It’s devastating, even if you know it’s on its way.  Comparison is mean in times like these (I’m sorry, Dad), but I remember experiencing that, “Which way is up?” feeling for weeks after my mom passed.  And I still had my dad. That feeling reared its ugly head several more times, here-and-there. It has been a long time since I felt it. That bizarre emptiness, however, has never gone away.

Grandma was my last living biological grandparent.  I’m lucky – I still have my step-grandparents. I’m grateful to have a relationship with them.

I think funerals bring out the bad in many families. Maybe they bring up all those things that people normally pretend don’t exist. Something about the emotional stress of a death in the family and the funeral bring up all this bottom-dwelling stuff that, on any other day, isn’t real. I have been curious about human behavior for as long as I can remember. I’ve formally studied it since late high school. I work in it. It is the great mystery. Why do people do this instead of that? Why did that person do that specific thing? My brain never gives up. I think there is a higher prevalence of Why? because I’m an introvert, and, of course, I think my way of handling things is the best way (Note: not always true).

Earlier today I became very upset. I wrote a letter that I intended to send to some relatives via FaceBook messenger. Even when I sat down with my lappy toppy, I was still set on sending the letter. When it was time, I changed my mind. Maybe this is not the way to do it? Maybe this is somehow inappropriate? I just need to get some messages across to them. I just need them to know some things, and I need those things to come from me. I have this desperate need to encourage people to talk to me if they have questions or concerns about me. I definitely do not want people to get their information from someone with whom I don’t communicate.

I opted to post the letter here. Come one, come all. Maybe nobody will read it. Maybe everyone will. Note: I wrote this while sitting at my desk at work this morning (07/21/2017).

Dear Family,
I want to apologize for not attending Gram’s services.  I have kept everyone in my thoughts, and I thoroughly researched my options for making the trip happen.  Without getting into specifics, I feel comfortable openly admitting that I was not able to afford to make the trip.  I also want to let everyone know that I did not ask anyone else to pay for the trip for me or to help me pay for it.  None of this came from a place of disrespect for Gram or anyone else.  The money wasn’t there, and I hate asking others for money. 
I regret that I could not be there for Gram’s funeral.  I feel that I should have been there, at least as a support for my dad and everyone else who is deeply effected by this loss.  I don’t think the death of a loved one is ever easy.  There is no such thing as, “being ready.”  I don’t know if anyone else has said it, but this sucks.  I know many of you have been thinking that. 
Right now in Texas, it’s 10:38am.  Gram’s funeral is scheduled to begin at 12:00pm “my time.”  It was nearly midnight “my time” last night when it occurred to me that I could send flowers for the funeral.  You will find that I didn’t, even when the idea finally came to me.  I looked at arrangements online and generally stressed myself out about making a choice.  Then I didn’t choose.  They were kind of boring and not one of them reminded me of Gram.
I want this letter to serve as an apology for not attending Gram’s services and for not being there during this difficult time.  I am remembering Gram here: the blue hood she made for me when I was little-little (maybe 4-5 years old); her singing; her Macaroni & Cheese (still my favorite); her poems she shared with me while I was in high school and my denim blanket.  If you didn’t love your denim blanket, you are a liar; if you never received one, you are missing out. 

That’s really it. I didn’t “sign” it. I didn’t go into any background. It doesn’t seem like much, and I did attempt to write more, but it was too far off track. Too much needless reality.

Since my grandma’s passing, I’ve spoken with 3 different relatives who are there (who have been there). That’s 3 different stories. I kid you not. Three different stories about what’s happening in a rural county in Ohio. I feel angry and confused. Two weeks ago, I would’ve picked up the phone, called a reliable someone and said, “Here’s what I’m hearing. What is really happening?” I don’t feel like I have that option today. Another side effect of emotional stress related to a death in the family is that nobody is reliable right now.

This week has been something of a highlight reel of why I moved 2K miles away from that rural county in Ohio. I can more easily flex my logic muscle here. I can try to fit the pieces together in my mind without someone in my ear with their own agenda, because I can leave my phone in a different room. I can even turn off my phone. I can process text messages over time. I can disconnect more easily from emotions because there aren’t facial expressions. In text messages, there isn’t even a tone of voice or the sound of post-cry sniffling or exasperated sighing. It seems like panning for gold – I can sift out the nonsense. I will tell you, the pan is frequently empty. Texas has been nothing short of a blessing for me. I need all this distance. I need 2,000 miles to be authentic and to coexist authentically.

Eventually the dust will settle. Eventually there will be a reliable somebody. Eventually, I will go visit. I will get to look at faces and look into eyes when I ask, What is really happening here?