Can I Borrow Your Emotional Thesaurus?

Music – Sean Hayes, When We Fall In

Back in the back in the day, I was a girl who had a livejournal. There is so much self-indulgent bullshit contained therein that, perusing it once more (which I admit is in itself a self-indulgent activity), I marvel at how deeply immersed in forging my own character by declaration, by emphatic type on screen, and with tough-on-the-outside wisecracks I actually was. I forgot about that girl to whom my livejournal belonged, how badass she was and how plucky and fetteredly bold. Her own emotions embarrassed her; being in love was terrifying and hard, but she did it brazenly and backwardly and in the only way she knew how: with yearning and with words. Her own light was something from which she shrugged, dealings in self deprecation, her specialty. But sometime in 2007, before that girl left for her Fulbright, or Spain, Round II, she abandoned tealywhitman for something a little different. She shrugged into a more mature, slightly less Emo internet ensemble, though she never could quite quit the side-bangs. And there on the Iberian peninsula, she slowly disappeared, rarified into a creature more wordly, more hardy and sturdily wise.

I’m here to say that for all of her failings, her insecurities and her inability to speak her heart, I still like that girl, and I appreciate her now in a way I was not able when her life was the one on the surface. She was tender. She was scared, and she was trying. She was also goddamn funny. I wish that, six years later, I could steal back there and wrap my arm around her shoulders (though she would’ve hated that) and tell her a few things. One, that night when you’re going to drink half a bottle of 151 yourself? Don’t do that. Also, stop exercising so rabidly: the niggling suspicion that you’re going to irrevocably hurt yourself is not just a suspicion. But mostly, I’d tell her things that would calm her turbid soul: namely that life would get unimaginably better, that somebody unimaginably great would love her, that she’d travel to Saxon shores and learn other languages and be able to cook really fantastic things.

But of course, I can’t do any of those things. All I can do is learn from her and take this lesson now, and I think it’s one we could all stand to soak in: when you look in the mirror, be a little kinder with your appraisal. When your legs take you somewhere–even if it’s somewhere abysmal and dank like the DMV, the Ausländerbehörde or the German Post–appreciate what they just did, and appreciate all the parts that made it happen. Hey. Listen. That tiny bone in your ankle? It does magical shit, for real. So act appreciative. Now. And when you sit beside someone lovely and they tell you you’re beautiful, smile and feel it and believe. And don’t be scared to accept a hug: it feels nice.

You know what else was pretty nice? Something I loved about LiveJournal was that, at the top of each entry, the blogger could indicate the song to which he or she was listening, thus sharing a little of the ambiance that went into crafting that particular post. If you’re a person music junkie like me, that was a really lovely thing to be able to share. I think that in the spirit of personal webspaces past, I’ll start to include links to what I’m listening to at the top of my entries.

Another interesting-if-SadEmoKid embellishment was the mood icon. The idea was to choose one of the faces that ostensibly reflected your mood whilst writing. There were of course a number of stock moods provided: “happy,” “depressed,” “excited,” or “angry,” numbered among the few and the proud. But then there was my favorite–the possibility to choose a face and assign your own mood. I remember now the LiveJournal period of my life as being one during which I was very in touch with how I was feeling, and I actually hold that that ridiculous, vestigial little mood icon had something to do with it. My emotional vocabulary was enormous: the nuances! The flavors! I didn’t want to just be “happy” or “depressed” or “psyched” or “sleepy,” I wanted to run the searching fingertips of my mind along a braille emotional thesaurus and encounter the topography that felt exactly, perfectly right. I wanted to know, you see, how to label the thing that was inhabiting my expressions and outlook, and you know what? I did it. I groped around in the viscousy night of my feelings, and I figured it out. Despite not being of the sort that hikes the heart rate or tones the thighs, it was a really good exercise. While I don’t think that I’ll be importing that little doodad to the present from my LJ past–it’s just too self indulgent, even for me–I think that actually inspecting how one is feeling, not just chalking malaise up to PMS or hunger or the latest Twilight movie is a habit to curate.

How did this happen? This was destined to be a post about birthdays and houseware and where in the world I’ve been all week (hint: in front of the internet, working, and waiting in endless lines at the damnable German post office, which is a lot like the hell that is the bank in Spain). But now it’s late, and my boyfriend is building kitchen cabinets, working toward the next slice of promised salted caramel cheesecake Birthday pie he’s set himself as a reward for the task. To speed this day along to sleep, I think I’ll go snufflingly assist, taking my  second German  headcold and packet of tissues along for the ride. I’ll leave you with this image and a promise to come back tomorrow and talk about scones, editing, physical therapy (yay!) and the joys of baking things.


P.S. No more shittastic Photobooth photos requiring me to put my Macbook in compromising positions in order to acquire subpar shots! I’m glad to report that the ailing Android is back from the shop and once again possesses the very useful capacity of typing Cs and Rs, and using the multi-option key. Now, if I could only get my real camera fixed…

One step at a time, Caitlin, one step at a time–especially on that weak ankle.


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