Whenever I find myself exhausted from a week of socializing, I’m reminded of my life in Colorado and how it was completely opposite to the one I live here in all aspects, especially social. Maybe I didn’t know how to do it right–talk to people and throw myself into every common interest circle I could find. I thought I was doing it right back then by joining the Colorado Mountain Club and taking some outdoor adventure classes with them. I had some friends from the Highpointers Club that I immediately hooked myself up with, but they were a good ten years older than me, more established–they couldn’t hold my hand as I tried to make friends. I couldn’t expect anyone to hold my hand. I guess I had just figured I’d make friends as easy as I had in college, forgetting, of course, that in college we were all in the same boat of not knowing anyone and having to establish ourselves. In the adult world, it takes a lot of work to cultivate relationships. And I just didn’t try enough, which eventually led to me moving back to Ohio.
Maybe, too, I just wasn’t quite far enough in my grief journey to really let new people in. I saw Colorado as the fulfillment of a dream that Mike and I had for our lives. I viewed my move there as a way of continuing on the path on which I was originally headed. I didn’t yet realize that the path no longer led to where I wanted it to go, that a gate shut to close it off the moment the doctor in the emergency room told me that my husband was dead. I hadn’t yet realized that I sought spiritual comfort. I hadn’t yet realized how much I needed my friends and family in Ohio and instead I’d pushed them away in attempt to spare them the depths of my pain. I didn’t trust anyone enough with my heart. The only one I trusted in that way was gone forever.
When I think back to how spiritually and emotionally bereft I was back then, I feel especially blessed for the people I’ve met and associations I’ve affiliated myself with since my return. Somehow I managed to do it right, finally. I’ve figured out how to build a life of my own that can be as full and busy as I want it. Unfortunately, I don’t always know when to quit or say no. Which leads to the kind of week I had last week when I wore myself out with social activities. I had a lot of fun, but I must admit that I was totally exhausted by Friday which caused me to totally reject an invitation to dinner at Ray’s in Kent with my dad (which is something I usually look forward to). I also spent all day Saturday vegging out to the entire fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, not the entire season. I was on the second disc (of six) on Saturday morning. I tried to be good and only watch two episodes. But later in the day, when it became abundantly clear that I wasn’t in the mindset to do any writing, I submitted to the utter, gluttonous pleasure of finishing off the entire season. It was raining all day, anyway–weather fit for neither cycling nor skiing. Moving through the episodes of an entire season is like reading the chapters of a really good book; you keep saying that you’re going to stop after the next episode, but when you get to the end of the episode, the suspense is overwhelming and you feel compelled to continue.
I am tempering my guilt for being glued to the “boob tube” by reminding myself and everyone I talk to that this series is not just senseless garbage. It’s legitimately well-written and artistically crafted visual media. The plots and themes and characters are completely worthy of a scholarly dissection, which I find myself doing throughout the day as I ponder Joss Whedon’s view of the world. I like to consider where Joss has taken this fantastical world, especially realizing that he’s a self-proclaimed atheist who frequently writes on religious themes and explores them in his work (often mocking them). I’m thoroughly impressed by the tightness of the writing–Whedon’s characters generally stay within character, the mythos is pretty consistent within itself, and even in the darkest moments of the series, there are bits of sardonic humor that make the fantastic stories so utterly believable because you could see yourself reacting in much the same way as the characters. If Whedon and his team were writing this show without a vision, flying by the seat of their pants, I would never know it because every detail seems to tie back together at some point, even if it’s episodes or seasons later. (I suspect Amy the witch-turned-rat will eventually come back…?). So many television serials lack a strong, cohesive vision these days and it seems often that some writer came up with a great idea but then never thought it past the first story arc (i.e., Heroes). I think Whedon’s vision is always much stronger (with the exception of the disappointing Dollhouse).
Anyway, I didn’t mean to blab on about Buffy. It’s just that when I’m exposed to good writing–especially in a time when I’m feeling particularly uninspired–I’m filled with excitement. I guess that’s why I was an English major–I love a good story. I love to examine every piece and part of a good story. It’s really hard to please me. I’m often very picky and I hate when writers don’t fail to follow through on an originally good idea. I most hate a really bad ending. Battlestar Galactica‘s season finale ruined the whole series for me. Heroes failed to deliver after season 1 and I pretty much became bored with it. I loved Alice Sebold’s book The Lovely Bones until the over-the-top ending. I was completely rapt–late reading on work nights and everything– by Scarlett Thomas’ The End of Mr. Y, but again, the end was shoddy and didn’t make sense with the rest of the story. I have a five-star rating system for books and movies and while I award a lot of 4’s, I award a 5-star rating to only those works that have kept me going from start to finish and have left me thirsty for more when the words or picture stopped. A good writer doesn’t give away all his/her secrets; he/she should leave his/her readers a little hungry to keep them dreaming up theories and conclusions about the work for the rest of their lives. That’s the kind of writing I love most. That’s the kind of writer I aspire to be.
Needless to say, I’ve pretty much got Buffy on my mind when I’m not running all over Northeast Ohio trying to see and do everything. Despite the onset of mental and physical exhaustion at the end of this past week, I must admit I had fun participating in the following activities.
Monday. After a meeting at work that ran over to 6:30pm, I made it just in time to see Alice in Wonderland, in 3D, with some friends from my church. Thanks to Randy (mentioned later in this post) who waited outside the theater for me to arrive. Monday night at the movies is becoming a habit for me these days. It’s $5 movie night in Kent and it’s nice to finally have a group of people to go see movies with. I think one of the reasons I haven’t seen many movies in the last couple years is because I feel like a reject going by myself… And finding a movie that the group all wants to see is no problem with me as I’ll watch almost anything in my eternal search for a really good (epic) story. I try not to judge movies by their trailers.
Tuesday. I went to Lakewood Library for the Lake Erie Wheelers’ meeting with guest speaker Kevin Madzia from Century Cycles who talked about his trip from Ohio to Guatemala. I may consider doing some self-contained bike touring–though maybe not at quite this length–so I was interested in hearing the gory details of his adventure. The details of his trip–the good and the bad–kind of inspired me to learn more about self-contained trips on which I might take Beau. Maybe some weekend trip or something is in order for the future. Ideally, I’d like to someday ride from my house to… somewhere… in some other state… But I have not yet come up with a goal for this.
Wednesday. Some friends from (again) church invited me to a werewolf movie night. What is a werewolf movie night? It evidently involves homemade reubins, corned beef and cabbage, and various other snacks washed down with homemade beer and (store-bought) wine while we watched American Werewolf in London and the old Lon Chaney Wolfman. This event was hosted by Randy who, along with his wife Mary, is the perpetual host of themed-dinner nights. I love going to Randy and Mary’s place because they both enjoy cooking as well as hosting and they are very good at both. They also like good wine and beer. My friend Colleen also deserves mention here for the excellent corn beef and cabbage she cooked up, not to mention the homemade horseradish sauce! I had fun, but I stayed too late even though I told myself I wasn’t going to. *dramatic sigh*
Thursday. I attended a Hiram alumni event called Five-Live which refers to the five cities who were hosting like gatherings. Being the Cleveland contingent, closest to Hiram’s campus, we got to watch live the speech college president Thomas Chema gave about the state of the college while the other sites watched via web cam. My feelings were somewhere between jealousy and envy as I listened to all the changes underway at the college. Why does your school always get better things after you’re gone? The enrollment has increased to 1,100 students–still small, but quite a difference compared to the 800 students who attended while I was there. When asked what we, as alumni, could do to help the college, one of Chema’s answers was help with recruitment. Damn, I keep trying! No one else I know has college-aged kids who are willing to go to a small liberal arts college in the middle of an Ohio cornfield… But believe me, if I could convert a few people to the Light of Hiram (whose emblem proudly bears the words Fiat Lux: Let there be light!), I certainly would. Best years of my life at that school, I’ll tell you. (Next to those years I spent with my husband, that is.)
Of course, I stayed there a bit too long, gabbing with a former student I had as a teaching assistant for First Year Seminar (I think) who is really well on her way to becoming a candidate for Cleveland’s City Counsel soon… If not something higher and mightier. John, the newly appointed Director of Alumni Relations, a friend, bestowed me and Diane each with an extra drink ticket. (What? Do I have “drunk” written across my head? “Wino” perhaps?). Again, I stayed too late. Got lost on the way home as I missed one of the confusing turn-offs on Canal Road in the valley. I always have the darndest time trying to get back home from Independence–I assure you it had nothing to do with the amount of wine I drank. I always miss the road I’m supposed to take to get back home whenever I go down there and then I end up in Oakwood or Northfield. (I once was senselessly lost for two hours with my best friend when trying to take the “back way” from her house in Cleveland to mine in Stow.) I have horrible directional sense unless I drive the same route every day for at least a year. I think I’m totally a candidate for a GPS in my car…
So that was my week. Surely you can see why I became anti-social for a day and a half. This coming week should be much calmer. I’ll try not to let it get too out of control. Next weekend, however, is my birthday weekend. I took my actual birthday (the 22nd) off from work and I’ll either, depending on the weather, do a day trip to Peek N Peak or ride my bike somewhere. I have plans for my birthday all weekend, but they’re much more subdued than they’ve been in the past. I didn’t want to put everyone out with my big birthday dinner. It will be nice to be a little more relaxed, anyway.
It’s good to have friends. It’s good to have places to go where I’m not so lonely. And I know that I’ve really found my place at home here in Ohio. Despite its disagreeable winters and the mass exodus of people my age, I think I’ll probably stay here until I die. I’m really a Clevelander at heart and it’s the only place where I feel comfortable. I’m still holding out hope that I will someday be able to afford a second home in Colorado to which I can escape for a month or so in the winter… But until then, all my dream’s are just a plane’s ride away. My friends are here, my family is here; this is where I belong.