red-rimmed, clear eyes + full, broken hearts {part 1}

For the past couple years, Allyn and I have been slowly working our way through all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, which is perhaps my all-time favorite TV show. We are on the last disk of the fifth and final season, drawing out these remaining episodes slowly, like savoring the final bites of a rich dessert. I love Friday Night Lights because of the nuanced, complicated characters; the vivid small-town setting; the dramas of high school and relationships and football. I also love Friday Night Lights because it makes me think of my mom.

My mom is a huge sports fan, particularly football, and she is the one in our house who first started watching Friday Night Lights. When I was living at home with my parents for a year, after I graduated college and before I moved to Indiana for grad school, she watched the show religiously. That was the fourth season. I started watching it with her and, before I knew it, I was hooked too.

When I moved away, I bought the first three seasons on DVD and, throughout those lonely and cold months when I missed my parents with a breathless ache, I methodically worked my way through the episodes. Even though I have never lived in Texas, I felt a bit closer to my hometown as I watched the familiar characters move around onscreen against the flat, dusty land and big blue sky. Eventually, I bought season four on DVD, and then season five. By the time I watched the fifth season, I was combing the plotlines and analyzing the characters, searching and searching. As if the episodes of this TV show could give me answers. As if it could help me smooth and mend the tangled mess of my own life.

In the fifth season of Friday Night Lights, I remember a particular scene when two of the characters got ready to go out to dinner, the guy holding the door open for the girl, the two of them heading outside together, smiling, an ordinary everyday happiness, an easy comfort that seemed so elusive to me at the time. I remember the quiet desperation that settled within my ribcage. I was jealous of these fictional people and this fictional relationship. I wanted to jump inside the television screen and escape my life.

During that time, I was ensnared in a deeply unhealthy relationship. Somewhere within my gut, I knew that it wasn’t right. I knew I had to get out. But I was scared. I kept searching outside of myself for answers, when really the answer was in my heart, beating right there inside my chest for every moment of every day. The answer wasn’t really elusive. It was effusive; it was everywhere. Still, for a while, I ignored it. I thrust my head into the sand. Until one day I realized I was choking, and I yanked my neck up, gasping for air, blinking the grit out of my eyes, staring at the world like it was an entirely new place. Which, in many ways, it was. When I found the courage to leave that relationship, my world opened up again.

There are some seasons in your life that are shockingly terrible and shockingly beautiful at once. This was one of those seasons for me. It has crystalized in my mind as a period when I was living purely. My emotions were raw and my needs boiled down to the bare essentials: eat, drink, sleep. Teach my classes. Honor my commitments. Finish my graduate degree. In some ways, I was learning to live all over again. Uncoupled, I was learning to live for myself again. It was painful and it was cleansing.

When I think back on that time, the days seemed so long—so empty and so full at the same time. I remember walking up the big hill to campus from my friend’s apartment, where I was subleasing a room for the remaining six weeks of the school year. I remember soaking in the early spring sunshine and the cold breeze on my face. I remember long evenings, binge-watching the Hulu show “Battleground” and reading until I felt tired enough that I could maybe fall asleep. I read so many books in that period—nearly a novel a day. I remember sorting through my accumulation of papers and possessions, trying to create something out of the scraps: making baby blankets for some friends; writing cards and mailing them; donating bags of clothing to Goodwill; cooking strange recipes out of the random assortment of nonperishables in my pantry.

It is a strange time of my life to look back on with fondness. But I do. I was a butterfly emerging from my chrysalis; a phoenix emerging from the ashes of my previous life. I was my whole self, and nothing but myself. After a long time of ignoring that deep inner voice, after a long time of lying to myself, I was finally living my truth.

 

This story will be continued on Friday. See you then!

fabulous friday #37

Happy Friday! I’m off to my favorite morning yoga class, then hoping to get a good writing session in at Starbucks before lunch, and then this afternoon I’m tutoring some really sweet kiddos. The rest of the evening will be spent hanging out with my grandparents and resting up for my crazy day tomorrow!

My Saturday = a full day of teaching + an evening reading in San Francisco for Arroyo Literary Review as part of the awesome Litquake events going on throughout the city + meeting up with Allyn and his MBA classmates for a “dare-e-oke night” fundraiser for their humanitarian trip to Kenya. {Any good karaoke song suggestions??}

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This wise message on my green tea bag this morning, which reminds me of the namaste principle in yoga class:

tea message

2. The new NBC romantic comedy sitcom A to Z. You guys, it’s only been three episodes but this show is already something I look forward to in my week! If I were to write a TV show, I have a feeling it would be something like this. The show centers around Andrew and Zelda {get it? A to Z!} and chronicles their relationship from when they first meet. The episodes are organized by letter, for example the first one was “A for Acquaintances.” It’s a really clever and funny show, and I love the characters! I even got Allyn to watch an episode with me the other night, and he laughed out loud a couple times. My brother texted me after watching the first episode: Oh sweet Jesus this is a Dallas show! Haha. What can I say? I love love!

3. The pumpkin-pie fail that happened in my kitchen this week. I’m not exactly grateful for this disaster of a pie — something happened and it never really set, but the top layer sort of burned and peeled off the pie! Has that ever happened to anyone else? I followed my favorite recipe the same as I always do, but obviously something went wrong. The only thing I can think of is that I made it in a different oven than I usually do {I made it for Allyn at his place}… but other than that, I’m clueless! I need to make another one soon to make up for this pie.

gross pumpkin pie

However, the thing I LOVED about this pie was my sweetheart’s reaction. It was my first time ever making him a pie, and it smelled so good baking in the oven, filling the kitchen with spice and autumn. Anticipation was high! But then I took it out of the oven, and there was a huge air bubble on the top — the pie was like a dome, and as it cooled the dome deflated. It reminded me of that scene in Christmas Vacation when they cut into the delicious-looking turkey and it immediately shrivels up. Anyway, I knew right away that something was not right with this pie. I peeled off the top burnt layer and the insides were this mushy texture. So disappointing!

I’ll be honest: I was upset. And embarrassed. And confused. I was about ready to pitch this pie out the window! But Allyn just hugged me and said, “It’ll be fine! It’s still gonna taste delicious!” And when the pie cooled, over my protests, he cut himself a big slice and finished every bite.

We spent the rest of the night laughing about this pie. Now it’s actually a funny memory, and yet another reminder of why I feel so grateful and happy to be with this man.

4. This quote and beautiful photo from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less:

5. For my birthday, my friends Allyson & Henry got me a subscription to a superb and innovative literary magazine, McSweeney’s. Yesterday my first issue arrived! This issue is designed as a bunch of small pamphlets so it’s easy to just grab a story and slip it into my purse when I’m on the go. I’m so excited to dig into it this weekend!

mcsweeneys

mcsweeneys

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

new haircut! & other random tidbits

Hello, friends! Just poppin’ in to say hello. How is your day going?

It’s been a busy morning around here… my favorite kind of busy, productive weekday morning. I woke up early and, after a bowl of oatmeal with sliced apple and walnuts, I headed over to Starbucks for a pumpkin chai latte and a couple hours of writing. This afternoon, I’ve got some tutoring and editing projects on the agenda.

starbucks work sesh

Here are some odds & ends on my mind today…

I got a haircut! Crazy how something as simple as trimming a couple inches off my hair can make me feel so rejuvenated.

new haircut

I’m so happy The Good Wife is back! The first episode of the season was a real nail-biter and I am already on pins-and-needles for next week! The Good Wife is one of the only shows I watch on a regular basis. My parents, grandparents, and aunt Annie watch it, too, so it’s fun discussing each new episode every Monday morning. Do you have any shows like that?

On Sunday night Allyn watched my favorite romantic movie, Serendipity, with me! There’s something about autumn that always makes me crave this movie. As I told Allyn: “My love for Serendpity will never die.” I also love the beautiful instrumental theme song of the movie, January Rain by David Gray.

Serendipity

Yesterday Grandma and I watched the movie Iris on TV about the life of British writer Iris Murdoch. I thought it was heartbreaking but really well done, and now I’m inspired to read Irish Murdoch’s books — I think I might start with her classic The Sea, The Sea.

Speaking of books and writers… I tweeted to JoJo Moyes about how much I loved her book One Plus One, and she tweeted me back! September must be the month for celebrity encounters… remember last year when I ran into Casey James at Starbucks?

jojo moyes tweet

I made a batch of my favorite pb cup brownies {I gave most to Allyn but kept a couple for myself, too!} and I’ll probably polish off the last one tonight. Treats like this just make the week feel more special.

pb cup brownies

Questions of the day:

  • What are your favorite TV shows?
  • Has someone you admire every replied to a tweet you sent? Or have you ever had a celebrity encounter?
  • What treats make your ordinary days more special?

dancing with the stars

Do any of you watch this show?

I’ve never really gotten into it before… until I saw a promo for Season 19 and saw this guy in the cast!

Tavis Smiley!

Longtime blog readers might remember when my dad was interviewed as a guest on Tavis’s radio show earlier this year to talk about his book Wooden & Me. My dad said Tavis could not have been warmer, more authentic and engaged; it felt like having a conversation with a longtime friend. I’m a fan of Tavis’s TV show on PBS and his books — including his latest book about Martin Luther King, Jr. — and now I have another show to watch! I thought he did a great job dancing and was cheering when he made it through the first round of voting last night. Woo hoo!

Here are some other odds & ends I wanted to share with you:

  • My ebook “Lost & Found” is available for FREE this week on Amazon! Grab your copy here {and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested in an entertaining free read!}

CSS Home Sweet Home

Now I’m off to grab some oatmeal & green tea for breakfast before digging into work on a few writing/editing projects. Tonight I’m meeting Erica for dinner, which I’m super excited about. Have a great day, friends!