He woke, his chest made of flames, burning into his heart. Smoke swam up his throat, choking him until he let it out. He was a dragon made up of fear. Nerves. Fear. Anxiety. They caused this paralyzing fire that interrupted his dreams, his sleep, his every waking hour. It hadn’t always been this way, when youth and innocence were on his side, Sylvester was feared nothing. Before the heartaches and senseless blunders, before his girlfriend’s abortion, and epic failures, Sylvester LIVED. He allowed and even enjoyed getting thrown into the fire, flames of all kinds. He tried anything he could and never looked back. His answer was always YES. Before, he jumped into the fire with both feet and came out with no burns to report. He relished in the notion that he was a survivor and that the fire could fuel him.
That was before, before his parents’ divorce, before his professor tried to touch him, before he saw the effects of chemotherapy, before school became difficult and failure a constant. Before he got fired for the first time, before his effort began to yield no results of success. Before it all seemed pointless.
Now, he’s burning on the inside, in a senseless, restless sedation.
I believe in all kinds of magic, in dreams coming true, in luck, and hard work. BUT I’ve very rarely looked for or believed in signs. I’ve had trust my gut when making decisions but I’ve never sought out signs from the universe to lend some help. On Friday, for the first time in a very long time I felt as though the universe was trying to tell me something. On the way to and from work, a giant white plastic bag flew into my windshield, getting stuck momentarily before I regained sight of the road in front of me. Also on the way to work I nearly got hit by a transport truck who was making a left hand turn (thank goodness I sped up at the last moment).
That was the moment I realized that life was trying to tell me something. It was literally trying to hit me in the face. Telling me to wake up and see the good in life. Telling me to stop letting nerves dictate my life and to go with the flow. Telling me to pay attention and make time for what I love to do. Telling me that life is so so short and it doesn’t make sense to spend a single moment dreading failure or even making plans.
Life is life and I have the capacity to handle anything that comes my way. I have a dream big enough to give me courage, a brain smart enough to give me strength, and a heart full enough to not only guide me, but to ensure that I have just the right amount of love and laughter in my life.
I’ll take that as a really great sign…
In exchange for an honest review, Random House of Canada sent me a copy of the gorgeous book, Hausfrau. After reading The Girl on the Train and Still Alice, I was hoping to get my hands on a warmer, sweeter, and less heart-wrenching novel. Fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t quite decide, Hausfrau did not give me anything less than a heart-wrenching experience. In fact, it left me broken.
Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her… When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.
Jill Alexander Essbaum is an incredibly gifted writer, weaving emotions, time, sex, love, and characters into one another seamlessly. Hausfrau is a haunting novel that is expertly paced. It commands the reader’s attention and allows them inside the emotional turmoil that Anna lives through each and every single day. Essbaum writes in such a way that you cannot help but feel everything all at once. You want to understand Anna, you want to help her, to fix her. Mostly you want her to end her affairs, you want to her wake up and get her to simply enjoy the life she leads. You want her to take control of her life before it is too late. You want her lies to disappear because eventually you actually feel sorry for Anna, you want her to redeem herself so much that you actually think she might. The trouble is that Hausfrau has no intent of wrapping Anna’s story in a pretty pink bow, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.
“…analysis isn’t pliers, and truth is not teeth: you can’t pull it out by force. A mouth stays closes as long as it wants to. Truth is told when it tells itself.”
― Jill Alexander Essbaum, Hausfrau
Hausfrau comes out March 17th, 2015!
It comes for you when you least expect it: comfort bordering on laziness or giving up. You get into a new routine that suddenly becomes an old routine. You don’t feel like leaving the house, or having adventures. The thought of staying out late gives you anxiety. You forgot how much you’ve accomplished in the last year by taking little chances, taking big risks, and leaving it all out on the line. You suddenly start to care about what everyone else thinks about you and can’t make a concrete decision without talking to everyone you value. Instead of helping, this just jumbles your head with possibilities, all of which seem impossible to you. You forget to do the things you love and worse of all, forget why you love them in the first place. You need to relocate your passion and understand your desires.
I am a victim of my own mind; accepting comfort and all of its dangerous forms. I tend to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side, but sometimes I forget to take care of my own lawn. I am a victim of self-induced paralyzing fear. If I am a product of my childhood, I still walk around in a bubble, but this time it’s of my own doing. If I don’t try anything new, I’ll never learn or grow. Comfort is great and accepting certain unalterable aspects of your life is fine, but not when you’re only twenty-five.
Lately I’m all questions and no answers. I’m giving advice but unable to take my own. “If you have a hard time figuring out what you want to be, choose the lifestyle you want and find a way to live it,” I tell my brother as if it’s easy. I know it’s difficult. I know how hard it is to not KNOW all of the answers, how lost you can feel when you can’t begin to explain who you want to be. I know what it’s like to crave adventure but not know where to turn. I know that feeling and I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t burn. If I said it didn’t set my soul aflame and leave me lying awake at night. I know that feeling, I live that feeling.
what will that next crazy venture be?
Ever had to snake a drain? Well, my Dad and Mom had to snake the drain in my shower the other day and boy are they pissed at me for not doing it myself. You see, my sister and I share a bathroom and BOTH of us have long, thick black hair – which tends to fall out in the shower. My Dad said that what he pulled out of that drain looked like a dead rat – sorry I know it’s too early to be disgusting but I promise I’m getting somewhere with this.
That rat (hair) in my drain, it kind of reminded me of fear (sometimes I think in metaphors). Imagine you, your life, your inspiration as the pipes. Imagine that rat as fear – blocking you from doing your job, living your life.
I always imagined fear as some kind of disgusting black rat with big yellow eyes, taunting me, saying “You can’t do it. You’re going to fail. Just give up.”
Sometimes I believe it and sometimes…
…sometimes I just snake the drain.
P.S. Please visit the Love of Reading website and “take a moment and join your voice with ours in petitioning the government to make childhood literacy a priority. Signatures will be collected and sent to the premiers and ministers responsible for education in each province”.
Every child deserves a library full of books in order to harness their own imagination and creativity. Every signature helps. Thanks 🙂