I’m debating the merits of re-invention these days. Madonna did it, but now she’s a joke, someone who can’t let go of the past and spends her time hiding the veins her hands with ugly gloves. We re-invent, on some level, because we are unhappy with our current selves. So we discard our past iterations in the name of future joy.

I have not been happy. This is no secret. An eight year relationship recently ended and by virtue of my own misanthropy, I find myself alone a lot. This has, of course, been great for work. I’m actually on top of my semester and have no worries about the lectures I am to give or the discussions I am to lead. I have a bevy of random places to visit in the next few months1. I’m saving for a big, big trip during Spring Break (anyone know how to get an inexpensive ticket to South Africa in March?). I have a great job, things to do, but I feel a bit overwhelmed about big future plans. In many ways I’m just trying to figure out if I’m where I want to be.

The book is done. Everything except the fact-checking, which is arduous and I’m ignoring it for now, because I made the mistake of listening to Rebecca Skloot and now I have 250 pages of highlighted to-dos awaiting vetting. Instead I’m looking toward my second book, which is probably a mistake because I haven’t sold (nor am I near selling) the first. I guess I like the project. It involves moving to Germany for a year and interviewing people I hated in high school. I have strange ideas.

I’m also thinking about going back to Texas. Or maybe staying here at Pitt. I dunno. For so long I was in Pittsburgh waiting for something to pan out relationship-wise that ultimately didn’t. And when you spend years arranging things so that life will go one way, it’s weird to be confronted with the freedom and trepidation of new possibilities when it finally goes another.

The Beta Band gets most of the credit for my smiles these days. Something about singing “Dry the Rain” makes it impossible to be too sad, even if you have good reason. Don’t get me wrong, most days I’m terribly sad. But lately, just lately, I’m excited about change. Just maybe not future/reinvention type change. Not Obama change, but Dowager Grantham change. To quote my favorite Weezer song, “I want to go back.” Which is not forward thinking at all.

Riding bikes, growing tomatoes, and reading fiction. I’m honestly just hanging out with myself. Learning to imagine myself without another person. Shedding anger and reminding myself that there’s nothing wrong with being all right alone. Trying to use the word “I” less, but finding myself thinking there’s no other way to heal sometimes than to remember how important the “I” can be.

So I’m not really re-inventing myself. I’m un-inventing myself. Going back to basics.

It’ll be all right.

Or so I sing.

  1. from Arkansas to Toronto to Minneapolis to Phoenix and back around four times []