Thursday, December 17, 2015

I missed the Civil War

So, I missed the Civil War. I never got to share a cigarette with Picasso and I never got to live in a world that was only as large as your horse could run in a day. I never got to sit in a dark corner of the Algonquin, eavesdropping on quips at the Round Table, and I have no idea what it’s like to be the first person with a television on my block. I never got to pull Tolkien aside and ask him about the Voluspa, and I never got to smash a mountain with Kerouac and a bottle of cheap port. I’m sure the Renaissance was wild ride of open eyes and fat asses, but I missed that, too. I never got to feel what it’s like to be one of the first people to travel cross-country on a steam engine and I’ll never know the feeling of that first take off across the Atlantic. Hell, I even missed the day Kurt Vonnegut came to visit my High School. I’ve missed mostly everything exciting or artistic that has ever happened to the human race.

My timing, frankly, is shit.

And I don’t think I’ll be here for the Big Show either. You know, when the world falls apart? I won’t lead people to freedom from a post-apocalypse hellscape and I won’t see us beat cancer on the Jumbotron. I won’t make it to the Hologram Peace Treaties in the Middle East and I’ll never know a world where it isn’t terrifying just to live alone as a woman. Plastic is here to stay. It literally can’t go anywhere. And honestly, the fact that a six-pack ring will be blowing in the wind on some trash island in the ocean long after I’m dead is fucking depressing. I wish I could say I didn’t think about that all the time. But I do.

I know my life appears selfish and foolish, I know that. But I also know that it looks that way to people who don’t waste their time thinking about how they never got to charge down Little Round Top or scrap together rent with Lena Dunham. My whole life I’ve thought about the heroes and artists I’ve missed out on, am missing out on right now, and the cruel circumstances of being mediocre in a world humming with genius and art. So, that's the first problem.

The second? Get this. Every morning I wake up I think, really think, this might be it. Everyone knows on some level they are going to die, but once I learned about that as a child I never stopped expecting it. It’s changed me more than any heartbreak, horse, or cross-country drive. I’ve been expecting my own death so long that I won’t even confirm casual plans with friends when they ask if I’ll be at their parties the following week. Who could possibly know how long we’ll get to keep our imaginary infinities? Why jinx it? So when someone asks me if I’ll see them tomorrow or meet them for lunch I always say the same damn thing.

“That’s the plan.”

Saying "thats the plan" is safe. It doesn't assume or hope. It reminds me that there is a very good chance some vital organ could quit,  a drunk driver could side-swipe me, or any other of the endless cold opens from Six Feet Under could befall. I'm a bag of electricity and meat that wishes more than she has any right to; to matter to strangers.

I’m lucky though. That I'll admit. I am alive. I’m here, now, in this weird moment in time when anything is possible. When a woman can live alone on the side of a mountain milking dairy goats and then vlog about it to thousands of people in the same day. I get to be this new kind of asshole, a Selective Time Traveler. My home office is littered with draft horse collars and falconry equipment next to laptops and iPods. A government employee delivers records to my door I ordered from a small robotic rectangle that that connects to the internet in my sheep pasture. This shit is bananas.

And I get to be alive the same time Patrick Rothfuss is writing Day 3 and Anna Kendrick sang Still Hurting in The Last Five Years. The American Empire is still kicking in full force. I can buy a pony or percocet in the same day, which you could not do in any pinpoint on the timeline.  I get to watch Jennifer Lawrence dance with Bradley Cooper and know with absolute certainty that in this same lifetime that I am able to rewind their memories on flatscreens, they are both living the same small life —sitting down tonight in their respective homes or hotel couches—just as scared as I am of being surpassed by six-pack rings. They missed the Renaissance, too.

I’m nobody compared to the heroes and history books. I’ll never get to buy Rossalind Russel a drink. but unlike most of the people immortalized in ink or film, I’ve still here. I’m here and in this freakish time where war isn’t being waged outside my house and I don’t have to worry about being eaten alive by a saber-toothed tiger on my way to the bathroom.

My timing, frankly, is perfect.

I hope I get another day tomorrow. That sounds so corny, I know, but the fear is real. My fear of a small, short, life is exactly why I am trying to live a larger one. It's why I am on this farm. Why I am trying to keep it so desperately.  It’s easy to fool people into thinking you're brave when you’re just terrified of regret. Anything you ever thought I did out of courage was done because I can't stop seeing that six-pack ring floating in red water. Do not confuse that for fear. I do not fear death, but it is the avatar holding up the carrot on the stick.

I am grateful I don’t share the pride that haunts people who think they’ll live long enough to be thought less of by strangers. It’s why I didn’t hesitate to ride the horse I didn’t deserve and love a man that didn’t deserve me. This mess of a woman, who is writing to you sober as a judge, is the only person I ever want to be. If I’m lucky I get a little more time and I’ll stumble into the magic people who value all the hollow pieces inside me at the same time they make them go away.

I don’t wish that any of you reading this start waking up tomorrow scared or anxious. But I do hope you realize we’re all just dancing on borrowed time, in the slot we’ve been given by a drunk lottery, and it’s all wrapping up pretty quick. And I’m going to get up in the morning and figure out what it will take to keep the lights on, the house warm, the words loose, and the liquor cabinet stocked.

At least that’s the plan.


Blogger Kelsie said...

This is, hands and feet and all other appendages down, my most favorite thing you have ever written.

December 18, 2015 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

You know I've been reading your blog for some time, Jenna.

This is the best I've read here so far: excellent composition !

December 18, 2015 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger treebeardshollow said...

i agree..this is the jenna i cant wait to read,these are words for those of us who feel it too but are too chickenshit to say aloud, or in my case, yeah, that. well said lady J. well said.

December 18, 2015 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Mary Niedenfuer said...


December 18, 2015 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

"Holy shit" ...that's literally what I said when I got done reading this masterpiece. You rock Jenna

December 18, 2015 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Yep Wonderful!

December 18, 2015 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

(*I don't think you're an @sshole.)

December 18, 2015 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger EZ said...

"If the creek don't rise" is my usual phrase, having a similar connotation. I like your thinking, Woginrich. I do.

December 18, 2015 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Simply an exquisite burst of genius! What a thrill of a read. Thank you.

December 18, 2015 at 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa! Nice piece of writing. Funny how we have a "go to" phrase that we use on a regular basis. Mine is one I stole from a Stephen King novel. When folks ask, "How are ya doing?" I say, "Doing good..upright and sniffing the air".

December 18, 2015 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

Brava. No ones promised a tomorrow. Do your best today...

December 18, 2015 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

This is my favorite thing that I have ever read of your writings... and I love your writings!!

December 18, 2015 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

An amazing post from an amazing woman following her heart. Your life has never seemed selfish or foolish. Anyone who would think that is certainly not following their heart! Thank you for all you share with us, may your holiday be filled with love and joy.

December 18, 2015 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger lemon said...

That is a great plan...

December 19, 2015 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger psoupbetty said...

WOW, Jenna... Just WOW!! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading your raw, honest, ripped-from-your-heart-and-gut words of hope and fear and love and courage and detemination. I hope many years from now, when you are a feisty old woman, you read these words again and smile because you know that you really lived your life. Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise...

December 19, 2015 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

We are all the stars of our own horror story Jenna - But please know this; I keep the dream of owning a farm (however small) in my heart BECAUSE I visited YOUR farm. I have raised chicks in my bedroom in a townhouse (Because YOU said I should do what I felt was right) I've fermented my own wine in a closet because YOU gave me the crack of light that said 'sure you can!' And it is because of this Jenna that YOU yes YOU are ONE OF MY HEROS! Keep going!

December 20, 2015 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger RDW said...

Every morning when I wake up, I say to myself, "Hot damn - I woke up! Yes!!"

Just a slight variation on your morning mantra... but a tad more optimistic ;-)

Most people who are awake to the world around them feel the way you do. You're not alone.

December 20, 2015 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow! That was frickin' AWESOME!!!! I LOVE your plan....Thank you for penning such unbridled candor.

December 20, 2015 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Quote of the year: "It’s easy to fool people into thinking you're brave when you’re just terrified of regret."

Thanks for that, and everything else. And your timing isn't, frankly, shit - you're here when we all need to read you.

Have a wonderful holiday season, with warmth, lights and a full liquor cabinet.

December 21, 2015 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Lindy and Paul said...

It's been quite some time since I read your blog (just not reading any lately, but thinking of reviving mine), so I had forgotten how much I enjoy your beautiful writing. This was the perfect piece to read on the first day of 2016- thank you and Carpe Diem!

January 1, 2016 at 10:41 AM  

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