“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.”—Jon Blais (via rainydaysandblankets)
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful.
“We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns".”—Tom Waits
It’s that time of the year again - the time where we take stock of the high and low points of the preceding year and pledge to make something more of ourselves in the upcoming one. January is a blank canvas, an opportunity for reinvention, for washing out the old, and fostering in the new. Call it mundane or cliche, but we all do this to a certain degree. We are conditioned for it.
2012 was good to me. I started my roller derby career, played on the beaches of Costa Rica and sang my heart out at my very first Pearl Jam concert. I crawled further out of credit card debt and even managed to save a nice little chunk of money. I ran in several races and found a softball team. I lost some weight. I overcame some personal demons. It was a year of many new experiences with friends old and new.
Call me optimistic, but I have high hopes for 2013. In the past, I have made some grandiose resolutions and through diligence, most were attained. I’ve spent considerable time thinking about what is next for me and I’ve settled on goals surrounding simplicity. At this point in my life, it seems like simplicity is a far more complex and multi-faceted effort than the more elaborate goals I have made like trying out for roller derby and learning to skate. I want to do more with less. Eliminate unneeded items. Let go of past heartbreak and disappointment. Get outside. Make a plan for the future. Create. Write. Read. Love. I will say “yes” more often than “no”.
Happiest of new beginnings to you, friends and kind readers.
It was Ernest Hemingway who famously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”. Oh, Ernest. You make it sound so easy, but then, you were a scoundrel and scoundrels have the luxury at looking at their own lives for material. You were a womanizing drunkard. You were selfish and jealous of others talent. I still love you though.
“But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!”—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
My pre-adolescent years were nothing if not awkward. I was a tomboyish sort with ill fitting jeans and grubby hands. I had unruly hair and zero interest in learning how to use a curling iron. I had no sense of style, unless you consider baggy flannel shirts and high tops to be passable which I suppose, for the early to mid 1990s, it was. To make my situation even more cringe-inducing, I didn’t have any kind of verbal filter and every day was a new adventure in verbal diarrhea. Excruciating stuff, I tell you.
Fast forward to high school: My hair is still misbehaving, but I develop a natural curl that is easier to contend with. I also manage to get a better command of my verbal filter. I start to seek out female companions instead of my usual male cohorts and I befriend the beautiful and/or gregarious girls. You know the type: the ones that can pick and choose with ease. Their effortless degree of cool dictated an hierarchy of sorts - an unofficial hierarchy, but one nonetheless. With natural selection in action, it was predetermined that I would I would be the shadow friend, the friend that made them shine so much brighter. I was a supporting actor. I played the part well. I suppose that one could speculate on a variety of reasons why I clung to these types of girls. I sometimes feel sorry for myself, but I am made choice to stay.
During that time, boys would seek the attention of my friends and I was either the consolation prize or passed over completely. I had a handful of boyfriends, but most of my time is spent single or in unrequited, one-sided relationships.
Fast forward to present day: I’m far less awkward, I make better fashion choices, and I take pains to make sure that my verbal filter is on before I leave the house in the morning. More importantly though? I’m confident. I’m happy. I’m thriving. I was so content to be the shadow friend for so long, that I lacked the courage to be the star of my own life. Far from perfect, I am but a work in progress, forever striving to be more.
“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”—Ernest Hemingway (via -jamesfrancospenis)
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to having an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”—Into the Wild, John Krakauer
With summer neatly tucked away and hibernating until further notice, it is high time to get back on the proverbial horse and re-focus. I have been somewhat of a stranger on tumblr as of late, but I’ve been swept up in a flurry of activity. If you have been following the course of this blog, you will know that the summer season has long been a source of inspiration for me. I flourish in the warmth, the casualness, and how every day offers a degree of spontaneity. Even more so, I love the images and reminiscent feelings that only summer can conjure up. Fall ushers in the cooler temperatures and a gentle change of course. For me, fall is about embracing scarf and soup weather, apple cider, and the desire to hunker down for days on end with a book (or three). My energy takes a delicious, languid turn inward.
The advent of fall also means a change in how I see the world around me. Nichol, an old friend and author of The Scarf and Stripe, inspired me to consider a new way to celebrate the changing seasons. She references another blogger, Joanna Goodard of A Cup of Joe, and a challenge to her readers to step out of their comfort zones. Thus far, the weekly challenges include trying a new food, memorizing a poem, and giving up television. Check and mate. I’m clearly off to a late start, but I’m determined to give more of myself to reading, writing, and learning a new thing or two.
“Throughout August, with almost sadistic joy, I watched summer slowly die. I overplayed the records of my favorite hot-weather artists in an attempt to reach full saturation. On the first day of September I put those records away for months. August is a funeral. I already know the end of the story. August, the summer’s last messenger of misery, is a hollow actor.”—Henry Rollins: The Column! Summer Be Gone! - Los Angeles - Music - West Coast Sound (via rbateson)
The surge of August heat has encouraged water and lots of it - for drinking and for basking. My weekends have been all about venturing out and finding a new water source. Give me a lake, a river, an ocean, a reservoir. It doesn’t matter. As long as it is fit for swimming.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald (via highflyinbirdd)
Are you there, Tumblr? It's me, The Things Left Undone
Hello, kind friends and readers. It’s nice to see you again. I haven’t posted in so long that my writing muscles feel stiff and crotchety. In fact, I haven’t logged on in weeks and have had no way of knowing what my virtual friends and not-so-secret Tumblr crushes are up to. It isn’t fledgling interest that has kept me away, but rather a lack of time. I’ve been rushing through my work week in an effort to get to the weekend and in doing so, I have somehow lost track of the days. I am truly bewildered that it is already August.
Summer is at its peak in Oregon. It limped in slowly, took no time at all to heat up when it finally did arrive, but is now trying to evade me. Like many Oregonians, I live for summer in the Pacific Northwest. The summer months make the long, overcast months of winter and spring all worth it. With these last few precious weeks of summer left, I am doing everything I can to hold it in my grips and I alternate between basking in the sun and finding a cool breeze or spot of shade. I have barely covered my list of things to do and experiences to have, which is why I feel a bit put out about this particular summer. Picking fresh blackberries? Nope. Buying vegetables at the Farmer’s Market for dinner? Nope. My long-standing tradition of reading Dandelion Wine has not been fulfilled either. Since the death of Ray Bradbury, something feels a bit off. Ray seemed to be an eternal figure and I can’t wrap my head around it.
On a more personal note, this summer has seemed a bit sad to me. I feel lonelier now than I have in the past. I am starting to realize that my frequent geographical leaps make it difficult to find “my people”. For example: On any given night, I might ride my bike past a lively group of a friends gathered together on a front porch, drinking festive adult beverages, coupled with music and each other’s laughter. There is something warm and nostalgic that I love about this typical summer scene and I find my heart yearning for me to stop and join them. I wish that I had a front porch. I wish that I had a group of friends. What I do have is a husband, family, and a broad cross-section of friends - all of which I am appreciative of. I do, however, miss the feeling of camaraderie that can only come with the shared experience of being a part of a group. It’s my own fault that I cannot achieve this. I am forever cursed to roll up my sleeves for the next go around.
Sadness aside, I’m quite alright. It’s just a minor thing. In the grand scheme, my life is just as it should be….for now. I’m happy and healthy and have much to be grateful for. There will be more sunny days ahead and plenty of rivers to float on.
Can I call you Ray? I mean, I hate to be presumptuous, but I like to think that it would be perfectly acceptable to be on a first name basis with one of America’s most revered authors. Our relationship is and always has been one sided, but I suppose I feel a powerful connection to you, or at least to your work. I have lost count of the number of times I have lovingly held my trusty copy of Dandelion Wine, with its worn spine and dog-eared pages. Metaphorically speaking, Dandelion Wine saved my life. Sometimes I have to remind myself that Dandelion Wine isn’t my story, that you didn’t write it for an audience of one.
In the month’s time that you have been gone, I feel like I could have gotten myself together sufficiently so as to write a proper tribute. I have started a dozen or so farewell letters to you, but nothing sounds fitting. You were (are) an icon in the Science Fiction world and a national treasure in human form and any words that I summoned would fall flat. Even now, I am reaching awkwardly. I am a mere fan. That is all.
I will say, though, that I took the news of your death in a way that I don’t feel when other celebrities or notable figures die. Your life was long and courageous and genuine. Your books found their way to me later in life than I would have liked, but we came together nonetheless. Several of them sit on my bookshelf and I begrudge that I don’t dust them off as often as I should.
Thank you for the daydreams of green grass and humid nights and dank, impossibly dark ravines.
Who knew that famed 80’s actor/comedian Bob Goldthwait was so bitter? I certainly didn’t, or at least not until I watched God Bless America. It wasn’t a particularly good movie, but the point was apt. Frank, a down on his luck 40 something leads a lonely life and is hit with one stroke of bad luck after another. As an insomniac, Frank spends his nights watching television and not just any television, but the type that holds a bleak mirror up to our society and what we seem to value. What do we value? Reality television, faux celebrities like the Kardashians, singing and dancing competitions featuring “famous” people far past their 5 minutes, wealthy wives who spend their time shopping and being brutal to one another, ect, ect. When Frank reaches his breaking point, he takes his handgun and an unlikely teenage sidekick on a shooting spree and kills everyone who represents the rude, self-entitlement laden culture that he has come to despise. It’s like Idiocracy, but with more blood.
The theme of the movie was blatantly obvious, but it served as a good reminder of some of the appalling habits that I am eager to break. There was a scene in which Frank admonishes his teenage sidekick for her desire for notoriety after their spree begins. He lectured that nothing is experienced if it’s not recorded and shared with the world. Special moments in life cannot possibly happen unless they can be photographed for proof and/or boasted about. It’s not exactly rocket science, but the simple message hits close to home. We make personal experiences public and refer to even the most banal situations as “epic”. We post only the most flattering pictures of ourselves. We don’t censor ourselves. I, too, am guilty of this gigantic overshare to an uncomfortable degree and I wish nothing more than to be released from its binds.
I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 23. Facebook wasn’t something that I was overly concerned with until age 28 or 29 and I didn’t start my blog until I was 30. I am grateful for a youth and young adulthood that was altogether void of the internet. I could reinvent myself anytime I wanted to - my life was a slate that could wiped clean every day. I played catch, rode my bike, talked on the phone, snuck out, read, pined privately about boys, wrote long letters. I didn’t announce the particulars of a bad breakup to people on the periphery of my life or take pictures of my ice cream cones. I lived my life and shared the most intimate details of my triumphs and my failures with my journal and a circle of close friends.
At this point, I can’t wipe the slate clean because it’s a matter of public record. The breakfast I ate on my honeymoon or the concert I attended in 2010 is on display. This is my own doing and I can blame no one for my self-indulgence and need for validity. In an effort to gain some perspective, I decided that I would take a long break from facebook. When I take an honest look at the sheer number of hours I have lost on facebook, I cringe. Time is so precious and really, what did I gain from it?
Please do not read this post and feel that I am critiquing you. This post, like so many others, is all about my own demons. I don’t judge you for your own use of facebook. I would, however, like to challenge you to join me in my pursuit of human decency. You don’t have to refrain from your favorite mediums of social networking, but you can make a solid effort to have meaningful connections with people. Let’s put down our cell phones at meals and put our laptops away in the evenings in favor of a walk or bike ride. It is my hearts desire to live an authentic life, filled with little private moments that I can look back on with appreciation, knowing that those were my moments alone.
I must have done something pretty amazing because karma just high fived me today. After my long, oh woe is me post about my misadventure in ticket buying, my friend Mike offered me one of his two floor tickets. There may have been a few tears of joy. Oh, and possibly a happy dance for good measure.
Imagine my excitement when I saw a random facebook advertisement for an upcoming Pearl Jam concert. Pearl Jam. My band. A long-standing item on my life to-do list. Most of the time, I really hate how facebook and their staff of geniuses have me, my preferences and the desires of my heart pinned down so perfectly. How dare they track my every movement with their complex algorithms? How dare they target their advertisements so well? Annoyances aside, a small part of me appreciates that they know just want I want. First the Evil Dead Musical and now Pearl Jam?
Tickets went on sale online last Friday morning at 9 am. By 8:45, I was ready. Credit card in hand, mouse hovering over the refresh button every other minute or so……just in case. At 8:59, the “on sale” button went from red to green and the race was on. Pearl Jam rarely plays in the United States, opting instead for Europe in the summer months and I had anticipated that the demand would be high. I didn’t have my heart set on the best seats in the venue. Instead, I had my heart set on any seats that would have me.
I wasn’t, however, prepared to come out ticketless. I wasn’t prepared for scalper agencies like StubHub and TicketLiquidator to swoop in and purchase tickets in huge blocks. Even more heartbreaking was finding tickets posted on their websites for a going rate of $200 within just a few minutes. I couldn’t believe how unfair it all was. I was there! I had my credit card ready and willing to do my bidding! I am a long-time fan who was willing to drive 12+ hours to see a concert two states away and The Man beat me to it. As much as I love Pearl Jam, I just couldn’t fathom giving in to The Man and coughing up a nosebleed/balcony seat for a ticket that is now going for $396.
I was destroyed. All day long, I opted to fight back tears and rehashed the unfairness of it all rather than do my work. I felt as if my entire year was crumbling because of this one setback. It wasn’t until later in the day when I realized how silly I was. The entire state of Colorado was on fire and I was losing throwing a mini-tantrum in my head over a concert. First world problems indeed.
The desktop picture on my computer used to be a Post-It note that read “Remember: working here means that your dreams are slowly dying”. I liked the dark humor and in no way did I think that the message was aimed at me personally. At least not at first. Over time, whenever I fired up my computer for the work day or found myself staring at the screen while waiting for a client to answer the phone, I realized that the message was true. What was meant to be a lighthearted jab at my 9-5 self was actually a brutal reminder that I had become a desk jockey, watching the clock and holding my breath until payday. My screensaver eventually turned into a metaphorical mirror that I couldn’t look away from. For the sake of my sanity, I changed the message to something less daunting. The image of a 1980’s Bill Murray has proved to be much more soothing to the soul.
My primary and most often felt regret is my college degree. I certainly don’t begrudge my decision to pursue an education, but I am not a fan of the $30,000 piece of paper that will forever mock my bank account. What I considered to be a safe, “find a job anywhere” field has turned into a ball and chain commitment that lacks the personal reward that it used to. My Post-It note image only served to reinforce that feeling. I wish daily that I would have been more trusting of my abilities as a college freshman. I had forever wanted to be a writer and with proper guidance during my undergraduate career, I could have unearthed the writing voice that still wants to come out. I could have pursued journalism. I could have been Joan Didion. Instead, I am a non-profit 9-5’er with the hope of making the lives of my clients a bit better each day.
I appreciate the stability and the value of the work that I do. I have a steady paycheck and I could never begrudge the fact that I have a job (and a good one at that). I, do however, prefer my alternative reality though. I will forever daydream of a life that revolves around words, a typewriter, tablets full of half-executed ideas, and the hasty red marks of someone who knows how to edit properly. Reality can never take that away from me.
Would the 18 year old version of yourself like the person that you are now? This is a question that I consider often and one that I posed to the world of facebook earlier this afternoon. If you are being completely honest with yourself, you should be a bit uncomfortable when you dig down deep to find your own answer. My 18 year old self was excited and hopeful for things to come. In 1998, I was college-bound and determined. Even as a busy student, I found time to write long, carefully detailed letters to my friends and to recount meaningful events in my journal. I had an unquenchable desire to read and to learn. I could remember the most mundane of memories in perfect clarity right down to what I was wearing or the weather. I was even more of a perfectionist than I am now. Homework could not be turned in with a crease or worse: late. My closet, my cd collection, and my books were meticulously organized. People were drawn to my long, thick, curly red hair and the bolder of admirers would ask to touch it. (Side note: I now blame my young pride on the darkening of my hair color and the relaxation of the curls).
I also suffered from a crippling sense of inadequacy. I was innately drawn to strong, bright personalities - the kind of people who sparkled and filled up a room when they walked into it. I could keep up with them socially, but I always felt saddened by the space that I took up in their shadow. It grew tiresome being in the second or third string when it came to the attention of boys.
Naturally, like most teenage girls, I had a lot of feelings and I wore them on my sleeve for all to see. I couldn’t mask any kind of emotion, whether it be big or small. I loved so freely and felt crushed with disappointment on a regular, if not daily basis. I was so quick to love others that I didn’t take the time to question if I was putting myself in a position to be let down. Everything was experienced so viscerally. Words could cut me to the bone with a butter knife, but I was alive. I truly was.
At 32, I have more than just one or two heartbreaks under my belt. I am more guarded with whom I let in and what I share with the world. I realize that I might come across as being more aloof (at least in person). This is not for a lack of caring, but more out of a need for self-preservation. The vulnerabilities are still very much present in the nooks and crannies of my life and I take care to let them out when necessary. I spend more time in the selection of people that I surround myself with. The years have not taken away the fondness I felt for my old friends, but I don’t seek out the same personality traits that I used to. I am just now getting to a point where I can no longer stand the accumulated dust of past disappointments. The last year or so has been a big victory for attending to such matters. Out with the old! There is no more room for it!
Most importantly, I am still hopeful and excited. At 18, I was very much like a squirmy puppy and I am fortunate to feel that way. While hiking this weekend, I told my husband that it is difficult for me to “just go for a few more minutes” because I always want to see what’s around the next bend. Much like life, I am forever looking ahead. I am a sculptor, finely shaping the person that I am meant to be…..a slow and deliberate work in progress. At the end of the day, I like to think that my 18 year old self would like me.
"…..It struck me that when you’re asked your favorite day of the year, there’s a certain hubris in giving any day in June as your answer. It suggest that the particulars of your life are so terrific, and your command over your station so secure, that all you could possibly hope for is additional daylight in which to celebrate your lot". Amor Towles, The Rules of Civility
I am sad, friends and kind readers. I have been wrestling with a difficult decision for some time and I pulled the metaphorical trigger. There is no going back and despite the sadness I feel now, I am relieved that I am no longer torn to such a degree. Details to follow, but first, I need adequate time to lick my wounds.
“In Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound”. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards, it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.”—Don Draper, Mad Men (via 4788)
Oh, Monday. Why can't you be more like your brother, Friday?
The weekends lay before me, like a languid, never ending event. So rife with expectation and possibility. What do I do instead of carping the diem? I log on to facebook, tumblr and pinterest and then before I fully realize what is happening, the weekend is over. Social media is such a fickle, tricky beast. How can I be social in real life if I am spending all of my time being social via the internet?