Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Sacred Tradition: A Christmas Post

Christmas morning, my father’s voice is deep and resounding but he is not the one who wakes us.

We sleep, huddled and crowded, too close for California nights, even in winter, but it’s the only way to make it feel like Christmas. It was 75 degrees last night, but we had hot chocolate all the same; it’s tradition. The small bedroom has only ever gotten smaller with each addition to the family, and it cannot accommodate three: clothes scatter the floor because putting them in the hamper is just too hard, books and papers from the semester not being quite over are merely litter, and every drawer or container is in some state of having been opened, or not having yet been closed. But the three of us would not have it any other way. Who would we be, if we were not us?

Rachel’s deep breathing makes it impossible to sleep until staying up any longer is simply not an option. Time ticks, and I use my iPod to listen to Nat “King” Cole—the voice of Christmas—to keep me thinking of how it feels to be back home with these, my favorite people, for just a moment of the year. Then, as Caitlin, who sleeps beside me in the bed, turns over one last time, I finally fall asleep with the knowledge that this will be over too soon: the mess, the hot blankets, the cramming of three bodies into two beds, and what it feels like to be here again.

The white door sticks as it’s opened: like paint not given time enough to dry, though it’s been dried since we repainted the room years ago. It wakes me up, because my music has stopped, and I wonder what time it is. It is still dark—too dark to gauge time by. My mother’s voice comes through the curtains covering Caitlin’s bed—the bed I share—and she tells us what time it is. Softly. On Christmas morning, her voice is soft. And without seeing her, I can imagine her dark, straight, peppering hair and the cherry-brown eyes she gave me, and the freckles she earned from a childhood out in the sun.

It takes a moment for Rachel’s slow, deep breathing to puncture as she wakes. The lack of steady breathing wakes Caitlin, and my heart flutters—a flutter I’ve only ever felt Christmas morning. Suddenly, we are cold, and we drag our eclectic array of blankets out of bed with us: blankets have always defined us. Rachel’s is one-side floral, other side blue fabric covered with punctuation marks, something you could only be given for free; Caitlin’s is a soft brown blanket, stolen from its intended use in the living room; mine is a worn lilac and off-white down, which has lost everything useful apart from its sentiment of familiarity. We creep as silently as we can—reverently—to our parents’ room. This we have always done—a sacred tradition—until we are called from their bedroom to the front room.

My father is in the living room, putting on his favorite Christmas music: the Roche’s “We Three Kings” CD, which we know by heart, and coincidentally is a singing group of three sisters. We’re warm again, but shivering from excitement. Then his voice comes, and it echoes in our hearts—the only sound that could or ever will. “Alright now,” he says. And we slowly make our way from our parents’ back bedroom to the front room. Before we round the corner, with ‘Star of Wonder’ playing in the background, we can smell the pine tree—another sacred and unbreakable tradition—and it smells just how Christmas ought to smell, and its scent is clean, and fills every piece of us. I push Rachel and Caitlin ahead of me toward the living room because I am oldest, and this is the way I have always done it. I imagine the living room, adorned for Christmas with two-decades-worth of accumulated decorations, enough for ten rooms, but only put to use in one; the curse of a small home.

Wrapped in our blankets, my father finally sees us round the corner and he doesn’t smile, he doesn’t speak again until later. But we wait for when he will. And as I take my place in our family circle—we begin our Christmas tradition. And I think, looking at my family, that perhaps a moment, no matter its end, can be enough.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What I've been thinking about lately.

Western Humanities is doing terrible things to me.  It makes me want to leave again--go somewhere (anywhere).  Who in heaven's name could be ready EVER to start life, when there is SO much to see?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Let's Talk - Written August 3rd, 2010 and re-posted due to Lisa's prodding

The sun is setting again, as it always does. The living room is pitch black, except for my computer screen,the light coming in through the window, which only gets half way across the room, and the few things it reaches which are illuminated: a slight silver.

A few moments ago, the clouds in the sky were a nice hot pink. My Dad likes when the sky lights up at sunset. He also likes the moon at any time of the day or night, and whenever I'm away and we talk, the first thing we discuss is the weather. There's something comforting to knowing that we'll discuss the weather first, and always--like an English ice-breaker before any real conversation. It's the most important thing, discussed at length, and then pressed to the bottom of the rest of our conversation, like padding.

In high school, a friend of mine told me that I made conversation an art form. It was his way of saying I could create a conversation out of anything. He was right: I can. It's meaningless to me whether it was a compliment or merely something to say (I've ruled out that it may have been an insult, as Josh Tarquinio was never one to insult people--least of all to their faces.) because it helped me realize it. But in high school, I wasn't fully aware of it.

There are a lot of forms of talking. Mindless talking I've never been particularly fond of. I'm not very good at chatting. That's what people do in semi-large groups at bars, or before church on Sunday. 'Chatters' just want to know what's up, what you've been up to, and what you're planning on doing. I am not a chatterer because I don't really have anything to 'chat' about. I'm also not a gossiper. Gossiping is a form of chatting where people talk about other people, telling stories about them, (scandalous or otherwise) that are either true or false--either works. Although, I sometimes am intrigued by mindless gossip, I feel bad spreading it and so it usually ends with me. I'm also not a nervous talker. Nervous talkers are people who talks to fill the empty space. A rule of thumb: only the first of every four sentences out of a nervous talker's mouth is ever of any value, the rest are merely ways of restating the first. I do not pretend to have covered a comprehensive list of the forms of 'talking'--I'm sure you can think of more--but these are the ones that come to mind first.

Some people are great talkers: whether by chatting or gossiping. I am not. Try either with me, and said 'conversation' will last about 2 minutes. I will proceed by telling you that nothing is really new. Yes, I'm still working at the same place. No, I don't go back to school until August. Yes, Caitlin is going into high school this year. And then, I'm done.

But there is a higher art of talking: the art of conversation. I am a conversationalist, and thereby interested in anything that can effectively be brought into and linked to the conversation at hand. (Also, being a conversationalist means I am biased to thinking conversation is a higher art--you are free to disagree, which I would be glad to discuss with you.)

There are some wonderful aspects to full conversations. Those, I will discuss later. There are also some . . . drawbacks . . . to being fully convinced--as I sometimes am--that conversation is the only way to communicate.

To discuss this further, I must bring your thoughts back to chatting. Even as a conversationalist, I recognize that there is nothing wrong with chatting. This post is not a knock on those who 'chat'. I much prefer people communicate through chatting than 1.) not communicating at all, 2.) yelling, 3.) layers of repeated misunderstandings. And anyway, I think most of the chatterers I've met (who aren't simultaneously nervous talkers--which is a really really awful combination) are very interesting people. For as long as they enjoy talking about their life and the things they're up to, I genuinely enjoy listening.

Examples. My best friend is more of a chatterer than I am; I think it's what she learned how to do first. What with 8 siblings, I'm sure her family was always discussing what was new with everyone. It was necessary. And there's a lot of value in 'catching up.' If it were up to me (thank heavens it isn't), I would have wonderful conversations with people whose names I would never find out. Chatting is how you find out what people are doing in life. It's socially expected for you to chat with people. After spending hours with a friend, my mother will often question me on what's new in their life. Most of these questions I fail to answer, and in her disappointment and slight annoyance that I spent 7 hours with the person and can't seem to answer a single question, I realize, 'I spent 7 hours with that person and I can't answer a single question.' Their favorite cat could have died, and I wouldn't know. They could be moving to Alaska in 3 days, and I'd have no way of keeping in contact because I didn't even know they were moving. These are not favorable situations to be in.

I am also aware that some people just have more to say than I do. They lead more interesting lives. My friend Janice is one of the best story-tellers I know--she can make a full story out of almost any occurrence and make the third time you've heard it just as entertaining as the first. She always had so much to say to me, and apart from loving every minute of it, I was consistently interested in what she had to say. We weren't having a conversation, she was telling me about her life and there are a lot of important things about listening.

For a lot of people 'chatting' for hours on end becomes a bit meaningless. I mean, after all, what do you really know about a person when all you really know is what they've been up to? I think you learn loads more about someone by having a real conversation with them. Conversation opens up a lot of doors, but there is a sort of art to it. All conversations should begin with 'padding' or 'flow' material (also known as 'chatting'). You just can't start a good conversation with out a little bit of chatting. People tend to take advantage of conversational padding, and they often dismiss it as unnecessary--especially when talking to an old, or good friend. But it also acts like cream to a conversation, it keeps it thick, and full, but soft and flowing. My father and I start with the weather, or random pieces of unimportant information like how dirty the carpet at the movie theatre is. It gets things started, it even sets a mood. But you're not meant to stay in one place--the chatting is meant to progress. My friend Heidi, who is one of my favorite people to frequently converse with, is a question-asker. She can ask you what color your dining room walls are and soon you're having a conversation. Friends Melissa and Lisa from London are also conversationalists: Melissa enjoys conversing about people--not gossiping, there's a difference--she likes gathering her information from things she's learned about the people she knows and building off of that, so she might first talk about an interesting person she met; Lisa and I seem to gravitate toward literature or food and as conversational padding, we might first discuss what we've most recently read or ate. This is important: this does not mean that the whole conversation that follows is about people, or literature or food, or how dirty carpets can become. It is simply the padding for the conversation.

So what's the point? Well, I was thinking originally--what am I good at and why the heck does it matter? The only thing I'm very good at is conversation. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, but it matters to me because it's all I'm good at. Following? For me, having a good conversation is as therapeutic as a good cry (without having to use as many tissues) or sitting in a hallway (without the need for a hallway).

But besides that, conversations make you think. And hopefully they help you work things out in your head so you're ready to change, to be better. Some people, like my good friend Jake--who I criticized today for this--don't like my tendencies to prod for conversation. I do that to him, mostly because he's the most interesting person I've ever met and continued to find interesting after six years (apart from my sister, Rachel, who becomes more interesting to me by the day--in a good way). I think he fails to realize that my questions are not to force him to think (although, they are, actually--so, I take that back), but to start a conversation. I like having conversations with him because he's one of my favorite people. I like making him think because he says the most worthwhile things when he's thinking. Like nuggets of conversational gold. When and if I get these gold nuggets out of him, I physically smile. I criticized him today because, through my prodding, he told me he no longer wanted to think about it (he does this to me often--which is cruel--hence the unnecessary criticism). He said if he continued talking about it he'd thinking about it all day. My first thought was: why should I care? My second thought was: would that be so bad? My third thought was: actually thinking about things, getting to the root of them, is what I do day in and day out--its exhausting, yes, but it's what moves us to change. My fourth thought was: I'm ready for Jake to change. He isn't. Well point. He ended up telling me what he was thinking about, by the way, which I count as a win. Sometimes criticism works, but only if used sparingly.

Sometimes you meet people you just want to talk to for the rest of your life.

One day, the world will see the beauty in the art of conversation. Here I am, to begin pointing it out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bottom of my Heart

"Blue like the winter snow in the full moon / Black like the silhouettes of the trees / Late blooming flowers lie frozen underneath the stars / I want you to remember me that way." - Frozen Charlotte Natalie Merchant


I don't know.  Is there every anything to say, really?

I haven't been thinking about anything much lately, except feelings.  Those are dangerous--feelings, I mean.  And whenever I begin a writing session it turns into a long list of complaints.  Well, I don't feel like complaining

I'm ready to return to school, despite that I'll miss my family, and my friends--though at home they are few.  Going back to school is what I need to do, but I feel like I've made a lot of progress with some of my relationships at home, and I'm afraid that leaving them will be like abandoning them.  Most of the time, even when it comes to people, I want to keep everything.

I've let go of a lot of people over the years, realizing that I just can't have everyone.  But more and more God is teaching me that I can't really have anyone.  That's a hard lesson to learn; a harder one to accept; the hardest one to live.  You can't make anyone do anything, even if you want it out of the bottom of your heart, which I realized is a place that only exists in me for some people.  Some people never get 'bottom of my heart' material, you know?  This is one of those stupid metaphors that I see in my head to explain how I feel about things.  I'm sorry.

Your heart.  Capable of being broken, torn, shredded, crushed and blasted into oblivion a thousand different ways and by just about anyone.  Also capable of being heavy, or empty, open, or closed, devoid of all feeling, content, completely and utterly full, or, in some rare cases, overflowing.  Assuming your heart exists at all, in this metaphor, and that it is filled with love, opposed to dripping with hate, jealousy, or disdain, then maybe you can understand what I mean by 'bottom of my heart.'  There are some people you will dig to the depths of your heart to pull out grade A material for.  There are others who simply skim the surface.  And, lets be honest, some people--even most people, probably--who don't get any piece of your heart at all.  It's nothing personal.  Maybe you just don't know them very well, or maybe they just aren't the type of people who require heart--perhaps they only require time.

There are the people like me--born with an open heart, full with love, and ready to give.  I used to give heart to everyone, unaware that you could get by in life without being sincere all the time.  That, too, was a difficult lesson to learn.  But sometimes people take without asking, and over the years, I learned my lesson.  I've learned to close my heart and search for the people who deserve any piece of it.  Unfortunately, not many people do.

But there is always one person who slips through the cracks.

He got in before I learned how to close my heart and now I can't get him out.  For him, I don't just keep my heart open, but I dig down to the bottom of it and come up with some truly rare gems.  It's not like he deserves it, but I give it anyway.  You know why?  Because for him, it's the only place I feel anything, and I just can't be objective.  He's always got to the bottom of my heart, without any real consent from me.  And I don't think any of that is particularly romantic, because it's not a romantic kind of love.  Romance is somewhere in the middle of your heart: deeper than civility, respect, or even consideration, and not deep enough for this.  At the bottom of my heart is the ability to forgive.  The ability to see past weakness.  The ability to see potential, and greatness, and hope.  The ability to see good.  I used to do that for everyone, now I only do it for him and I take everyone else as they come.

There are certainly people who have gotten to the bottom of my heart the hard way, they've gone through all the layers and they earned their place down there at the bottom (as it were).  He never did earn his place.  So why did he get to keep it, while everyone else somehow got pushed out?  Is it because I'm stubborn?  Because I'm one of those girls who can't see what's bad for them even if it's staring them in the face?  I never thought I was.  Who knows; anyone can be bad for you.  But sometimes there are reasons you endure.

I know I have a hard time letting people into my heart now.  Most of the time I even keep my family outside of it because it's just too hard to let them in, or to try to explain.  But that doesn't mean I want to learn the lesson--I still don't want to learn quite yet that no one is mine to keep.

But my heart--anyone's heart for that matter--is worth the fight.  Even if people steal from the bottom, skim off the top, or throw away everything you've ever given them.  I learn a little more every day what it means to give, or to feel.  When you can give from the bottom of your heart, sometimes you can just feel when people really really love you back, like you can see straight through them.  And it's hard to see through someone you love and know they don't love you back quite as well as you love them.  But if you really do love them, you'll give them all the time it takes for them to feel as deeply as you do.  Because, don't you owe that to someone who's gotten to the bottom?  Don't you owe that to someone who you've never been able to banish from the bottom, no matter how hard you've tried?

Because the moment you know they love you the way you love them is the moment your heart overflows.

And nothing's better than that.  Is there?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Turning 21

I turn 21 tomorrow.

In the last three-hundred and sixty-five days, here are some things I’ve done:

1. Skinny-dipping.  No real explanation needed.
2. Traveled to Europe on my own.  I traveled up to Scotland with Jackie and Julene, and out to Italy with Rachel and Elsa.  I also traveled around Northern England and to Paris with everyone at the London centre.  But to and from Europe, I traveled alone.  This was me, overcoming my fear of the unknown.
3. Lived in London for 3 ½ months.  This is part of a larger goal I have in mind for my life.  Before I settle down somewhere I want to live in several different places for enough time to get the feeling of the place—the pros and cons of living there.  I feel I can’t make an educated decision about where I want to raise a family or live out my life until I’ve experienced several different living situations and circumstances.  London was one such experience; one such circumstance.
4. Went to Versailles.  Ever since I learned of Versailles I’ve wanted to see it.  Because I never believed I’d ever go abroad, I didn’t spend much time thinking about the places I wanted to go or the things I wanted to see, but Versailles I can specifically remember thinking, ‘I want to see that.  I want to go.’  And I did.
5. Traveled to Italy. I wanted to go to Italy, of course I wanted to go.  But by the end of the London trip, I was ready to go home.  Everyone else was going home, but I was going to Italy with two girls I hardly knew.  It was a hard trip, and when I think back on it I feel I went it alone.  But I think of Rome; and I don’t think of much else with quite as much natural fondness.  I realize that while Versailles was the only thing I consciously mentioned to myself, ‘I want to see that,’ the Coliseum and Michelangelo’s Peita were two things that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since the day I saw them.  My heart wanted to see them, but my head never let me admit it.  Going to Italy may be the best thing I ever did for myself.
6. Started Running.  I’ve always hated running—always.  But I’ve proven to myself it can be done.  Just a short run will suffice, and I don’t have to hate it.   For several months I did it every single day.  Now I do it two to three times a week.  But if it’s all the same to you, I’ll call it the same: I’ve started running.
7. Began making Cinnamon Rolls.  Cinnamon rolls may be, hands down, my all-time favorite food.  I search for the perfect cinnamon roll everywhere I go.  But so far, I’ve yet to find it.  A while back it became a life-long endeavor to be able to make the perfect cinnamon roll and a perfect apple pie.  I know I’ve got my whole life to get it right, but I’ve started.  I’ve also finally been introduced to the making of an apple pie, which will be a longer and harder road, I fear, but one worth taking, I have no doubt.
8. Got my Driver’s License.  I know!  I’m turning 21.  I got it in May—almost didn’t make it!  But I did, and now I feel I’ve had it a long time.  A lot of things got in the way, but my right of passage has finally been passed.
9. Lost 10 pounds. This is, as of today at 2:45pm I finally lost 10 pounds.  I know it’s hard to believe with all the baking I’ve been doing, but I have.  I wanted to prove to myself it could be done, and I have.
10. Made Dinners.  I decided when I came home this year that I needed to be more useful than I’ve been and that we also needed to be healthier.  Not everything I make his healthy (see note about baking), but I made a dinner from a new recipe every week.  I’m expanding my repertoire, as well as giving my parents a break once a week.
11. Made Calls.  I used to hate calling people on the phone.  I mean HATE it.  I would do anything to get out of it.  Since I got my job where I was forced to call people constantly--banks, clients, other attorneys, etc.--I had to get over that fear pretty quickly.  And once I really started working at it, I did get over that fear.  There is one less thing in the world that hinders my ability to communicate.

Last year after turning twenty, I wrote down my goals for the year, or for life.

I wrote, “I want to write something quaint; I want to write a story that means something to people. Something that mends people, something that makes people think, something that gives them hope, something that inspires them to be better than they are.

“I want to get out of this routine, this rut, this inability to expand my personality—who I am, what I will do, who I will be. There are good things, things I don’t want to change about myself, but I limit myself too, and I think that’s unnecessary.

“Lastly, I’ve always wanted to travel. Whenever I told someone, the response would be, “Yeah, me too”—as if it weren’t really possible. But I’ve always felt that experience was necessary to the person I want to be.”

As for the first, I don’t know—I don’t think I have.  This year has not been a year for writing.  But it has been a year for many other things, and I’m beginning to get back into my writing the way I think I should, with a few added experiences and points of view.  And what’s important is that even though in some ways I’ve lost my desire to write, writing is still what I want to do.  It’s just not the only thing that makes me happy anymore, but it’s still the way I love to express myself; it’s still what means most to me.

I think going to Europe, and really working hard at making every day a little different and trying to find more things that make me happy has helped me get out of the rut I was in last summer.  And although getting out of the 'rut' that routine creates will be a life-long battle, it's one I intend to win. 

And the last—I have now done a little bit of traveling, and I was right.  The experience was necessary to the person I wanted to be—and I’m closer to that person now than I was before.  I think it was the most selfish thing I've ever done, and I always felt that being selfish was wrong.  But I also think it's one of the most worthwhile things I've ever done, and maybe I'm realizing little by little that wanting things isn't always selfish.  It's closing your eyes to everything else BUT what you want that's selfish.  And working toward what you want isn't wrong unless you refuse to see and help the people beside you.


I also wrote last year that “maybe all the things that I [had (or hadn’t) gone through] in the year of 19 were to get me uncomfortable enough to change, lonely enough to leave, and ready enough to get out.”  This I still think is one of the more insightful things I’ve ever realized about myself.  Why do I have to sink so low before I realize that it’s up to me to swim to the surface if it he surface is what I want?

I want to believe that I can accomplish whatever I desire to accomplish.

I want to write something worth publishing.
I want to learn French.
I want save up to go to Greece.
I want plan and save up to go on a trip to the South with my sisters.
I want to find a way to live in New England.
I want to find a career I feel I was made for and work toward it.
I want to read 50 books.
I want to draw design ideas for Marissa to create.
I want to bake/cook something new every week.
I want to keep in touch with all my friends—even when I’m away.

I have three-hundred and sixty-five days.


Thursday, May 13, 2010


I just needed to say something, but I didn't know what to say.

I think I write most when I'm disappointed in myself, and willing to admit it.  I can never feel good about myself too long before something reminds me of how imperfect I am.  To be completely honest, I probably wouldn't be comfortable in my own skin if I were confident or comfortable with who I was--who I am, I mean.  If things were bright and dandy all the time, I'd wonder what was going on.

I always think confidence is so attractive in people; I love people who are confident.  I gravitate toward them.  I think sometimes people think I'm confident.  Oh, they're wrong.  But I'll let them believe what they like.

Here's the thing: when I was in High School I went through this phase in my life where I cared about EVERYTHING.  I felt like if I cared about one thing I had to care about everything passionately, and DO something about it.  I used to care about my country, I used to care about my friends, about my religion, about making people happy and impressing them and doing something worthwhile and effective and constructive.  It nearly drove me out of my head.  As time went on, I came not to care about anything unless it was easy to care about.  And now I don't care--I don't care about anything.

Sometimes, when your head knows what it wants, it has to force your body to just go through the motions so your heart will care again.  I want my heart to care again.  I've let down a lot of people--especially my friends, and I think my family too, and I think God.  I'm working on the God part, and I think little by little maybe everything else will fall into place.  I just stopped putting any effort into anything and I felt like I needed saving until I realized that there's no one here.  No one here cares enough, or knows enough about what I'm going through to save me--and really, why should they have to?--so I told myself, 'You're just going to have to do it yourself.'  Funny.

I don't feel sorry for myself--I think I need to clarify that.  But you know when you're stuck in a rut and you feel like the only thing you need people to care about is the only thing they're not asking you about?  And you can't TELL them--that would defeat the purpose.  But, you know if they asked, you'd probably just cry.  I'm not ready to answer any of those questions right now, and I'm just not confident enough with myself to admit the answers anyway.  Or sometimes there are certain people you wished cared, and they just don't and it's like someone is trying to send you the message, 'They're not right for you right now' and you keep hanging on thinking, 'No, I can make this work.'  But you can't.

Well, that's what I've been thinking about lately.  I'm trying to make my heart care again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not Writing

I had this great idea.

I only have a part time job, right?  That was the idea.  I wanted to work part time, so I could write more.  The problem: I haven't been.  I haven't been writing for our Sunday School Writing Personal Histories class, I haven't been blogging more often than normal, and I certainly haven't been writing my stories.  Which--might I say again--was the idea, in the first place.

So I thought--I'll make myself.  I'll FORCE myself to do something productive for 8 hours of the day.  I'll go to work for 4, come back home and then spend 4 hours either editing pictures from my trip abroad so I can get a step closer to actually scrapbooking, OR I'll write.

'Lady Luck.doc' is open, but that's about as far as I've gotten.

I've decided it's because I don't have any motivation.  I told Rachel that I needed her to help me get motivated, but even though she asks every once and a while if I've written lately, it's not really helping.  I'm not sure if I've stopped writing because I got out of the habit while I was in London, because it just doesn't make me happy anymore, because I don't feel like there's anything to write about, or if it's really down to the motivation.  All worthy of some further digging.

But I know the answer, and I don't want to admit it because there's nothing I can do to fix it.  I need space--a desk preferably.  I need a place to spread out all of my papers, I need 8 hours unbothered, unquestioned, unstepped-over.  Then, once I'm in--I'm good.  I can keep going for hours, for days, for months--until its over or until I voluntarily leave.  It takes work.  I'm at home somewhat alone for 2-3 hours every afternoon (my Dad sits in the other room, relatively unheard and unseen), so I could start, but it's just hard because I know that in 2-3 hours I'll have to clean up.  And that's just not long enough.  That's not good enough.  I've been offered Caitlin's desk (but not by Caitlin, so what good is the offer, really?), but it's so small, and it's not mine.  I'd have to clean that up, too.

But I'm complaining, and what good has that ever done me?
Answer: None.

I need to get out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Valentine's Day

I'm playing the song game with my sister.  Bruce Springsteen's "Valentine's Day" was my latest choice, and I wonder what it would be like to live in the world that the song sounds like.  It sounds like the 50s in the middle of a field of tall grasses, with the car radio playing just a few feet away--everything in that golden light that only lasts a few moments.

Caitlin said she hated that time of day, because it meant the day was ending.  It's one of my favorite times of day, because its sweet--and like everything sweet, it just can't last.  But you'll see it tomorrow, and the next day, and every day until the day you die.  And it's all right it doesn't last, and it's all right that its ending.  Everything ends, eventually.

I've come to realize that it doesn't bother me when things end, because I'd rather have the sweet memories of golden light than forever without change.  The sun overhead is bright, and it illuminates everything and it makes the world a beautiful place and it has its many uses, yes, but there is no mystery, there is no taste or smell to the day, there are no memories made.  When the sun sets, the earth cools off and the light breeze picks up, it seems that time slows down and everything is natural; and it feels like Springsteen's "Valentine's Day."
(Picture taken by Keith Vertanen)

Friday, March 19, 2010

And Babylon, Too.

I listen to Babylon; it seems to yell louder than ever. Is it possible to live within its beautiful walls, without looking too closely, without wanting what they want? There are so many things I want to be; there are so many things I need to do. And I look to Babylon and wonder if it can offer me a solution. The people seem nice enough; they seem happy enough. Who's to say that they don't know happiness? Who's to say that anything--any way of life--actually brings happiness? It seems to me, it doesn't matter what type of life you lead, you'll still have your good days and your bad days. They don't seem any sadder than I am, day in and day out.

I still don't know the purpose of everything. The way I've decided to live my life doesn't seem to have changed that. I suppose no one could know the purpose of EVERYTHING, anyway. Don't get me wrong, the way I live is a decision already made. I'm not re-thinking it, I'm not regretting it, I'm not giving it up for anything. I'm at peace with it. The decision by no means has given me much comfort, I still feel as lost as the next person. But there's something to having made the decision at all.

Some days I have my doubts; but the moment someone tries to question me on them, I stand firm. It’s like when a friend says something awful about your sister. They’re not allowed to do that—only you are. It’s the same about my life. I can say as many rotten things about my life as I damn well please, but the moment you start, I’ll be defensive. Just because I don’t always act on what I know I want doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean you can question me. It certainly doesn’t mean you can look at me like I’m a child. I’m not a child. Childish, maybe—you can argue that on your own time, if you like. But no one could accuse me of not giving everything a considerable amount of thought. There’s nothing I haven’t considered. This doesn’t make me a better person; most of the time it just makes me an uncertain one.

Babylon smells sweet; you roam down the narrow streets to find where it comes from. You’re not being lured, it’s just one of those perfect days where you have the morning to do whatever you wish and no one is around to tell you otherwise. Babylon has plenty of things worth following, and I realize that living life is like trying to sing a hymn; you can never hit any of the right notes. Most of them are too high, some of them are too low and the ones that are in between take you by surprise, and you miss them all together. Just when you get to the verse where you think you’ll be able to hit half the notes, the song is over and it turns out you’d been looking at the wrong hymn all the time, anyway. Whatever, the words didn’t really mean much to you. I’d rather be listening to the Beatles, or Patty Griffin. I’d rather have a free morning to myself where I might roam the streets of Babylon, simply searching for something I might never find.

Even if you find what you’re looking for, how do you decide what’s most important? It seems to me, that the moment you decide, you realize that it’s not enough. There’s always something you aren’t doing, or aren’t doing right, or aren’t doing enough of. There’s always something you are doing that you shouldn’t be, something you should be better at, something you should give up all together. I know the answer you’d give me. But it’s when you know what you should do that life is the hardest, because knowing the answer to the question is so disheartening when the answer seems to do you no good. It pacifies me, but it never really settles the question, and I’m tired of merely being put at bay. It seems to me, that there are rarely any answers anyway. Nothing ever makes much sense, and is it so wrong of Babylon to try to put the pieces together?

They’re making a lot of loud noises outside my door, while I try to sleep and I think of the old world and their culture and that’s where they came from and they don’t know any better. I don’t know better, either. The deadbolt on the door rattles slightly, and a draft comes up from underneath the door. This is the place where we live; this is our home. How can we leave it, just because they’re putting the puzzle together wrong? Sometimes I feel like leaving this place would be like betraying it. Other times I think, is it so bad to live the life you want? No, this is home. They look up at me and I wonder what they’re thinking. I wish I had the answers, but I simply don’t. I, myself, am desperately trying to figure out what’s important in this life. There are some rare moments when it all seems so simple, but I always manage to muddle it up within a few hours.

I think, if I could just make a difference, none of this would be so bad. Do I give up on Babylon before I’ve begun, although I know I’ll lose? I keep waiting for the most important moment of my life. Not the climax—I don’t believe in climaxes—not the climax, just the turning point. The point where I’ll look back and think, ‘That was it.’ I think I’ll get to a point somewhere down the line when I’ll realize that it never happened. Then what? Will Babylon crumble? Do I give up then? Or should I never begin? Babylon might be lying; Babylon might be tricking me; Babylon might have within it all the evils of the world. But nothing was ever found in Babylon that wasn’t first found within the deepest part of the human soul; and beside that deepness is the light that accompanies it. It always comes back to the center; and Babylon is a bad metaphor for evil; it’s only a metaphor for human existence. When you give up on your search for the center of Babylon, it’s the same as giving up before you’ve started. So, if it’s all the same to you, I’ve decided.

I won’t give up on Babylon. I just can’t. I don’t own a summer cottage there, I don’t OWN anything. But I look to Babylon and I wonder if the people living within its walls are willing to change—they don’t need to move to change. Are they willing to work for themselves? Are they willing to think for themselves? Are they willing to look to a person like me and see that I haven’t got anything figured out, nor will I ever, but does that mean there isn’t more to be had in this world? Isn’t there more to search for? And all of you in Zion, why have you banished yourself from the world you live in? Why have you stopped your search for the center of Babylon? You won’t do any good out there. You fester like a sore; you corrupt yourselves simply by trying to live outside the fight. It’s not so bad within the city walls; all you need to do is keep your eyes to the clouds; even Babylon’s walls could not hide heaven. Are you afraid of those who aren’t just like you? Are you afraid they’ll make life difficult? New blood is hard to live with, sure, but it’s not wrong, and it’s not bad. Even the vineyard keeper knew that.

And since when was life supposed to be easy? Who would want it to be, when we’ve only got this one? I don’t want to be unhappy or miserable, but work me hard—get everything you can out of me, because you only get me once, and you only get me for a day, or a week, or a few years at best. It’s not that I’m going anywhere, I’m not moving. I’m just . . . changing. No, I’ve decided. I may not have many mornings left to roam the streets of Babylon, searching for the sweet smell of its center, but I listen, I listen intently. I listen to Babylon; it seems to yell louder than ever. Sometimes, I think I hear an answer.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Food and Fire


“You look like death.”

“Oh, go away.”

He sat down at the kitchen table. (Well, actually, the only table we’ve got.) “Have you been writing?”

“No. Why should I?”

He shrugged, then, but I could tell that he wanted to answer the question. But it would only make her angrier.

“Have you got food for me?”

She growled, but I knew she couldn’t resist anything he asked for, and she went to the cabinet and put a plate of food in front of him. She’d saved it. She’d even put it in the cabinet over the stove so it would stay warm.

He had spent too long not caring enough about her for him to change his mind. But she let him. She always let him change his mind.

“I went to town today, and I sat on a park bench and just watched the people passing. Maybe for an hour or two.”

She pretended she didn’t care, but I knew she was thinking. She was trying to think of something to say. Something smart enough for him. She was smarter than he was, but she hadn’t realized it yet, maybe she never would.

“The blue looks good on you.”

“Just, shut up,” she said. She left the room out the back door.

He peered up at me while he finished the dinner she’d put before him. I sat on the stairs, peering through the railing bars. “Is she always like that?” he asked.

“Only when you’re around.” I wasn’t sure why he hadn’t left yet. I wasn’t sure why he still came by to see her, when everyone knew he didn’t love her. Everyone knew.

“Well . . . you understand, don’t you?” he asked me.

“I understand that if you don’t eat that whole plate of food she’ll be angry at me,” I said.

He looked back down at the food and began eating again. “She’s my best friend.”

That made me angry. Angrier than I’d been in a long time, and I stood up on the stairs and said, “And what good has that ever done her?” I marched back up them, wishing the food was hot enough to burn him, but I knew it wasn’t.

It was a week before he came back. She was in a better mood this time, and when he came in the kitchen through the side door she smiled, like she was willing to hear everything he had to say. Maybe she wasn’t tired like every other day. I knew she loved him. I knew that she wasn’t sure why, or even what type of love it was. I just sat by the fire. She never kept anything a secret from me anymore.

“You look nice today.”

“Don’t start that,” she said softly.

“Why don’t you appreciate the nice things I say?”

“I’d rather you were honest.”

He sighed and sat down. She put food down in front of him and I looked back. He was looking up at her. He shoved the food away, “What I want to know is why the hell you feed me when I’ve got more money than you’ve ever had. Eat it yourself!”

She turned back and looked at the food. She picked up the plate and dumped the food in the trash, then threw the plate in the sink. I’d have eaten that food, if she’d have let me. But I knew she was trying to make a point. I looked at him, and wondered if she’d made it. “You said yourself, didn’t you? It’s what I’m meant to do.”

He shook his head, “I never meant it like that.”

“You never mean anything!” she yelled. “You never mean anything until three years later when it’s convenient to mean it!”

He deserved that. I turned toward the fire again.

He stood up and before he left the room he said, “I wish you would start writing again.”

I wondered why he cared. He knew it made her happy to write, but since when did he care that she was happy? He’d never cared before.

He came back the next day, but she wasn’t around. I told him she’d gone to town. He left a bar of chocolate on the kitchen table. He told me I could eat some of it as long as I saved half for her. But I didn’t want anything from him.

I sat on the roof and watched them sitting in the grass below. She was dressed in her Sunday best and she looked pretty. He’d never seen her in her Sunday clothes, and so he didn’t really know until this morning how pretty she could look. I think it took him by surprise. I hadn’t been paying attention, but then he said something that caught my attention—something with the word ‘love’ in it. Anyway, her response was, “Nothing ever happens that way.”

“Why couldn’t it?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I’m not a story. No one ever gets what they want unless they’re willing to step on other people to get it. I won’t step on anyone.” I knew that was true. She’d die before she hurt someone. And he came around, hurting people all the time. I didn’t understand how my sister could be friends with someone like him. I suppose people make the oddest friendships, all out of necessity, or . . . well, I could tell why she loved him. She loved everyone, and she never gave in. But why did he still come around for her? Probably using her, like he used everyone. I really hated him, but if I said anything to her she’d probably smack me—well, she’d give me a mean look, anyway.

“All I ever want to do is talk to you.”

“I wish you would stop coming around.”

“Why can’t you—” he was frustrated. Good. He always got interesting when he was frustrated. “I don’t love you like I loved her. Is that what you want to hear?”

“I don’t want to hear anything.”

“Then tell me what you want so I can give it to you and we can get on with things.”

“I don’t know what I want. That’s just the truth. I want you to stop treating me like you don’t know what to do with me.”

“I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Just leave me. You’ll do it eventually. I know you’ll leave eventually, so just get it over with.”

“Why would I?” He shook his head, “Why would I leave?”

“Stop being stupid. You just love that I sit here and wait for you to come by, even if it’s just so I can throw a plate of food in front of you. I’m tired of waiting!” She stood up and walked inside, then slammed the door behind her.

That night I did the unthinkable. I asked her why she loved him. She didn’t contest it, instead she said, “Because sometimes I feel like God gave him to me for a reason.” And she continued drying the dishes with a dishtowel.

“Did you really need him?” I asked her.

She nodded and set a dry plate down, “There was a time when he helped me get through everything. And then . . . I just held on too long, I held on too hard. And now, I can’t let him go.”

“Because you think—”

“Yes, because I think—what if the reason isn’t over yet? Obviously I don’t need him anymore, but what if he needs me? What if I’m supposed to do something to repay him for what he did all those years ago?”

“You think God wants you to be unhappy?”

“What does it have to do with God?” she snapped, and she threw the dishtowel down and turned away from me.

“You’re the one who said—”

“Stop it!” she yelled. “Just . . . I don’t know. Sometimes I wish I could get out of here. But why am I kidding myself? Even if I got out, no one would love me.”

“Everyone loves you.”

“No,” she said, like it was fact. And she went up the stairs.

He came around the next morning, almost like I knew he would. He rinsed the dishes that still had water spots on them and re-dried them and put them away. I was surprised he knew where they went. He said things to me, but I wasn’t listening. He was just rambling about something or other. I knew she listened when he did that, she always paid too much attention to everything he said, well I wasn’t going to give him the same satisfaction. I wished he knew he meant nothing to me. But then he asked me a question and I looked up. He asked me again, but still I was not listening. At some point I realized it would always be like this. He wouldn’t give up. He’d never given up before, why would he now? He finished drying the dishes, apparently past the fact that I’d never answered his question. He sat down next to me and noticed the chocolate on the table that he’d left a week before. He picked it up and snapped it in two. Then he offered me a small piece and I took it.

“Why don’t you let her be?” I asked him.

He looked at me and shrugged, “She would be lonely.”

“She’s got me,” I said.

“Sometimes she needs someone else.”

“What makes you think so?” I asked.

He shrugged, “I just know.”

“Did you ever love her?”

“I do love her.”

“No you don’t.”

“It’s just different,” he said.

“There’s no such thing,” I answered and he offered me another piece of chocolate.

“She’s the only person I’ve never lied to.”

“Great,” I answered.

“She’s the only person I still enjoy looking at, even after all these years.”

I shook my head, “You’re stupid. You just make her sad.”

“But I make her happy too,” he smiled. “Just—watch a little more often, and you’ll see. I make her happy, too.”

So I did. I resorted myself to watching a little more carefully. The next time he came, they went out to the grass and they talked for hours. She laughed more than I’d ever seen her laugh, and then I realized, that the only time they ever fought was when they were in that kitchen, and the only conversations I ever heard were of them in the kitchen.

So I went out to the grass where he’d started a fire so she would stay warm—he always made sure she was warm enough—and I sat down with them. Neither of them paid me any attention.

“Do you think it matters?” he asked.

“It matters,” she answered. “Everything matters.”

“Not everything,” he said.

She shrugged, smiling, “Yes, everything.”

“Sometimes I’m afraid my mother will walk into my room and find everything,” he said.

She smiled, “She should. Maybe if she did, you’d be a different person.”

He laughed, “Only for you.”

She shrugged. “Don’t you think everything matters in its own way?”

“Some people just get in the way.”

“People—they’re the ones who matter the most,” she said.

He shook his head, “No—they matter the least. You let them change you. You shouldn’t do that.”

It surprised me he said that, because he changed her the most.

“If it makes you better,” she said.

“You’re too good, that’s all,” he said.

She shrugged.

“Remember how it used to be?” he asked softly.

She nodded, “Every time we talk you ask me if I remember. I remember, I always remember. I remember everything.”

I knew that was true. She remembered everything. That was why he still came around; that was why she still let him, because she remembered everything, just like she said.

They were quiet for hours, and I didn’t say anything either. She was happy, just like he said.

When he was about to leave she hugged him and she told him she loved him. He told her he loved her too, and I believed him. I’d never believed him before.

She was whistling something while she ironed my Sunday skirt and he walked in. He stood in the doorway for a while and watched her and she looked up. He smiled and she smiled back. She told him there was food in the cupboard, and he went for it. He handed her some before he took it himself.

“You got my letter?” he asked.

“I’m happy for you,” she said.

He nodded, “I’ll be back in a month.”

She shrugged, “I’ll miss you. I always miss you.”

He nodded, “I miss you too.”

She smiled and then he came over for a hug from her, and he left. I watched her iron the rest of our Sunday clothes before she put the iron away and sat down to write.

She didn’t talk of him while he was away, but I knew she thought about him a lot. I asked her, “Was there a time when you never told him to leave?”

She smiled and nodded, “There was a time when I was terrified that if I told him to leave, he would.”

“And the first time you told him? Did you mean it?”

She shrugged, “I meant it. But I hoped he would stay.”


“He makes me happy. He keeps me tied down.”

“He makes you sad,” I said.

She nodded, “Yes, he does that too.”

A month passed, and the first day he was back she expected him to come around, but he didn’t. He never came and I could tell it tore at her inside. She made me go to town for some ink and paper and she spent all night writing. She spent the next week writing, and still he never came around. I hated him, although he was right. He was right not to have come.

Finally, two months after the day he saw her last, he knocked on the door. He walked in, but only I was in the kitchen. He moved toward the kitchen table and looked at the papers spread across it. He put his hand on top of the papers and rifled through a couple.

“Don’t touch that!” she said, appearing out of nowhere, and she pushed him away playfully.

He smiled, “I’m glad you’re writing again.”

She nodded, “Thank you for the letters you sent.”

I looked up. Letters? I hadn’t seen any letters at all.

He nodded. “Any food?” he asked.

She shook her head, “No.”

He looked unhappy for a moment, and then he sat down next to me by the fire and said nothing.  But he was smiling, and it occurred to me that maybe she did still need him—for something.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I think of Heaven and Billie Holiday.

Okay, so I'm blowing the whole plan by posting twice in one month. I don't really know what I'm thinking.

I almost went all of February without buying any music.  Then last night, Jake asked for 40s music and I thought of all the music that I wanted, but didn't have.  Billie Holiday, for example, who I love listening to and own only like . . . 3 songs?  That's despicable.  So I bought a 35-song $10.00 album, and I'm calling it a month.  I've just improved my quality of life by 3.9% for $10.00.  This is not an easy feat, my friends.

Have I mentioned lately that I hate money?  I just hate it.  Why can't everything be free?

I made my dad buy The Greatest Game Ever Played today because I wanted a new movie with Shia LaBeouf in it.  I butchered the spelling of his last name but couldn't stand it, so I got up to get a movie with his name on the front so I could correct it.  I find myself doing this a lot, knowing that I can't settle for 'Well, you know what I mean.'  Instead I really have to explain what I mean.  Also, the other day I was making waffles (shocker, I know) and a piece of waffle fell into the utensil drawer.  It would have been so easy to leave it there--it just would have looked like it'd fallen in there accidentally--and it was just a piece of waffle.  But I couldn't leave it there.  Sometimes, I test myself to see how long I can go with things like that, but I always end up doing the right thing--even when its something as little as cleaning up a small mess or correcting Shia LaBeouf's last name--because NOT doing the right thing is just too hard.  I'm a mess.  It's so innate in me, that it's strange to me other people don't always feel the same way.

Do you ever have to remind yourself that you're going to be okay?  I do, all the time.  In school, in friendships, with money, with everything.  In school, when I get really stressed out about a paper or a test, I have to remind myself that it doesn't really matter--that it's just one paper, or one test.  But then I'm so terrified that if I don't give a test or a paper my best ONCE that I'll fall into the habit and that I'll stop striving to do the best I can.  Then, again, I have to remind myself 'You're going to be okay.'  We were talking about this at the dinner table the other day, and Caitlin was saying she did the same thing.  Rachel and my Mom said they never really had that problem.  My Dad was silent.  I wonder what he was like.

Someone once told me that if you so much as desire heaven, it will be yours.  I strive to be good, not to get to heaven, but to desire heaven.  It made sense to me because as long as you desire heaven you're striving to live a life worthy of heaven.  Just like school.

We compare ourselves to other people.  We measure ourselves by what other people think of us.  It occurred to me a few weeks ago, when I was having a really hard time adjusting to being back at home, that even my family isn't fully aware of how I've changed, or the person I am.  They're still getting used to the person I've become since High School.  Sometimes, when I look through their eyes and see myself the way they see me, I judge myself too harshly because I never liked the person I was in High School.  I'm a better person now, and I have to remind myself that I'm going to be okay.  I have to remind myself that I need to be better, but I AM better than how they see me, and if they see me wrong, I can't judge myself by their approximation of the person I am.  I don't know if that makes sense.  What I'm trying to say is that you have to measure yourself by what you know of yourself--not what other people think they know of you.

I'm not who I was in High School, thank goodness.  My heart is just a little bit different.  I'm not as easy to manipulate.  I'm not as dramatic.  I'm a little more patient; a little more kind.  I have stronger opinions.  I am more confident, even if just by a little.  However, I can say that in High School I developed a love for people--a love so deep sometimes I get myself into the most awful ruts not knowing what to do.  That's not something I'm ever willing to give up.  I'll love people, I'll have faith in people no matter what.  Sometimes my faith is shaken.  I'm still a little skeptical of teachers sometimes, and I don't trust doctors or politicians.  I don't trust door-to-door salesmen, and I don't like telemarketers who hang up on you as soon as you say 'No, thanks' without so much as a goodbye.  Sometimes I'm not sure my elders understand me, and I don't always think they care about me.  But that's normal.  I can't say I hate a single person on this earth, and I don't think I ever have.  I think most people on this earth try to be good, even if they don't always succeed.  Sometimes people just get lost.

There wasn't so much different between you and me just a little while ago.  Why can't things be like that again?

Billie Holiday still plays in the background here, and I realize I still have to make Jake's playlist.  This should be fun.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Regarding pretty much everything, including breakfast foods.

Well, I'm back.

Maybe I'll be able to work this thing out once a month.  By that approximation, this is your February update and I hope it's satisfying.

Dave Ray found me a job.  I didn't do any looking at all.  I just went to church and he said, 'There's this guy I know--he's an attorney and he's looking for an assistant.'  Guess what I do 20 hours a week?  I'm an assistant for an attorney.  I love it.  I was terrified at first, and at times I still find myself a little scared that I'll do something wrong, but at the end of the day, there are so many things I want to do in that small office to make his life easier.  It outweighs the fear.  Also, I'm officially over my fear of calling people on the phone.  I started the last week of January and I've gotten over a life-long fear in less than fifteen days.  It's incredible.

Also, I've started exercising.  I know that this is a big shocker, so let me say that again for all of those who think they've read wrong.  I've begun e-x-e-r-c-i-s-i-n-g.  I run around the block everyday after work.  That's mostly for my lungs--because, lets face it, if someone WAS chasing me, I'd last about a quarter of a mile.  (Explanation of that last sentence: I found myself wondering, if I had to run away from someone, or from something, how far could I get before I couldn't run anymore simply because I ran out of breath?  I realized--not far, I should work on that.)  Mom and I exercise 3 days a week after she gets home from work (unless there are crazy schedule changes).  It is also my goal to be able to touch my feet by the end of March. (I'm not particularly flexible.)  I haven't been able to do this in YEARS and I'm working on it.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I decided that every year from here on out I needed to do something amazing.  I decided this for a couple of reasons: first, there are so many things I want to do--if I don't start now, they'll never get done.  Second, my sisters are better than I was at their age, if I don't keep raising the bar they'll pass me up and I really really really don't like the idea of that.  I will remain victorious.  (Love you, guys.)

Now you're wondering--how are any of these things amazing?


Let me tell you.

It's not about being amazing to everyone else--its about doing things I've never done before.  I turned 20 in 2009, (which sucked.  20 is old.) and so I decided I needed to do something--I went to Europe without my family.  Its not that other people don't go to Europe, it's not even that other people don't go to Europe alone, or that other people haven't been to Europe alone without their families by 20 (sorry that's confusing, just read it again).  It's that I never really thought it was possible for ME to go to Europe alone EVER.  But I did.  I never had a bucket list.  I never had dreams.  That sounds awful because I was raised in a good house, with plenty of everything.  But sometimes dreams are just easier not to have because that way if you don't get them, you're not let down.  Europe just didn't ever seem like a possibility.  London? Paris?  Rome?  Please.  LIVE in Europe?  Please.  So, I did it.

Now it's 2010, and in the spirit of every female's new years resolutions, I'd like to say: I've never lost weight.

Okay, my freshman year of high school I started swimming for class, and in an afterschool program and I toned up pretty nicely.  But that was 9th grade.  Then last year, Sophomore year of college, I started eating smaller portions and I lost weight then too, but that wasn't really on purpose.  I've never thought to myself--you should be disciplined, eat better, exercise more, look the way you want to look.  I've just never REALLY tried.  I've sort of tried, and very much failed, but never REALLY tried.  So I'm really trying now.  It's something I've never done before.  And its working.  Who knew?

I've never worked for an attorney before.  It's actually useful for my major--good experience--and I love that too.  It's what I wanted, the reason why I decided not to go back to Nestle was because I wanted to do something toward my major and although I had NO idea what that would be at the time, it's what I'm doing.  How does that happen?

I still want to write.  I still want to watch movies, and maybe study film.  I still love to take and edit pictures, and I love staying up late with my sisters (when the buggers don't have to go to sleep at 8:30 or whatever un-godly hour they disappear), and I love having great conversations, I still make breakfast foods consistently, and I might always sleep on the couch.  I might not be in London, or publishing a book, or even going to school.  But right now, I'm doing some things I never thought possible.  Maybe its okay to be satisfied with JUST that.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A rant for you, but mostly for me.

I'm an utter failure.

Don't get me wrong, this is not an exciting revelation I've suddenly stumbled upon.  I've known for a while, only I try to keep it relatively quiet.  Relatively.

It's been a few weeks back and I'm still not certain about what to do with myself.  I'm excited and terrified for what's ahead.  I'm excited to start contributing to my Sunday school class, stories about my life.  I'm excited to get through all my Europe pictures and start (and finish) a scrapbook with all of my momentos from by 4 months abroad.  I'm excited to (finally) get my license.  (I know its hard to believe.  Yes, I am 20.  No, I'm not proud that it's an important part of my life I seem to have let slip by, and yes, I'm aware that most people get their license to travel to foreign streets alone before they start traveling to foreign countries alone.  I understand.  Working on it.)  I'm excited to see whats in store.  I'm NOT excited about working although it just occurred to me that maybe I should work somewhere fun for a few months before I settle down for a high-paying job.  (Haha.  That is, high-paying for a high-school graduate who's just deferred a semester in college.)  Maybe something will open up and I can just earn chump change in the mean time.  Just thinking out loud, here.

Sometimes when life terrifies me, I remind myself I've been through Heathrow airport, and honestly there's nothing more terrifying than an airport 10 miles in diameter.

The other day I had jury duty which I was annoyed about, until I realized that it was a new experience that I can add to my life.  I was sitting next to this guy about my age (if not exactly my age) the entire time, and the second half of our 'waiting' we started talking.  He's going to NYU for Film.  Needless to say, (as I've told everyone) we had plenty to talk about, both of us being interested in movies.  It reminded me that going into film is still a possible dream, at least studying it.  Becasue although its not an easy thing to get into, it doesn't mean I can't be interested in it.  I tend to deny myself the things I think impossible.  But what's the point of that?  Compared to so many, there are so few things I want.  I always do that to myself: make myself do prestigious things that I have no interest in: Like science classes.

My dad sent me an email a while back that said something to the effect of , "I like art."  It might sound like an unimpressive declaration, but for me it made complete sense.  Not all of us have amazing lives where we do amazing things and we make amazing impacts.  The only working experience I have, I sat in an office 40 hours a week and did things I wasn't REALLY interested in.  I had the most fun when I was sitting down and creating; thinking of ways to improve, finding ways to connect everything together.  The things that make a difference for me, the mediums I want to use to make a difference for other people is art.  Art is what makes sense to me.

I'm still trying to figure it all out, I guess.  And where I used to want to know what other people thought, I realized that as interested as I am in other people and their life experiences, it doesn't mean that it'll work for me.  And even if I want to try something new and I fail at it, who's to say it wouldn't have worked for me?  More than that--what if I try something new and it does work for me when no one else said it would?

The cynic in me lives for those little moments when I prove someone who thinks they know life better than I do wrong.  They might know their life better than me, but they don't know mine.  If I ever presume to know anyone's life better than they do, please remind me what William Earnest Henley wrote so nicely, (and what Invictus recently brought to my attention), "I am the master of my fate; I am the Captain of my soul."  It's not important to me that I should get the most on my 'To Do' list checked off than anyone else ever has.  I won't succeed.  I can't DO everything.  I don't even WANT to do everything.

What I want to do is write stories, watch movies, read books, learn history, meet people and connect it all together to help me understand why God made the world the way he made it, why I am the way I am, and what it's supposed to teach me in the long run.  After all, if what we're really trying to do is get back to Christ, what else matters but that we know the person we're trying to get back to, why we're trying to get back to him, and figure out why in the grand scheme of things God thought putting us here, in this place, at this time was his best chance of our ever getting back.