Saturday, December 27, 2008

what i remembered in mexico

for whatever we lose, (like a you or a me) it's always our self we find in the sea. ~e.e. cummings

it’s not that i have no interest in owning a house, or peasant-chic cardigans from anthropologie or to participate in a company-matched 401k, it’s just that my freedom means so much more. simple math dictates that if for every 50 weeks we sell to our employer, they “give” us two weeks to keep for ourselves, then for every 50 years we sell to our employer, we "get" a mere two years for developing who-we-really-are. because i am convinced that one’s truest self cannot be nurtured when directly plugged into the economy. sure, people can enjoy their jobs, be challenged by their jobs and even positively contribute to society through their jobs (although this is rare), but more often than not, we are unable (or unwilling) to take a cold hard look at our lives and realize that they are only our own to the extent that our desires can be purchased.

from the time we learn how to speak, our capitalistic society grooms us to choose and devote ourselves fully to a career as if it were a religion, starting with the nauseating question: what do you want to beeee when you grow up, tommy? By the time tommy can talk he knows the correct answer to such a question, is not “a good conversationalist,” “an ecofeminist” or “one who dabbles in finger paints.” no, even 4-year-olds have learned that the questioner is really asking, how do you plan on earning money in order to pay for your inevitable mortgage, car and consumer debt? so, enthusiastically, tommy answers by proudly declaring that he wants to be a doctor, a firefighter or a lawyer, or by naming some other profession deemed respectable enough to be found in children’s books.

and as tommy gets older, he is seamlessly incorporated into our cog-like society, and before you know it, he is a 25-year-old business administration graduate spouting off nonsense like “i work hard and play hard” and “timmy, let's get all our ducks in a row and huddle to debrief on the client’s deliverable.” although the hippies among us find it easy to point fingers at all of the tommys in the world that perpetuate the conveyor belt of birth-work-death, tommys are mere products of our capitalistic society. since the capitalists have lubed and inserted their agenda into virtually every arena of our lives—political, educational, linguistic, etc., it’s hard to see that the whole "meaningful career" ideal is the most complex, opaque and successful marketing scheme in history. the money-mongers do not want us to see the gap between ourselves and what we do to pay our bills. the more time and energy we (enthusiastically, no less) invest in our careers and take on their productivity goals as our own, the more we pad their pockets at the expense of becoming who we are meant to be.

a much more articulate tom hodgkinson says: career encourages what i consider to be a terribly unnatural self-specialization: in our urge to compete, we tend to try to become very good at one small thing to the exclusion of all others. this is called professionalism but could more accurately labeled 'being useless.' culture is produced by experts, music by bands working for record companies, education by expert teachers, medicine by expert doctors. we are disabled. it will soon be difficult to put up a shelf without a degree in shelf-putting-up.

all of this is to say, that i’m sick of being made to feel (or allowing myself to feel) irresponsible and selfish for not wanting a career. i want to do a little of this and a little of that. i want to blur the lines between my working and non-working hours. i want to become more well-rounded, a renaissance woman. i want to commune with those who incorporate anarchy into their lifestyles. those who don’t need permission to cross the street. those who have lifted off the sticky lenses of fear. those who tangle and dance with this crazy thing called optimism. i want to pay my bills by making soap while listening to mason jennings, by walking dogs in the rain and taking on short-term temp jobs in the city. i want to listen to more Motown. i want to finish embroidering my salvation army peacoat. i want to spent more time with nicole brown and whatcom county farmers. i want to lift waterlogged worms out of puddles. i want to keep keeping my eye out for a used yurt. i want to find the love of my life and milk cows side-by-side. i want to keep in better touch with the people that inspire me. because as andy frank says, wealth is the sum of everything you value.

Monday, December 1, 2008

ordinary life does not interest me. i seek only the high moments. i am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous. -anais nin

Saturday, November 22, 2008

some things

we agreed that last friday's dinner was multi-dimensional in the mouth. and it was really fun eating in bellevue in irony. i dare say, i fancy you. and our midnight walk through ballard confirmed its pull on my periphery. the camel-colored brick apartment buildings from the 60s, the spinning lights inside the chai house, the cobblestones; they opened themselves to me. the importance that place plays in my life continues to marvel me. aesthetics has always my favorite field of philosophy. i'll always choose lace over logic. later, as we walked through the halls of our high school in the dark, we fogged up windows, cupping hands to eyes as we pointed out forgotten lockers and scoffed at the posters for tolo. when i was sixteen, i thought we would all become nautropaths or architects, or at least x-ray technicians. but some of us became tmobile managers at the mall, and some of us moved to wenatchee. it made me really happy though when you told me you ran into our high school's quintenential jock at the airport and that he was nice and kind and attending a bible college in california.

eventually, we dismissed ourselves and got back into the car for a drive through shoreline. oh, and thanks for giving me your mittens when my hands got cold—nice touch.

here are my answers to the proust questionnaire (proust-like, i omitted the questions i found less-intruiguing):

your favorite virtue: wittiness.

your favorite charicteristics in a man: able to make/fix things with his hands, generous, honest, dreadlocked.

favorite qualities in a woman: homemaking.

your favorite occupation: happenstancing.

your idea of happiness: falling asleep to the sound of wind beating canvas inside a candlelit yurt.

your idea of misery: finding meaning in the idea of a career.

your favorite flower: the peony

if not yourself, who would you be?: a well taken care of housecat with an attitute problem.

where would you like to live?: on a farm with chickens, llamas, goats and garlic.

your favorite prose authors: leif enger, tom hodgkinson, anne lamott, rob brezny.

your favorite poets: kim addonizio, richard siken, joshua marie wilkinson, mary cornish, erica jong, linda rogers.

favorite painters and composers: henry darger and audrey flack.

your favorite heroes in real life: nicole brown, faythe levine and modern homesteaders everywhere.

your favorite food and drink: my mom's macaroni and cheese with a side of broccoli and a big tall glass of ice water.

your favorite names: edison for a girl. easton for a boy.

your pet aversion: people freaked out by "the economic crisis."

what is your present state of mind?: it's in the midst of deprogramming itself from 15+ years of public education (indoctrination).

for what fault have you most toleration?: people who refuse to be practical. in the words of oriah mountain dreamer, "i want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human."

your favorite motto: all is well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

my simple little self

i have been swept up by the dominant current of struggle that's floating inside the souls of almost everyone i know. and my vibrations are fucked from factoring in other people's thoughts about this individual life of mine. it's nobody's fault but my own. sometimes in my repressed desire to be part of something, i enthusiastically add my boxcar to the first train passing by. but i need to stop weaving randomly through this life, mistaking other people's tracks for my own. urban homesteading, anarchism, the law of attractionthese are the things that frost my cupcake. and lately i've been a little down because they do not easily fit into the marketplace. it would be so much easier if i wanted one of those jobs they crow about on sesame street, the ones that reek of a baby-capitalist's idea respectability. in an innocent, elmo-like voice, i wish i could say:

when i grow up i want to be a teacher.
when i grow up i want to be firefighter.
when i grow up i want to be an architect.

or least want to be something that easily fits into the equation of education + certification = job. and those are the thoughts that make me believe i shouldn't leave bellingham. i tried seattle, and to me it felt like a stale version of inspiration. like it's still living off of the residual fumes of 1992. so why my sights are gravitating down south is beyond me.

i know better than to think that life is an action-oriented journey. but sometimes i fool myself into thinking, if i do X, i'll no longer be lonely. which brings to mind last year's folklife festival. everywhere i looked, there was a person. the grass was trampled flat by the sheer number of feet tromping around the area. people, people everywhere. it looked like one of those japanese beaches. but i ended up in the bathroom crying because i felt so very alone.

and i would hate to feel that way again. because although bellingham is much smaller, it doesn't have the
struggle, sacrifice, hard work, complex of like the larger cities and their puritanically brainwashed citizens have. it's content being its simple self. kind of like i'm in the process of learning to be content with my simple self.

Friday, November 14, 2008

oh capitol hill, i thought you killed my emerald city spirit with your drunken hipsterness, with your anti-fashion, with your skinny jeans and skinnier cigarettes. but i'm in seattle this week, and although i was dreading its anonymous chaos, i've actually been comforted. it feels good to be close to the familiar : 1st avenue, rachel's celebrity gossip magazines, the overtly capitalistic department store displays that somehow still inspire an inner-giddiness. and i can't help but flirt with the idea of moving back. i wonder if ballard could be my bellingham, if i could just block out the rest of the city and pretend it didn't exist. i imagine myself working in a french cafe, chatting with businessmen with a pot of coffee in one hand and the other hand on my hip. maybe i'd become a regular at the tractor tavern, tapping my feet to bluegrass while drinking portland pale ale. but i always internalize landscape, and i fear the small-town characteristics of myself would once again fall off like a bracelet, or be silenced by the constant sound of cars on pavement, cars on pavement, cars on pavement.

what i don't remember

i don’t remember coming into this world.

i don’t remember wearing the white booties on my bookshelf.

i don’t remember if i was in the orca group or the rabbit group in kindergarten.

i don’t remember what animals were on my glittery purple lunchbox.

i don’t remember the kind of sandwich my freckle-faced friend threw up at lunch.

i don’t remember the eyes of the bearded man who showed me his penis in the toy section of k-mart.

i don’t remember asking for my face to be printed on the dollar bill.

i don’t remember the look on my mother’s face as she said, this is your father.

i don’t remember saying goodbye.

i don’t remember which door was which.

i don’t remember how everyone found out our classmate was a foster child.

i don’t remember the words they said to crush her.

i don’t remember how many insects were impaled on pins in the fifth grade.

i don’t remember how many days that bee hung in there.

i don’t remember the ending to the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler.

i don’t remember how long after i got my period i waited to tell my mother.

i don’t remember in which department store we bought my first bra.

i don’t remember the circumstances in which i said i hate jesus.

i don’t remember what letters he punched into the calculator to make it say LOOSE.

i don’t remember the name of the substitute teacher who made me hate group work.

i don’t remember why i thought i was dying.

i don’t remember the music artist who sang, it’s like romeo and juliet, hot sex on a platter just to get you wet.

i don’t remember the first time i had sex.

i don’t remember what shoes i wore at my high school graduation.

i don’t remember how many times i changed my major.

i don't remember how many times i jumped off the dock at midnight.

i don’t remember how many dreadlocks he had.

i don’t remember how many drinks i have bought that i didn’t really want.

i don't remember what it was i said about spreadsheets.

i don’t remember the name of the boy who said i had hips like zsa zsa gabor.

i don’t remember the price of the pears i bought yesterday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


(an old college poem)

i want to lay in front

of your mack truck tongue
like a child who runs
into traffic laughing.

and when we crash

i want to lay naked
in the crook of your arm
as exposed and swollen
as a bruise.

and when i mend

i want to wear high heels
and strut in the front door damp
with cursive words dripping
down my cheeks.

and when you slip
i want to crouch down low,
cup your head in my hands,
and feed you phrases
of my confession.

and when you choke

i will be your nurse and
stroke your gold throat
coaxing down the nouns
and verbs.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

every morning i wake up with a cold nose and ears from sleeping with my face turned towards the open window. it's consistently cold in here now. it is november sixth, two days after the election. i always think i don't believe in—or at least care about—politics. and i kind of felt like a fickle fan that showed up to cheer in the last game of the world series but was nowhere to be found when things were less sensational. but that was only an afterthought. during the hours when all eyes were the cast in the direction of the television sets, the unity in our little bellingham bar felt good and i pressed the night to my face like fleece.

i'm in my second week of being unemployed, or as i've started calling it : being employment-free. weekdays always remind me of being ten and waking up in a dark room to see telltale dim and pinkish light pouring in from behind the blinds that signaled a heavy snow had fallen overnight. i no longer run through the house on little legs shouting with glee, but the freedom of an empty, unscheduled day always feels the same.

i have no idea where these feet will land when they come back from mexico. but here's some advice i'm lapping up from a saucer like a thirsty cat:

make a career out of living a happy life rather than trying to find work that will produce enough income that you can do things with your money that will then make you happy.

because otherwise i can't do this. otherwise i'm out.
if it's possible to scream my way out of undesirable destinies, i did it the last month of working at the law firm. there are some things i will never understand. and it's taken me 25 years to consider the possibility that maybe i can let these things exist, look the other way, and go on to having a happy life. i just don't want to spend anymore energy wishing i could shake the programming from the heads of business lawyers, corporate restaurant managers and other arbitrary-rule-enforcers. because i think eric hoffer just might be right in that when people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

in other news, what the fuck is up with love?

p.s. tim, i wish you could have been with us on election night. it would've been nice to have a third person in the room to catch the sam cooke references in obama's victory speech.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

to say i peeled fifty cloves of garlic last weekend would be an understatement. i spent the day canning, or as they say in the county, putting up food, at my old professor's farm in acme. we washed, chopped, blanched, and boiled our way into vast amounts of tomato sauce, pickled jalapenos, and vegetable broth. she showed me her vegetable-dyed silk and her dream pillows, and her little daughter showed me her little dreadlocked doll. she even walked me through her fields and pointed out all of the possible places for my yurt when the time comes.

this is to say, my professor and i are becoming friends. we're transitioning from student and teacher into just two individuals who see insanity and redemption in many of the same things. i've been feeling like salinger felt when he said, i'm sick of just liking people. i wish to god that i could meet somebody that i could respect. i forgot how good feels good to respect somebody, like reallllly respect somebody. it feels like restoration. like opening a long-lost letter from the universe that says: you don't have to walk your walk alone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

on tuesday, in the span of 3 hours, i managed to spill a bottle of sparkling water in my bed, step squarely into my tv dinner, and lock myself out of my room in my towel. also, when i tried to pick up a prescription, the pharmacy told me i was no longer covered under my health insurance. yes, when i let my thoughts paddle furiously upstream, my tangible world tends to fall apart too. and these events snowballed nicely into a full-blown anxiety attack that included treats such as uncontrollable crying, tightening of the chest, and nausea. luckily, it was eventually mellowed out by an obscene amount of olympia genuine draft, the honeyed vocals of sharon jones, and the oddly encouraging words of a friend:

you've got to make your shit work for you.

shit's not working for me at work. the beige file cabinets, the cliched shiny friday donuts, the sheer number of black slacks in the office on any give day, have become too much to take. i've also learned that wills, trusts, collections, leases, prenuptial agreements—they're all the glorified pushing of money from one person to another, and ultimately one and the same. i imagine the attorneys schlepping wheelbarrows
overflowing with gold bricks and rubber-banded stacks of cash around the office. everything is transactional, even our verbal exchanges: how-are-you-good-how-are-you.

i got weepy as i explained all of this to an old professor of mine over pumpkin spice lattes. she
doesn't think i'm unreasonable for being unable to find redeeming qualities in working at a law firm. (sidenote: she says she often tells her students about her unwavering idealist. that's me!) she also thinks my temptations to go back to the city would be running in the wrong direction; she sees me out in the county. and she's right. for what i care about, i am right now in the perfect place.

and tonight on my walk home from a pizza date, i kind of fell in love with bellingham all over again. as i walked past that big welcome to bellingham sign
on state street, i remembered how i used to watch the bay from cold storage's webcam when i lived in seattle, and how i missed the slightly brighter colors, the slightly colder winters, and the exponentially higher quality of life.

(i gave my notice at work. here's to making my shit work for me).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

i had a bomb birthday weekend that began with a massage from a sprightly 70-year-old woman who liked to talk about her sex life, followed-up by a day of fun with my mom, and ended at a party in a vancouver mansion with like 50 improvers— and myself. i also treated myself to some beautiful kick-ass towels (see picture) from value village that i will turn into scarves. i am 25 now. this is the first birthday that actually feels different. it feels like, fuck this is it. which is a good motivator to get on with the good things in life. things like following that little thing called bliss. to keep on with e.e. cummings's battle of being nobody-but-yourselfin a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else. and more than anything, to stay true to my motto of living life as if i had cotton candy in my left hand and a bukowski poem in my right.

i also received a text at 1:20 in the morning that said
happy birthday! i love you soo much and i'm pretty sure you know! you're my bestest forever. xoxoxo. it pretty much washed away my loneliness because i realized that as long as i have my core people by my side, i will never be alone, even if none of them are in bellingham. a friend told me that getting married is like saying fuck you to everyone else. i just want to marry my core people for richer and poorer, through sickness and health, through shitty jobs and confusing relationships, and all of our naysayers can go to hell.

the air has turned itself inside out and is making itself known. it's fall! it's mitten and scarf season! it's pumpkin spice latte season! eeeeeee!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

on being a bland radical

a friend and i were talking about how, though there are dozens of potential true loves for everybody on earth, people tend to only fall in love with one “style” of person. this shed light on my pseudo identity crisis of late. see, it turns out that a chronic inability to commit to a lifestyle paired with a scholarly fascination of subcultures, is an unfortunate combination resulting in the tendency to research everything to death without actually doing shit.

sometimes i wish i was a hardcore rock climbing girl that could impress boys by throwing around words like “belay” and “traverse,” neither of which i’m familiar with. and sometimes i want to be the freckled organic girl that doesn’t shave and sweetens her tea with stevia, the kind of girl that wears hemp skirts and is too pure for lip gloss. and when i get depressed—when i let the zombies at work get me down
i want so badly be the kind of girl that cares about nothing more than weddings and shoes and feels accomplished having read the devil wears prada. the kind of girl that fits in and shuts up.

but none of those girls are me, christina ann cusolito. i guess i just don’t have a “thing.” there’s no dominating interest or opinion that defines me, and sometimes i wonder what people possibly have to say when they describe me. deep down, i know that life is a la carte, and that the world is just one big beautiful catalog from which to pick and choose. and ideally, we’d all combine hobbies and philosophies in hopes of coming up with something new, something unique to only us. like a fingerprint of sorts.

so i’m going to grant myself to permission to, in five years time, raise chickens in my backyard, yet shave my legs. to write poetry without being a poet (or vice versa). to subscribe to glamour magazine and the sun.

and hopefully, someone out there, will fall in love with my style of girl.

Monday, September 29, 2008

oh, and this is from how to find the work you love:

[joseph campbell] went on to say that when you commit yourself to following your bliss, "doors begin to open for you where there were no doors and where they would not open for anybody else." while this may sound somewhat mystical, it is really a matter of trusting that the intelligence which is in all of life—the intelligence that turns the heavens, that migrates the birds, the intelligence that tells a seed when to germinate, that beats your heart and digests your food—lives inside of you and knows what to do with your life.

i like that.

dear bellingham,

i need you to get good fast. i find myself eyeing other cities on my big map of a shower curtain. i think about portland while washing my hair. i think about missoula while shaving my legs. i even think about the familiar traffic-jammed streets of seattle, wondering if the few aspects i like could be enough to sustain me.

bellingham, sometimes outside i get giddy just knowing that i'm taking your air into my lungs and your grass in between my toes. i always say that the birds sing prettier and the dogs smile wider in your city-space. but i fear that my love for you is an entity all it's own—not something that can be incorporated into who i'm destined to become. you are my lover, yes, but not my mate. you are my collage to my poetry. my sylvia plath to my erica jong. a novelty full of organic cream and exboyfriends who taste like the sadness of cigarettes and beer.

you are the city in which i experienced my first ear-ringing, wall-spinning bout of drunkenness in a bar that no longer even exists. the city in which i learned about the pretentiousness of l=a=n=g=a=g=e poetry and fell in love with ginsberg's angel-headed hipsters. the city in which i befriended the professor who's spent her life following her whims around the world. the city of the lone seaside kiss that should have gone further. the city that taught my tongue how to tangle with beer. the city that still rocks and cradles my heart.

but bellingham? i fear my love is not enough to keep me.



p.s. december 1 - 22

Thursday, September 25, 2008

in college, on my way home from my poetry classes, an odd combination of words would often pop into my head, and i would dig frantically through my backpack for a pen, whispering the words over and over again as if i were trying to remember a phone number. i always had observations written on my hands. a girl "gave" me the word wisteria for my birthday. things like that don't happen anymore. and for a long while i was glad because writing was starting to give me anxiety. i mean it's a lot easier not to care about particular shades of pink or the number off whiskers on a cat. it's easier to just ride through life off of the momentum of statistics and headlines. but now i feel like i've lost my keen eye for the details, i don't notice things as much as i used to. the surrealism slid off of my glasses and i want it back. so what do we do? that's a pure gold question. it's so tempting to soothe my worry with action. but i know that the laws of the universe deem that nothing i want is upstream. that my "work" is to let go of the oars, so the details will sort themselves out. derrick jensen said something like, i spent so much of my twenties doing not much of anything, if you look at it from a production standpoint, but doing a lot, if you look at it from the perspective of trying to find out who i am and what i love. getting grounded. and that took a lot of time, a lot of time spent sitting by a river reading, or taking walks, or sometimes watching baseball. so i'm going to spend my time reading the jungle, taking long walks in the rain, and forgiving my coworkers for tonight's absolute lack of compassion towards a dying cat.

come december, i'm running away to central america with a boy. we're buying plane tickets on monday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

there's a tree pressed up close to the window by my bed. on particularly breezy days (or when the squirrels scamper up and down it during a game of squirrel-tag) the branches scratch the glass. i was afraid that, come fall, the tree would prevent the rain from making that soothing patter sound of raindrops falling on glass. but although fall doesn't officially start for two days, it is raining in bellingham right now, and my underlying anxiety is being rocked to sleep by not only the sound of rain on my window, but by the sound of water running down the rain gutter. it is the sound of restoration. the sound of maybe-everything-just-might-be-okay.

at the risk of sounding like a freshman in sociology 101, working at a law firm has reawakened my almost dormant disdain of societal structure. it's hierarchical to the extent that in the mailroom, the attorney's boxes are on top of the assistant's boxes "so they don't have to bend over as far." i could never be an attorney for a multitude of reasons, but mostly because i would find that shit embarrassing.

sometimes it seems like society is made up of slots. and that people spend their early-adulthood shaping themselves
into forms (often cutting off ideological limbs) that will fit into them. and then they dutifully take up their places and create an identity out of ideas like:

i am a lawyer.
i am a democrat
i am a christian

but we were born into a world where these things already existed. it's one thing to select a pair of pants out of a catalog, but i think it's extremely limiting to select our spiritual, moral, and, social values out of an existing set of options. and i guess that's why
i've always hesitated to identify. and i guess that's why i always feel lonely. not in an everyday sort of way. but in a way that makes me unable to take most people seriously, and therefore, get to know them in any meaningful way. my mom always says, christina, there's never a crowd on the leading edge of thought, and narcissistically, it makes me feel better.

i try not to think about this too much though. anais nin says the inner chambers of the soul are like the photographer's darkroom. one cannot stay there all the time or it becomes the solitary cell of the neurotic. i've found this to be true. its been eight years since my high school photography class. but i remember how good it felt to walk through the revolving door of the darkroom and lose an afternoon under the amber lights. it's easier to create when it everything is dimly lit, when the edges of everything are softened. but eventually you must come out to breathe clean air and rinse away the sharp, bitter taste of the developer that somehow always ends up in your mouth.

oh, and i really, really want a peahoodie.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

my heart has never been broken. but it sure has been bruised and handled carelessly in the past. i never really think about the two times that it mattered; i'm not the kind of girl that finds pleasure or benefit in ruminating over my love interests gone bad. but i will admit that in seattle, i felt relief in knowing that the chances of running into the two people for whom i felt something significant (though not love), were almost none. and when i came back to bellingham, i did so knowing that it was only a matter of time before i'd cross paths with them again. and although it oddly didn't happen for the first 4 months, this week, i saw and talked to both of them. it was bizarre. although we were trading surface-level facts of our lives, i was thinking: you've seen me naked. i've seen you naked. we did things together naked. and now we're sitting here making small talk, intentionally not bringing that up. i only feel the significance of sex in retrospect. but the beautiful thing was that i felt nothing besides a dull pang of annoyanceat the boys, yes, but also at myself for letting myself become so small. sometimes though, seeing the obvious is like trying to look at wind. although you can feel it, you can't see it, so it becomes easy to pretend that it's not lurking in the corners of that space created between two people.

and that, my friends, is that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

dawdling around the library on a tuesday afternoon felt so indulgent. i poured over american craft magazine and marveled at the thoughts that have been birthed to life through thread and ink and glue. i scribbled down this quote on a receipt: the simple act of making something, anything, with your hands is a quiet political ripple in a world dominated by mass production. yes! it does feel rebellious to make things. it's artistic homesteading at it's finest. i was so inspired i made an impromptu stop at the art store on the way home. i came away with two itsy-bitsy canvases and a pink pastel. now there's a word i haven't said since 1992pastel. in elementary school, i'd get rashes on the side of my hand while rubbing it up and down an already-drawn pastel tree while working on a pastel flower. i can tell i'm going to get used to this monday-wednesday-friday work schedule. so far i've managed to distract the puritanical guilt that's ingrained in all of us with arts and crafts and rereading tom hodgkinson's how to be idle. my chi . . . flow . . . energy . . . whatever you call it, is slowly reverting to its natural harmonious state. hodgkinson says: there is immense psychological benefit to knowing your days of free time each week outnumber your days of time sold to another. it makes the work more bearable and it leaves four days in which to pursue your own projects. there is certainly a financial knock, but most find the loss of income is easily compensated for by the extra time. exactly, tom, exactly. it has been almost a metaphysical act of self-commitment. a commitment to spending more time at the library, experimenting with ridiculous shades of eyeshadow, and hanging around the bakery waiting for that cute guy to ask-me-the-fuck out (i'm getting closer, i can feel it). i'm also toying with the idea of planning a trip to the south. birmingham, memphis, and atlanta are on the top of my list. on monday, i spoke to an attorney from greensboro, north carolina, or as he said greensboro, north caroliiiiiiiina. it melted my heart right over the phone. i just want to be sweltered by something, and i think i'd find satisfaction in the thick heat of the south. i remember jamaica, and how the only way i could describe the air was by calling it large, how it became an entity, this constant thing that was caught in your throat, but after time became comforting. i want to feel that again. and i want to order a catfish basket at gladys knight's chicken and waffle restaurant.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

they were playing techno music at the black cat which pretty much ruined the whole thing. so after one white russian, i came home for a saturday night of reading and writing in bed, and i have to say, i'm quite enjoying my new sheets—400 thread-count, cotton sateen wonders that make me feel quite grown up. yes, despite my living in a house with 8 other people, i'm starting to feel like an adult, which is an entirely new, scary, and exhilarating feeling. even when i was working in a fancy-schmancy downtown seattle office and lived on the hill in my very own apartment, i felt like i was pretending, like i was just going through the motions of a grownup. but now it feels different, like i've settled into my adult-self, at least a little bit. the idea of quality is becoming important, in silly things like coffee and sheets. and being drunk is just no longer worth wasting half of a sunday being hungover. but more significant than anything that has manifested on the outside, i've been feeling the dull melancholy of parting ways with my early-twenties self. i know i'm still young. just no longer young-young. and i feel like i'm too big for the adult equivalent of the sandbox, but too small to ride the bumper cars. i guess i've been feeling lonely. and i guess that's why i cried all the way home from the art walk last night. because i've become the proverbial middle child who's too young and too old at the same time and finds herself surrounded by non-age appropriate toys. i'm too old for all-day drinking binges, but too young for french club at the chuckanut wine bar. so i've been spending a lot of time alone, which has allowed me to spend lots of time listening martin luther king speeches and making jewelry, which has been super-fun. but sometimes, i wish that i had more people in my life who don't consider drunkenness to be an activity, but who are are not grasping the handrails of life either. i want to meet christian carpenters, artist farmers, and sarcastic social workers. i know they're here, but where? i'm here, where are you?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a good friend and i were talking about how she and i always think in terms of metaphors, how we fall in love with the idea of things, and not necessarily the things themselves. living in analogies is fun, but tiring. i get so jealous of people who yearn for something like a boat - so they buy a boat - and they are happy. i'm yearning so hard for something that i can't see, for the core or essence of something big, maybe even, for a certain style-of-life. and i wish i could reduce it down to something concrete, something tangible, or at least something of which i can make out the shape. i'd even be happy with catching a glance of the silhouette.

my friend suggested, as an exercise, that i make a list of all of the things that i know make me happy, and not worry about to what, if anything, they add up. for what it's worth, here's my list:

- falling asleep with the wind on my face on a cold day

- the colors gray and mustard yellow side-by-side

- reading missed connections religiously

- smiling dogs

- prose poetry

- making out in a tent when it's raining outside

- how everything sounds softer when it snows

- rachel nunner

- eggnog lattes

- penciled notes in the margin of a used book (deal breaker = highlighters)

- an especially good day of thrift shopping

-going on real dates (not "hanging out," not "meeting up," but genuine old-fashioned dates involving a public outing and butterflies in the tummy)

- never being hung over anymore!

- a brand new bottle of shampoo

- the irregularity of handspun yarn

- swiss cheese omlettes from voula's offshore cafe (with hashbrowns, english muffins, and coffee)

- handwritten letters

- civil rights-inspired sermons from the 1960s

- optimists

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

it's amazing what a long walk and a bag of licorice all-sorts can do to clear the head. as i walked down state street, i listened to a martin luther king sermon titled the drum major instinct. it really isolated the root cause of the anxiety i've been feeling. the mid-twenties are a strange age. we have completed internships. we have graduated college. some of us have held "real" jobs. check. check. check. but there comes a point where you are faced with the choice of progressing down the path you're on to collect more checks (promotions, raises, etc.) and taking the time and space to carefully consider what mark you want to make on the world. some of us are lucky. some of us know deep-down we want to be teachers and our first after-college job is beautiful and meaningful and more-or-less pays the bills. the rest of us aren't so lucky. the rest of us take jobs as waitresses and receptionists and bookstore clerks because we need to reserve brainspace to figure out what we want, but the bills need to be paid in the meantime. and this is when we need to put our brave-faces on. this is when i need to put my brave-face on. there has been something missing in my life (besides lots of crazy-good sex with a hot guy). i haven't been feeling very useful to the world, at least not in the way i want to be useful. i didn't find meaning in a public relations firm, i didn't find it in a law firm, i didn't find it in a preschool (GOOD GOD! what kind of person doesn't find meaning in a preschool!?) but i still have all of this love inside that i want so badly to share with the world—it's even manifesting into a physical feeling in my chest, like a hand lighting pressing out from the inside. in the drum major instinct, king says:

i know a man—and i just want to talk about him a minute, and maybe you will discover who i’m talking about as i go down the way because he was a great one. and he just went about serving. he was born in an obscure village, the child of a poor peasant woman. and then he grew up in still another obscure village, where he worked as a carpenter until he was thirty years old. then for three years, he just got on his feet, and he was an itinerant preacher. and he went about doing some things. he didn’t have much. he never wrote a book. he never held an office. he never had a family. he never owned a house. he never went to college. he never visited a big city. he never went two hundred miles from where he was born. he did none of the usual things that the world would associate with greatness. he had no credentials but himself—jesus.

so i'm going to try a new approach and just "go about serving" in my daily life, being extra kind to everyone who comes my way. maybe that will tide me over while i go about finding my true life's work. because i want to be happy and helpful in the meantime.

(almost) missing it

the whole town is moving. chemisty books and television sets line the streets like crazy—things no longer worth the space or hassle—cast aside like old friends outgrown. on every block there's a father backing a truck into a driveway. i look at the incoming freshman, and think:

you're not thinking about the fact that in four years you will be gone, that this town will be scratching you like a wool sweater to the throat.

they're only thinking about how many boxes will fit under their beds and the toothpaste they forgot to grab as they were rushing away from their suburban homes.

i have a secret. it involves reevaluating whether i could really never live in seattle again. besides my lovely rachel, i think i was spending time with the wrong people. living in the wrong neighborhood. going to all the same tired bars. i've been wondering if i could do it differently. maybe get in with a crowd who listens to motown. find a studio in ballard or fremont. go to bars where only one or two people in the room are in bands. go to beauty school. attend a liberal church on sundays. make crafty-things for my doting technical-writing, cabinet-making boyfriend who's the perfect blend of seattle and bellingham and is really good in bed.