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.