Saturday, May 30, 2009

unglamourous girl

the last time i was in bellingham, a crazy (or maybe just eccentric) middle-aged lady told me as i was getting off bus: you stood out like light, you know, . . . like light. that was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. i'll be hard-pressed to find another compliment as intrinsic as that. once again, i am baffled by how much life can change in a matter of mere months. once again i left the land of high-arched hippie boys, and am dreaming up my next plan of action in suburbia. my mornings are not unlike elementary school. i wake up, i pack my lunch, i get on the bus. but instead of taking me to highland terrace, my bus takes me to a small, unassuming office in the broderick building in pioneer square. then i ride the elevator up to the fifth floor, take a right, a left, and another right, and sit down and power up my shiny new laptop. i am once again gainfully employed. this time, at a small human rights nonprofit. i even work more than 40 hours a week. and i enjoy it more than my fixed 40 hours at pyramid communications, and a lot more than my 37.5 hours at the law firm. i've been feeling good. but i've also been feeling a bizarre urge to move to everett. everett, i know! but i've had this consistent, low-grade craving to live around working class people for a while now. construction workers. waitresses. that kind of thing. having gone to college, i've found myself folded into this pocket of "professionals" from relatively privileged households. but my roots are entrenched in the working class. my mother was a waitress for twenty years. my grandfather was sheet metal worker. my great-grandmother was a housekeeper. my great-great grandparents owned a vegetable stand in italy. i'm not trying to glamorize what it means to be poor. i don't think there's anything intrinsically noble about not having money. i'm also not trying to villanize what it means to have money. but i think there is something noble about being able to enjoy simple pleasures. like actual simple pleasures, not $15 yoga classes or a $80 cashmere scarves recommended by real simple magazine. i've noticed that the more yuppified people become, the less simple their simple pleasures become. they turn into de-stressers or distractions from their fast-paced, deadline-driven lifestyles, instead of pleasures to be savored for their own sake. i mean, i want to live comfortably. i want to be able to buy $22 lobster macaroni and cheese from purple once or twice a year. i want to have money to travel. heck, i want to buy every dress that has graced the store windows of anthropologie. but i want to be able to recognize these things for what they are: splurges, luxuries, pure decadence. i don't want to be fooled into thinking something's simple because it's peasant-chic. so i guess that's why i've been eyeing that old mining city just a bit due north. i feel like it could remind me that the pocket of professionals i'm surrounded by, is just that; a pocket. most people in the world put on their unglamourous clothes, work their unglamourous jobs, and come home to an unglamourous beer. and i'm not a very glamourous girl.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

it figures

it figures that the boy who i've been doing crossword puzzles with, the boy who i've been giggling under the covers with, the boy who's been impressing me with his crazy smart brain . . . is going to ann arbor for law school.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the church of everyday life

i was waiting for the 101 bus the other day, wearing my navy blue skirt and gray thigh-high socks. it was pouring rain, and by the time i had walked the three blocks from my house to the bus stop, water had soaked through my knock-off target camper shoes and into my thick, ribbed socks. and i thought of those monks who can dry soaking wet beds sheets on their backs in 20 degree weather. and then i saw a bus barreling towards my stop—the 118—so as the driver approached, i offered a wave and a smile indicating that he didn't need to stop, that i was headed to some other place that he could not take me. but he stopped anyway. and as opened the accordion doors, he said, let me give you a transfer, and he tore the paper so deliberately, i could hear it over the muffled engine of the bus. as i stepped up to accept his gift, he held on to the other end and said: i want to reward you. most people just sit there like statues. and then he let go.

and if you know me, you know that i love nothing more in this world than a random act of kindness. and i've been living off of this one for weeks. i tucked that pink paper rectangle into the journals of rachel corrie, on the page where she writes:

in the back of the bus someone is talking about some band and they're trading headphones all around. all these people are awake and chatty and i'm tired from my graveyard shift. i really do love them. i love us riding the bus together. and i know it's a privilege to love riding the bus after having a car, but you know, i don't really care. i love us, riding the bus together.

i want to cultivate more of these kindness-based transactions, where one random person offers a small considerate gesture and is treated to one in return. i really do think people are intrinsically good and love each other. i think people are all so intent on getting ahead that they feel like suckers if they give someone a little grace, or a little wiggle room to be human in. kind of like why no one believes in socialism; we have no faith that the people around us won't take advantage of non-capitalistic system. and nobody's willing to be the first to sacrifice, whether it's letting someone into their lane, or paying higher taxes for universal health care.

oh, i know i simplify things. but sometimes i catch the the world in such a light that makes me so happy for the little things that it strikes me as strange that people go off to india and nicaragua and australia looking for a "spiritual experience" when there's so much spirituality to be had here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

let me stand alone

it's funny how sometimes an evening beginning with grown men in clown pants playing miniature musical instruments can end with a late-night discussion about the loopy broken-lined boundaries that represent marooned lives in the middle east. i'm not politically minded, nor do i desire to be. but it's interesting to me that so many wars have been fought in the name of god because i see god and politics as conflicting ideas, the former being (hopefully) guided by love, while the latter concerns itself with concrete, specific, earthly agenda. i'm not sure you can have a foot in both. it'd be like standing in the caribbean and indian ocean at the same time; you physically can't, and to even get from one to another, you have to take a long trip involving layovers and checkpoints. and it baffles my mind that the world is still building walls and fences all over the place, given our collective history of them. but what interests me more than the boundaries themselves, is how, with the right words they can be turned into these gorgeously heartbreaking things. like anything awful, there's always a poetic element of pain.

i'm reading let me stand alone, the journals of rachel corrie. i love reading journals for the same reason i prefer interviews to be portrayed in the question and answer format in magazines. i always think a person's actual contradictory, fragmented thoughts are always more beautiful than the sterilized summed-up regurgitations that some journalists prefer. rachel corrie is my latest addition to my hypothetical dinner party. she's who i strive to be, minus the whole thinking-the-world-is-a-bad-place thing. she loves the world the way i want to love the world; simply and exquisitely. she tells a story about hitchhiking, where a car pulls over so she runs up to the window and waits for them to roll it down. except they don't. and they don't and they don't and they don't. they don't even look at her. and it becomes this big awkward thing until she follows their gaze and realizes they pulled over to admire a nativity scene in the park across the street. not to give her a ride. and instead of feeling invisible and annoyed, she just feels embarrassed and sheepish. i'm not sure why the story stayed with me, but it really struck me as admirable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

fiction and non-fiction

even though you use the word poem in your poems, you make me want to write them. we are all doing things to be received; formulating spreadsheets, telling jokes, leaning in close to apply cherry bomb lip gloss. i miss feeling like i'm good at something. i miss having people ask about my line breaks. i miss crashing into mary cornish in front of the pears at the co-op and having an impromptu discussion about this thing called love. and i suppose i can use my days more creatively. but i'm afraid to re-develop a taste for poetry, only to have my time ripped off of me like skin again. recycling my grad school applications was the beginning of worst break-up of my life. and the truth is, i don't want to be a writer. except in terms of silly things like this, or the short smattering of words i scribble on random bits of paper. and i'm reading fiction again, which is a start. perhaps i shall join a book group. i just want to incorporate literature back into my life in lots of little ways.

on a positive note, i'm starting to find suburbia refreshing? i went to the spaghetti factory with my mom tonight and brink's home security employees were having their company party. they were all sitting around a long paper place-matted table, wearing navy blue hats and coveralls, eating cheap pasta and cheap beer, and laughing. they were yukking it up like crazy! completely devoid of the usual company party awkwardness,
it was obvious they were genuinely enjoying each other. i've been to a few posh/hip/fancy company parties complete with open bar and fancy finger food and never have i - or my friends - enjoyed them. watching these blue collar men and woman, made me crazy happy inside. like, maybe it really is okay to choose something other than becoming a "young professional." maybe it's okay to not think living in seattle proper is worth the money. maybe suburbia can be my new bellingham.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

soften

every once in a while, when i come across a random college picture—in a forgotten notebook, or stuck between pages of a book, my heart cracks and breaks, and just for a moment, i want to go back in time and scream - STOP! nobody move. let's just stay here together forever.

oh.

i've been trying to give myself lots of little things to look forward to: tyanne's birthday happy hour was great fun on friday, involving photobooths and mrs. pac man. a valentine's dinner-and-movie date with caitlin ensued on saturday. and today, i spent time reading oriah mountain dreamer's the invitation followed by a glorius nap. i wonder if there will come a point where i don't have to work so hard to be happy. staying away from capitol hill helps, as does painting my fingernails pink and taking baths with eucalyptus-scented salts. also, now that i've noticed a tendency in myself to steamroll people with ideas that i don't even necessarily believe
my mantra is: soften, soften, soften. and i feel softer, softer, softer inside.

excerpts from the poem the invitation was based upon:

it doesn't interest me what you do for a living. i want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

it doesn't interest me how old you are. i want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

. . .

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.

i want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “yes!”

. . .

it doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

Friday, February 6, 2009

on howell & minor
i’m in the lobby of some fancy schmancy downtown seattle office building. i think it’s called metropolitan park. or metropolitan place. or metropolitan north. whatever it is, they want you to know it’s metropolitan. there’s a revolving door in the lobby and it’s windy outside, which together creates a miniature revolving windstorm as one makes their way through the doors. about a third of the people feel the need to exclaim as they stand in the lobby folding up their dripping umbrellas and readjusting their hats. these individuals are mostly middle-aged women with short haircuts, practical trench coats, and rolling backpacks. the sheer intensity of their exhilaration breaks my heart. like they’re desperately in need of some real adventure. and i so badly want to take them by the hand, hop into the nearest cab, and put them on the first plane to morocco. but instead, i watch as their sensible pumps and rolling backpacks echo down the hallway, and they step into elevators that will deliver them to their places of duty.

please, god, don’t let this be me. everyone that knows me knows that the only thing i find more depressing than the economy are the people wringing their hands over it. i believe the rate of unemployment is directly related to the percentage of people who have the potential to improve their lives. how glorious is it to have such an expanse of time to dream and imagine without monday morning boring its ugly head into our dreams? oh, i don’t have any solutions. i’m having this guy
read my tarot and astrology chart next thursday, and i’m hoping to get a little clarity. it’s 300 bucks, but he’s supposed to really good, and besides it’s a small price to pay for a little clarity. i’ll be honest: once again, i’m paralyzed by my oldest friend, indecision.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a negative identity

everyday you hear of 17-year-olds making big, bold steps and trotting off to the big apple to become fashion designers or to los angeles to become the next heidi klum, and there’s an element of glamour in all of it because everyone in the whole world secretly wants to be a fashion designer so somehow eating saltines in empty apartments is considered beautiful. but what if the 17-year-old wants to run a bed and breakfast in a sleepy city instead of pursuing the spotlight, and what if the 17-year-old is actually 25? is there any allure in a twentysomething spoiling any and all chances of ever owning a condo in the city? and if owning a condo in the city would be, for me, the epitomy of personal failure, why am is so fucking afraid to run in the opposite direction? laurence boldt says: until we have taken the time to discover and affirm who we really are and what we really want, we are left with only negative identities and negative passion. we define ourselves by what we are against, and so have negative, not creative, passion. we are comfortable with rebelling but fearful of creating. [but] genuine creativity is never the result of a defensive reaction against something.

i guess i'm afraid that everything that i think i want is just a response to what i know i don't want. and i know allllll about what i don't want. i know i don't want to "manage" or "coordinate" anything. i know that i don't want to work hard to make someone else rich. i can rapidly fire off a list of things i find banal and uninspired, for instance:

guys who refer to themselves as "outdoorsy"
flannel in the city
skinny jeans
flannel in the city with skinny jeans (please, seattle, STOP!)
fretting about the economy
the phrase “work hard play hard”
broadway and the surrounding pike/pine area
mustaches/finger mustaches
95 percent of feminist theory (please don’t hate me, tyanne)
pine furniture (especially in kitchens with periwinkle curtains)
articles of incorporation
guys who leave ski lift stickers on their zippers
the seemingly endless obsession with pirates
jazz/blues/fusion bands in bellingham
western’s “take back the night” march
english majors who read harry potter

but i'm done running away from things i don't like. i don't want to define myself by not liking pirates. i want to pass out and see stars from running so hard towards the things that i do like and fall down slick with sweat, thinking wow, thank you, universe.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

southbound

for all of the plane rides i’ve taken, and books i’ve read, and rockets of desire i’ve ridden lately—it turns out that happiness was waiting for me in a little coffee shop in phinney in the form of cayenne hot chocolate and a good friend. and right now my mom did a little dance around the kitchen to please, mr. postman. and today the skagit valley rained frosty purple raindrops that rolled down the windshield like tiny waving wrists. for all of the fear news anchors pour nightly into our living rooms about economic instability, and to all of the folks lapping it up like cats, i suggest turning of the television and treating yourself to a 3 dollar hot chocolate at the neptune.

i brought more clothes home from bellingham today. i took pictures of my apartment and will put them on craigslist tomorrow morning. moving back to bellingham was something that needed to be done. and even though i hooked up with a republican and took a job as a cog in the kicking-people-out-of-their-homes machine (ahem, I mean foreclosure process), i’m so grateful that i had the chance to put the bellingham baby to bed. plus, i reconnected with matt and tim, saw some beautiful sunsets, and watched obama win the election in the same city in which i've thought all of my best thoughts. mmmmm.

i had a crazy good time with caitlin this weekend. we're going to be roomies! we’re looking at the greenwood/phinney/ballard neighborhoods and i think i’d like living in any of them. capitol Hill, i will not fall into your hipster trap again! but seattle, maybe, just maybe, you will give birth to some of my best thoughts yet.