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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Sunday, December 07, 2008

December, Thus Far



December, thus far, has been perfect. Just perfect.

Work has been going wonderfully. I've forced myself to attend potentially awkward gatherings and have come out the other side of them with new friends and a renewed sense of confidence. I have spent the weekend having truly amazing one on one conversations with some of the greatest people I know. I have cleaned out the clutter that's been filling my house and the metaphorical clutter that's been clouding my happiness. I have started preparing for the future. I have started reconnecting with the past. I have started enjoying the present.

I spent Friday night in our basement drinking wine with my best friend, watching truly terrible television, and discussing everything about our days, weeks, lives. We spoke of happiness and sadness and anger and silliness. We talked about our plans for the future. We reminisced over stories from our pasts. We enjoyed the present company of each other. Sometimes you just need someone by your side, someone to nod and say "I get it." Sometimes that's all it takes to feel love.

On Saturday night, one of my dear friends who I've known for 13 years now, came over for dinner. We made sushi together, an idea she suggested, an idea that immediately made me think "this is why we're friends." She noticed that it had been almost an entire year to the day since I last saw her in Prague. It's funny, how so much has happened since then, and yet, how it felt like only yesterday I saw her. I suppose that's the magical thing about friendship.

We assembled our sushi, ate, sipped wine, talked and talked about everything. It was so nice to reconnect that way. It was so nice to reach a point in the night where we had gotten past the details of what had occurred over the past year, and instead moved onto who we are now, at this point, in this moment.

She referred to one of my blog entries and told me she had written the exact same thing in her journal. It was strange to imagine that this woman whom I admire so greatly, who seems so perfect and together, could ever have the same uncertainties and doubts about her life as I do. But we all do. And it is so nice to be reminded of that. It is so nice to feel a little less crazy, a little less alone. It is so nice to sit and discuss things that are deep, and serious, and real. Sometimes that's all it takes to feel love.

Inspired by her ability to reach out to me, I did the same with another friend. We met for brunch this morning. I can't even recall the last time we talked, really talked, but it was just as fabulous as I remembered it to be. No, that's not true. It was better. It was warming a piece of my heart that I hadn't even noticed had grown cold. It was pure joy. He told me about his life. I told him about mine. He took me on a tour of his house. I made him promise to come see mine. We agreed not to wait too long again. We hugged. Sometimes that's all it takes to feel love.

That's December, thus far. The weeks ahead are sure to be just as full and restless as this past week has been, but I feel nothing but gratitude for it. Lately I find myself full of a kind of energy I haven't felt for some time. I just want to see everyone and know everything. I just want to burst open with love and light and gladness. I just want to run from the fields of uncertainty into the open door of possibility, where my future stands waiting, calling me in from the cold.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday. December. OK Go.

Happy December!

What better way to begin than with a few of my favorite things.

A Little Love:



A Little Dancing:



A Little Nonesense:



A Little Nature:



A Little Holiday Spirit:



And A Little Boogie Wonderland:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Belated Giving of Thanks



My roommate and I have spent the weekend getting into the Christmas spirit. We put up and decorated our tree, placed Christmas paraphernalia all around the house, watched Elf, The Polar Express, and some awful-but-wonderful Hallmark Channel original movie, listened to nothing but Christmas music. It's been perfect. Just perfect.

At Thanksgiving dinner, we did not go around the table and say what we are thankful for, and I was probably thankful for that most of all. I always feel very put on the spot with things like that. It seems impossible not to be generic, and to list what I'm really grateful for feels too personal and, well, fairly uninteresting. Don't we all just want to eat by that point anyway?

But naturally this time of year demands reflection, and as I sit here in my living room, tree glowing, candles burning, my roommate and I typing on our laptops while sipping tea, I can't help but feel ubiquitous gratitude. I am grateful for everything that has happened this year, the good as well as the bad. I am grateful for this house, for my roommate, for my new job, for the friends I've made there, for the friends I've kept from my old job, for the friends I've kept period, for my family, for poetry and coffee and art, for food and nature, for kindness and love, for knowing where I want to go, for knowing that I don't need to be there yet, for the direction my life is beginning to go, for my life. I am grateful for it all.

On Tuesday night, I went to see Mary Oliver at the library with my mother. It was lovely. I followed along with every poem I knew, and soaked in every poem I didn't. I loved hearing her read my favorites exactly as I had to myself, all of the pauses and emphasis in just the right places. I loved the soft "hmmms" of understanding and light giggles of delight from the audience members who were clearly discovering her magic for the first time. I loved being an audience member who already knew of such magic, who could instead spend the hour finding new complexities to her simple words and truths. And I did just that.

In those situations, I am constantly wishing that it was appropriate to take out my journal and begin writing, but sadly, most of what I promise not to forget somehow gets lost in the folds of memory. What I remember best of all about the night was not the poems she picked, or the sound of her voice, but in fact, my surprise at how tiny she is. I of course knew that she is 73. I knew she would be an older woman. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I suppose I had always imagined her tall, commanding like her words.

But she walked in, stepped up onto her podium in front of the heavy red drapes of the stage and looked so punitive, so plain. If I had passed her on the street, I wouldn't have thought twice about her. She just looked so ordinary.

And then she spoke, and became extraordinary.

She became what I knew she was - author, poet, artist, woman of wisdom and truth and beauty. She was powerful and compelling and divinely exquisite. She was exactly who she is.

And for that, I am grateful. I was grateful to witness that instant transformation from ordinary to extraordinary. I was grateful for the reminder that such an ability to transform exists within each of us. We are all more than we seem. We are all talented in ways that demand attention. We are all exactly who we are. And it is perfect. Just perfect.

So it is here on the last day of November, 2008, that I realize the perfection of my own existence, and my gratitude for it, and my excitement for all of the transformations that are to come.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Honor Of Seeing Mary Oliver Tonight



In honor of seeing Mary Oliver tonight, but being too exhausted to write about it now, I'll mark the occasion with one of the poems she read. What a wonderful way to spend an evening.

The Sun by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed--
or have you too
turned from this world--

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Justification



I am a firm believer in not regretting things I've written. That being said, in my last post I certainly didn't mean to imply that my twenty-something comrades are stupid, or that I am smart, or that I am superior, or even that I am inferior. When I sit down to write this blog, I just write, and often times it leads to unintentional points. It was not about my friends. I cannot stress that enough. It was not about you.

It was about me. The point I was trying to get to was that I am average. Painfully average.

I consider those people whom we may have considered nerds in high school, the ones who got straight A's and dominated all of the class discussions and spent their weekends reading just for the fun of it. I consider the characters from the movie Smart People, the ostracized intellectual protagonists in all of my favorite books, my father, all of those remarkably scholarly geniuses who can't quite find ways to connect to the general public. And I think, at least they can justify their lives. At least they can say, I don't go out drinking and clubbing every night, but I know more and understand more and enjoy more than those kinds of people do.

I consider the people I know who go out every night, who meet new and interesting people, who spend their time making incredible anecdotes for the rest of us to listen to and be jealous of. I consider the characters from movies and books who follow their hearts, who have no grand plan, who I admire for being strong enough to do exactly what they want to be doing, exactly what makes them happy. Those people who are going out drinking and clubbing every night, well, at least they can justify their lives. At least they can say, I don't bury myself in books and current affairs, but I'm living every moment to the fullest. I'm having fun.

But me? I'm just somewhere in the middle. I'm not smart enough to be considered a brooding intellectual and I'm not fun enough to be considered a socialite. I'm just a boring average girl with a boring average life, and I don't mean that to sound like self pity or even sadness. It's just sort of the way it goes.

I was driving behind a car sporting a bumper sticker of the infamous Laurel Ulrich quote "well behaved women seldom make history" and I remembered being younger and loving the idea of this. I loved the idea of wild women, of surrounding myself with wild spirits, of becoming one myself. I loved the idea of fighting for things, of changing things, of making an impact somehow, no matter how small. I loved the grandeur of believing in things so deeply.

But reading it now, I am just struck by the realization of how well behaved I am. I follow the rules. I care greatly about what it is expected of me and how well I fulfill those expectations. I make an average salary at an average job to pay an average mortgage for an average house in the average suburbs. I am not having great adventures or making great impacts. My goals are simple and realistic. I have become less and less of an idealist over the past couple of years.

When you're young, you swear that will never happen, but as we grow older, we make compromises. We fall into patterns, directions, roles and expectations. We become people we promised never to be. I'm only twenty three years old, and to feel like that so early on scares me a bit. It makes me want to change everything. Now. It makes me want to reconsider who I feel myself becoming.

And that's all I was really trying to say. I was trying to say that in wanting to be a bit of everything, it often feels like I became nothing - no label, no type, no place to really fit in, no way to justify my decisions. The past few years have not made me smarter or more fun. I've been stuck in what is comfortable and easy. I've been trying to define myself instead of trying to better myself. I haven't really been working towards anything, until I arrived here at this point, and considered that perhaps average simply isn't enough for me.

At least I can say I know that much.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Perspective



I have spent most of my life listening, sitting back quietly, paying attention. I have spent most of my life looking on from the sidelines, getting involved enough to please people, but not so involved that I have any real responsibility. I have spent more time watching than acting, more time observing than participating, more time reflecting than moving forward. And in many ways, I've enjoyed that role. I attribute most of my thoughtfulness and wisdom to it. It's taught me how to take the time to learn how to read people. It's taught me how to notice the little things while still keeping the big picture in mind. It's taught me how to really see things. I have spent most of my life exploring perspectives, and I have spent most of my life enjoying it.

But there are times I see people converse and fraternize with such ease, that I cannot help but feel completely social stunted, jealous and pitifully self loathing. Why can't I do that?

It's gotten so much worse over the past couple of years. I have lead my life by the rule that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all, but equally important it seemed was that if you don't have something interesting to say, don't say anything at all. Part of that observation role meant that I understood those awkward pauses and glances after someone spoke. I understood the dangers of speaking and revealing stupidity and dullness. I understood the difficulty of disproving that impression once it had been made. And so I stopped saying much unless it seemed relevant and insightful. And even then I continue to be cautious.

Generally I practice things a few times over in my head. Sometimes I leave events and have long monologues on the car ride home of things I would have said and probably should have said, if only I were a bit quicker and braver. And I think, if only I were smarter, all of this would be so much easier.

But there is the other side of me too. The smarter side. The wiser side. There is the side of me that knows better. There is the side of me that feels completely out of place in a room full of people my own age, in a room full of people who find it so easy to converse and fraternize because well, they're just talking. I could just talk if I wanted to, about the weather and TV and what I did over the weekend and what I ate for lunch and how drunk I was at that party and what the boy I liked was wearing and how I can't believe that so and so would ever do such a thing to so and so number two. I could just talk, but I prefer to speak. I prefer to have conversations that go somewhere, that mean something. I could be more like a twenty-something if I tried.

I could be more like that if I wasn't so wrapped up in my own head. I could be more like that if I didn't think so much. But I wouldn't want to give up that part of me. And I know it sounds conceded, if not just downright awful, but sometimes I think, if only I were a little dumber, all of this would be so much easier.

Grown ups are constantly telling me that they wish they would have known what I have already come to understand when they were my age. But perhaps you're supposed to learn certain lessons later in life for a reason. It's not really fun feeling ten years older than you really are. It's not really fun feeling too smart or too stupid in almost every situation. It's not really fun not knowing where I fit in.

I'm sure there's some happy medium out there that I have yet to discover within myself. Certainly most of my friends, younger and older, are some of the smartest people I know, who inspire and challenge me to find that place between the timid girl who's afraid of looking foolish and the grown woman who's wise beyond her years. It's just a matter of trying to stop labeling myself, questioning myself, observing myself, and instead learning to live as myself, silly stupid smart me. It's just a matter of stepping off of the sidelines and exploring the perspective from the center of my existence. I have spent most of my life trying to get there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smiles For Saturday

Completely and utterly irresistible.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Absence



Loving you less would make my life easier. It would mean that I wouldn't notice the way our relationship has gradually faded, the way it has slowed, the way we have gone in different directions only to find ourselves miles apart. It would mean that I wouldn't think about the hows and whys of reaching this point, that I wouldn't regret all of the things that were done, and worse, not done to lead us here, that I wouldn't feel saddened at the mere thought of you. It would mean that I wouldn't miss you so much.

You used to praise me for my optimism, but I think that you always had it a bit confused. I am hopeful, yes, but I don't know if I would consider myself optimistic. Optimism seems to me like something other than hope. Optimism stems from a kind of happiness, a kind of blind faith that everything will work out, that everything will remain as happy as it has been and continues to be. Optimism is the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.

But hope? Hope is the consequence of absence. The absence of someone or something. Hope is what gets us out of bed each morning despite the ache of knowing there is something missing. Hope is not the belief in happy endings, but is the longing to believe in them, the longing to believe that it is possible to fill that empty space inside oneself. Optimism is a state of being, but hope is a feeling. Optimism is an option, but hope is a necessity. It's an insatiable desire. It's why we continue on.

Because what is life if not a search? If we were to make a list of all that we are grateful for having and of all that we wanted for ourselves in the future, what would that list be if not a reflection of our hope? We wished for these things, and even if we weren't optimistic about getting them, we hoped they would be in our lives. We hoped for the best. Sometimes that hope pays of, sometimes not, but the gamble is what inspires us to keep going. That list of things to be grateful for is proof of the worthiness of hope. It is enough to pursue the search.

You never really got that right about me. I do not believe that life is inherently happy, that people are intrinsically good, that everyone gets their happily-ever-after. I do not believe that there are factors bigger than ourselves determining the course of things. I do not believe in the existence of magic, or the power of love, or the truth of fairy tales. I do not believe in anything, but I have hope in everything. I have the desire to believe. I have the longing to find answers to the questions I've left blank. I have the terrible, painful, beautiful ache of absence inside me.

I have the terrible, painful, beautiful ache of missing you. And while I may not be optimistic that we will ever have the kind of relationship we once did, that I will ever be able to fill that particular void, I am hopeful that I will. With all of my heart I hope. For me. For you. For us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All Those Small Things



"One would say she was a simple woman, made happy by simple things. I think this was true. And more than once, in my long life, I have wished to be her."
~Mary Oliver

I make the soft right and there it is. It gets me every time. The leaves have changed and the entire street hums with golden yellows and gentle oranges. If there's a morning breeze, small tornados of color line the sidewalk and spin past my car. Each morning my breath is stolen away by its beauty. Each morning I am shocked by its unassuming grace. Each morning I marvel at the deep impact those tiny details make in life.

The three of us used to play this game we called "high, low." At any point we could turn to one another and say those words and the other person would have to name the lowest and highest points of their day so far, in that order. It just made sense to save the best for last. What we discovered of course, was that the highs, no matter how seemingly insignificant at the time, always seemed to outweigh the lows, and that the lows, no matter how seemingly devastating at the time, were never really all that bad. Generally both answers received much needed laughter.

This week has been all about those little things that happen from day to day.

The flock of small black birds that took flight at the same instant over the empty parking lot, the sound of their wings rushing above me.

The three purple balloons caught in the highest point of a tall naked oak tree.

The old man with the white beard, dressed in red flannel from head to toe with a large brown cane beside him, sitting outside the market around the corner, sipping his coffee. The way I knew if I was a child I would have thought this homeless man to be Santa Clause. The way I knew as an adult that I still had hope that maybe he was.

The large deer that stopped right in the center of my favorite street, and how he stayed there long enough to meet my gaze head on, and how he vanished quickly enough that no one else witnessed his quiet perfection besides me.

My life is all about these moments.

Already I have created inside jokes with my new coworker. We look at each other and know what the other is thinking. We laugh at things we shouldn't. We have more fun than we probably should. It's nice to feel that again. It's important. It's those little looks and jokes and giggles that get me through the day.

I have spent every lunch break this week writing epically in my journal. I've written more in the past four days than in the past four weeks, perhaps even months. It's felt so good to reconnect with writing, reconnect with myself. More and more, I am starting to feel like me again. More and more those simple pleasures find me and I remember why it is I am so grateful to be living this little life of mine.

I arrived home today to find my re-acceptance letter to school. In January I'll start again part time to (FINALLY) get my degree. It's taken me almost three years to get the urge to finish college, but I guess what's important is that it's here now. I'm excited to begin. I'm excited to feel ready, to feel like I have a goal in mind and that I'm working toward it. I'm excited by the prospect of getting what I want out of life, of creating the opportunity to be the best version of myself I can be, the best version I have yet to be. I'm excited for this new adventure.

Of course, like all things worth doing, there will be moments of doubt and misery and exhaustion, I'm sure. Working full time and going to school will be a lot, but the truth is, I'm ready. I'm determined. I don't want to waste another moment waiting for something to happen. It's my turn to take the lead. It's my story to write.

And so I take a tiny step forward and, becoming breathless at its beauty, shocked by its grace, I marvel at the deep impact that one tiny step has made.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Recap of the Past Two Months



I slept through most of September. It's not something that I would care to admit to anyone who chooses to read this, not something that I would care to admit to myself, not something that I would care to remember at all in fact, but it's the truth, and it needs to be documented somehow.

The job I was planning to take in my last post didn't work out. I knew instantly that it wasn't for me. Truthfully, I probably knew even during the interview, but my want and need of a job outweighed my better judgement. So I took the job and after two days, left it. I hated being that person. I hated that feeling of quitting, of abandoning the people who had taken a chance on me, of letting people down. It is the worst kind of guilt. But really, in seeming selfish, I was trying to be selfless. It seemed a waste to grow close to children and parents that I knew I was leaving anyway. It seemed wrong to let them get to know me and trust me only to leave them in a few weeks when something better came along. It didn't seem worth it to hang on.

And so, I let go.

And therefore spent the better half of September taking the occasional interview, but mostly, wallowing in the fact that things hadn't just magically worked out for me the way they had always done in the past. In fact, after two long term jobs that had hired me on the spot, this was my first set of real interviews. When wearing my rose tinted glasses, I was grateful for the practice and for finally understanding the merit behind job hunting complaints. When the glasses came off however, I was depressed and wanted a job.

I'm really not good at "free time." It was an important lesson to learn about myself.

But at last, the end of September came and with it, a job teaching four year olds at a new and lovely center. I adore my new coworker, which is generally half the battle in a daycare setting, and my new little students are just wonderful. I'm sure there will be countless stories relayed here in the future, but for now, I just wanted to say that each day the job gets better. Each day I fall a little more in love with my new children. Each day I grow more confidant in my choices and in the theory that everything happens for a reason. Things do, generally, magically work out. It's simply a matter of recognizing the magic.

The past two weeks have been magical. On Halloween, our new neighborhood buzzed with life. Neither of us have ever lived on a block that really celebrated the day. We were lucky if we got a handful of trick-or-treaters. But last Friday night they came in droves, of all ages, in some pretty wonderful costumes. We met some neighbors we had yet to meet. We sat out on the porch and felt the hum of excitement wafting through the orange lit street. The neighborhood united. It felt like we were connected to something bigger than ourselves. It was the best kind of feeling.

A few days before that, our city buzzed with life. Our beloved Phillies won the world series for the first time in twenty eight years and nobody slept for days. The celebration went on and on with drinking and fireworks and hugs and tears and pots and pans banging in homes from the heart of the city to the outskirts of the suburbs. Everyone had a smile on their face. Everyone wore red. The city united. It felt like we were connected to something bigger than ourselves. It was the best kind of feeling.

A week later we sat up waiting for the results of the Presidential election. From the other side of the wall of our twin, our neighbors screamed so loudly that I'm sure they are still trying to regain their voices. Obama WON. And it feels, well, amazing, doesn't it? It feels like change. It feels like hope. It feels like, for the first time in a long time, America has something to be proud of. And as a country, that unites us. And it feels like we're connected to something bigger than ourselves. And it is the best kind of feeling.

I have had two months of extreme lows and extreme highs. But it's getting better all the time. And while I have a thousand more things to say, stories to tell, emotions to consider, I sat down this morning to play catch up with this blog simply to express this one thought: I am happy.

And it feels like waking up.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Treasure



I pulled into the driveway and he darted across the yard, his sleek and narrow body bounding through patches of missing grass as though they were stepping stones. How he managed to hold onto it with only his tiny squirrel mouth I'll never know, but there it was, this one perfect tomato just at the peak of its ripeness. It was the color of fiery sunsets drawn by children, bright reds and oranges and yellows bursting with the idea that the sun won't go down without a fight. And the squirrel clung to it as though it were the sun itself, as though it were the something to thank for all of existence, as though it were precious and powerful and at the very center of everything. He ran toward me like a dog playing fetch, that look of discovery and pride on his tiny face, but at the last moment turned and scurried up the tree. I was glad of this. It was his treasure, not mine.

As I sit on the porch this morning, the air has already changed. Fall wafts in with it's familiar comforting scent. Leaves have already started to change color and float softly down upon the inviting earth. Yes, I think, a new beginning.

I wonder how many are allotted in life. How many times can we wipe our slates clean? How many chances do we get to be forgiven for our mistakes? How many opportunities are there to start fresh, to start over, to take those first steps? How many days can I dub as the first of the rest of my life before such a declaration becomes meaningless?

I thought about this last night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to come. What I'd like to believe is that new beginnings are limitless. Every day can be the first day because every day is different, something new, something precious. Even in the most monotonous stages of a life there are details waiting to be discovered and admired and cherished. There are ways of seeing the world as an invitation for happiness if one knows how to look at it right. There are ways of learning this skill that are as simple as opening your eyes, as slowing down, as listening to a single bird greet you into your day, as I did this morning. Open your senses and the soul will follow. It knows how to blossom in gladness. It knows how to begin again.

Tuesday is the first day of my new job and I'm excited for something new, for another round of beginnings, for new people and ideas and realizations. I'm ready for change. In fact, I've been craving it. Something I've learned about myself is that as much as I think that I want free time, I'm not very good at it. I need to be busy. I need to be out in the bustling world exploring and watching and discovering. I need to be having adventures, even if they're as small as watching a child learn something new, or finding a new perfect place to sit and write in my journal, or coming across a garden so filled with color and life that for a brief moment I am left literally breathless. What I need, more than anything, is to be inspired.

And so I think of the squirrel and of his treasure. I think of the delicate, simple loveliness of that scene. I think about how being inspired is sometimes as easy as letting go, as letting it happen, as letting the beauty of the universe consume you. I think about how even now, in the quiet stillness of this Sunday morning, the beginning of a new week, I am filled with joy and gratitude simply to be a witness to the grace of this world.

And I think about how I must seem in this moment, bounding through patches of doubt and uncertainty as though they were stepping stones, clinging to the fiery treasure of knowing how to love my life.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What I Have Learned So Far



"Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be too passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit no labor in its cause? I don't think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of -- indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone."

~Mary Oliver

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trying



Perhaps I simply needed to write it down. Or, more likely, perhaps I just needed to write. The act of typing seems to soothe me more than the actual words being set upon the page. It's strange to think of how quickly I seem to forget what comfort feels like. It's strange to think of how quickly I seem to forget that I am capable of saving myself, of pulling myself back from some dark and dreary place, of rediscovering the way light gently radiates from all of existence. It's strange to think of how quickly I can become blind to the things that once consumed my attention, those small and delicate details that make waking each day purposeful and perfect. It's strange to think that it's possible for me to ever feel joyless in a life that offers up so much joy.

Nothing happened necessarily. There were no epiphanies or revelations. There were no answers found. There were simply moments when sunlight poured through my bedroom window with such elegant poignancy that even the most cynical of souls would be forced to believe in beauty. Moments when the gentle grace of the universe hummed the sing song melody of life itself. Moments when I felt humbled by my existence, filled with gratitude for the continuation of my story. There were simply moments when whatever it was I've been searching for - a path, a destination, a direction - seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

And of course, it isn't insignificant. It's something I need to figure out, for me, for the sake of my happiness, for my own peace of mind. It means something to me to have places I want to go, things I want to accomplish. It means something to me to have dreams to work toward, whether they're realistic or not. It means something to me to keep moving forward, into a future where I can become a better me, where I can become the best version of myself, where I can become the kind of person I can maybe learn to love.

I understand that it's a process. I understand that I won't wake up one morning to a perfect life, all of my ducks miraculously in a row. I understand that it takes work, that it involves facing fears and admitting things I'd rather not admit and discovering, somehow, a way to have the kind of faith in myself that I have in those I love. I understand that I am not the only one learning these lessons. I understand that feeling lost and afraid and doubtful are just as much a part of life as feeling euphorically happy and content. I understand it is a balancing act. I understand it is a journey. I understand. I do.

It's just difficult to ignore the places that feel empty inside. It's difficult to see the places already filled, the fundamental fullness of a life being lived, when there is also this insatiable ache for the unknown. It's easy to let the negative thoughts outweigh the positive. It's easier to fall down than to climb back up. That's just the way of things. And I understand that too.

And so I try my best to be inspired by books and people and moments. I try my best to know that most of what I decide is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, even if it feels like everything at the time. I try my best to have faith that this too shall pass. I try my best to concentrate on those small and delicate details. I try my best to feel forever joyful in a world that offers up so much joy. I try my best to feel full in the most desolate of places, those times in my life made up of nothingness, those empty spaces inside my heart that never cease to ache. I try my best to believe there is more for me to do, and see, and love, and be. I try my best to see the beauty in such hope.

I try my best to type my way out of sadness, and sometimes, like now, it works.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Questions



I quit my job six weeks ago and have had nothing but wonderful, terrible, endless amounts of time. As expected, the first few weeks were fabulous; sleeping in past five, checking items of my to-do lists, reading entire days away. But equally expected came that turning point, that moment creeping up ever so slightly, quiet and undetected, until it was right beside me, nagging me urgently with the demanding awareness and unrelenting cruelty of time.

I wonder where it comes from, this need to be doing, this fear of wasting moments, this feeling of uselessness. I wonder why so much of my identity is dependent on what I do, and not, essentially who I am. I wonder if I can even define who I am, put a name to it, without the convenient blanketed idea of an occupation. It's more difficult than one would think.

While in Prague last December, I visited a preschool where a friend of mine was working, and the director very kindly took the time to show me around and talk with me about education. She was a lovely woman, interesting, well-traveled, passionate about her career and life in general. I love these spirited characters. I love that they give me something to look forward to, to aim for. I could be like that, someday, if I tried hard enough. I could be fiery and strong and in love with my life. I could be more than a weak, timid girl standing on the edge of her life, fearing the unknown before her, fearing - more than anything else - that what lies ahead is not the unknown, but rather just the continuation of a predictable, indifferent life. I am so tired of feeling half asleep in a world so awake with wonder.

This woman asked me to tell her about myself, and so I told her about teaching. She smiled politely. "No" she said, "tell me about YOU." Eight months later, I still have no idea how to answer this question. I looked at her anxiously trying to think of something to say, something that would express who I am, something that would define me. She sensed my unease. "R. tells me you've been spending your days sitting in cafes and writing." I laughed a little and nodded. Maybe that summed it up entirely.

I think about this moment quite a bit, especially at stages in my life like this, when I have nothing but time. My inability to answer that question both frightens and saddens me. I used to have such a lust for life. I used to have things that truly interested me, that I was passionate about, that defined me. I used to have goals and dreams and an idea of who I was and who I was working to become. And now, I'm just not sure. I've been unwilling to write simply out of the fear of having to admit my uncertainty. I've been avoiding the question. I've been avoiding my life.

When I discuss these types of issues with adults, they remind me that they were much older than I am before they figured out what they wanted, who they were, how to love and accept themselves. I know that they mean it to be comforting. I know that what they are trying to offer me is this idea of time, that I have more of it than I think, that it will help me to heal, that it is in fact a gift, and not cruelty at all. But what I hear is that I'll have to wait ten years before I'm happy. What I hear is that I'm too young to understand any of this. What I hear is 'wait it out. Float through. Be lost so that you can be found." What I hear is that there is no way out other than time. And I hate that. And I wish that I could simply jump ahead.

I wish that I knew how to tell you who I am. I wish that I knew myself.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

To Sam (Forgive The Public Gushing)



I considered sending you a thank you card, but it wouldn’t encompass my gratitude. I considered an email, but every time I sat down to write, it started to sound like all of the others I’ve sent you over the years, generic, inadequate. I considered a letter, but that too, fell short. There aren’t enough words to express what I feel for you.

When I think of you, I do not think about the boy I became friends with ten years ago. I do not think of the way I didn’t know then how strongly I would come to adore you. I do not think of you connecting christmas lights in my tinkerbell costume, or the sly, knowing looks we’d exchange when I would turn around to look at you at the piano, or the nights in Adrian’s basement, or driving around aimlessly in the passenger seat of your car, or standing beside you at concerts, or the nightly IM conversations that lasted for hours. I do not think about sitting beside you on your front stoop that morning, or on my porch that afternoon, or a week ago in Starbucks.

I do not think of the way you create music where once there was nothing. I do not think of your brilliance or your kindness or your innate goodness. I do not think of our inside jokes, our shared laughter, our kindredness. I do not think of our talks individually, but rather, as one long conversation, the kind that begins with a ‘hello’ and lasts an entire lifetime. When I think of you, I think about the longevity of friendship. When I think of you, I am certain of the truth of that old familiar adage that sometimes family is what we create for ourselves. When I think of you, I am home.

As a housewarming gift, he made me this book. This wonderful, generous, amazing book of my blog. He went through and picked out his favorite entries. He arranged them beside his beautiful photographs. He compiled it all together (humbly, he claims) and made the most priceless and precious gift I have ever received. From anyone. EVER.

And you can see why ‘thank you’ simply doesn’t cut it. Because it is more than just a book. It is feeling supported and cherished by someone who means the world to me, someone I spend each day feeling undeserving of, someone who has made my life exponentially better simply by being a part of it. It is this tangible thing I can look at on my dresser, I can hold between my hands, and be reminded a hundred times a day of the feeling of knowing you. It is this material manifestation of the power of love and friendship. It is this physical entity I can point to and think Sam. It is the perfect housewarming gift because it makes me feel home.

And even though ‘thank you’ is far too small, I thank you, Simon Lane Rogers, from the bottom of my heart for all that you are and have been and will be. I thank you for everything you’ve done for me, given me, shared with me. I thank you for your intellect and wisdom and warmheartedness. I thank you for your creativity and wit and compassion. I thank you for seeing in me things that I cannot see for myself, for believing in me, for loving me. I thank you for letting me love you. And I thank you for being in my life. I am so much better for knowing you.

I considered sending you a thank you card, but it wouldn’t encompass my gratitude. I considered saying ‘I love you’ -- arguably the most powerful words in all of existence -- but it's simply not enough.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Once Upon A Time



It has been brought to my attention that I am long overdue for some updating here. I'm so very sorry. It is so easy to slip out of this habit, to get caught up in books and shows and to-do lists to complete. It is so easy to push my life to the back burner, to suppress thoughts and feelings, to become a spectator to my life rather than the heroine of my story. It is so easy to lose myself. More than I would care to admit.

I spent the day yesterday with my mother, sorting through our history together, taking those last remaining items that represent my childhood from her storage. We uncovered box upon box of toys, art projects, baby clothes. It was lovely and moving and sometimes bittersweet. It was returning to the past as a means of moving into the future. It was a reminder that even at times I feel I have lost myself, I am still essentially me. I always have been. I always will be.

I had an amazing kindergarden teacher who had us make book after book of dictated stories and drawings. I have them all now, these little pieces of magic, these little inner workings of my mind at age five. In one of our projects we had to imagine what things would be like if we ruled the world. I said that there would be no money and people could only get things by telling a story. I like knowing that I have always been a writer, a dreamer in this way. I like knowing that in the eighteen years since then I have managed to hold onto these pieces that are so quintessentially me.

My favorite story was one I dictated to my mother. It reads, "Once upon a time there was a mommy named Alison and a girl named Francesca and they lay on the grass together and looked for patterns in the trees. Soon they fell asleep and they dreamed the same dream. They woke up so happy to be together."

I thought about this laying in the grass this morning, half reading my book, allowing my mind to drift off the page, into my own world, back into my own life. I thought about that kind of happiness, of how deeply I knew it, understood it, felt it. I thought about the black-eyed susans growing ever taller beside me, glowing with the euphoria of unlaughed laughter. I thought about my own light and the ways in which I've dimmed it, and the ways in which it still burns within me. I thought about bringing it back to the surface.

And it was just that easy. As though a five year old could have written such a story. As though feeling magic was as easy as believing in it. Because it is. Each time I am newly delighted with this discovery, as I have been for the past twenty-three years. There are some things that don't change. I am grateful this is one of them.

I am grateful to be sitting here on my porch writing again. It's as if I never left. It's as if I couldn't be doing anything else, be living any other life, be anyone but myself. It's as if this is my story and it deserves to be told.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

So Much To Say



There is so much to say about this place. Every day I discover something new to love, some small detail I had yet to notice; the way the roses are beginning to bloom in our garden, the way the suctioning sound of our screen door as it closes reminds me of every beach house I've ever been to, the way the quiet of my room inexplicably reminds me of childhood, the way it feels to sit on our front porch with a cup of tea and watch the world go by, the way it feels like home.

I have tried to take pictures, but between my lack of a good camera and my lack of photography skills, somehow I can't seem to translate the feel of the place into an image. That's never been a skill of mine. I have spent years of my life trying to capture places and moments through images and words to no avail. So many times I've stood before those winding European streets, those intricate curves of architectural splendor, trying to transport their wonder with me without success. So many times I've walked among crowds of faces with stories desperate to be told, and fields of flowers whose beauty longs to be expressed, and buildings with histories aching to be uncovered. It is difficult to do any of it justice, through any means. It is difficult to find a way of keeping it all with me. Still, I promise to post photos soon.

I have been having a lot of trouble at work, which is partially to blame for my lack of blogging. It seems wrong somehow, to write about this here, not because it is public necessarily, but more because this type of subject matter tends to come across as more of a whining session and less of an expression of my need to create, my need to write. Yet, it feels equally wrong to write about anything else, to ignore the focal point of my current thoughts, to deny myself the opportunity to explore what I'm feeling. It feels wrong to pretend that everything is wonderful.

There is so much to say about this place, about this current realm of emotions. I have spent the past few weeks very unhappy at my job, which is completely uncharacteristic and unexpected. My slightest unhappiness is generally pretty apparent given it's rarity. Everyone knows, and in some ways that only makes it worse. It only makes it more difficult to take a deep breath and put all of my grievances behind me. I can't just revert back to the way I was without dealing with anything, without some sort of change. I am not like my two year old students who take each feeling as it comes. I carry these things with me. They only grow heavier with time.

And so in an effort to be better about asking for help, asking for what I want and need, I sat down with my boss and discussed some options. She was great, and while we didn't land on anything official just yet, simply talking about it helped in some small way. But that was a week ago and I have spent almost every day since growing more agitated, wondering if one of these small changes will be enough of a difference, wondering if it's time for something more drastic. A large part of me feels as though all of my favorite decisions have been the big and impulsive ones. But another part of me knows that most of those decisions have been about running away from things when they got tough. Yes, life is short, but I also know that I can't spend my life leaving situations just because they've stopped being fun. And there lies my constant dilemma about this place.

I still love every second with those children. None of this is about them, or about my need to be doing something other than teaching. This is what I want to do. This is what I love to do. It is about the adult nonsense that gets in the way. It is about the politics of administration and the attitudes of coworkers and the consistent questioning of why people who miss the sublime perfection of children choose to do this. It can't be about the money. Trust me.

I have woken up every morning trying to be positive and have come home every afternoon in tears. I have, for the first time in my life, tried to ease my nerves at night with a glass or two of wine. I am not proud to admit that, not that it's the worst thing I could be doing, but it's the first time I've ever felt a need for alcohol and it scares and saddens me. I want, so badly, to believe that this is a phase, that when I can potentially switch classrooms next week, I'll be happier. But I suppose a larger part of me, a more logical part, doesn't fully believe that.

I think the truth is, I'm burnt out. I haven't slept past five am in almost two years. Between sickness and vacation days, I've taken maybe a total of 15 days away from that place in almost two years. That's been my whole life for almost two years. I'm in need of a break. And generally this kind of mental and emotional breakdown is the best way to spot such a need. I guess I just feel stuck between a place I have felt so much love in, and generally so much love for, and my need to have a break from it. I guess all of those pro and con lists I've made have only left me more torn. I guess I just need to make some sort of decision, one way or another.

And while this is just whining, as I suspected it would be, I needed to write it down. There is so much to say about this place, this time in transit between the old and new, this waiting for a new chapter to begin. I have been here before and I will be here again, and each time I will try to capture the way it feels to no avail. Each time I will fail to do it justice. Each time will feel more significant than anything that has come before, the way that each new rose that blooms seems to be more gorgeous than the last, the way every winding road in Europe still leaves me breathless, the way every place I've ever put my heart has felt like home. The way there is so much to say about that.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Remembering



I have spent the entire day thus far in silence. I've needed it. Since the moment I woke up, I have done nothing but lounge around, reading The Namesake, listening to the soft rain outside my bedroom window, the occasional humming rush of a car passing by. It's been lovely, calming, quiet in a way I haven't experienced in far too long. Quiet enough that it is my own voice that rises to the surface, familiar and yet novel, emerging from an eclectic nagging assembly of advice and opinions, settling itself comfortably in the limelight. Quiet enough that I can think of no better way to use this opportunity of time, this moment, this life I've been given than to sit down and write. Quiet enough that I recognize the grandeur of this gift as it arrives.

It was surprising to discover that such an ordinary line could reduce me to tears. I was so struck by my own fragility. Which is not to say I couldn't have seen it coming. I've been on the verge of such a breakdown. I've needed it. The way I've needed silence. The way I've needed to distinguish my voice from all the others. But I wouldn't have guessed I'd find my release in a line about banana bread.

I remember distinctly the smell of it baking. I remember the way you would always make two versions, one with raisins, one with chocolate chips, one for school, one for home. I remember the way I sliced into the one you had left behind for us and saw the melted chocolate come oozing out onto the sharp blade. I remember the way, even as a child, especially as a child, I knew that leaving us the better, chocolate version meant that you liked us best. I knew how to spot these small gestures of love.

I remember too, the rotting bananas before they were used to cook. I remember the way they'd sit for days in that big blue bowl mom had found at some yard sale, the inside painted with colorful fruits, as though it could only have one singular function, one possible purpose. I remember how brown and mushy you would let them get, despite my protests and aversion to foods past their prime, my verbal acknowledgements of the arrival of fruit flies in our kitchen. I remember how you promised that their spoiled appearance would only make the end result that much sweeter. I remember how you kept your promise, time and time again.

I've been thinking of you a lot lately, as I've been moving into this seemingly more grown up chapter of my life. I've thought about calling more than once, about inviting you over, inviting you back in. I stop myself each time with a series of "what ifs" and "buts" and a haunting fear of regenerating a cycle of feeling hurt and let down. But recently I've noticed that voice quieting. And I've noticed another voice growing, a voice unfamiliar and yet reminiscent, a voice that sounds an awful lot like a girl who needs her daddy.

Today my roommate is at a memorial for her grandfather who died a year ago. Her dad wasn't around much and her grandfather took on that role. The loss was devastating. At the same time, her uncle is on his deathbed and her cousins are facing the loss of their own father. No matter how strained their relationships with him might have been, none of this could possibly be easy. None of this is pain that I could possibly understand. Not really. Not fully.

I think about what it would feel like to lose you. I will say this because I believe in the power and healing of honesty. I used to almost wish for it. Not because I was angry and felt you deserved to have your life ended. It was because I was hurt and didn't know how to move on. It was because at least death would have provided me with some form of closure. It was because it would have been easier to lose you to death than to lose you to anger or fear or the feeling of being unloved. It was because I thought I could handle the idea that you were gone better than I could ever handle the idea that you didn't like the person I had become, the person I am. It was because losing you would be different than feeling like I had been the one who lost you. Your death wouldn't be my fault.

But now, when I think about losing you, I think about all of the things that would go unsaid. I think about the way my own stubborn will and agonizingly over analytical mind have kept us from moving on, moving together, moving toward something better. I think about the way I have denied us the opportunity to even begin the healing process. And it makes me sorry. And it makes me sad. And it makes me miss you, even if it's just the idea of you. I know that I only get one of you. I know that is the kind of promise you can keep.

And, as lame as the analogy is, maybe you and I could be like the banana bread, Dad. Maybe I just needed to let our somewhat spoiled relationship sit and rot until it circled back round to sweetness. Maybe we can take those fragile mushy pieces of ourselves and mix them into something wonderful. Maybe we could even throw in a couple of our best chocolate chips.

Maybe you could spot this small gesture of love, and forgive me for the length of time it's taken me to get here, and understand why I've been silent for so long. I've needed it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Created Out Of Love



After a series of visitors yesterday, a slew of good conversations over good bottles of wine, we found ourselves alone in our basement, a little wired, a little tipsy, confessing our deepest secrets and hopes. I made us dinner. We watched The Office marathon on TV. We told each other everything. It's been so nice to connect in a way that assures me we will be friends forever, that moving in together was undoubtedly the right thing to do, that I have found another kindred spirit to add to the family that I have created for myself. It is a tribe created out of love.

It was in this state that we finally caved into the idea of a housewarming party. It's not that we hadn't wanted people over or disliked the idea of a party in our fresh new home, but rather, that the connotation of the term "housewarming" somehow implied us wanting gifts from people. And we don't. People even told us to register (an act I had always thought was strictly reserved for weddings) and neither one of us could bring ourselves to do it. Which is not to say that we are not grateful for the things we have received and the offers that have been made. We appreciate everything, more than words can say. It's just, the whole purpose of hosting a party has always been to show gratitude, to bring people together, to make them feel happy and cared for and adored. It is a gathering created out of love.

So while we sat together, trying to figure out some form of a guest list, it forced us both to consider the people that we really love. We excluded the majority of our work friends, waiting until our Fourth of July party to have them all over. That narrowed it down. Then we decided to hold off on family members (apart from a few siblings and cousins who top the list). That narrowed it down some more. In the end, we decided it would be mostly our friends. Melissa got her list down to eight. I got mine down to sixty.

And even though most of them probably won't come, knowing that my list had to include all sixty made me stop and realize how truly lucky I am. Not just to know them, but to love them, to be able to call them my friends. That my close inner-circle could never be confined to eight, that Melissa's couldn't go beyond eight, it just filled me with such awe for all that I have and sadness for all she had missed out on. I assured her that my friends would be her friends. She simply hadn't met the amazing souls I have been so fortunate to come across.

So how lovely to walk into the house today to find the magnificent gift pictured above waiting for me from dear, sweet Pen, who was ironically just writing about friendship yesterday. How amazing to know that this phenomenal woman who I haven't even met out in the "real world" took the time to reach out, to delight me with this token of eternal friendship. I accept the offer whole-heartedly. Thank you, beautiful friend. Thank you. How truly remarkable to live in a world where these kinds of friendships exist, where I can make my own family, where I can create my own kind of love.

A love different from the love that exists between parent and child, between siblings or cousins or nieces and nephews. A love that is not based on a shared bloodline or ancestry or obligation or default. It is a love built out of laughter and common interests and mutual respect. It is a love that we choose for ourselves, to give, to feel, to open ourselves up to. It is a love that I cherish above all else. It is the love I feel for you.

It is the love I felt for her while we poured our hearts out last night. It was that familiar comfortable love that I have been fortunate enough to have grown accustomed to. For that, I thank you. For knowing that you will adore her as I do, I thank you. For knowing you will welcome her into this tribe created out of love, I thank you. For being that tribe, that family I have created for myself, I thank you for that most of all.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Because We Never Finished That Conversation Last Sunday Morning



It's funny, I assumed I would have all of this time. I assumed once we were a little more settled in, all of these extra hours would reveal themselves to me over the course of each day. But that is not what happened. In fact, we're still moving. Sometimes it feels as though we will be moving forever. Every waking hour has been devoted to shopping and assembling and decorating and sitting in our basement, gossiping and bonding and creating that feeling of home. I am so glad and grateful each and every day to have found this sister I never knew. It's funny, the way things work out.

It's funny because the things I regret about my life are not the same as the regrets you have for me. All of those big decisions have been right for me. All of those big decisions have lead me here, to this point, to this house, to this joy. And it is those very decisions that have been the most difficult for you. You carry the weight of the paths not followed, the lives not lived, with more remorse and guilt than I will ever understand. Sometimes you feel like you have failed me.

I get that. I get that it is your job to protect me. I get that I can be impulsive and I get that that scares you. I get that it is out of love. I get that you want for me all of the opportunities you never had, and I get that at times it seems I have turned my back on them. I get that I have broken your heart more than once. I get that you don't want me to repeat your mistakes. I get that I am not on a "normal" path and I get that in a lot of ways, that's disappointing for you. I get that it is not easy being my mother.

But I have come to understand that it is not easy being a mother, period. Just as it is not easy to be a daughter, a woman, a human being. Life is tough. We concentrate so hard on trying to be better, on trying not to repeat mistakes, on trying to protect one another and ourselves from painful truths, that we forget to look around and acknowledge all that we have, all that we are, all that we have accomplished. It is impossible to protect me from everything and even if it were possible, I wouldn't want that. Not from you, not from anyone. I want the mistakes as much as I want the triumphs. I want to fall so I know how to pick myself back up. I want to learn more about who I am and what I'm capable of. I want to test the boundaries of my strength.

Because I want to be like you - strong and smart and independent. I know that you have always hoped that I would be more, have more, do more than you. I know that you have always hoped that my life would be better than yours. I know that is why it makes it difficult to support these decisions that seem so final, so settled. But the truth is, most of what I do is because of you, because I inherited a powerful mind and spirit from you, because all I ever wanted was to be my mother's daughter. My failures may feel like your failures, but my triumphs are also yours. My laugh is yours. My wisdom is yours. My sound mind is yours. My love of language is yours. My love of people is yours. My insatiable heart is yours. I am yours.

And I know that you will come here tomorrow and see this house and see me in it and understand everything in a single moment, the way you always do. I know that you will get it. I know this because I am my mother's daughter. It's funny, the way that means absolutely everything.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wonderful World



So I'm back. And despite the fact that I still need a router to have the kind of wireless freedom I've grown accustomed to, at least I have some form of internet connection, some means of reaching out.

I have so much to update, so many stories to tell, so many highs and lows to record. It feels as though each room of this new home deserves it's own entry, as does each adventure I've been on with my new roommate, as does each day I've woken up with a new sense of pride and purpose in my life.

Which is not to say that it has not been stressful. Most days I find myself at work wishing my mind wasn't a million miles away, decorating rooms and making lists of things to buy, things to do. Most days I have planned down to the minute. Most days there hasn't even been time to write.

But slowly, slowly, things are coming together. Slowly this place is beginning to feel like me, like us, like home. Slowly I lower my roots deeper and deeper into the ground. It is here that I intend to grow.

Never have I lived in a place so alive. The streets are never empty. In every yard grow beautiful, bright, bold, colorful flowers. Our neighbors have all gone out of their way to introduce themselves, offer assistance, welcome us home. I know more of my neighbors here than I have known in every other place I've lived, combined. They are always out gardening, or sitting on front porches, or walking around simply for the sake of enjoying our neighborhood. I have taken to joining in this practice.

So for the past two Saturdays and Sundays, I've woken early and just walked. No destination or real purpose in mind, just an exploration and chance to reflect on things, to breathe, to forget my long to-do lists. It's nice to have this time to myself. It's nice to have my mind so full of thought and yet so clear. It's nice to wander through these quaint little streets in our darling little borough and know that this is home. It's nice to feel home.

A golden retriever looks up from her front porch and follows me with her eyes as I walk by. Her gaze meets mine and we stand there staring at one another in perfect silence and stillness. She raises her long dark lips to either side into a smirk that I understand well. For a moment, we share this knowing smile. Yes, I nod in agreement, it is so achingly wonderful - this life, this world, this knowing. Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world. I feel my eyes swell with tears.

As I make my way to the top of the hill, I see him standing there. I don't notice at first. The dog has to bark before I look down to discover two steel poles where his legs should be. He doesn't even try to hide them under pants, but rather, allows the early morning sun to reflect its glorious rays upon them. They are almost blinding. They are almost beautiful, the way they glimmer and shine.

I think that what I should be feeling is pity, or sadness, or guilt that I should get to have these two legs to walk the earth while he has none. I think that's the appropriate reaction, but it is not what I feel. Instead I am consumed with an overwhelming sense of astonishment and gratitude for this world. That we live in a place, in a time, when a man without legs can climb to the top of a hill with his pet dog is an amazing thing indeed. That we live in a place, in a time, where anything and everything seems possible is truly remarkable. That we live in a place, in a time, when a young woman of only twenty-three can find herself owning a house she loves, working a job she adores, finding family in every person she meets is the very definition of perfection. Call it what you will - prayer, hope, optimism, foolishness - I love this place, this time. I love this life I am blessed enough to live. I love this world we are all blessed enough to be a part of. I exhale a sigh of awe every time I breathe.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Update....

I am alive.

Sorry to have been so MIA!

I was hoping that I would be able to pick up a free wireless signal at my new house, but alas, no such luck, so for now I'm illegally using the computer at work at 5:30 in the morning.

I just wanted to let you all know that on April 30th, I officially became a homeowner and I am now busy moving into my new house, and future, and life. I'm sorry if I'm not around much for the next few weeks. I'll try to get my internet taken care of soon. I have so very much to tell you!

And I miss you all very much and can't wait to catch up on all that you have been creating while I've been gone.

I will be back soon.
I promise.

xoxoxo

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day



"Is THIS part of the earth?" She asked me, cupping a fuzzy dandelion in her tiny hands as though it was the most precious thing she had ever held. I nodded yes. "And this?" Another asked, picking up a handful of wood chips in his dirty palms. I nodded again. "Are WE a part of the earth?" Asked a third, with all of the shock and awe of someone who already knew that my answer would be yes. I laughed.

I laughed so loudly that the earth itself had no choice but to smile. I loved so deeply that every blade of grass stood up and took notice. I felt so happy that every tree in the world reached down into the depths of its ancient roots to search for the same kind of joy. I praised each child for their findings.

I like teaching little ones because the lessons they are newly discovering are ones I am grateful to be reminded of. Things as basic and necessary as sharing, and kindness, and forgiveness and acceptance. Things as natural as being open and honest and trusting. Things as beautiful as being affectionate and loving and recognizing in everyone the potential for friendship. Why do these simple acts become so complicated later in life?

Today is earth day, and so I spent the morning explaining why we don't litter, why we recycle, why we take care of plants. Most of it went over their little two year old heads, but I didn't mind. For today, I got to preach my love for this world, and even if none of them understood, I know the world heard me. I know the tulips lining the walkway to my apartment stood up a little taller. I know the birds chirping outside my window began singing a little louder. I know the waves upon the shore crashed down a little harder. I know this because I too, am part of this earth. I know this because I too, felt a little brighter.

When I went to go vote this afternoon, it occurred to me that I've never lived in a conservative neighborhood. Every place I've ever voted has only had democratic signs outside and everyone there has always assumed I was voting democrat. Rightfully so, but still it is an odd feeling to be handed a democratic voting card without even being asked. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I've never actually been asked by anyone, anywhere, if I was liberal or conservative. I am approached by political campaigners often and never once has it been for a Republican. How do people know? I'm sure a great deal of it is how I dress, but I'm not ALWAYS sporting my liberal attire. Sometimes I can look normal in a right-wing sort of way. So really, how do people know?

How do we learn to spot kindred spirits? I can do it. I can pick the people I'd probably connect with most out of a crowd. I wonder how this happens, how we grow to define ourselves in certain ways and then search out relationships based on those definitions. It seems so silly to limit ourselves the way that we do. Was there not a time when we knew how to get along with everyone? When we did it? Was there not a time when it was so easy to love?

Because it is so easy. My little students remind me of this each and every day. They prove to me the power and existence of unconditional love. They show me that we ARE all a part of this earth, and how that means something, and how that means everything. They cup the ground in their hands and hold up their discovery, that we are in fact, no better and no worse than the earth itself. That we are, in fact, one. I am grateful to learn, over and over and over, their priceless lesson.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Reminders



This morning the vibrantly vivacious tulips remind me that life is meant to blaze with beauty. The magnolia trees remind me to pause and consider their sweet intoxicating petals as they fall softly and solemnly upon the inviting grass from which they bloom. The daffodils tilt their thirsty faces towards the sun to remind me to soak in the light upon my own insatiably yearning spirit. "Feel it," they offer. "Let it devour you." I listen carefully to their advice, these wild and wise ornaments of the earth.

This morning I spent two hours at the DMV renewing my license. I was reminded of the first time I had stood in that very spot waiting to take my learner's permit test, an anxious girl of sixteen embarking on her first big milestone in the long journey towards adulthood. How different I was then. How different everything was then. Seven years later I stood upon that same square of sidewalk and reminded myself of how far I've come. Sometimes looking back is the only way to prove to oneself that things have moved forward.

Two geese flew over head, mirror images of one another, reminding me that no one should have to go through this life alone. I was the only one to look up, to follow them across the sky until they drifted completely out of sight into the unknown. No one else noticed this priceless flight, this precious moment of beauty and understanding and love. No one else even considered the depths of meaning rising and falling with their four wings flapping in perfect unison. I was reminded of how differently we all approach this world, of how minds made of the same matter can somehow work so disparately, of how flowers blooming from the same soil can hold such unique scents and secrets within the core of their blossoms.

It is my mother's 55th birthday today and so I went over to spend some quality time discussing life over coffee, a pastime I have inherited love for from my mother. We talked about my new house and my upcoming five year high school reunion. We talked about our old house and memories from my days in school. We talked about a history I can only know through my mother and about a present that we are learning to know together. We gleamed over thoughts for the future and giggled over anecdotes from the past. I was reminded of my mother's wisdom and her strength and the way her friendship means more to me than anything else ever could. I was reminded that I am my mother's daughter and of how proud that makes me. I was reminded of how easy it is to find heros in the people we love.

The scent of barbeque wafts through my open windows. I rub my naked toes against each other. It may just be spring, but summer is already beginning to tease us as only summer can. "Soon," she whispers on the soft wind. I smile at her flirtatious taunting.

I dream of things to come. In eleven days we go to settlement and the house will be officially ours, keys in hand, delight in hearts. I've already begun packing and thinking of places to set things. But more than that, more than the physical placement of inanimate objects, I have been thinking towards this new beginning, this new life for myself. A life filled with gardening and cooking and parties. A life with neighbors and a roommate and a home to fill as I please. A life brimming with opportunity and possibility and exquisite joy. I am reminded of how blessed I am in this life. I am reminded of how truly magnificent it is simply to be alive.

The flowers look towards the sky and remind me to grow. Two geese fly by and remind me to love. My mother holds me and reminds me to be grateful. I immerse myself in my dreams and remind myself to blaze with the beauty of life.

I stand under the sun, waiting and willing. I let it devour me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Next Day...



We got the house!! All that worrying for nothing. That's the nice thing about wishing and hoping and dreaming -- sometimes you get exactly what you want. Some people are just that lucky. I am grateful to be one of them.

Here it is, although these pictures really don't do it justice. I promise to post some of my own when it's officially ours.

I have less than no time, but I wanted to share this for those who have been inquiring along the journey. Thanks for caring about this little life of mine. For that too, I am so grateful.

I will post more later. For now, I just want to write, to sing, to shout HIP HIP HOORAY!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stress



It's week of the young child. It's not a concept I completely understand, but it involves a lot of giving thanks and free food, which are two concepts I ALWAYS understand. Yesterday we took a special field trip to the library. Today we had a delightful breakfast for the parents and each got a fifteen minute break to get a free massage.

We talked about our common love of Indian culture, and then how and why she learned to do this, and then how and why it is so easy to become stressed. Stress. It's not a word I generally consider. It's not a word that I've ever necessarily associated with my life. I'm too laid back to be stressed. I'm too optimistic. I'm, quite frankly, too ambivalent to a lot of things to allow myself to become stressed. I'm the girl who always chose sleep over pulling an all-nighter. I'm the girl who would rather get things over and done with than have them sitting in the back of her mind, festering. What's done is done. What will happen will happen. Que sera sera, and all the rest. Stress has never really been a problem for me.

But as the words fell from her tattooed lips, I thought, "yes, that's exactly what I am." That's exactly what I've been feeling, and I haven't really been able to define these recent ups and downs because it's not a concept I'm familiar with. It's not a sensation I'd necessarily notice. It's not a state of mind I've ever been in before, not prolonged like this, not coming and going so frequently.

Yesterday afternoon we fell in love with a house. In LOVE. It is the perfect size in the perfect location with perfect rooms painted perfect colors. There is a backyard and a front porch and a crowd of daffodils growing in the garden. Even the windows were beautiful. Even the pavement of the sidewalks was lovely, as silly as that sounds. Even the selling price we could AFFORD, which seemed too good to be true.

And it was, of course, too good to be true. The taxes are too high and we spent all of last night in our realtor's office trying to crunch numbers. We spent all night mending the rises and falls of our hopes, our hearts. And while we still have hope, still have several people working on it, the logical part of me knows that it probably isn't going to work out.

And an even more logical part of me knows that it will be okay if it doesn't, that there are other perfect houses, that there are perhaps even more perfectly perfect houses. Que sera sera. Still, I'd be lying if I said we weren't both upset at the moment. I'd be lying if I said I truly believed it when we told people today "there's still hope!" I'd be lying if I said this whole thing wasn't terribly stressing me out. We're just so ready to have a place to call our own.

And after a very long day of trying to release that stress, of trying to be more patient with children I thought I had lost all patience for, of trying to be more patient with adults I thought I had lost all patience for, of soaking in the beautiful weather, and pushing myself that much further at the gym, and stopping to take pictures of flowers on my walk home, I am so exhausted and drained I can hardly write, let alone write eloquently. So this is what you get.

I just needed to release this somewhere, and this seemed like the perfectly perfect place to do such a thing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just One Of Those Things



Thank you for all of your sweet and encouraging well wishes. I am slowly but surely recovering from the overwhelming whirlwind of illness. Today has been the first day I've woken up and felt like me, clear headed and enthusiastic about the arriving day. It is nice to feel somewhat human again.

I missed an entire week of work which I've only done once before to go on vacation. It feels strange to have been gone for so long. It feels strange to be so close and yet so far. It feels strange to be so far removed from my own life, but perhaps I needed such a pause. Perhaps my little meltdown last Thursday was my body's gentle reminder to slow down, and perhaps ignoring it forced it to take more drastic measures. Sometimes we need to refuel.

Having spent the week in bed, I naturally spent most of yesterday feeling both sad and guilty. Seven days of my life, gone, wasted. Seven days without writing, or reading (well, as much as I would like), or exercising, or hearing a child's laugh, or really human contact of any kind with the exception of a visit from my mother. Seven whole days of being and feeling very useless in the grand scheme of things. Seven whole days I will never get back.

A friend of mine sent me an email recently asking me if I thought that my emotional stress was a result of over-analyzing myself. I'm sure that he's right, a large part of it is. I'm sure that if I stopped thinking so much I'd be able to let go more easily and more often, but the truth is, I wouldn't be me. The truth is, I don't think I'd necessarily be happier letting the heavy moments pass me by. The truth is, I don't think that I'd behold the beauty of my life with such reverence if I didn't also embrace the darkness. It's just one of those things. It's just feeling purely and deeply. It's just allowing myself to be exactly who I am, darkness as well as light, simply and utterly human.

As I stopped in the street and opened my journal to record the way the slants of light against the buildings ignited my heart, she asked me if I wrote the same way I thought, or thought the same way I wrote, I can't remember which. I considered it for a moment and realized that I'm so very unaware of my thoughts unless I am writing them down. My mind moves too quickly. It's difficult to keep track of much of anything. But when I'm writing, I slow down. I pause. I hold onto those slants of light in my memory as though they were everything, because they are. When I am writing, I am conscious of my life. When I am writing, I am alive.

And so a big part of that is over-analyzing my every emotion. A big part of that is agonizing over who I am, why I feel the way I do in any given moment, where I fit into it all. The day I wrote 'Break,' my mom called and told me to go back and read what I'd written over the past three months. I've been through a lot. I'm going through a lot. I've been wrestling with some pretty big ideas. I've been "trying to fit years of therapy and healing into three months of blogging," as she put it. Which is exactly right. This is how I deal with things. This is how I work my way towards healing. This is how I grieve for those seven days, gone.

Maybe he was right. Maybe that's ridiculous and we all just have those bad days without any rhyme or reason to it, but I guess I take comfort in knowing that months from now, I can look back upon this entry and see the sadness of my loss reflected in these words. I guess I like and need to be reminded of these cycles, of the way highs become lows and then highs again, of the proof that happiness is never as far away as it seems. I guess I need to write it in order to feel it, and to feel it in order to know I'm alive. I guess it's just one of those things.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Have...



......strep throat.
......swollen glands and lymph nodes.
......a burning sensation in both of my ears and my throat every time I swallow.
......been in bed for four days straight (with the exception of an attempt to go to work and a trip to the doctors)
......spent those four days vacillating between sleeping and weeping.
......been paranoid, scared, exhausted and pretty much a nightmare.
......not been responding to calls, emails or texts for this very reason.
......promised myself to do so the moment I feel better.
......six different kinds of medicine by my side.
......consumed nothing but medicine, soup, tea, Gatorade and water since Friday.
......a renewed faith that my mother loves me even at my worst.
......a renewed faith that I need her.
......a renewed faith that I probably always will.
......the Werther's she brought me to ease my throat and brighten my mood.
......the memory of the day I stayed home sick from school and he brought me Werther's and a teddy bear I named Caramel.
......the memory of feeling so loved by you then, Dad.
......that bear somewhere in mom's basement, because I couldn't ever seem to let it go.
......not opened my computer once since Friday.
......not been in this much pain for as long as I can remember, if ever.
......missed you all terribly.
......just felt like saying so.

I'll hopefully be back soon.
xoxoxo