Monday, February 11, 2013

Clear signals

When my brother was learning how to drive, he was uncharacteristically reckless.  Fortunately also wreckless, but apparently he breezed through stop signs, didn't look, and in general gave our mom lots of near heart attacks.  One piece of advice she dispensed in this adventure was, "Never accelerate towards a red light."

For some reason, I really took that to heart from my seat in the back by those huge sliding minivan doors.  No matter how far away I am, if I see a red light I'll eventually hit, I'm off the accelerator.  Great story, Pam.  I know.  But listen.

The other day I took it completely out of context and let it stand for life in general.  Never accelerate towards a red light.  Don't put any more energy into it it, let yourself ride on what you've already done.  You may have to actively stop soon enough anyway.  Or coast until it's a green and hit it from there.  But as long as a red's in front of you, don't bother going faster.  It doesn't make any sense.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oh man I'm finally thinking thoughts again

New Year time (+a month, oof) is Numbered List time.  In no particular order, as usual:

1. October's trip to Richmond featured a trial of red lipstick in a tiny vintage boutique.  I tried on Marilyn's favorite!  Then I mostly forgot about it, until I was feeling crazy one day and bought one from the cosmetics section of the Wegmans.  Lacking the sex symbol prowess behind it; still moderately life-changing.  What was more significantly, and adorably, life-changing, however, was the fact that somewhere along the line and without my noticing it was apparently already a thing, and seventy percent of the follows at Lindy Focus were wearing red lipstick and thirty-five percent of the leads had a darling red kiss left on their cheek.
2. People need to stop yelling at people who are running to, in fact, run.  They further need to stop calling these people Forrest.  I'm going to start yelling at people who are walking to, in fact, walk.  I'm also going to call them names of other people who have walked in the past.
3. New Year's Eve dinner, Thai takeout from a place which didn't make my favorite (and only, but shh) Thai dish.  Handfuls of fortune cookies were shoveled into the bag; two of mine were the following:
1. Impose not a bigger burden on others than you would like to bear.  
2. If you want it, take it.
I know.  I know.  But then!  Another little cookie bag -- without a cookie inside.  Sealed! and everything!  Completely empty!  A little pouch of air!  I really want it to mean something about, like, fortune and nothingness that I can say but I'm not sure what wise-sounding phrase to put next to it.  Just, have that image.  Ponder it gently.
4. Speaking of meaning, just two posts below I was convinced my cat and I would make a dream team duo of unstoppable cuddles and self-advocacy.  She had other ideas, and those ideas include excessive meowing for no discernible reason, leaping out of my arms if held longer than a moment, swiping at me when I walk by, and batting or clawing and knocking around everything that's smaller than she is.  Unfortunately for me and my strewn accessories, all my jewelry is smaller than she is.  Well Pam don't strew your accessories then.  Easier said than done, Judgey McJudgerson.  These activities she enjoys so are less than ideal after long days at work etc.  I'm going to be a terrible mother.  Is she happy here?  What does a happy cat even look like?  Guys don't send me pictures of squee kittens I'll just be sadder that mine isn't rolling in barrels of delight.
5. So I don't mean for this to be a trite I'm-a-lindy-hopper-and-I-hate-west-coast paragraph.  I mean for this to be a reasoning, an exploring; indeed, an apology to an entire art form.  The Boston Tea Party, a west coast swing event where lindy hoppers take a backseat, is coming up, and Mobtown is adding west coast swing (WCS) to its array of classes and dances.  And I have a visceral knee-jerk reaction of repulsion to the dance that seems unfair.  It's a dance, right?  I'm a dancer!  I should like dances!  I'm an artist!  Those are artists!  And it's still swing!  It's related, in the scheme of things, to my beloved lindy, it's a partner dance, etc.  The best WCS dancers are just as talented as the best lindy hoppers, just in a different way!  Their moves are sharp and can be ridiculously impressive like in that video everyone was sharing a while ago.  But, okay.  Everything about it, oh my goodness. Follows are in pants and heels and those tops that look like tablecloths and their long hair is still down.  I hate all of those things.  They dance to pop music, which always feels ugh.  The dance itself involves a significant amount of body rolls and it just looks like someone took 90s clubbing and made it partnered.  But I think the main reason I avoid it with such a passion it is that they aren't my people.  I can have a person who's my people, who also does west coast, but WCS dancers as a whole aren't my people.  The boys aren't engineers or programmers.  The girls aren't adorably quirky and approachable.  There's a feeling I think we all share, that we can move to any city and feel at home in their scene.  The music and the dress and the employment seem tangential but there's an essence of understanding or fitting in.  Not the devastation of not fitting in in middle school, but the actual, deserved, appreciated not-fitting-in.  If you do x, sometimes you plain old don't understand y.  And it's hard to go where you don't understand, let alone where you're not understood.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another dichotomy

It hit me today that I often waver between considering something "scary" or "peaceful."  Isn't that crazy?  Such opposites!  Such opposites, in fact, that they would seem mutually exclusive!  If you're scared, you're not at peace.  If you're at peace, you're not scared.  But -- a thunderstorm.  A forest.  One a.m.  A thunderstorm in a forest at one a.m.  Okay that one might be too much.  But you see what I'm getting at here.  When I decide that a certain thing is one of those, and then consider the other, and it is strangely easy to consider the other, what ends up distilled out of that consideration is trust (and I guess its natural enemy, paranoia).  How to harness trust?  How to harness peace?

In other news, I saw my good friend again today.  Pardon me while I ... you know.  Collapse of joy, etc.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oh boy.

Friends.  I have been looking forward to writing this for a long, long time. 

This summer, I went on a million tiny road trips.  Not a million.  Eight, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the unofficial bookends of carefree adventure.   In chronological order, with adventures had and thoughts thought and lessons learned from each.

1.     Philadelphia, PA.  I danced and hugged and laughed and protected myself but then got sassed and didn’t stand up for myself, as usual.  I remembered the delight of exploring charming neighborhoods with easygoing friends.  I became instant real friends with a girl for the first time in maybe years.
2.     Hohenwald, TN.  Turns out I am going to be a great driving teacher for my kids.  In dreading the sixteen hours on the road, I forgot how crazy beautiful it was going to be, and if that isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.  I remembered the therapy of manual labor and sunshine and deeply rooted animal friendships.  Ten volunteers and I weeded (similarly deeply rooted) honeysuckle so the elephants will have grapes in two or three years at the edge of their 2,700-acre sanctuary.  I shed tears at children’s sympathy cards to Tarra and the director’s letter about Bella’s final moments.  They’re pretty sure wolves got her, and the great big elephant found her canine soulmate and brought her lifeless body back to the ranch in her trunk.  In the spirit of saving all the animals, my hetero life partner and her brother and I scooped up a stray cat off the parking lot of our Days Inn.  I named her Elephant and took her home and after a series of stressful times, made temporary arrangements for her and her four kittens until I can have her for real.  We’re going to learn from each other about sense of self and love and cuddles.  Also, somewhere in the hundreds of miles we drove, I realized that these last two years have in fact been a practice leave.  You know, where you leave your house and forgot something – leaving the first time was your practice leave.  You go back, get whatever you meant to bring, and leave for real.
3.     Park Ridge, IL.  I remembered – and felt – how far I’ve come.
4.     Galena, IL.  I remembered the joy of browsing at boutiques and picking out jewelry.  You guys, I have found the prettiest jewelry in these last four months.  I learned the sadness of Ulysses S Grant’s daughter’s wedding and marriage.  I found old languages and jokes, even if just for the time being.
5.     Dover, DE.  I remembered the unrivaled happiness of the magical world of music festivals and special pals and of letting go.  It’s like I was breathing love and joy themselves.  There were so many transcendent moments.  Here’s one of them, courtesy of the lead singer of the Silversun Pickups.  Between songs, out of the clear blue sky: “You know, you all look great out there, but I like looking at this guy, right here.  What’s your name?  James?  James.  James, I like the cut of your jib.  I look out at all these people, and that’s great, but I look at you, James, and I know everything’s going to be okay.”   It was so beautiful that I feel like I made it up.  To prove it to myself that I didn’t, just now, I googled the band and James and the cut of your jib line and the first like ten hits are that story.  I read them, so fondly.  At the very end of the show, Brian Aubert hugged his friend James and gave him what I only imagine was maybe a VIP weekend pass, retail $1200.   For a long time after everyone else had left, James stood at the fence with his head in his hands. 
6.     Columbus, OH.  I finally found redemption from a great sadness.  This was my shortest trip, and the only time I drove alone, and it was six hours each way, but I wasn’t lonely; I had friends surrounding me but just not in person.  I wonder if loneliness would have set in without that presence, or if I’m okay with just myself yet.  I wrote a birthday card to an (at the time) unborn child.  I found an ear that not only listened but was uniquely capable of really understanding.   This trip also featured a surprise Jacuzzi, as if the universe knew exactly when it would be best.
7.     Richmond, VA.  My dearest friend and I laughed at and nursed each other’s sun wounds throughout this weekend of dancers and dancing.  I finally found redemption from a great inequality.  I overcame all sorts of intimidating things but didn’t quite make it to being totally okay.  I got annoyed and didn’t stand up for myself, as usual.  Some steps forward, you know the rest.  But!  One moment represented what I want my life to be – a friend we hadn’t seen in forever leapt in to the dance right at Big Apple time.  Only in his first steps of the circle, facing out, did he see everyone who was there and with each Suzy Q got happier and happier as he went by.  I laughed with such joy at his joy!
8.     Charlottesville, VA.  I did things that were really weird to deal with.  Intentionally.  Just to make sure I could.  Putting my degree to work, I told everyone I was going to compete so I would actually compete the way you tell everyone you’re on a diet so you have a better chance of sticking to your diet.  Unfortunately, this also meant that everyone was super into me, you know, winning.   I did fine (except for shitty posture which I noticed while watching the video) but you guys, there are a lot of girls who are really good at the lindy hop.  Then, friends, I WENT TO A WEDDING.  I learned the lesson too late from an old wise man that if you’re invited, you go.  I was, again, surrounded by friends, thank goodness, and it was at once heartbreaking and incredibly refreshing.  Although it would have been nice to keep drinking wine instead of driving back.  To more dancing and more friends, which are separately each kind of like wine, and then more so when put together, so it was okay.  It was very okay.  I met people I really fell in friendship with and I saw people I met before and liked them even more than I already did.  I finally stood up for myself!  It was reasonable but firm and then EVERYTHING WAS OKAY and I was so quietly happy and proud.  I drove back by myself, after hugs and good conversations and so much laughing, and the adrenaline of all that made me not even notice the first hour and a half of road.

You guys, also, I have never seen butterflies so often as I did this summer.  Butterflies. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Triumphant return

Friends!  Romans!  Countrymen! 

It's been quite the six months here.  After mid-February I couldn't muster up any energy or will or joy of life to write anything cute or even remotely funny after dealing with my super demanding job and then my super crumbling marriage.  But now it's summer and my job is way less demanding and my marriage is finished crumbling.  I upgrade to a better version of my job next year!  I upgraded to my own place last week!  Everyone clear your schedule for my housewarming coming up in a month or so.  Enormous thanks and thousands of hugs to friends and family who have overwhelmed me with well-wishes, care packages, and company so far.  Not out of the woods yet though!  Stay tuned for thoughts and lists and whatever else I write about, but from the single life again.  Get ready for inspiring tales of swings, vegetables, dancing, free hugs, and all the adventures.

Also ps, someone found this blog by searching "worst toilet seat" and I am so, so happy.  That post was better, and truer, than I even thought it was at the time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Four complaints sandwiched by two completely awesome things.

One of them more awesome than the other.
  1. So you may know that I'm one of those people who's totally obsessed with those little hotel soaps.  Or if you didn't know that, maybe it's not so hard for you to imagine.  But, like any adorable collection, they were growing out of hand.  So I'm only using my hotel soaps until they're all gone!  Three down, a dozen to go.  The sense of accomplishment I feel about this is outrageous.
  2. The radio needs to stop playing that song, "Good Life" by One Republic.  Yeah, you probably couldn't complain that much if your life is just waking up in famous tourist locations having drunkenly traipsed through Europe, making swanky British friends and forgetting about all your lame friends in various US cities.   We all got our stories, and yours is one of freely galavanting all over the world without need for employment.
  3. Someone needs to tell charities that in their plethora of gifts to encourage donations, not all women want their return address labels to use Ms. as the title.  Either get it right or don't do it at all.
  4. The sixth graders just got done with a social studies unit on the Harlem Renaissance.  They made collages, and they look okay, those who did them, but I still feel no connection from them -- even to this, this most engaging of eras.  No genuine interest.  Just regurgitation, no appreciation that this was real, what was it like to live this, how did it shape today, etc.  If I had found out about the project earlier, I might have made the teacher show a clip of the lindy hop.  Frankie Manning, even.  Maybe I would have explained that I have the Harlem Renaissance to thank for my favorite activity, for a good chunk of my friends, for my Monday (and also now Tuesday) nights.  Would that have sparked them?  I see all these clips and articles about these amazing students who took something and ran with it.  Wrote a crazy awesome poem that changes their own life.  Started a club.  Petitioned a congressman.  These kids, even the best of them, just don't think like that.  It doesn't occur to them to, no matter how many poems we make them write.
  5. For the first time in my many three years of doing taxes, we owe money.  I used to get so excited about taxes.  Now I am so sad.  In fact, we're even a little bit in denial about it.  "WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY, TURBOTAX?  THIS CANNOT BE!  LET US TO THE H AND R BLOCK!"  I'm reminding myself it's all just mental games, the money is the same whether they took it out first and it was too much or you fixed it to take out too little so you could buy a house and then it was too little in the end.  But I guess my point is I AM NOW A JADED AMERICAN
  6. EXCEPT FOR THIS.  In this, I am an ecstatic American.  I also drive more considerately so as not to be a hypocrite.  As promised, and a repeat if we're friends on facebook.  Which we probably are.  And if we're not, we should be.

Thanks to everyone for your input.  It was heeded.  Obviously.

Monday, February 6, 2012

but if you try sometimes, you might find, YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED

So you guys know me by now.  Imagine the magnitude of the following story to me while I try to tone it down for the general public.

Last week I returned to school to many happy faces and many stressful problems.  After unreasonable hours, I unearthed myself from the mountains of issues, and, on my way home one day, I saw BNERUNR.  Hmm!  I both love and hate when I don't quite know it.  Bone runner?  Bane runner?  Be any runner?  Be an e-runner?  Bonnaroo: NR?  I mused for several miles.  Then, I kept driving, kept musing, my musings meandered, and I found Justin and came home.  THE NEXT DAY.  Literally, the next day, again, about halfway through my commute home: BNERUNR.  BNERUNR!!!  Like an old friend already, I silently died of joy while still managing to drive mostly safely.  There are SO MANY CARS, you guys.  There are SO MANY PEOPLE.  There are SO MANY TIMES TO LEAVE WORK.  There are SO MANY EXITS on the beltway.  To have my mysterious runner friend in the lane to my right and slightly in front of me makes me think there really is a God, and He wants me to be happy.

PS.  Stay tuned for more in a similar vein.  It will be worth it.  I sort of promise.  If you like me, basically.