So, I've written a little for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. When I attempted it last year, I didn't have a job and I made it 22 pages. Given that the goal is 50,000 words... that means I gave up pretty quickly.
But some things are ok to give up on. And so, I wrote a little tonight for NaNoWriMo. I won't write 50,000 words, don't plan to. I'm just going to see what happens. So far a vivid dream is informing the first couple paragraphs. That's all there is.
I opened my NaNo from 2009 and am looking at it for the first time in forever. This line made me happy:
"The table was small and cheap and Swedish, and had lived in four apartments before this one."
So, my car is totaled. I don't have details or a number yet, since the number left to me by my insurance sent me to their 'Total Loss Division" (a depressing name if ever there was one), which is only open Monday-Friday.
So, I need a car. One that is safe and reliable, and easy to get in and out of. I also am collecting car shopping advice, and the numbers of reputable salesmen. Feel free to put me in touch with someone you know and trust.
And just for fun, this is what my car looked like after Monday's (low speed, stop and go) accident:
Danielle's "About" page says it well, so I'll just let you read it here:
Danielle is the pastor of Journey Church in Dallas. She is the author ofThe Boundary-Breaking God: An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise (Jossey-Bass, 2009) and speaks often on issues of theology, church leadership and emerging communities of faith. Danielle lives with her husband and two children in Dallas, Texas.
I discovered Danielle when she was talking about women's seminary experiences on Twitter, and I've enjoyed her blog ever since (Heads up--her *spoiler-free* post on Mad Men is particularly good.)
Heidi came to Multnomah during my second year of seminary. In addition to being a delightfully joyful human being, she has a passion for missions and travel, and she's crafted a blog that's both theologically and stylistically solid (see Sept 12th's post for a uniquely good example).
I met David in a fleeting moment in the seminary lounge, sometime in...2008? I think. I had just agreed to complete an internship with Compassion Connect, and David was introduced to me because of the work he was starting with their Apartment Complex Initiative.
David's blog is a little bit of everything: theology, technology, cars, music, movies, life, and the occasional bit of randomness just for fun. Lately he's been going over Mumford and Son's "Sigh No More" song by song, and while I don't entirely agree with his take on it, I'm glad he's covering them. I only wish I had done it first. :)
Miki lives in my house. Connecting to her blog was like discovering a whole different side of a housemate. Miki is fun, and sarcastic, and a little wacky at times, and devoted to Guitar Hero and her hockey team of choice. Her blog posts are beautiful, poetic, and powerful. It's the pensive side of the passionate hockey fan, and I like it.
I knew who BD was before I met him. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that our first conversation may have included me saying, "I know who you are." How's that for creepy?
BD and I were also at seminary together, although he got there before I did. Right now he's a leader @ Sacred Roots, a new community in SE Portland. His blog is full of good stuff. Also, John Calvin was a hipster. Check it out.
First of all, thanks to everyone who volunteered themselves up for the blog roundup. I'm going to try to group them loosely (translation: don't get too worked up over an outlier or two). For now, blog roundups will happen Wednesday nights. Late-ish.
I'm doing this for two reasons: One, most of these blogs come from friends of mine, and they're cool people and I want to brag on them a little. Indulge me.
Two, I really haven't felt like writing lately. and I don't like that. But I do know that other people's writing usually sparks and inspires mine, and so while I hope you enjoy the blogs here, I also hope it will kickstart me, so to speak.
The theme this week is...
Travel at home, travel abroad. And so without further ado & in no particular order:
My friend Jules is many things. She's beautiful, she's smart, she's shockingly funny, she's a globetrotter and a storyteller. Sometimes her tales make me jealous. Other times, like when she details a bout of airplane sickness, they make me glad to be home. But they always make me laugh. Also, on any given day, I have no idea where on the planet she might be.
Jenni and Chrissi are sisters. I met them both at a recent weekend-long coastal bachelorette party. They're incredible women, and stunning storytellers. And they have this brilliant blog, which not only gives tips on travel and life in general, but has also been telling the beautiful story of a new family, as Chrissi and her husband are currently in the Philippines with their new daughter, Mary. Read it.
If you've been following Stumbling into Grace for any time at all (and if you have, thank you for sticking with me through the dry spells), you've heard me talk about my friend Robin. I don't need to tell you she's fun, crazy talented, and beautiful because you know this already. But! Robin has a new project. The Portland Untourist is designed to help people rediscover where they live. Since Robin lives in Portland, the blog is currently Portland-centric, but fascinating no matter where you are (and I have brought her to many of the places she's highlighted, so you're welcome.)
Robin's friend (and now mine as well) Jessica is currently living and working in Shanghai. This blog is honestly a must for anyone interested in travel, Chinese culture, good writing or life. Really, that should catch all of us. Oh, and Jessica just happened to snag a gig editing Hops Magazine. No big deal.
Talented folks, these. Stay tuned for more next Wednesday, and hopefully some posts about other material in between. Happy reading!
I hung out with some friends tonight over wine, a killer vegetable soup and some rambling, mostly aimless conversation.
It was really good.
Driving home, Mumford & Sons playing for the millionth time in the cd player, I started thinking about God, and about how thankful I am that He is not dependent on me. His attitude toward me doesn't change when my attitude toward Him does. The fact that my faith is weak and frail doesn't diminish His strength. The fact that sometimes, lots of times, I don't believe in Him doesn't keep Him from believing in me and seeing me as a completed creation, rather than the partway-there, unfinished heap of stuff I tend to feel like.
He loves me, even when I don't love Him or others well, or at all.
He listens to what I don't say, can't say, won't.
And when I focus, and focus, and focus on myself and my imperfections and the imperfections of the world that make my life harder, he hangs around, and lets me fume, lets me cry, lets me throw my tantrums.
This isn't weakness, or laziness, or lack of concern.
For me, God has always been present and active. And so sometimes, I think I look for Him in the thunder, or the tragedy, or the big, loud, noisy moments. And He's always there, but it's not always where He chooses to show up.
I am thankful that God can stay strong and loving and powerful and active, and he can do all those things in the dark corners of my life. He can stay there until He wants to move, and He can work silently where He chooses, as slowly or as quickly as He likes.
I have no patience. He knows this. I want evidence of change, movement. He knows this too.
I am thankful that God is present when I can't be. However quiet, however slow.
Quite literally. Well, no, not quite literally, but you get me.
Please observe the following exchange between yours truly and this guy:
I just made a somewhat frivolous purchase you may like to try the next time you come over.
? Exciting! What? Please say trampoline. Oh my god, it's totally a trampoline.
Yes, it's a trampoline. Also a giant electric piano keyboard that you play by jumping on the keys.
And a Pepsi machine you can throw a baseball at. And a blow-up dinosaur.
Also, I have inexplicably purchased an absurdly formal white tuxedo.
It just so happens that I have the perfect taffeta dress for trampolining. I'm crimping my hair and coming over.
Wait, hang on. I have just consulted this mysterious and creepy carnival fortune-telling machine which tells me that I do not actually have a trampoline. Sad.
Ok, now I'm DYING to know. Also, that thing terrified me when I was little.
I can't possibly tell you now. It wasn't nearly exciting enough for all that buildup. It's a kitchen appliance; it involves liquids, that's all I'll say.
Lololol. Martini shaker?
I already have a martini shaker. Alright, fine. It's this cute Japanese thing that sits on your counter and makes hot water. Like for tea. Or for trampolines.
I actually had the thought, What if it's something decidedly not awesome, like an omlette maker? But then again, for a split second I thought maybe you really did buy a floor piano.
I always wanted that floor piano but I would use it once and then never again.
I want martinis.
Okay. Hot water martinis for everybody.
This entire text conversation may have to be blogged. I love it.
Aren't all of our text conversations like this? You can't possibly blog them all. Unless you did.
I'm glad you think we're always this clever. We're not quite. Tonight you & i are in particularly good form.
Yay us, then. But see, the thing is, this thing is always on so you can ALWAYS have hot water like as for tea. Or oatmeal or ramen. Like, IMMEDIATELY. Surely that is as cool as at least a small trampoline. Like a pocket trampoline. Also, I don't remember this pepsi machine that you can throw a baseball at. Can't you throw a baseball at pretty much anything?
But it gave you PEPSI. For FREE.
That sounds awesome, except for the free Pepsi. Does anyone drink Pepsi anymore? I think everyone drinks tea instead.
I think Coke bought all the tea.
That would be a smart marketing move, since I understand cool and attractive people are buying hot water heater things so they can drink more tea. You should come over later in the week. Bring your pocket trampoline.
Well, I think it's fun. :)
That's all for today. You should text me about The Breakfast Club.
Two: Though the following takes a light tone, I really do want to know your thoughts. Am I expecting special treatment? Somewhat, yes. But am I asking too much? Comment, share, discuss, please.
Background: Today is my friend Christina's birthday. Christina is one of the most gracious, loving, and fun people I have ever met. You may remember last year, we celebrated her birthday thusly. This year, we repeated it.
Star Trek in the Park at the Bagdad (or whatever its formal name is) was much more popular this year. Parking on SE Hawthorne Blvd was harder to find. (And yes, til midnight, we had fun). I explained the events post-midnight in the following email to a friend:
"So, Christina recommended that I bring my handicapped placard last night for easier parking. Hooray!
Then we found an open handicapped spot in the Bank of America parking lot. After hours. Sunday. Hooray! Then Christina's car got towed. Then Christina was nice to the tow company lady. Then I got on the phone with the tow company lady, and she told me "The fact that you're handicapped doesn't give you the right to trespass on personal property." Then I was not so nice to the tow company lady. Then I asked the tow company lady for the number of a cab company. Because, as I told the tow company lady, "It's not like I can walk home. I might trespass." Then I got us a cab to my house, went to Christina's house, waited for her to get her title at home, drove out to a creepy tow lot all the way in the Pearl, and waited and felt guilty while she paid $240 (that's two hundred and forty dollars) to get her car out of the impound lot. I fell asleep at 2 am. My alarm went off at 6:30. I got out of bed at 7:30. I am tired."
Is the tow company lady right? Am I expecting too much special treatment?
Stop. Sometimes I just have to tell myself to stop it.
Heather, stop it.
Life is good right now. It's getting a little better with each step. So, Heather, let's stop looking backwards, however lovely the view; let's stop picking scabs. It's not moving on. It's moving, and not spinning.
Stop. Stop. Stop. Don't beat yourself to death over it, but stop all the same.
I'm going to bed--I just wanted to commit that somewhere. Sometimes it helps to talk to myself in the third person--or I pretend it does.
A proper blog is coming soon--probably something about music.
Life is good, and getting better. It's always grace.
So, I'm not sure if you all heard, but I have this job now...
I know. Awesome. Don't be jealous, though, because I spent over a year being jealous of people with jobs, and it did nothing but give me heartburn.
(And for the many of you who have asked, I'm not talking super openly about the job online not because it's a secret, but because I haven't seen many other people talking about the company online, and I don't want to breach protocol this early in the game.)
I can tell you this much: I am now working in downtown Portland for a large company (one that doesn't feel as large as it is) that's corporate, even though most people assume it's non-profit.
I really like it.
I think I'll do really well (I keep hearing Annie in my head, singing "I think I'm gonna like it here...")
Everyone's been really, really friendly and fun.
All that being said, it's some serious culture shock, for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is kind of easy and silly, but it's culture shock nonetheless. Robin and I planned to meet up for happy hour at the end of my first day, and since we were still there later, Eric came and met us (side note: My friend texted to ask how the day went, and when I replied "I am at happy hour with Eric and Robin" my heart got super-happy, because it's so rare that I get to say something like that, and those two are my absolute favorites. Aww.)
So, talking with Robin and Eric. both of whom have been employed downtown for years now, I realized that making these culture-shock statements made me sound ridiculous, like a four year old. Or an alien.
Happy hour stretched late, as it tends to do, and when Robin said, "Wow, it's 9 already," I responded, "Oh, my gosh, I have to go home and go to bed! Like, soon! And then.... I have to wake up and do it all over again!"
This, as I have since been reminded, is called having a job. But when I've been in school and unemployed and even working wacky part-time jobs, the standard 8-5 job has been hard to come by. Falling into that routine feels very awkward. And me and mornings fight, but the struggle hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be--presumably because there is the promise of a paycheck attached to this one.
Second culture-shock, being a confirmed Eastside Portland resident: Downtown is like a whole different city. It's still Portland, to be sure, and is definitely more laid back than other cities, but wow. Lots of pumps and suits and ties and things running around, and you practically never see that on this side. Luckily for me, my office is 'business casual' (also a new concept for me--finding cardigans turned into a huge quest), and tends to lean ever so slightly more in the casual direction. But the days in pajama pants? Those are called "Saturdays" now. Maybe.
So the downtown-ness is new, and the corporate angle is going to take some getting used to. But the office as a whole has such a positive, energized vibe to it, and the people are warm, and passionate about the work.
So, after months of feeling like I was floating endlessly, no horizon in sight, it's looking like God led me to exactly the shore I needed. Losing the sea legs will take a while, but the sand feels lovely under my feet.
For the first time in the past 13 months, I am employed.
And the job is a good one. The interview process started back in April (!), and they extended an offer to me today.
I'm not used to the idea of being employed. I keep forgetting for a moment, and then remembering, "Hey, you know that pit in your stomach over not having a job? You don't need that anymore."
And that pit is well-seated. When I was on the phone with the woman who offered me the job today, before she made the offer, I actually pictured myself getting out of the car and throwing up if I heard a no.
I am out of antacids.
I almost feel like I don't know how to take good news, how not to worry incessantly. The offer is pending the results of the background check, and even though there's nothing in my history, I'm still paranoid. What if they don't like your credit score?, the little voice of negativity in my head says.
But, in less than two weeks, I will be working at a good job. I will have much less time on my hands, and will remain grateful for all those friends and family who supported me over the last 13 months, during many of which I know I was less than a joy to be around.
I don't know what will happen with this blog. Largely because of the interview process, a short "blog vacation" turned long, and I know I won't post as regularly as I have. I can promise one thing: this blog will not become a space for me to complain about my job. I think I'll love it, in fact, but there will always be little things that you wish were different. I won't air dirty laundry or bemoan my employed fate here.
For now, I have to try to develop a normal sleep schedule, and I have to start remembering that words like "weekend" and "weekday" have actual meanings.
I haven't forgotten about this blog, but I did need somewhat of a break. I have posts in mind, though, and may even post a second one before today is out.
This week, though, apart from the bizarre stress I've experienced (more on that in a minute) I've found a bunch of fascinating stuff via our buddy and enemy the internet. And since I'm now baffled as to how my Twitter page updates my Facebook without ever changing my status, I figured I would root the links and stuff here. David Bowie's playing...here you go (mostly in reverse order of discovery):
I DON'T EXPECT YOU TO READ ALL OF THESE. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you do read.
Dehumanizing comes easy. The death of porn stars becomes too many punchlines. I love Salon--their articles are consistently--and simply--excellent (Salon.com) .
"I'm spiritual but not religious." Interesting discussion on what that statement means... it would be a great group discussion over wine and cheese, I think (hint, hint). and as I said on Facebook, I don't consider myself religious, either. But is it an issue of semantics? (CNN)
,.. and I discovered that Free Rice, benefiting the WFP, will let you practice your vocabulary in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian, or your knowledge of math, art, or the periodic table, all while donating food. Incredible.
Amazingly, the same newspaper has been used in movies and television for years. Literally--it's one paper. (@culturepulp, a.k.a. Mike Russell)
As you all probably know at this point, I took part in (and narrowly missed successfully completing) the 2010 WordCount Blogathon.
Here's what I've learned:
1. Blogging is serious business.
I started a blog because I like words, I think I'm funny, and I thought it would be good to make myself write. When I joined the Blogathon, I thought I would find lots of people like me--people who make fun little observations about life and release them to the universe. And I did find some people like that.
But I heard a lot about branding, a lot about traffic and analytics, and a lot about acronyms that meant nothing to me (like SEO, for example). And I realized, these people are taking this SERIOUSLY.
I also got a lot of blogging advice. If I do decide to get myself a domain name and commit to this blogging thing, I don't know that it will be here. I love this blog, and I love doing it, and I love that you (yes, you, specifically) are reading it, but I don't know that I would ever call it a serious venture. I feel like this is like my think- and play-space, and I am incredibly honored that anyone would come along for the ride.
2. Someone has already written about this, and done a better job.
I am a good writer. I'll even stick my nose out and say I have talent at it. But there are a lot of good writers in the world, and there were a lot of good writers taking part in the Blogathon. But here's one part of the encouragement of this realization. The fact that what I'm doing may not be 100% original or completely the greatest thing ever committed to language/thought/webspace doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. The fact is, I do have a unique voice, and people enjoy hearing it. Now, many of those people may be friends and family (who, really, unless they're jerks--and they're not--kinda have to like me), but many others were strangers to me on May 1, and are strangers still. And people are reading, and saying hello, and I get to get stuff--the silly stuff, the scary stuff, the serious stuff--out of my head. Everybody wins.
3. People are really nice.
This one maybe isn't rocket science, but it's nice to be reminded. I have been so impressed by the amount of advice, support and encouragement I have received over the past month. Whether it's support in regards to jobs, like I posted yesterday, or encouragement when my life deflates, or even just direction on what to use for blogging and how to use it, people have been really helpful and kind. And so thank you, gang.
And just for fun, here is my favorite text message I received today (the sender shall remain anonymous):
I am drawing a shark in a business suit. Please kill me.
My friend Liz is moving to Chicago in less than a month, and I discovered today that she had never been to Pambiche. Portlanders, if you haven't been here, go. It's a fantastic Cuban restaurant, and literally everything is delicious.
After finishing up at Pambiche, we headed over to Swirl on Hawthorne. We talked, in both places, about a number of things, but I started to tell her that last night I woke up panicked about the prospect that I may not get this super job I so desperately want.
And so we started discussing options. Maybe, as my parents have said, I should go back to school again, and become an LPC (licensed professional counselor). It was something I had in mind for the future, years down the line (after seeing the requirements, I understand why most counselors are older!). But I have seen many, many jobs requiring this or an LMHC (mental health counselor), so maybe it's time.
Maybe, Liz suggested, this is meant to push you to commit to your writing, and do it full time. I have to be honest, the prospect of this filled me... with fear. I love writing, don't get me wrong. And I've mentioned here that when it works, it can make me feel more awake and more alive than almost anything else. But the idea of committing to it and making writing my official career choice, with nothing else behind it, is frightening.
For one, I don't know what kind of writer I would be. Would I freelance, scraping up what I could, at least to start? I have one freelance project now, and that hasn't even finished.
For two, I don't know that I'm actually good. I think that I am, and believe that I am, and I know that people who love me and care about me have said that I am very good. But millions of people in this world are fully supported into doing something they, in fact, cannot do well. Who's to say I'm not one of those millions? I know I'm biased; chances are you are too.
For three, melancholy stretches aside, I'm extroverted and highly distractable. I still don't understand how I began to write in the first place. Even with collaborative projects, writing is a deeply lonely practice. It's shared once it goes , but the actual work of writing requires you, and something to write with. That's it. I don't know if I have that in me.
Maybe you need to go somewhere else, Liz said. And this is when the conversation really got depressing. I love Portland. I love living here, and I feel more at home here than I ever have anywhere else. I feel more at home here than I did when I lived in Ireland, and at the time, I claimed that I would live there forever if I could. I would still go back... I just don't know about forever.
Aside from the job market, Portland has treated me extremely well. I have an excellent community of friends here. The city is accessible and welcoming, in its cynical Portland way. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. I'm practically an evangelist for Portland. Maybe that's the problem.
Still, maybe this super job will call me, tell me they loved me, and when can I start? But if they don't, I am certainly at a crossroads. Here's hoping the second half of 2010 will provide more answers than the first.
Robin texted me this afternoon letting me know that Gabe (her husband) was having a 'guy's night out', and was I busy? "I'm thinking this would be a perfect opportunity for Twilight, wine and cheese."
I adore this girl.
I've been telling her for the past year that she needs to see "Twilight", and being an intelligent, grown woman (sorry, serious fans) she's resisted.
"You don't get it." I told her. "We're not watching it because it's good. We're watching it because it's ridiculous. It's a two-bottles-of-wine movie. You drink one together before the movie starts, then sip on the second while you watch, and the movie becomes GLORIOUS in its ridiculousness."
So she's apparently finally given in. We're each supplying a bottle of wine, and then we will eat cheese and good things, and laugh our faces off.
If you want to see my earlier thoughts on the movie, click here.
I mean, he compares her to heroin, you guys. That's not a love affair. That's a recipe for homelessness and death.
Sometime, when you don't have better things to do and have your imbibement of choice handy, watch "Twilight". Skip "New Moon", though. It's boring.
I didn't post, for the first time (technically) in 2010 Blogathon history. And you know what? I'm a tiny bit bummed, but I'm mostly ok with it. Because yesterday was nuts, but in a good way.
I had a second-round job interview with a local(ish) company that shall for now go unnamed. This company is amazing--employees have a great energy, the work they're doing is important, and the office has nice views. Different levels of importance, to be sure, but all reasons why I want to work for this company.
I sat down with several people in the course of the interview, and each time, made no small thing of saying, "I want this job, specifically, passionately, this job, I want it."
We'll see if that worked. I felt good about the interview.
I've applied for a LOT of jobs over the past year. I've tried to apply mostly at organizations and companies where I have connected in some way with the work they're doing, but there have also been a fair amount of "Yes, I can run your front desk" kind of applications.
Want to know what the funny thing is? Every single time I have gotten called in for an interview, it has been for a position with an organization I'm passionate about, and usually, in some sense, I'm already invested in the type of work they do or the community they work with. Every time. So much for worrying about taking the wrong job, huh?
So, yes, I need a job. But I really, really want this one. Watch this space for updates.
The thing is, LOST (I love typing LOST in all caps and so that's where it will stay) is one of the only shows on television (or was) that actually makes me feel dumb.
I love that. It's why I have such smart friends (partly, anyway). It's also part of why LOST is best watched in community.
Granted, fans, it's a great show no matter what, whether you appreciate it and take it apart, or like me, you overemphasize the ridiculous and just take the ride. But even when I watched Lost alone (thank you, Netflix streaming), I was still barraging friends, Eric and Ashley in particular, with questions, quips and I will now resist the urge to make this sentence alliterative... thoughts. Whew.
Because LOST is better in community, even if that community is behind a screen.
I hit a possum coming home from watching the "Lost" finale.
I've never hit anything in my life. Except a curb.
My eyes were on the road. I was annoyed by the radio but not focused on it. And then this little whiteish rodent-looking thing was RIGHT in front of my car. And then it wasn't.
The feeling was worse than the sound. I could feel something--it--bounce along under the carriage of my car.
"Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. I'm sorry. Oh my God," I said.
On the radio, Katy Perry continued to sing about Daisy Dukes.
I only made one left turn the whole drive home, and when I did, I heard it again, ca-chunk, under the car.
The rest of the drive home was unnecessary turns, made sharply but not recklessly, trying to make sure that whatever was under my car was gone.
Heartless. I know.
When I got home, I hesitated opening the door. I kept picturing a tiny pink hand reaching up from under the car, slashing at my ankles. Even in tall leather boots, it's a terrifying thought.
But I had milk in the trunk! Milk goes bad! It must be saved!
Gingerly, I popped the trunk open and set one foot outside. I listened for harried breathing. And, as I always do, I sent a text message--I just hit a possum. :(-- to my mom and two friends I knew would be awake. Mom, I think, is asleep.
Friend one was sympathetic. Oh, no!
Friend two, less so. Oh? Ow.
Friend two knew about the milk. You should have seen me reach for the milk, I texted. I stood away from the car & leaned in. in case the dying animal reached for me with his tiny mangled paws. :(
Friend one got, I've never hit anything in my life.
He replied, I'm so sorry. That's awful.
Friend two, whose particular brand of snark you may have seen on this blog previously, said, You were so angry about the Lost finale you went on a possum-killing rampage! which was swiftly followed by You know, sometimes they do take down your license plate and plot their revenge. I heard that I Know What You Did Last Summer was actually based on a true story involving a raccoon.
i hate you, I texted.
Both friends, in an effort to lighten the mood/offset my guilt onto someone else, received, I'm certain it was a possum. At first my brain said, could that have been a cat? Or a human baby? Because I am nothing if not rational.
So, possum, I am sorry. I never intended to hurt you. I hope you had a lovely possum life, and that you are not so angry with me that you haunt my dreams or retreat into darkness, working overtime to become SuperPossum and exact sweet revenge on me with a tractor.
That's not a sentence that very many people have an opportunity to type.
I was thinking about my parents today, and realized that I don't have the ability to conceptualize loving the same person for 35 years. If I'm being honest, I'll tell you that it's something I hope is in my future, but as for now, the phrase "married for 35 years" is as incomprehensible as if it were in another language.
I know that it has (probably) never been easy. I know that it hasn't always even looked like they would make it to this point, but they did. And I know that watching my parents' relationship has informed what I am looking for in a relationship as well.
It's too easy to say that I look to my parents' relationship "warts and all", because I know I have never seen the highest highs or lowest lows. I've lived through the extreme sides of the middle. And I know I'm biased, but I do think my parents have either had more extreme high and lows, or at least more of them than your typical couple.
My parents are far from perfect. But they love each other like crazy, and I've been able to see that love wears all kinds of different faces, and rarely looks as lovely as we would like.
Someday, hopefully, I'll be celebrating an anniversary, and I'll carry those lessons into the relationship with me. But if I don't, watching my parents has taught me about living with other people, whether the relationship lives safely on middle ground or trusts enough to reach dangerously on the edge.
Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. I know it's a weird little tribute, but it is a tribute, in its way.
...I may take a swing at you. It probably won't be a real one, and it will almost certainly be both ineffective and in jest, but be ready.
It is 2010. We may not have flying cars yet, but even if we did, someone would be sleeping through the trip. A couple notes before we launch into tonight's posts:
1) My instructions are aimed at adults. Teenagers will always be bored. That's practically your job description from 12-18: be bored or overreact. One or both, at all times.
2) Sometimes a little boredom can be nice (emphasis on little). When life is crazy, it can serve as a bizarre respite. What I'm talking about here is the people who complain/announce their boredom. Ok? Here's your instruction.
If you can't stop it, shut up about it.
Really, boredom comes from selfishness. We've done everything we want to do, or the thing we most want to do is unavailable to us, so we announce that we're bored. God forbid we go engage another human being. God forbid we accomplish something that isn't 110% enjoyable.
Am I preaching to myself as much as you? Absolutely.
I'm not sure if it's a local thing, a hipster thing, a modern thing, a 20something thing, an affluence thing or what, but lately I have heard EVERYTHING called boring.
"Music is boring." So go make some. Or shut up.
"God, tv is so boring." Donate your set and go outside.
"The internet is boring." Really? I imagine if all you do is feed crows on FarmVille and click through pictures from your first cousin-twice-removed's baby shower in Omaha, the internet is boring. However (and I'm sure you've all heard this already, but), I doubt the people involved in this story consider the internet boring.
Boring is not an excuse, and it's not a right to complain. Boring is a luxury, and whining about it is a flaunting of that luxury in front of people who work harder (or at least smarter) than the complainers.
If you're bored, invest in something. Invest in someone. I hope it's clear this isn't necessarily economic investment--it's time, it's value, it's connection. It's not always money. Step outside yourself and find out what someone else wants or needs for a change.
You don't have to change the world. You don't have to champion a cause. You don't even have to believe in anything (though I would recommend believing in something), other than the fact that you are not a self-sustaining island.
You can even stay bored, if that's really what you want. Just don't make me read it on your Facebook status.
I was hanging out with a bunch of friends from Emmaus tonight, and eventually, briefly, the topic of my blog came up. I mentioned, half as a joke, that one of my friends could write a guest post for me whenever she wanted.
"Oh, no," she said, "I hate writing."
"What?" I asked.
"I can't stand writing. I avoid it. I'd much rather do math or science."
"Me too," another friend chimed in. "I'd rather do math or science than write."
I looked at the people seated around the table as if they were aliens.
I'm not against math or science, but both are hard for me. And I guess what surprised me most was that I forgot that writing doesn't come easily to everyone. So many of my friends are writers, love writing and talking about writing, that the concept of someone truly hating writing has become utterly foreign to me.
I don't love writing every minute of every day. Anyone who writes will tell you that there are times finding words, and not even the right ones, is like finding a needle in a haystack (to beat the phrase to death). Sometimes it's worse--even when you're searching for that needle in that haystack (and really, who has ever done that?), you know it's there. Writing sometimes feels like digging through the muck of the barn for something that might not even exist.
But when I do love writing, I love it in a way unique to everything else. Words slip out, pour out, burst out and the doors and windows are flung wide open, and the oxygen is new, the world is new and so am I.
Sounds overdramatic, and I know it. But then again, I have a tendency to be overdramatic, regardless of what my caustic nonchalance may seem to show at times.
So, it's ok if you don't love writing. If you're a part of the blogathon, or if you spend a fair amount of time reading blogs in general, you probably do love it. But if you don't, that's fine. There are plenty of other misguided, starry-eyed romantics, waiting with pen in hand.
A confession right off: I didn't have a topic tonight. Plus, I got home kind of late because I went and saw Shutter Island again (I liked it better than I did the first time).
But then Eric, who (whom? I never remember. I need Grammar Girl--and just a heads up, tonight's grammar will be horrific) you all met semi-officially yesterday, asked me if he should bother watching "V", and I reminded him that it was the season finale, so it would only be the best "V" could do. Also, I said, I need a blog topic.
Tell them three things "V" could improve, he said.
I pondered this for a split second and said, Make it better, lose the bad CG backgrounds, and make it better.
I felt helpful, but it made me think of the number of tv shows I watch regularly. As usual, I blame the internet.
With Hulu and Netflix at my fingertips (and many months of insomnia) I have watched a ridiculous amount of tv without ever turning on the set.
Here's what we're currently working through:
"V" and "Lost"--both are ridiculous, but one is much, much better than the other. Guess which?
"Modern Family"--seriously, tied in my head with "30 Rock" for the funniest thing on TV right now. And for those of you who are asking, my favorite character is Mitchell. He's a gay straight-man (comedy-wise, folks), and I find that hilarious. Because I am a total dork for words.
"American Idol"--I don't actually watch this, usually. I just let my friend Lauren text me who gets booted every week, and as long as Crystal Bowersox wins, the world will be ok for me.
"Kitchen Nightmares"--I love Gordon Ramsey, probably to a pathological degree. Anything he does, I will watch. How boring is "Hell's Kitchen" by now? SO BORING. But he's on it, so I watch.
"The Office"--I hate to admit it, but "The Office" is losing steam. They're grasping at straws for plot points, but they still make me laugh, and I still love Toby Flenderson, so I'll watch till it's done.
"30 Rock"--You already know. Please don't make me tell you again.
"Community"-- Yes, at times, it's a little too clever and tries too hard to push the envelope within the bounds of a network. But it's still funny, and I love that each episode works within the context of a memorable movie.
"Parks and Recreation"--Amy Poehler is funny, no doubt. But the best part of the show isn't her, it isn't Aziz Ansari or even Rashida Jones. The rest of the cast, most of whom I had never seen before, are fantastic. Whoever it is that plays Ron Swanson is hysterical, mainly because we've all met that guy. And I would watch an entire show around April the intern. But no spinoffs yet, please.
"Party Down"--This is a goofy show (on Starz, of all places) about struggling actors and writers in Hollywood making a living as caterers. It's Starz trying (and failing) to be HBO, but it's still good.
Speaking of HBO, last two:
"The Wire"--Everybody loves "The Wire", right? And everybody who doesn't has to hear about it from somebody who does. One of these days, "The Wire" will have its own post here, but not today. I'm just barely into season 4, so DON'T TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS (especially not to Omar or Bubbles, thanks).
"Six Feet Under"--I haven't watched this in months because I promised not to watch it until I finished "The Wire", and then my watching of "The Wire" was delayed by someone. Ahem. But it's a great show, and just a brilliant concept, and I kind of can't wait to get back to it.
Like I said, I don't watch all of these in a row, or even all of these once a week, and they often pop up when I'm unable to sleep. And there will be a post on "The Wire" at some point. Promise.
Some of you may know my friend Heather, who recently - quite graciously, and in a move which I think demonstrated the pivotal role faith plays in her life - invited me to consider writing a guest post for her blog.
Heather and I met some years ago at a coffee shop here in Portland and we've been pretty good friends ever since, perhaps in part because the number of things we have in common is eclipsed only by the number of things we don't. Both of us love to write, for example, though only one of us is disciplined enough to do it regularly and consistently and (horrors) actually commit to doing so publicly. My own blog is in a sad state of lonely disrepair. I need only a Wordpress tumbleweed plugin to complete the desolation. But I've been enjoying following Heather's blog and even a little envious of all this writerly stuff going on over here, so the idea of contributing a bit was pretty appealing to me. At the time I was flattered and intrigued. Flattrigued, even. At the time.
Time passes, as it is wont to do, and then today came of course (the deadline, I mean) and all of that time between "Sure, I'd love to" and now, all of that time I was going to spend thinking up clever and thoughtful things to say here, got sucked up by me watching bad horror movies and playing Space Miner on my phone. And while I could certainly talk for many, many paragraphs about bad horror movies and Space Miner, I have a feeling Heather would be disappointed. (In case you're wondering, by the way, Space Miner is pretty awesome. There's asteroids *and* robots. And Session 9 was actually pretty good, as was The Skeleton Key, now that I think about it.)
But no! I was going to write a Serious Writerly Post. In fact yesterday night I actually wrote a pretty involved bit about poetry and life and meaning. And then I actually read it, and lo, it was bad, like spectacularly bad, and not even a little bit good, so I eated it.
So then earlier this evening I was sitting by the river telling Heather how abysmal my blog post was, and how it gave me a bit of indigestion after I eated it, but not to worry, still plenty of time. (Right around here is when I first tried on a fixed grin. You know, the "What, me worry?" grin. I'll spare you the picture.) "No worries!" I said. "I'll just write about Lost!" Lost is a regular fount of ideas. Ideas were stumbling over themselves in their hurry to present themselves. "Top Ten Loose Ends That I Bet They're Not Going to Get Around To Answering on 'Lost'" seemed really promising for a while. But the more I thought about that, the more I realized - man. Lost is giving me a headache and I'm not even watching it. Besides, Lost was coming on at 9pm and my post would be immediately obsolete unless I watched this episode first. So I waited till 9pm, at which time I promptly fell asleep.
But now I'm up! And now it's 10pm on Deadline Day! "Two hours to go, right?" I texted her. (I added a basic smily emoticon because I'm not sure how to make a 'fixed and slightly desperate grin' emoticon.)
"Right :) have a topic?" she texted back. It's hard to make out here but I think there was a hint of the fixed grin in Heather's emoticon too. I know she's not really worried though. Heather actually has a stockpile of amazing blog posts all lined up. She's had today's post ready since February at least, and somehow she manages to still make them feel topical. I'm convinced she only posts late in the day to keep the other Blogathon participants on their toes.
So there I was - deadline looming, no topic, fixed grin &c. But then I had that magical realization: what do I need a topic for, anyway? I'm a guest blogger, and I can always fall back on the secret weapon of every blogger: a moderately amusing writer's block anecdote. I mean, sure, it's the blogging equivalent of the 'very special episode' of your favorite 80s sitcom where all the writers were on strike so they basically strung together a bunch of old clips and wrapped them in a 'Hey remember when that one thing happened? Let's remember it together' pretext of a story.
A copout? Sure. Intellectually bankrupt? Maybe a little. Endearingly reminiscient of the end of The Muppet Movie, when the story of the making of the movie becomes the movie itself?
Still, it's the kind of trick a blogger can really only get away with once. More than that, and you've violated a sacred pact with your readers, assuming your blog supports the 'sacred pact' plugin. But see, that's the brilliant thing about being a guest blogger - it only has to work once. Because tomorrow, folks, I'll be back to watching bad horror movies and playing Space Miner, and we'll return you to your regularly scheduled Heather. And I expect that will be a relief to all of us.
After yesterday's "Woe is me, tires flee from me" post, I figured some positivity was in order. And so, here are three things I love.
My dad called me today and offered to buy me a set of new tires, something I never could have afforded on my own. Because of thing I love number two, I ended up not needing them, but still. It was a reminder of how good my dad is at always coming through. I forget really easily how many people either don't have dads at all, or don't have dads who are really good men. And my dad is a really good man.
Not having a job this year has been really brutal. But my dad has always been a voice of calm, reminding me "We all know you're working really hard, and we all know how tough it is to get hired right now." Also, not having to be at work has afforded me the chance to be at my parents' house more, especially when my mom got sick. And I got to spend more time with Dad, and really get to know him as a whole person, not just "Dad".
2.Les Schwab Tire Centers
Yep. I love these guys. A bit of promotion for them: If you don't live in the West, you're out of luck. And it's a shame for you, really. because they are amazing. I've visited their stores in several towns, and the service is consistently exemplary. You can drive in and have them check your tire on the spot, and their warantees are fantastic. If something goes wrong with something you bought there, they replace it, no problem.
They also don't try to sell you stuff you don't need. I told you about the generous offer from my dad--asked them to check out all of the tires, even told them I was willing to buy a whole new set. They let me know that my tires were in good shape, and then they fixed the one that went flat. You all saw the photo from yesterday. Repaired. No charge. Amazing. Their website.
Why aren't you watching this show? It's the best thing on network TV. The writing is brilliant, the jokes are fast, self-aware and unpredictable, the cast is perfect, and Tracy Morgan makes me wish every week he had been this funny on SNL. That is all.
Originally, I was rolling away from my house and instantly heard the thunkathunkathunk that told me something was wrong. Stopped my car where it was, and saw that the tire was flat. When I rolled the car back to the curb (a distance of maybe seven feet), I found what you see--the tire had actually come off the wheel.
I'll call somebody tomorrow, and it'll all eventually work out fine. But in that moment, my brain did the dramatic thing it always does, and I thought, This is pretty much like your life right now.
Shut up, brain, I said. Stop being dramatic.
It's true, though, the brain said. Things are sort of flat, and they're slipping.
Grr, I said.
And it's not like it's life or death, I mean, you'll be okay--fine, even. But it's not exactly good.
As a result, I am in a bit of a pity party today. And really looking forward to something good happening soon, whenever soon is.
Spoiler alert: They're possible, but actually I don't think there's many...
For those of you who are new to this blog, you need to know that I am a) poor, and b) living within reasonable distance of multiple theaters that not only show movies for three or four dollars, but also have beer and pizza available.
This means that there is virtually NO movie I won't wait to see. And so, today's review, months after everyone else's, is "Shutter Island".
A couple more things you should know about me: I'm a wuss. I don't watch spooky movies if I can help it (When I originally texted a friend saying the movie looked good (way back in January), they responded with "YOU want to see Shutter Island? Who are you, again?"). And I like older Leonardo DiCaprio a lot. Also, I read tons of reviews. All the time.
So I had heard the twist, most of the reviews I read were bad, and my friend Ashley announced that it was ridiculous--so ridiculous, in fact, that she wanted to watch it again, just to see me respond.
All I need to tell you is this: Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo are federal marshals sent out to remote and treacherous Shutter Island, which was formerly, in part, a Civil War fort and now serves as a penitentiary for the criminally insane. The writers never let you forget the 'criminally insane' part--characters repeat it endlessly. One of their patients has gone missing, even though her cell was locked and she had no shoes! And there's a shocking twist!
That's all you need to know. What follows is two hours of dramatic music when nothing dramatic is happening, silence from the score when dramatic things ARE happening, and approximately one billion allusions to the twist. So many, in fact, that when a character finally commits the twist to real words, I leaned over to Ashley and said, "At least he finally said it! They've only told us eight times over."
Granted, I knew the twist going in. But for a Scorsese film, it just wasn't very good. I got the pulpy mystery quality, and the importance of the time setting, and the film looks good. But it ended up feeling longer than two hours, and I ended up not caring one bit about any of the characters.
When I came home, I discovered via the wonder of the internet that plenty of people LOVE this movie and think it's brilliant. So perhaps I haven't given it a fair shot. Perhaps I looked at it too simplistically.
Have you seen it? What did you think? What's another movie that you had to give a second try to appreciate?
I don't feel funny today. I had blogs in my head earlier that were funny, and I just don't think they'll work. Back on the shelf they go.
1t hasn't been a bad day by any means. I got to spend some time with Laura, who I hadn't seen in months (her blog, something new, is intermittent, but lovely), for example.
But I also have a lot of friends who are experiencing deep sadness right now, and an acute loneliness. The situations may be different, but the root feelings are the same.
The blessing for me, and maybe this is selfish to admit, is that they have shared this loneliness, this sorrow with me. I am a champion of holding things down til they leak out the side, usually in the most opportune time and place. So when someone is open and honest freely, I cherish that.
I only hope I answer it well. I know I haven't always done so. My words are often working to hard for my ears to be fully open. So tonight, I'm a little quieter on purpose.
I like writing, and I like writing about what I know.
I like that people seem to enjoy reading what I have to say.
I like that the internet exists, as it allows me to hear from people I wouldn't otherwise be aware existed, and it allows these same people to hear me.
I like that the internet allows me to have lots of options and ways of doing things, because it helps me look like I know what I'm doing.
But I don't.
The WordCount Blogathon has been fun, it's been fascinating, and it's also made me keenly aware of how new I am at this. I see buttons and things on other people's sites, and I think, perhaps that would be helpful.
And perhaps it is. But I don't really understand what I'm doing still, and so I have only a vague idea of how to do it better.
What I need, I've decided, is a blogging mentor. Not a writing mentor (though I'll always take the advice), not a social media mentor (I like to think I get it--pompous, I know), but a real nuts and bolts, "here's how to fit this in this box, here's why a move to WordPress would be good for you, here's why having a Digg button is worth it or not" kind of mentor.
There are thousands of terrible, amateur, lazy bloggers out there. I am tired of being one.
There are also thousands (yes, I think thousands) of brilliant, talented, savvy bloggers out there. I would like to glean wisdom from one. Or a dozen. And I'm poor, so I can't pay $150.00 for your blogging class. But I can buy you a cup of coffee, probably, or offer general comic relief.