Friday, March 29, 2013

Chasing the Light

It all started a few weeks ago.

A few weeks ago I met a group of friends at the local just-a-little-over-a-dollar theater, to catch the afternoon showing of a well-reviewed documentary. Two hours later as the credits rolled, my friends dispersed back to their respective Sunday afternoons, except for me, Julia, and Dan. And conveniently, for us lingerers, just across the way was a small wine bar, opening in 5 minutes.

When the friendly barista unlocked the door five minutes later, we took seats at the countertop at the window, in order to watch/soak in the fading daylight. Squinting because the sun is in my eyes - after a seemingly endless winter of rare & fleeting sunlight - is one of my most cherished signs that winter is transitioning into spring. You will find me in hallways at work, next to our floor-to-ceiling glass windows, chin skyward, eyes closed, sun dappling my happy face.

Back at the bar, our perfect little flights of wine  arrived. And I began to chase the light.

This first moment of beautiful sunlight led me to others.

A morning of sunlight, blinds wide open.

(Do you see the rounded diamond of blue, faintly encircling the light spilling in through the window? It delighted me.)

Another morning, I noticed what half-closed blinds created.

Raindrops of light almost.

Yesterday though, I arrived home from work, to a gift of light throughout my downstairs. The glass in my front door seemed to be the culprit for the rainbows of light hitting every surface they could find.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Beauty

Sometimes the smallest thing, in the right moment, is utterly beautiful.

Like brilliantly, brightly red tomatoes - roasted in the oven and sending the sweet smell of summer to every corner of the house.

Friday, March 22, 2013


I EARNED this weekend! Though next week promises to be even more stressful than this very stressful week, I am going to put that out of my head and focus on the following things:

-Helping out at my friend's burlesque-roller derby show tonight at one of the funkiest bars in town.

-Going to a new art show at the local art institute that is getting interesting reviews.

-Possibly taking a drive to a small town 1.5 hours from here to get a slice of pie at the best pie shop in the Midwest*. Road trip anyone? The ice is melting and I am ready to go on a mini adventure.

-Fish & chips with a new friend at the local pub.

-Garden planning!!

Go forth and do what makes you happiest. YOU have earned it!

*according to me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Extremely Important

I got red lentils.

I made the soup.

It is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. (And I wasn't even super hungry, so I am not even speaking from an untrustworthy, delusional, starved state of being.)

I could eat this all the time. All. The. Time.

It's that good.

So many flavors come together beautifully in this. I'll admit using good butter, as I did, helps immensely (and I don't often cook with butter - more of an olive oil gal - but I could taste how the butter brought this to a happy place). And then add the cilantro, mustard seeds, good sea salt, turmeric, and oh.m.gee the dollop of greek yogurt + spinach cooked in that same butter + brown rice. It's my perfect meal. LOVE.

The just in: The blog the recipe came from JUST posted an entry called "Soups Worth Making" and this soup was on the list!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday, Sunday, Stream of Consciousness Sunday

The day, stream of consciousness and run-on style: 

Early wake-up, off to church through the bitter cold, I listened as our minister Justin urged us to explore the question of "callings" - our true purpose and life's work - a subject on my mind of late, then I drove in meditative silence until home was back on the horizon and joined my roommate in a deep scrub of the entire house as public radio programs drifted through the hallway. This was followed by a deliberate stroll through the local Co-op where, despite my deliberateness, I forgot the main ingredient for my lentil soup and so instead made my first-ever/inaugural batch of bran muffins and extremely garlicky hummus, while sipping on a very-special-treat-imbulse-buy Cream soda. When Joseph's name appeared on my phone, I rejoiced and taste-tested a warm bran muffin - slathered with overpriced (but delicious) butter - and listened as he too gave me something like a sermon on purpose and calling. I also learned he, like me, loves bran muffins and I made a mental note to finish up that care package ASAP - packed full of books and bran muffins. After our typical drawn out goodbye (which I cherish), I enjoyed a piece of toast with the same ridiculously good butter, some sliced-up radishes, and a pinch of good salt: a small dinner before a large dessert of frozen yogurt with Julia, followed by meditation at the nearby center, followed by a warm bath with ginger-geranium scented bubbles, where I looked upon three candles and a favorite picture of me standing solidly at the edge of the ocean at four, and listened as my house creaked and groaned ready for spring, ready for the windows to be thrust open, and the fresh air to blow through.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Another Day, Another Dollar, Another Way

Despite being completely overwhelmed at work for nearly the entire two years I've been in my current job, and especially the last four months as I fill in for a departed colleague in addition to my normal duties, I can say honestly that I have never felt as busy as I felt this week. I came in early and worked late nearly every day this week and today, on Thank-goodness-it's-fucking-Friday FRIDAY for crying out loud, I actually thought to myself, "To get all this done, I might need to come in Sunday."


No. No. No. No. NO.

It's an awful feeling that I don't enjoy. I've never much appreciated workaholics. I scoff at people who are "so busy." (See: NYTimes Article The Busy Trap.) I've always thought the Work-Life balance is a necessity, not just a nice-to-have.

And I am a hypocrite. Ugh. In most of my "career" I've been that "so busy" person. I have struggled mightily to let go of my work when I am not at work. When I started to realize that people weren't reaching out to me as much to hang out because they thought I was "so busy," I tried to correct my behavior...I don't want to be someone whose community thinks she can only ever pencil them in.

I know this will be a life-long exploration and struggle, but today as I felt physically weighted down by all the work, truly understanding when people describe themselves as buried, I felt very far from knowing an immediate solution to my current situation. 

Couple that with spring being one of my most nostalgic seasons, it's been increasingly tempting to just hop in my car and drive until I find....something. Something is undefined but is definitely not me sitting at a desk, eyes sore due to so much time staring at a bright computer screen, body creaking and aching yet not from the good, hard work a past me enjoyed. 

I dream of the farm with increasing urgency. I remember the way my body felt when it was sore from intense labor rather than from inaction. I think of the peace, but don't romanticize it to the point of forgetting the isolation. I know the many reasons I rationalized not following that path, the many reasons I returned to the city and began to carve out the life I am now living, but I am wondering why such a large part of me still longs for it...

Then I see myself on the back beach at the Bay Area sanctuary I worked at when I was 18, and I crave equally to be and not be that girl again. The pains and awkwardness of being a young woman in the world = no thanks. The freedom and time to figure out who I was and what I loved doing, without judgment or a sense that I need to be there already = extremely attractive.

Life is good. Life is easy. I could possibly be looking for issues where there are none.*

Or I could be challenging my life and my work to be more than status quo. To be more meaningful, thoughtful, creative, inspired, and inspiring. Everything is fine. I just wish it was more than fine. I feel very content in many ways, but also very far from what lights a fire under me. I haven't taken a walk under a full moon on a country road in forever...nor have I had a heart-to-heart with a stranger who with every passing moment is becoming more known...I haven't sat in a cafe in a city I don't know and watched the city's inhabitants pass me by....I haven't looked from a remote trail at a brilliantly blue lake surrounded by fields of wildflowers ...I haven't poured myself into the unknown, the scary, the foreign... What I have been is very removed from the world beyond my slice of it. 

I guess I am realizing in the small and large moments of the life I have created for myself, that I haven't been in love with the big, beautiful, mysterious world the way I once way. It used to make me cry because it was as full of equal parts beauty and potential as it was sorrow and ugliness. It used to make me laugh because it was absurd, ridiculous, kind, hurtful, and complex in so many ways known and unknown. I used to let it surprise me more. I used to let it "get to me" more - no matter where that took me. 

Now I sit at a desk and feel angry and bored and uninspired. A negative feeling grows in me until it's at the point of breaking me, bursting forth. And when that happens, I take it out on my coworkers, my best friends, my frenemies, and myself. Which is no way to live. It's definitely not a happy existence, nor a healthy one. I aim to live a life of "do no harm," and there's no way I am achieving that currently. 

So clearly I need to reclaim some things: my sense of wonder, my sense of purpose, connection with people different than me, an adventurous spirit. But maybe, beyond that, I need to get out a gigantic piece of paper, and a handful of colored pencils, and go wild with drawing out the story of my life: what could it be - if I had no fear or no doubt? How big can I dream if I acknowledge that the only thing holding me back is me?

What do you do when you think you need to make a new path for yourself? How do you recreate your "plan," and does it ever include parts of a plan you thought you had put to bed for good?  Leave a ramble of your own below. 

*A reader of my blog told me it can get rather sad at times. Do not mistake this entry as a debbie downer manifesto. I write to share with myself what is just beneath the surface: I write to discover. Nine times out of ten my ramble is hopeful. If it seems dark or dreary that's a fault of my writing. I promise I'm on my way, and the path is not covered in thorns and spiderwebs. I see a wildflower just beyond the bend; do you?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Evening Recap

This week I have managed to laugh a lot, reflect deeply, read many amazing pages of a few amazing books, have as much quality time alone as I had with people I care about, and also lounge around the necessary amount of time.

I end the weekend feeling nourished thanks to fantastic food (such as this smoothie that is really a milkshake) and a few poems that resonated with me deeply. This Adrienne Rich one comes via a Cheryl Strayed Dear Sugar column (which I have been devouring for weeks), and while I studied Adrienne Rich in a college poetry course, I don't think I "got" Adrienne Rich the way I "got" her this time around. I aim to visit a bookstore this week and pick up her entire collection, The Dream of a Common Language.

I also have been reading Mary Oliver's Red Bird, and transcribed another excerpt for my calligraphy homework. That said, I have been a calligraphy slacker all week, and in this transcription realized why our teacher insisted we make time every day to practice. If you don't, as this shows, things deteriorate  quickly.

That isn't even really calligraphy as much as it is someone writing slowly with a fancy nib pen and pot of ink. Oof.

The coming week I aim to visit the gym 3+ times (and the sauna), get my car fixed, make a new recipe, actually practice my calligraphy, and start plotting a spring/summer vacation.

Nothing too exciting, but glad to be feeling way less dreary than I was one week ago this time. Onward & upward!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

the universe gave me reason to laugh

Just sitting at my new desk, blasting some Joni Mitchell (sometimes your ears want what your ears want), munching on a cream puff and staring out the window at my sad little Toyota Corolla, which is a bit worse for the wear after tonight. I'm sorry car, you've been so good to me and I treat you terribly.

After a spur-of-the-moment decision to see if a massage therapist I occasionally see had any openings tonight - and finding out she miraculously did - I rushed out to retrieve my car from where it was safely slumbering in the garage. After the recent winter storm, I stashed it there and have been managing fine by foot or bus, but tonight I had to get to my treat.yo.self. (version 3) appointment in downtown in under thirty minutes, and the car was my best option. 

My driveway is narrow in normal circumstances, but with all the snow we've had this winter, it's even more of a tight squeeze. For non-Northerners: there's nowhere to put the excess snow anymore, so the driveway is getting more narrow with each storm. It's one or two storms away from pointless.

When I opened the garage I groaned audibly at the crappy parking job I had done. My car was at an extremely odd angle - which is strange because my garage is also quite small, and my car just barely fits. So I'm not quite sure how I managed to get it parked in there so funny. Regardless, I knew it would take some skill to back out of my garage, and reverse (in cars or tractors) has never been my strength.

Which is how I ended up, in quick succession, slamming my side mirror into the side of the garage - snapping it nearly clean off - and then stuck in the snowbank alongside my driveway. Mirror down. Car stuck. In thirty seconds flat.

That does take skill.

And I had to laugh at myself as I treated my poor car terribly - rocking back and forth between reverse and drive until I unlodged myself. Once I got unstuck, and was safely in the road (fingers crossed no neighbors witnessed this absolute hot mess of driving), I barely even glanced at the sad mirror, hanging on by a single wire, cause I had to get to my massage.

And that folks, is how the modern gal prioritizes her self-care: her car and all other poor souls are at her mercy. Self-care: 1. Car and pride: 0.

That said, I drove the entire way to my massage laughing. Cause I am just that ridiculous. First my car window falls clean out two weeks ago (another story entirely), which I spend $700 to fix - and now I smack right into the side of my garage, thus requiring more money to go out of my self-care jar and into my annoying-unnecessary-expenses jar. But, I swear, I am chuckling.

In other news, this was a pretty fantastic discovery.

And in other, other news the Tegan & Sara show I went to last night was wonderful - it was so nice to be surrounded by a mostly queer community and to dance to some happy/sad/exuberant/emotive music. Fun despite running into a dude I dated for a hot second five years ago who, no joke, blurted out: "I'm married! And have a baby!" Nice to see you too, dude... Buh-bye, I gotta get my dance party on.

So, it's not all bad. The massage therapist said to me, post-massage: "Pain is a sign something needs to be adjusted." She was talking about my body, but I think it applies more broadly to life. So I'm adjusting, even if some adjustments put me right into a big bank of snow and snap my mirror in half. The thing about adjusting is you can always readjust from the point you have adjusted to.

Monday, March 4, 2013


My calligraphy homework assignment this week was to end my practice of capital letters - exclusively in pencil -with a few lines of capital + lowercase, in ink.

There is nothing I needed more than to write out these 7 lines from a Mary Oliver poem.

Focusing on these words -writing each one so deliberately - I feel lighter somehow. Even if I didn't really take to heart the assignment - to focus on capital letters - I did take to heart the assignment I have given myself all day: which is to be easy on myself and others, and to examine the places of growth that are possible from points of pain. Mary Oliver knows these lessons well. I am happy to have sat with her words for the many-minutes it took me write this out. I have felt very humble the last few days, very flawed and human - and these too are experiences Mary Oliver knows intimately. Perhaps my entire calligraphy practice will be writing out the words of those wiser and more articulate than me, as a way to get closer to wisdom and peace in myself!

Also, my friend introduced me to a fantastic resource today, and for that I am also very grateful.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Careful Consideration of the Good

Today was a very challenging day, but since the careless use of words is what made today so heartbreaking, I will just use a few words as best as I can.

Things I am grateful for:

Delicious, healthy meals enjoyed with a group of old friends.

A circle of women who provide strength and wisdom for each other - and my luck in being a part of the circle!

The wise words of the book Tiny, Beautiful Things - and the ritual of reading a few pages before bed.

The sound of melting snow and cracking ice....but also the knowledge that more snow will cover the tree branches tomorrow.  (It's okay that this is a bit contradictory.)

Having a friend I can lovingly create a care package for. And including a favorite book from my childhood that he will surely love!

The beauty and serenity of the simple things - such as a stack of vintage plates, washed with care and quiet intention at the end of a very long day.

As a sidenote: I will never forgot the time in church that the minister read a poem about a father teaching his daughter to swim in the sea. The father told the frightened girl to let go, and fall back into the water - he assured her that the salty sea water would keep her afloat. The minister compared our church community to an ocean - that all the congregants make up this body, this great, strong mass that holds things up. He said that as an individual in the church community sometimes you will be a part of the ocean, holding up other individuals who need the support, and sometimes you will be the one being held by the ocean.

Sometimes you are the ocean; sometimes you need the ocean. Today I needed the ocean, and was lucky enough to fall back and discover a number of bodies keeping me afloat.