Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Long Game.

I've reached that point in the term- Oregon State runs on a 10-11 week schedule rather than a semester system- during which I lose myself in a blind scramble to figure out how to either save the world, or extricate myself from it.


I feel a little bad for my husband because he's been though this before, and he's going to go through it again.  This is the same point during which I become morose, taciturn, and angry.  Angry like you would not believe.  It's the kind of anger that has me tucking my nails into my palms until I break the skin to keep from punching every idiot I meet.  It's the kind of anger that leads me to believe that most people I meet fall into the aforementioned idiotic category.

It is the kind of anger that I turn back on myself.  Because I'm smart.  But I'm not brilliant.  So I can't save the world... not the way I want to anyway.

And here's where I run into trouble- I get angry and I lose patience.  I lose patience for everyone and everything around me because I feel so alone.  I wonder why no one else cares the way I do (note: on an intellectual level I know this is not true.  I know that I am not completely alone and, in fact, there are many many many people who care and are equally as angry and frustrated as I am.  But recall I'm currently seething and emotional destruction seems so much more satisfying than intellectual qualifications).  I wonder how long it's going to take everyone else to figure out how incredibly irresponsible we humankind are.

And then I have to sit back and let despondency wash over me like so many waves in a vast sea of anxiety.  Yes, I am prone to thinking dark thoughts and feeling my way through hard times and tough situations.  So I'll get over this, too.

But not before yet another crack wrenches at my heart and wrecks my brain.

And it's not even finals yet.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Time Flies.

Weirdly enough, it is Facebook that sometimes reminds me how quickly time passes.

This morning, for example, it told me (because like Google, it is creepy and all-knowing) that six years ago today I set off for New Zealand.  For 42 days.

In those 42 days, my weight plummeted from dangerous to deadly; my mind fractured, knit itself back together, fractured again; I got my first tattoo; I cried until I felt dry on the inside; I was given a name that is not my own, that still feels foreign to me despite a great man's conviction that he was right (and by default, I was wrong); I met some of the most intensely alive, vibrant, and giving people I have ever met.  Ever.

I learned yoga.  I learned to teach yoga.  I learned to let go.

Still, sometimes those many days don't seem real to me.  Sometimes they feel like a dream I had that sustains me even while it shames me.  It feels like something I didn't do, but some other version of me did.

Some version of me that I still want to be- with thin arms and ragged ferocity.  With terror and honesty and lies; with creativity that exploded because of desperation.  I miss that version of me.  Beyond the disease that is my oldest, most unrelenting companion, I miss that version of me for her flagrant, bold insanity.  Never was my writing so raw, never were my feelings so scattered or simultaneously so underwhelming and so overwhelming.

Never was I so wild.  My journals from that time, this blog from that time, are uncomfortable but they are real because they are hers.  And because she is me and they are mine, too.

Sometimes those many days don't seem real and then sometimes it seems like they are too far removed from me.  That she is.




Saturday, January 20, 2018


Here are some things you may or may not know about me.

I often become obsessed with words and I get lines of poetry stuck in my head the way others get songs stuck in theirs.

I am frequently far away.  In thought or in my actual physical being, I am often separated from the people and the places that I love.

I have tattoos.  I have tattoos of birds, runes, witches.  I have tattoos that depict ancient Celtic folklore and everyday nursery rhymes.  I have a tattoo on my foot that failed to take it's intended shape but that I'll likely never cover over or fix because I sort of like failed, burnt look of it.

No one... I mean no one... would accuse me of being a Christian.

I am (I think) an okay person.  I have morals and understand right, wrong, and the vast gap of space between the two extremes.  But I do not believe in the god that Christians believe in.  I do not have the same faith.  Nor would I propose to.

Which is why I am likely as confused as you are at this point when it comes to my utter obsession with the word, the concept, 'Mizpah.'

It is a Hebrew word which means 'watchtower' (which is cool enough on it's own to be totally honest) and yet historically it has taken on a meaning so much more than that.  Mizpah is a sort of emotional bond- a word that signifies care and keeping and ongoing love even when separated from it all.  And from everyone.  It is a way of saying goodbye with the hope and intent of seeing each other again, in good health and happy.  And right.  It is important.

But hang on, it gets better.

The Genesis quote in which it appears (yes.  Genesis.  The first book of the Bible.... I am, in fact, waiting for the lightning bolt to strike at any moment):

'And Mizpah; for he said, the Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.'

There is something eerily beautiful and mesmerizing in that phrase.  Something that makes me want to jump in feet first and have it put on my body.  'watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.'

I have always been hesitant to have words tattooed.  Runes don't really count.  At least not to my thinking; they are an ancient, unused language.  One for the gods and old time.  And the 'everyday nursery rhyme' I mentioned earlier?  I translated it into Runic before I had it tattooed.  So that was a thing.

But this- this would be something different.  This would override all of my ideal and young notions of TS Eliot lines as tattoos.  This would be a permanent reminder of all the people from whom I am parted; of all the time during which I am parted from them.  This would hearken back to a world that I willingly left behind.  This would be something different indeed.

And until next time,


Friday, January 12, 2018

The Doldrums.

There is an area of the ocean called the Intertropical Convergence Zone.  It sounds complicated and terribly exotic but isn't really.  It is the region roughly between 5N and 5S where the trade winds meet, causing squalls and all manner of foul weather, but also where the hot equatorial air rises and keeps the world still for days, weeks at a time.

That stillness is the doldrums.

Sailors know it as such, poets know it as such.

Stillness, to me, is it's own sort of madness.  It's a quiet, low-scale, gnawing madness that strangles you slowly.  Stillness is my apparent nemesis.  It's why I'm so antsy all the time; why I can't do just one thing at a time but rather must do many things all at once; it's why I fidget and why I am a terrible patient.  It's why my knee bounces when I sit for too long and why long-haul flights feel like torture even as they feel like freedom.

It's why I like sharpness, speed, motion.  I like things to be vibrant and lively.

Stillness is madness.

This January is proving to be a test of my ability to withstand my own madness.  It seems like everything right now is standing impossibly still.  Like my whole life closed in on me and the walls of my cell are shrinking with it.  The wind has died, and my ship is failing.

And all I have to keep me company is the great grey sky.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year, Old Me.

I haven't written much lately.

I've been busy- catching and spreading bronchitis and pneumonia; catching the common head cold after that; flying across oceans; playing cutthroat dominoes; learning to ski (sort of).  I spent time with family and was introduced to Colorado.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, needless to say.

And then all of a sudden today it hits me that it's New Years Eve.

We all know how I feel about the holiday, so I'm not getting into that again.  But I have been thinking a lot about the passage of time lately.  Especially in the throws of three simultaneous illnesses.  I have been thinking a lot about aging and the slow creep of time into your body and brain.

I had bronchitis a few years back.  Because it's me, and I rarely run fevers, I actually had bronchitis and hypothermia at the same time.  To be fair, I was living in Alaska so it was a little cooler than what I was used to.  But that is wholly besides the point.  I was sick as a dog and still got out and ran, did yoga, shopped, and was generally irresponsible with myself.  And I survived.  Hell, I survived a lot worse than that bronchitis at the same time.  It wasn't exactly the brightest period of my life, but then which were?

Fast forward to these past two weeks.  Granted, I had bronchitis and some other stuff but I hardly think that makes a huge difference (there's my juvenile mindset again).  But I was, am actually, absolutely miserable.  And tired.  Like, weary to my core.  I desperately wanted to run in Colorado but was winded going up and down the stairs- also there was the deep, chesty cough that still plagues me.

Even that small amount of time- those four or five years- I feel throughout my entire body.  The shortness of breath, the weariness, the immense weight of time.  I feel them acutely, these passing years.  Which is so strange because I'm only in my early thirties.

Now it could be that I've done irreparable damage to myself over the years that has fundamentally changed me,  speeding up the slowing down of my body.  It could also be totally normal, I just don't really talk about aging with anyone.

But it's New Years Eve, so what the hell.

I am on the fence about resolutions- some years I make them, others years I don't.  This year I told my husband that I resolved to not be petulant (an incredible sore loser) when he beat me at board or card games.  I have also resolved to stay as young as my brain wants to be, rather than as old as my body is.  I have resolved to be myself.

And until next year...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

I Want to Move to Wisconsin.*

This is sort of an obsession confession.  A few Thanksgivings ago, the family gathered at my Aunt's house in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

And I have been obsessed ever since.

No, I am not kidding.  I am actually utterly serious.  There's something about it, the entire state, it's like the fabled whole package, real deal.  The landscape strikes you first.  The starkness of it: the long, vast stretches of emptiness that are especially noticeable in the early winter.  And Lake Michigan- this mighty internal body of water that looks like the ocean but doesn't feel like it.  The white-winter that absolutely decimates the summer.

Then there's the beer culture and breweries.  The almost absurd 'facts' like there are more bars per capita than there are churches in Milwaukee(?).  It also hosts  the world's largest Irish Fest and North America's largest German Fest... imagine that.  What could those cultures possibly have in common?

Don't get me wrong, northern New England is still my jam.

But Wisconsin has the cheese.

I'll just leave that one there.

I also associate Bon Iver with Wisconsin, which is a total win for the state.  His music makes sense of the coolness and frigidity, makes it lyrical and mystical rather than just cold and northerly.

I think I might be one of the few people in the history of time that's actually been keen to move to Wisconsin, just because.  Just because I like the people (especially my aunt); just because I prefer a mountain of snow to a forest of palm trees; just because my one visit there has stuck with me.

Just because.

*Said no one ever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

On Break.

There is something utterly refreshing- and terrorizing- about a blank word document.  A desolate, white, clean, void word document (pages for Mac users).  

Don't get me wrong.  I'm old school.  I like journals, I like paper.  I like the feel of a pen in my hand and I love the feel of that pen running across that paper.  I adore how exhilarating it is to watch my thoughts leak out of my hand.  I like the sound of scratching pencil and rubber eraser, and the satisfaction of crossing out, rewriting, editing.  

But there's something about that open, stark word document.  It might be the flashing blinker.  It might be the fonts and colors and all the bold, italic, underline possibilities.  It might be the mockery of the whole thing, the feeling that that document is judging you, judging your work, your intellect, your word choices.  

It might just be the challenge.  The dare of the blank document to make something bold and real; to write something powerful and engaging and interesting; 

to create. 

It's exhilarating, to start typing and witness those abrupt black letters take shape.  It's consuming, to watch that cursor blink, blink, blink.  

And it's a miracle when it all starts. 

I finished my fall term this past week and now I'm hanging out, staring at a fresh, new, evil word document.  It's asking to be developed into something- anything- real.  I have ideas.  I have notions.  I have a little bit of research under my belt.  

And I have a blank page. 

We'll see. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Actually, I Don't Mind the Dark

The nearly constant rain and/or incessant drizzle I don't love.  And the frequent gale force winds are maddening- especially when they accompany the rain and/or drizzle.

But I don't mind the dark.

In fact, after three winters here,  I think I actually prefer the silent, creeping dark to the nonstop sun of the summer.  People ask about it a lot- what the winter's are like, how cold it is, how much does it snow (wet, cold enough, rarely ever).  They ask about the 24 hour sun in the summer (not here, we only get about 20 hours at most) but not as much about the 24 hour dark in the winter (not here, either).

It's a combination of effects, really, that bring the season home for me: I like how the light seems paler in the winter- and the sunrises more profound.  I like how the shadows are always long here, when there is enough light to cast them.  I like how the ferries shut off their running lights and move like sharks through black waters.  I like that the lit balconies and doors and windows seem brighter- like havens.

I like how quiet the dark makes everything seem.  It's the same effect that fresh snow has- blanketing sound and muffling the extraneous noise that constantly beats at me.

I like that candles are lit and comforters come out and we descend into hibernation mode.

I like that the dark is more romantic, more mysterious.

So no, I don't really mind the dark.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

November Obsessions


I have a problem.

And it's name is Stranger Things (1&2).  Specifically Steve Harrington's hair and everything Jim Hopper.  Like EVERYTHING Jim Hopper.  I can't even handle it.  David Harbour is literally perfect in this role.  Everything about him is masculine, a little messy and a little messed up.  He's the kind of guy (take your pick, Hopper OR Harbour) that you want to have build you a cabin and then stay there with you... it's very nearly too much.  I digress, though.  I loved the first season for it being it, and the second season was everything I wanted it to be.  Funny, irreverent,... Sean Astin.  Win all around.  I told Steve the other day that if you could guarantee I'd have a kid like Mike or Dustin, I'd have a kid tomorrow.  (Also, the Jim Hopper link is the dullest I could find.  Do some digging.  Be a detective.)

Because in my heart of hearts I'm not only mostly a twelve year old, I'm also a little bit of a fifteen year old teenaged girlie.... I'm sorry, I have to do it.  This guy.

When It's Cold I'd Like To Die.  The title is only creepy if you dwell on it for too long.  The simplicity of it, the ambiance, it's worth a listen- especially now when the days are getting shorter and the dark is getting darker and the ocean is right outside.  

Look, I'm not high fashion.  In fact, 5 out of the last seven days have seen me in some sort of flannel apparel- and I don't even own 5 different items of flannel clothing- so do the math there.  I do at least two hours of yoga every day so I'm more often than not sporting leggings and functional tops.  Basically I wear pajamas all day every day.  ... What I'm saying is try not to judge me too harshly regarding the next few items...

The other day I was looking on Neiman Marcus' website and ran across a Burberry dress that I immediately began drooling over.  The lines, the simplicity, the elegance.  The most perfect little black dress ever.  Yes please.

These boots.  After having lived in Norway for about two minutes, boots became a thing.  I have a lot of them.  I might have too many of them.  But it's frequently boot weather here: cold; cold and windy; gale force wind and raining; raining and cold; sudden strong hail; the list goes on and on.  Boots are my friends, and these should be yours too.  Specifically ones with sheepskin lining to keep toes warm and spirits up.

Also, these boots.  Because... sparkle.

And this sweater.  Hello winter.  Hello Christmas Wishlist.

(Also hello my old obsession with J. Crew.  I thought I rid myself of that back in my late teens but apparently they have started to cut clothes that I like again- and that fit me the way clothes should fit.)

And now I'm off to make pound cake truffles.  No recipe link here... I'm winging it.

Until next time....

You're welcome. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mixed Messages.

Lately I have been asking myself if I am leading a good life.  It has been on my mind a lot: whether the life that I lead is one of mindfulness, grace and goodness.  Am I conscientious?  Do I proceed with care?  I ask myself whether I am doing the right things and making the right decisions.  I ask myself if I am helping or hurting, if my horrible bitchiness is a systemic problem or just a periodic one.

But there's no easy answer to any of those questions- they are impossible to even begin to tackle.

Especially in this day and age.  Especially when I'm in term at school and every third lecture focuses on damage done; especially when the news is on; especially when I sit back in conversations and let waves of rich emotion, dense opinion, and escalating voices crash over me.

I ask myself whether I am leading a good life and then I take a deep breath and look around me.

I focus in on myself usually, zero in on the past- two years, ten years ago- I think about how awful I was.  I recall the way I treated the people around me, people who ostensibly loved and cared for me, and I feel shame.  A deep, face-reddening, heart-wrenching shame.  I feel this surreal amount of pain form around me like a cloud.  And it follows me.

There are days when I feel like the grace that was given to me at birth- the grace and goodness that is the right of all children- is gone forever.  I lost it somewhere along the way, maybe in one sweeping moment or maybe little by little- here and there. There are days when this very idea overwhelms me and I can't help but consider how much has changed about me and around me.... and how little time it took.

I wonder how I could lead a good life after having done bad things?

How do I make up for past wrongs, how do I escape their hanging over me like a pall?

And how do I face the future.

How do I get good back?