Archive | May, 2010

Great Wanderlust of Summer 2010

25 May

Microplan:

(because really planning is overrated)

U.S. Road Trip

Have Bake Sale.  Purchase this freaking sweet 1969 Dodge Sportsman off Craigslist with the $4,500 I make from selling brownies.  And cupcakes.  Stash the rest of the cash overflow from the highly successful bake sale. With the exception of the money I spend to buy a U.S. Map, yellow hi-liter, several composition notebooks, a new surfboard (it must be yellow. or green.), wetsuit, and snacks.

I will then pack a sleeping bag, some clothes, books, laptop, cell phone…

And Wes.

We will then depart just before sunrise.  On a Monday.  So that during morning commute we can sip a strong, delicious cappuccino (from our very favorite, Hardcore Espresso) and talk very seriously into a banana…because we can…and we have nowhere to be, in particular…while other harried commuters speak earnestly into their bluetooths, magically weaving schedules like tightly woven baskets.  And then, before chomping into the banana, Wes and I will spin it to decide which of the four directions to take.  Then travel until Fall when we will make our way home through parts of the country that really have seasons.

And thus begins our adventure.

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Dream. Plan. Do.

24 May

I wrote this on a fluorescent pink post-it note today and thumb tacked it to my wall:  Dream. Plan. Do.  On this particular wall, I have many reminders:  love myself first,  have all you need/need all you have.  Things like that.  I also have one that poses the question, what’s right with me?  But, today I find myself in this verrryyyy…how shall I say it?  Mood of polar opposites in which I, as my best friend aptly put it, can’t decide whether I am Mother Teresa or Nietzsche.  Concisely, everything matters and there is every reason to drop everything and save the world and…nothing matters, we’re dying daily.

At 6:15 this morning I euphorically took part in sunrise, the breezy gentle morning, my dog’s soft ears, and the mockingbirds singing that wake me up day after day.  At 8:00 my dog looked so cute and peaceful resting on my bed I had to lie down with him and we regained consciousness around 10:00.  At 11:00, I got in the shower only to have a freaking temper tantrum when my well meaning but unhandy landlord inexplicably and with no advance warning turned the water off for the ten billionth time this week.  At 12:30, groggy, without coffee, half soapy,  and having  tantrum aftershocks, I had lunch with my mom at a sadly Americanized Mexican restaurant where the servers call everyone bonita and say things first in Spanish and then translate into English.  It felt a little like an episode of Sesame Street.  I don’t know, for the rest of the day I just couldn’t shake the fatalism.

Yeah,  yikes.  That’s what I said.  So I think the “save the world but nothing matters” existential crisis began with no coffee this morning.  No coffee, in fact, until 6:30 this evening…hence, the sudden motivation to write.  I’m doing! Well, the other motivation is the fact that I promised myself I would temper the control issue flare-up I also seem to be experiencing today by doing something I can control.  Like cleaning my house.  I’m not doing. If I’m doing one thing I’m neglecting another.  And if I planned to write I would be cleaning my house.   It’s all so backwards.  Which brings me back to the pink post-it and Dream. Plan. Do.

Part of me mocks myself.  Seriously,  who needs a post-it to remind themselves to follow-through with things they want?  Yes,  it is prudent to make lists of things to do.  But reminders to do them?  I don’t know.  It’s a little fishy to me.  I always feel like I’m the only one who has the shortcomings I have.  I think the next post-it reminder I’ll write will read:  You’re not the only one.  Because logic tells me that I can’t be the only one.  Fear tells me I am.  Experience tells me that fear lies.  And so,  I write myself  little self-helpish reminders on different shades of day glo post-it notes with rainbow hued Sharpies.  It feels productive.  Until I see the notes every day and they blend into the landscape of my days.  Maybe I need to write a reminder to read the reminders, you know?

Dream.  Plan.  Do.  Seems easy enough, right?  Yeah, yikes again.  That’s what I said.  So I called my best friend because we are both die hard idealists (translate:  we dream of perfection and have hard times getting things done.  One of us more than the other.  I’ll let you guess who.) and have talked existential crises since we were like, six years old  and so I think she’ll understand.  And I simultaneously know that I am dialing her because it is yet another mechanism of avoiding doing what I planned.

When she answers, I feel startled because I rarely get her because she’s usually saving the world.  (Backstory:  I knew she had more of a chance of saving the world when, in the second grade, our school showed us a film on starving children in Cambodia. You know, the films that are in no way mincing the message, all children have distended bellies and flies walking across their faces and are too weak to wave or swat at them.  And by the end credits she was in tears and I had no idea what we just watched.)   Anyhow, now she saves the world in her spare time.  In between getting her graduate degree.  She’s cool that way.  She can multitask.  She doesn’t have post-it reminders on her wall.

So tonight I call her and she’s sorting through signs because she’s doing another planet saving activity tomorrow.  Something about rallying against the opening of a coal plant in her area.  And I’m calling hoping to bounce some insanity off of her to see what she thinks.  I’m helping her.  She’s going to be a therapist.  (Wait a second. Coal.  Who the hell uses coal anymore?)  But she’s really busy sorting through her signs and she’s mumbling incoherently, some rhyming slogan they will chant tomorrow .  And I’m not totally sure who she’s talking to.  And then she urges me to keep talking.  And I do, but I’m not getting much dialogue or feedback.  And then for sure I know that I’m only staying on the phone to avoid doing what I planned.  So I get off the phone and make a scrambled egg sandwich.

Then I decide to write.  Which I dream of doing for reals. Like for publication.  So, there’s proof right there that my post-it is working.  I’m dreaming of writing.  No prob.  And I’m doing by dreaming, right?  A little bit.  Kind of.  I guess the glitch is in the planning department.  If I plan on doing something, generally I do something else.  So that’s one thing we covered in this phone call is what people would say about us when we die. I’m totally worrying people will remember me for being flaky and my planet saving friend says,  yeah, but if you’re consistent…and I say, yeah, so people will say things like “she was consistently inconsistent…you could count on that!” Funny.  But not.

And then after the phone call, the scrambled egg sandwich, the grapefruit, the staring at the ceiling (a.k.a. “dreaming”) and the mulling over our conversation I remember…I’m having a birthday next month which reminds me that I have to have a plan because I don’t want to live another unaccomplished year.  But I’m a little scared of planning because when I plan, I do something else. So maybe I won’t plan.  Planning is overrated.

Maybe a list.  There is nothing more satisfying than a list.  On a yellow lined legal pad.  That you can cross off with a big fat sharpie.  Yeah.  And maybe now’s a good time to answer the question someone once asked me: what do you want, no fear, no bullshit, regardless of whether or not you think it is possible?  I’ll build my list from that.  And let’s say this post-it note transforms my life.  Let’s say I’m not sticking these things on my wall in vain.  Let’s even go so far as proposing that I’m not just a freaking wizard in planning other people’s lives…that I have an idea of what I want in my own…and how to get there.  So, um…first thing on my list?  Keep your eyes out for my published work.  This coming year.

I’ll keep you posted.  Ha.  No pun intended.  Mother Teresa?  Nietzsche?  They seem to have checked out for the moment.

Ugh! What did I say about discipline?!

8 May

I do believe, if I am properly quoting myself, that discipline would prove to be the trickiest part about posting every day.  And that focus might be a teence challenging.

Okay, but here’s why I haven’t written for the past, I don’t know, two…three days?  Well, it all started with a little innocent blog reading.  I read many.  I think I’ve already mentioned that.  I also think it might be rash at this point to call it an addiction.  I can stop anytime.  But let’s say it was and I had to pick one it would be Cupcakes and Cashmere.  And that’s where I’ve been.  It’s the most lovely blog blend of fashion, food, and how-to’s.  But it was Emily’s particular post, Golden Gate  that really got me wandering.  Aside from craving a quick road trip to San Francisco, here’s why:

Ahh, nostalgia.  Ahh, Ray LaMontagne.  Tell me this combination wouldn’t send you a little wayward.  Because then I had to You Tube like, every song of his in the world.  Quality control.  It’s been a long time since I listened to the guy and I had to make sure he sounds as good as he did last time.  He does.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Have a little Ray foray for yourself.

 And peruse Cupcakes and Cashmere.  I’ll try and keep myself posting regularly but I’m sure if you go on this little treasure hunt  it’ll be two or three days before you can tear yourself away from the delightfulness of both…possibly more.  Why not, before you go, take another little listen to Ray and remember on this delicious sun drenched Saturday that he’s not lying when he says, “You are the Best Thing”.  I know I needed to hear it!

It’s not for lack of material

5 May

So I’m sitting here at my fave coffee place.  It’s this quaint old converted veggie stand gone coffee shop and well, let’s just say it’s outdoors.  The “indoor” area is basically outdoor only there are bathtubs with bamboo growing out of them that stand in for “walls” and the roof is a tarp.  Cool, right?

I had delusions about sitting in the sun and writing industriously. Instead, I’m all hopped on the  Americano I’ve managed to milk for several hours while writing…nothing, and talking with almost every person that even enters my peripheral vision, aaannnnnd reading other people’s blogs.  And, believe me, it’s not for lack of material that I haven’t written.  Nor for lack of time because, other than some residual stickiness from my morning grapefruit, time is all I’ve got on my hands.  Until, of course, this godforsaken cast comes off and I return to work and then I’ll regret not using this time wisely…but I think I’m off track, if I actually had one to begin with.

This caffeinated rambling reminds me of two things:  One of my least favorite instructors in grad school told me–not so gently (after a traumatizing class critique of not my greatest work in the world)–that the reason I don’t write isn’t because I have no material it’s my  focus that’s lacking.  And my most favorite teacher stressed the importance of remembering I am writing for an audience now.  Aw, christ.  So here I am attempting to weave something out of nothing, you know, really max out on meaty content. But, I’m now two hundred and sixty something words in and…

Still.  No.  Focus.  Or meat.  And my poor audience…hang in there.  Being mid-afternoon now, the coffee shop crowd has thinned.  I’d say if I had to pick a topic of the day it would be the importance of listening, not only as a writer but also as a human being in relationship with other human beings.  Tell the truth, don’t you feel all special and warm and fuzzy when you feel listened to and heard?

But listening takes skill and practice.  It is so much more than words flying out of someone’s mouth into your ears.  It’s more than preparing your reply or phasing out into the backdrop of your mind so you can remember the details of the story you are going to tell as soon as this person in front of you stops talking.  It’s not like jump rope, when you stand gauging revolutions for just the right time to jump in with whatever you’re scheming up instead of listening.  I’ve never done these things, because I’m lying an expert listener.  I imagine this is how it goes though.  Anyhow,  where was I?

In preschool, listening is basically part of the curriculum.  Because it’s important!  Just like using tissues to extract things from your nose.  And focusing on your current task.  In writing, listening is not only important but it’s also a tool for information gathering, a way to pick up new ideas for new pieces, and a connection to other human beings.  And what’s cool, if you’re having an antisocial day as I sometimes do, you can listen without engaging just by being out in public.  It’s kind of like parallel play, only for adults.  Imagine just listening for one whole day(that means no talking).  With a notepad.  And pen.

There is psychology and science behind more than just the physical act of listening.  And there’s how you process information.  And of course the fact that we’re all our own individuals with unique life experiences that create our own personal filter and influence the way we hear what is being said and how it affects us versus how it might affect someone else.  Google perception and top-down/bottom-up processing if you feel like it.  It’s dense and fascinating if you like the hard stuff.  In the meantime, here’s my favorite story of the day (and I have aliens, human anatomy, dating woes, and many others to choose from!):

So, I was getting stoned one night.  And I only had like…two hits.  But I swear, I was looking at the plants in my house and I started staring at this fern and all the sudden it totally had a face! And it looked like an old man.  Then it looked like my grandpa.  Swear!  And so I just started talking to him and telling him what’s been happening in my life. It was cool.

Okay, so this folks, is part of the reason we writers have a duty to listen.  Not only because there is Pulitzer Prize winning material out there (like you read above) but also because there are perfectly sane grown men out there talking to ferns and god only knows what else…

See you tomorrow.

Migraine!

3 May

What happens when you’ve committed to write every day for a month and you have a migraine  so fierce behind your right eye that you fear the eyeball itself will pop out, ricochet off the unkind and blaring white computer screen, bounce across the keyboard, off the kitchen table and land in the cat’s filthy litter box? There is no way I could have predicted this…so let’s pretend like planning ahead isn’t a viable option, eh?

Stop the Stink Parfait

2 May

Gggrrrrreat…it’s laundry day, my t-shirt pits reek, what do I do?  Oh come on, I know I’m not the only one who has mumbled this to themselves once or twice.  Whether it be the armpits on your body or the armpit fabric on your shirts, some days are a little smellier than others.

I launch into this intimate dialogue because it’s Sunday and the weather is freakin’ sunny, gorgeous, and perfect for outdoor enjoyment.  I dig long walks and I dig sun.  Mix the two and voila, sweat!  Personally, sweat during and after exercise is no big whoop.  But now it’s time to do laundry.  Chances are, if you occasionally have B.O., some of your tops will retain the odor in the fabric so that every time you wear them you’re a stink parfait layered with vintage odors.   This irks me endlessly.  What to do, what to do?

Let’s be real and scientific, sweating is a necessary function to eliminate toxins from our bodies.  While we are marketed antiperspirants and deodorants to counteract sweat and body odor, are we really doing what’s healthiest by choosing them?  And are we eliminating or masking odor?  Moreover, what other way is there?

Rubbing Alcohol. Simple and cheap, rubbing alcohol (also called isopropyl alcohol and commonly used in medical swabs and cosmetics)  is an antibacterial that kills or inhibits growth of bacteria and bacteria is what causes body odor.  It’s almost too easy.  It stops the stink parfait;  no B.O., no fabric bound bacteria.  Not only can rubbing alcohol be applied to underarms, but it can also be used safely on most fabrics before laundering.  If flowery scent is what you desire,  spend the money you save buying rubbing alcohol instead of deodorant, invest in essential oils like lavender or rose and add a few drops to the bottle!  I use it, I dig it, I smell lovely! Questions, comments, results?  I’d love to hear from you!  For more information on rubbing alcohol click  here and if you’re Super Chemist click  here.

(Covet my Microsoft Paint skills?  Check out tomorrow’s post for Day 3 0f Wordcount Blogathon 2010!)

Discipline is an ugly word

1 May

Welcome to Day 1 of Wordcount Blogathon 2010!  I set my alarm last night for 6:45 a.m. with aspirations of awakening fresh, inspired, and an informed pro blogger.  No Prob, I thought, I’ll write on the fly every day about whatever inspires me!  So, real time I got out of bed?  8:45 a.m.  Not bad for a Saturday.  But let’s talk about what success is going to look like for a wannabe blogger–I was kidding about the pro blogger thing!–going from three posts in three months to a disciplined post per day for the entire month of May…

Discipline is an ugly word. Is self-control ever something we anticipate?  Well, maybe…it takes all kinds.  But overall, let’s be honest, there’s no real way to soften it.  Under the umbrella of discipline are things like:

  • Focus:  Another word that hurts.
  • Preparation/Planning:  Doesn’t have to result in cold sweats.
  • Follow-through:  Not so bad because it kinda’ feels good.

So, today I look ahead…at least as far as tomorrow.  Enjoy Saturday! See you Sunday for Day 2.