what i did today

today, i slept in till 11… really, really bizarre for me, but understandable, given that i was out till 2:30 in the morning with a good friend, sippin on a sidecar while she had cappuccino and ginger beer (which turned out to be a sad, sad combination)…

so i went to the gym. and i did a lot of this:

and a lot of running. i guess being around the club crew team for so long has finally done me in.

but then I went here:

le pattycake bakery….

and had a sticky bun. which is like eight million calories, but they’re eight million calories of luuurrrve and my friend works there, so you know what? don’t be hatin.

oh and i snatched a soy latte on the way home, which means awesome.

and later tonight, i have a hot date to an LGBT-friendly valentine’s day dance, which i think is twice as awesome because i’m showing myself some love by playing dress-up, while also showing some love to friends who could seriously use a little more love and understanding in this world. (plus, my date is really hot and i intend to make allllll the boys tres jaloux).

later today: i need to jot down some thoughts on an article i read about the different sources of pleasure in life. you can’t fill them all without pursuing them all, and people often try to substitute one for the other with tremendous consequences… so i think that’s my next major step: meet all five every single day in some way. starting today. i’ll better describe what i mean later… right now…. i am a sick sweaty mess who needs a shower and a grapefruit asap.

danger

got to thinking about eminent danger while teaching an introductory geology lab today. we have several labs designed around the concept of tsunami hazards (I suppose to educate on the finer mechanics of how tsunamis actually operate, rather than the common misconception that they are controlled by tidal forces) and the final question of the lab asks students to propose safety standards and procedures to limit the amount of damage or lives lost due to a tsunami. predictably, this often results in wiseass answers like “build a WALL!” or “give everyone a helicopter!”–which, no doubt, makes my life more amusing when I sit down to grade them, but also highlights a more important, underlying fact about life

we know there’s danger. we don’t care. we put up with it anyway and even laugh at the prospect of preventing it. in fact, we might even pursue a greater rush of danger–seek out the thrill, demand the danger to approach us and then dare to outwit it.

why do we do this? doesn’t this concept nullify the idea of natural selection? doesn’t it stand defiant in the face of Darwin and, effectively, blow a raspberry at him?

or is this–this desire for danger, this willingness to adapt, to conquer–the entire point of our evolution? is it our greatest evolutionary advantage to, simply put, be stubborn?

is this why people tell you to just push through all the bad in order to get to the good? is this why people chant the mantra of patience in light of hardship? “be stubborn, ‘cos it’s all we got?”

maybe. but it still doesn’t explain the inane desire to seek danger by means of the newest thrill or rush of adrenaline. are we really so complacent in our day to day lives that we must recharge our primal need for adrenaline by throwing ourselves at death? what is life, then, but the act of defying death?

and if you accept that: what could be the point of living life in fear? if death is the ultimate end, and you must constantly defy it in order to experience life… how can anything else stir in you a reaction of fear? So you get rejected–you’re not dead! so you might lose a finger… you’re not dead! you might fail… but you’re still not dead. and so on and so on… maybe this is oversimplifying the idea. maybe it is too much to ask people to approach life with rational thought rather than emotional impulse (I tend to adhere to emotional impulses, myself, but rely upon rational thought to justify them). is this just the definition of being optimistic? i don’t think so–optimism is more of an adopted attitude than a principle or a path.

so that’s my realization of the day: live without fear because i’m not dead yet.

good things

first good thing of the day:

matcha latte. green tea + milk.

amiright?

second good thing of the day:

traci chapman: crossroads

i feel so privileged to have grown up with her music.

third good thing of the day:

The mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by practice.

(the bhagavad gita)

forgot about that one

recently cracked open a sketch kit my aunt laura gave to me several years ago–hasn’t been used in five years or so. this was tucked into the pocket:

it’s dated 10-23-2004.

i miss my art life.

places i have lived

1984-1988: a 1930’s ranch-style house on the outskirts of a very, very small town in southeast Ohio. it had an indoor, heated, in-ground pool that my father, grandfather, and uncles built.

1988-1994: a 1970’s two-story in the middle of a very aged neighborhood (there were eight kids in a two-mile radius of crowded suburban homes). our next door neighbor’s wife was greek and she made us stuffed grape leaves with lamb. they always had bushels of peaches to leave on our front porch every spring. tina had the most amazing vintage barbie collection i’d ever seen.

1994-2002: a 1992-built two-story brick house in the middle of suburban cincinnati. i grew up riding a mountain bike through undeveloped subdivisions, cutting across the nature trail into the old part of town where i could stop at the gas station for pop and candy or go to Boomerang’s for soft serve. the woods across the street housed many a teepee and a fort. the girl who lived in my house before me showed me her “secret” fort and i made it my own. i learned to despise other kids and got into fights with my mom because she forced me to hang out with them.

2002-2003: two successive dorms on east green at ohio university in athens. first, with the crazy mean girls from pittsburgh who drank themselves silly and listened to avril lavigne ten hours a day. then, by myself, in the “honors” dorm where the lounge piano kept me up at night and where i rolled out of bed at 6am every day just to walk the green when no one else was around.

2003-2005: ohio wesleyan’s honors dorm–welch hall. laneen, kayla & divya–>laneen & kayla–>sarah, jacqueline, and kelly. kelly’s brother had died in a house fire at osu two years before. sarah and jack decided to make a fake “frarority” in order to mock me in plain sight. i learned to despise other kids again.

2005-2006: the gingerbread house–a converted carriage house with no insulation. but beautiful french doors, a million windows, hardwood floors, a gloriously bohemian kitchen (a porcelain kitchen sink!) and my own room. tea and grilled cheese at 3am while writing furiously to meet a workshop deadline, leah’s beagle puppy, my old car, wassail in a pot on the stove, faded curtains, slanted walls with music posters.

2006: a furnished apartment in indianapolis. a lake behind where geese lived. i never used the balcony, didn’t know how to use the dishwasher, and never stayed longer than a week and a half.

2006-2007: studio apartment in grandview heights. rain falling on the wrought-iron balcony, a “desk” on the floor of the living room, as little furniture as i could get away with, a short walk to the west campus parking lot and shuttle buses. workshop a waste of time–never even edited a piece. was going to start an mfa until then.

2007-2009: two-bedroom second-floor apartment in olentangy village with a best friend who made life dance. trials. judgments. errors. she made it a home.

2009-2011: third-floor apartment of a victorian mansion. converted servant’s quarters. an alcove for reading and thinking, an alcove for working. a large kitchen, a comfy bed, a million doors, and a cat that makes me smile and joyful for its unconditional love.

how to talk to god

currents, past
dull as laundry day folding
into docile piles:
whites, darks, reds, colors
of the rainbow separating thoughts
into boxes,
people into boxes,
this means no, this says yes.
stop
you want to shout,
to bend, to curve, to kick
like autumn leaves tossed
into crisp apple pie air:
let demons lie where they may
jangled, jumbled—free!
sorted into their own strewn mess!—
and keep the housekeeper away.
let the currents flow
where they might;
it’s enough to know where they’ve been,
full of color texture freedom envy.
currents, to come,
will keep their beautiful mess.

people and places i have called home

my dad, our house, christmas morning. he used to have a pipe in one hand. the stuffed tiger is a remnant from his homestay post-heart-attack.

katie & claire

field camp 08, before leaving on a three-day drive to ephraim, ut

jamie & molly, who once switched lives for a day

delta zeta seniors 2006, @ the gingerbread house (me + allison + leah + josh)

erin and lauren, jimmy john's @ 15th & high, spring 2006

one of many wesleyan basements where literary work was done

d + a, from way back when

gifts from around the world, for my 23rd birthday

the geese who lived below me in indianapolis, summer of 2006

dani & taryn--two best friends i could never have lived without

rice krispy heart cake, because lee & kris love me

the banyan tree of ka'anapali, maui, where i lived for a few infinite moments in 2005

the only picture left of me and daniel, 2007.

the waffle house at I-71 and rt. 36--where phil would drive us every saturday night

the olentangy--flowing south from delaware into columbus

because things are awesome

(1)
my high school drama club friend, brant, has recently been, um, well, evolving into the next justin bieber (and deservedly so). he was asked to stand in for snoop dogg as a part of the NOH8 campaign (I know, right?!)… here’s a sneak peek from his twitter:

(2)
found this song on my xbox zune recommended list tonight.

flyleaf–light in your eyes

(youtube wouldn’t let me embed )-: )

(3)
cardigans and leggings may be the best things ever invented. especially cardigans with elbow patches.

(4)
i started a quote door a la zooey’s brothers. the constant quest for quotes continues.

(5)
i love the sentence i just wrote. read it out loud.

(6)
smile.

I encountered a hidden blessing two days ago.

As of late, I’ve been, let’s say, “experimenting” with meditation, finding a sense of spirit, and searching out a way to make that sense of spirit last. I say “sense of spirit” because I hesitate to use the word “spirituality.” I’m a words-girl… words have a lot of weight with me. There are words I love, cherish, consider sacred… and then there are words that I consider trashy, disgusting, and sometimes vulgar. It has nothing to do with the meaning of the word–it only has to do with my associations, the way the word feels, sounds, the things it may or may not imply… “spiritual” is one of those icky words. It doesn’t make me think of peace, happiness, joy, gratitude, existence, philosophy, higher planes of being… nope. It makes me think of crazed lunatic conservative Southern Baptists bringing hellfire and damnation upon the heads of the so-called sinners. (This is what I get for growing up in the Bible Belt.) I think a lot of people are this way–someone always gets squirmy when they hear “spiritual”–it’s almost like you’re trying to convince them that, yes, in fact, their parents have had sex. I’ve squirmed like that more than once. This is probably why I’m so hesitant about the so-called spiritual aspects of yoga; I want my spirit to stay inside where it belongs, thankyouverymuch.

So… using the phrase “sense of spirit” is my compromise. It lets me explore while still being… distant… and maybe that’s a problem. Maybe you can’t discover a connection to spirituality while keeping it at arm’s length. Maybe you have to jump headfirst and hope you don’t drown. (Considering that I’ve never been one to jump into anything, we’ll leave it as a hypothetical and hope that the slow-and-steady approach can be just as rewarding…)

Anyway: this blessing. A very, very good friend of mine, who overworks herself every day, holds up the pillars of more lives than I can count, and who is reluctant to even acknowledge that she needs time for herself, let alone take it, called me out of the blue. “Hey, Terra, do you ever meditate or lead meditations?” I didn’t know what to say, ‘cos, yeah, I kinda meditate… to the extent that I can get my mind to shut. UP! for ten minutes… but I would never say that I’m a guru, that I’ve seen the face of God, or anything like that. But she sounded upset. “Well…. yeah. I guess. Want me to come over tonight?”

So I went over. She was in tears because she hates her job and she can’t quit because her husband only just started graduate school. He was working diligently at some reading/translation and she was in the middle of cooking dinner at 8:30. (The mother hen in me hates to see anyone eat dinner after 7pm). So I let her eat, tell me about her day, tell me why she was so frustrated, and then I just went into this… schpiel. I told myself, “She needs a guru and I’m not a guru… but she has me, and I can be whatever it is that I am, and maybe, just for today, I can dress up like a guru and she can pretend that I am what she needs.” I hope I helped. Nothing, at that point, could have hurt. But I considered it an honor to even be in that position, to begin with… it was definitely a reflection on how far I’ve come in just less than a year.

My writing skills may have drifted… my ambition to do well in classes may have faltered… but my sense of self-control and knowledge of thought processes has grown tenfold. Things I had never even considered last winter are now at the forefront of my mind. In this friend, I see so much of me: hurt, confused, overwhelmed, weighed down, spiraling. I could never say that those things are totally resolved (are they ever?), but there’s a better way to deal with them than fighting them away day after day until they get the best of you. I would never have found my path without the power and help of extremely good friends who will never know how influential they were. I may not convince this friend to take the same path… but just showing her the option is a blessing, in my book.

(And a “blessing,” by the way, is always a good word.)

things that make the past year worthwhile

#1) a friend of mine who has struggled to make friends in our department recently graduated and will be going to graduate school  in the fall. Her family is pretty demanding and unaccepting of her emotional/mental struggles (without delving into specifics, she’s had a tough time of it). She rarely pities herself; rather, she feels uncomfortable sharing any of this with people because they are often, if not always, judgmental of her. She told me quite a lot during our time at field camp, but we never became… “close.” It was more like… we could listen to each other and understand and then go our separate ways.

The time she spent in our department infuriated me, on a level, because so few people were willing to look past her shyness to see the beautiful, charming, hilarious girl she actually was. For myself, I wasn’t exemplary either–I often grew impatient or annoyed because I had too many other things to concentrate on (in a word, I was selfish).

When she left at the beginning of June, she wanted to meet me for lunch. The longer we sat and chatted, the more I wished that we had taken the time to have lunch before then, and much more often. We always had beautifully deep conversations, almost half-whispered on her part…

When we parted, she gave me a hug and told me, “Thank you for being such a good friend.”

I was a bit floored by this. I didn’t really think I’d been that good of a friend–I had spoken to her maybe once a month for two years. But I had never criticized her or refused to listen, and I think that’s what she meant. I had earned her trust which, the more I look back on it, was a very hard thing to gain. After I realized that, I couldn’t stop beaming because I was so glad to have made a difference in her life.

#2 I have this one student who has some learning difficulties, but they’re undiagnosed. Said student and I actually started out as classmates two years ago and… um… we didn’t get along. I originally interpreted his social behavior as rude and arrogant, when really it was just… uncertainties. He and I have discussed it and he’s well aware of how people respond to him and what they must think, so he quickly becomes over-apologetic for his misunderstood actions. It takes patience, but… I can see through the problems now and actually understand him. I’m not sure how.

Anyway, he did this overly-apologetic thing after classes ended this past spring quarter… and he brought homemade brownies to class for the professor and I. He handed in his final exam, then knocked on the door and said, “Here. These are for you. Thanks for putting up with my b.s. all quarter.”

I was kind of shocked. First of all, I didn’t consider him to have been that difficult, given that I understand where his problems come from. Secondly, what on earth had I done to deserve such a heartfelt thank you??

Needless to say, I gave him a gigantic hug and told him to get out, enjoy graduation, and hopefully never have to come back. He laughed, turned his back, and I haven’t seen him since. It’s hard for me to believe that there was a time when I was always angry with him.

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