Friday, March 30, 2012

things i'd like on facebook if liking things on facebook wasn't so damn uncool

-The line 'you are the smell before rain, you are the blood in my veins' from that one Brand New song that reminds me of early college. Like, before I even had an ipod, which isn't really saying much because I jumped on that train a little late, I think.

-The way Rachel Ries' voice make me want to cry and laugh and howl at the moon all at the same time when she's singing Valentine, NE.

-Really good gchat conversations that go down when my boss is basically looking over my shoulder but I'm too fast and superior at minimizing my shit for him to catch on. Oh, I'm typing fast? Must be responding to a pressing work issue.

-Driving without talking on the phone.

-Actually, not knowing where my phone is for extended periods of time. Not in the way that it's lost because I'm careless or negligent and I've dropped it or left it somewhere, but in the way that I don't need to be connected to anyone that way right now. And that's totally fine.

-Seeing my parents hold hands.

-Sliding my feet into flip flops for the drive home from work. Better yet, taking off my shoes completely and walking on grass that's still a little cooler than the air temperature because it hasn't been warmed by the sun yet. Even better yet, not wearing shoes. Period.

-The knowledge that summer is so much closer ahead of us than further behind us.

-The way it feels when I'm holding my niece and talking to her about all the stuff I'm going to teach her and all the things we're going to do and she stops crying and opens her eyes a little bit and just looks at me. Like, "Okay, tell me more."

-Planning long car rides and concert trips and canoeing adventures over glasses of bourbon.

-The excitement of realizing you have enough coins on DrawSomething to buy more colors. I swear sometimes I think the only reason I'm still playing it is the draw to get more colors.

-Mashed potatoes.

-The moment when you could easily let yourself fall down the endless hole of worry and despair about something and everything being uncertain and not having a time line about All The Important Life Events and why at 25 you're still more worried about scheduling a hair cut than going to the dentist and then you suddenly merge onto the highway and put on your sunglasses and look around and don't let yourself go there today. Because in all reality, there's not a whole lot you'd do differently. And fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

-Noticing when I get home that my plants have grown so much since the last time I saw them. And feeling so proud.

-The routine that goes along with spending my evening reading at the park. The acquisition of a drink before I leave. The spreading of the blanket. The leaning against a tree to get into just the right position. The finding of my page. The settling in. The getting lost. The realizing it's almost dark and packing up.

-Preparing play lists for each new season.

-The building anticipation at work all day, every Friday.


I have a niece now.
And she's beautiful and perfect and my sister doing great as well. Florence, my niece, weighed almost ten pounds, so if you think about it, my sister accomplished a pretty impressive feat in growing and delivering such a pudgy little bundle of life. We all love her, which is a given, and we all want to hold and talk to her practically every waking moment. So basically, baby Florence is a hot commodity.
They're due to be able to go home tonight, and I think everyone is really ready for that.
I'll probably be darkening my sister's doorstep frequently enough that I just miss the 'worn out my welcome' mark until I make my departure for the west.
Family will be swarming in the next few weeks like paparazzi to catch a glimpse of our newest addition, which will be equal parts lovely and overwhelming for the new family of three, I'm sure.
But you know, in my constantly clicking, worrying, fretting, half-crazy mind, this all has been a best-case-scenario situation.
Welcome baby Florence, I know you'll bring with you the prosperity your name promises. 

Love, Aunt Sara

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


When I think of my sister and I, it's always us as children and it's always stained in shades of turquoise and sun-bleached blond. Us in sandy bathing suits with chubby red thighs. We're always damp with lake water or covered in crumbs from sandwiches on the deck. We're always in the peak of summer and we're always at the lake cottage. I think of us with rope marks from the hammock imprinted on the backs of our legs and arms, with flour gone awry on our faces as we stand on stepping stools so that we can see the cookies we're making with our Nan on the counter top, or searching for petosky stones in the clear shallow water.
When I think of my sister and I, we're practically babies, alabama wild women with hair flying artfully astray and butterfly nets in tow. We are never wearing shoes. We are drinking ginger-ale out of rocks glasses while the adults, freshly changed and combed to perfection, sit down for cocktail hour together out on the porch at five o'clock. We're making giant nests out of pine needles. We're collecting berries on the long gravel driveway, covered in shade.
If we're getting along at all, we're always at the lake.
I was kind of a bitch to my sister when we were kids and my family likes to remind me of this constantly, but my own memory has sort of edited all of that out. I mean, who wants to remember themselves as a bully when I was always also equal parts precocious and adventure-starved?
She was always my baby sister, equal parts partner and ball-and-chain. That's what I remember.
I've spent somewhere around the past nine months watching my sister do something I've never done, grow a baby. She is my only sister and this will be the first baby to come from the team of four that my parents reared. It changes everything. It changes nothing. We're a family. We grow. We care for each other. There is no other way but to consume and apply each new development as we evolve and expand, push out the edges just a little further to find that there was always plenty of room for more. To find that it was never a question of needing to stretch to grow, but rather unrolling the magic carpet we're flying on a little bit more. There's always so much more love than we ever knew held in the reserves, waiting to be implemented.
Still, it's hard for me to think about us being grown enough to have children of our own. We're old enough to be in charge of something so important now. That fact is terrifying when I remember us as practically babies so easily, I can conjure a vivid memory with minimal effort. It's so good back there, so little needed to be repressed. Of course I can call upon it for comfort when I need it.  And it's easy to find comfort in the fact that we are the product of happy childhoods. We felt love and encouragement in abundance.
I always think of that word when I think of my childhood. I love that word because it signifies some sort of more-than-enough, it whispers 'above and beyond' without feeling too braggy and in-your-face. Sure, it's a little pretentious, but it turns out I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to childhood, so be it. It's not about money because we were certainly not rich. Maybe it's about safety, or plenty of laughter, or eating a balanced diet. Maybe it's about rules and boundaries or the kisses-per-scraped-knee ratio. Whatever it is, it's all I know.
I guess I could mention that today is the day that my sister will actually have her first child, and I'm tripping out over the excitement of it. Seeing the preparation that goes into introducing a new human into the world and family unit has been eye-opening, and frankly, exhausting. I can only imagine the feat that growing one inside your body actually is. My sister has made it look easy, as she does with most tasks that she dives into head first. She is decisive, rarely squeamish, and self assured in her decisions. She was a ballerina for most of her childhood and maybe that instilled a sort of grace of spirit that she retains in even her smallest actions. She grows constantly and stubbornly, like one of the wildflowers we'd pluck out of sandy soil and stick haphazardly in our hair.
Although I relish in change and chase unsure paths, I do so in an almost constant state of near-panic and neurotocism. I approach every situation steeled for catastrophe while my sister floats through still and stormy sea with the same quiet, calm determination no matter how high the stakes.
She will be a good mother, there's absolutely no doubt in that.
I can't help it though, the way that I am. The way I need to worry myself with logistics and trivial details until I'm far enough away from the situation that I can process everything that has happened. I can't help but feel like something is somehow out of my hands and then work myself into a frenzy about it until there is, quite literally, a healthy baby in my hands and I can from there formulate a course of action. Even if that is just to stick my finger in a tiny palm for them to grasp onto. No one has told me where and stand and what to say for this one.
I can't help but work with what I know. What I know was a happy childhood. What I know is love that is loud and messy and sometimes allow to run a bit wild. What I know is abundance.
What I do not know is this title "Aunt." What to do with it. What the duties being passed to me will entail exactly.
Maybe the best I can hope for is to pass on what I know.

Friday, March 23, 2012

in kentucky, gravel dances.

I was driving fast. I always drove fast then, even on winding, hilly roads I'd never driven before. I was young, and we don't like to waste a second of our youth. Leave the scenery and slow drives to the old, the ones wise enough to enjoy it. I may be going nowhere, but I'm hellbent on making good time.

God, it was a beautiful day. Warm and sun soaked and every fiber of my skin and bones ached to be enjoying September like every other 22 year old I knew. Day drinking on the lake. Submerging my body in bourbon and cloudy water. Laughing and laughing and getting sun burnt. Instead I was living in a Holiday Inn in Morehead, Kentucky and drinking bad coffee by the pot. This was what I signed up for. This is what I left it all behind for. This is why I went to college, right?

Let it be clear that this was not a happy period of my life. I was working as a union organizer in Kentucky, a job I'd idealized myself right into. Right into the middle of the rural-est nowhereland you can imagine, scrambling to talk to prison guards who had no use for a 22 year old college educated woman from the North wearing a badge that screamed UNION! They had no use for me at all. Even more, they were scared of me. Terrified of everything I represented, unwilling to entertain the idea of change. Still, it was an abundant time for me. I grew a lot, I learned a lot. I met some of the most important people in my life. My frustration was palpable.

So there I was, driving through one of the most beautiful places I've ever lived, hating the everloving shit out of every tree, hill, stump, stream, and squirrel. Eastern Kentucky really is the kind of landscape that will make you glad you're alive and able to see. It's also the kind of dangerous where no one bothers to take care of the roads because the state's broke and no one is around to hear you scream anyway.

No one is ever around. So I'm scream-singing unabashedly on this particular day to Ben Kweller's Problems for probably the 12th time to repeat, pretty sure I've got every nuance down this time, loosely steering, foot crushed down on the pedal to the right. I'm on my way to a work site to try to get some of these people to talk to me long enough to convince them that this is what they need so they'll be able to feed their kids and buy them shoes and take them to the dentist; really stick it to the man. I'm about to make them promises and then ask them to sign on it. Very poor people and those that can barely read don't trust anyone and never want to sign their name on anything, which I learned very quickly. Those things don't have anything to do with intelligence level. When it comes to survival, their aptitude could likely blow almost everyone I know right out of the water. So I'm violently singing out my dread and frustration and trying to get myself amped up. I'm lost in my head the way that I'm usually lost in my head and that's probably what makes me such an abysmal driver in the first place.

All of the sudden I think to look ahead and wouldn't you know it, the road is taking a 90, I'm going at least 50, and straight ahead is nothing but dead air to drop through.

It's a cliff. Just like those stupid Wile E. Coyote cartoons.

Now, I'm the kind of person that will exclaim "We were practically on the verge of death, I mean, we almost DIED," when literally nothing even bordering on dangerous has happened.

I'm also the kind of person that when something life-threatening and truly terrifying or disturbing has happened, is cracking up laughing so hard that I can't breathe.

Sometimes my reactions are a bit off.

Actually, it's probably safer to say usually. Usually, my reactions are a bit off.

But this time friends, it was different. Because I'm sliding off a cliff and despite the fact that my driving foot is now solemnly and decided pressed all the way down on the pedal on the left, I'm no longer on the pavement, but rather I've now hit a patch of gravel and I'm sliding forward and I'm now looking down down down. And it's a long drop.

I understand these things are supposed to warp life into a dream-like slow motion. I've never in my life had a crash happen to me in slow motion, so I think that's all bullshit. When you're truly and surely headed down the path of destruction, willing or unwilling, everything speeds up. Fasterfasterfaster. Even Ben Kweller started wailing at a quicker clip.

I'm making no progress on stopping and now my front tires are pretty much toast. I'm leaning back in my seat because I'm starting to feel the nose dip downward. I'm not thinking 'Fuck!" I'm not seeing bright lights calling me home to meet my maker, and I'm certainly not seeing the faces of my loved ones or any of my regrets. I'm not thinking anything. I'm not seeing shit except the ground below. I'm not feeling anything except the gravel under my tires hitting the sides of my vehicle. I'm feeling that acutely. 

No one is coming to find me. No one is going to hear me explode. No one will find the carcass of my wrecked vehicle at the bottom of this ravine. Even if I survive the fall, I've got no phone signal. I've got no direct supervisor. No one at all knows where I am.

Nothing in the employee manual prepared me for this.

And then something strange happened.

I can honestly say that I've never in my life had this thought cross my mind, but I reach down and I shift my careening vehicle into reverse. This wasn't me problem solving my way to a trial and error situation, there was genuinely no time for that. But some synapse of my mind forced my hand to reach down and grab that gear shift and send it back up two notches. And I'm still flooring it, but now, somehow, I'm back to the right pedal. And the gravel is still dancing all around me, but it's no longer to a funeral song. It's a survival jig.

And I'm stopped and I'm shaking and I'm sitting there, so so still. Suddenly everything is very still. We're not in slow or fast motion. We're stationery. The only reason I know I'm still alive is that I can feel blood rapidly throbbing in every single one of the pulse points where the vein meets thin enough skin on my body. I punch Ben Kweller off and it feels like I'm hitting him right on the nose. And it's quiet and I sit there and I can't call anyone and tell them I'm still alive, in case they cared, but I can't really talk right now anyway.

I peer back the way I came and I look to where I'm going and I don't dare get out of my car to look over where I almost went because I'm not sure if my legs are going to hold me up. I do that thing they do in the movies where they feel all over their bodies to make sure all the parts are still attached and intact. I'm honestly curious to make sure I'm all there because it feels like a part of me may have tumbled over the lip I'm now facing at a safe distance. All parts seem to be present and accounted for and that's when I exhale.

I'm relieved to note that I'm back on pavement, I appreciate that fact because there is absolutely no way that I put myself there.

I breathe and realize I've only lost about 6 minutes total, so I start easing my way down the switch backs that meander down the side of the mountain instead of falling straight off, and I arrive to the work site on time for my scheduled appointment. And like the day before and the day after and many off to either direction from there, no one talks to me. Nothing changed. It wasn't an out of body experience. I didn't change any of my ways. I didn't appreciate tastes or smells more. I just kept moving, working, trying.

I almost died, but I didn't.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I have a grey streak running through my hair. Really, it's more silver, but still, grey. It's on the right side of my head, midway up and maybe an inch behind my ear. Sometimes when I'm bored or nervous, I'll grab a cluster of hairs in that area and check just to make sure it's still there.

It's still there.

I've always had it. My mother used to have the hairdresser cut out the grey strands from the rest of my mess of hair when I was a kid. I've got so much hair, it's so thick, that no one notices if I'm twenty or so hairs short of my normal full head. I don't think she meant anything by it, it's just strange to have a child with grey hairs, why not simply rid me of any evidence of abnormality? At least of one so easy to remove.

In college, I went through a phase where I dyed my hair pretty regularly. Usually just a few shades darker. Occasionally I'd fall prey to the pictures I'd seen in magazines and go for some highlights. I forgot all about the grey. It was always covered up.

I literally just forgot about that part of myself. Maybe the hair dye killed my brain cells.

Anyway, partially due to financial constraints and partially due to me becoming the kind of person I actually want to be, I stopped dying my hair a few years ago. It kind of feels good to know that the chemicals are out of it. I kind of feel smug to be comfortable in my own skin. At least in that way, for every one part of me I've grown comfortable with, it seems five more insecurities pop up daily. Don't even talk to me about my pores, I'm set on spending an exorbitant amount of money trying to shrink them back to the size they appeared when I was sixteen and worried about the size of my boobs.

It's always something, I guess.

It was December when I noticed that my grey streak is back. I'm twenty five now, so at first it wasn't exactly a happy reunion with an old friend. I was curling my hair for a rehearsal dinner the night before the marriage of two of my college friends. Matt was in the shower in the next room.

I veritably panicked at the sight, because my first thought was that it made me a mortal. Someone who can't stop the sands of time. I mean, duh. I exclaimed for him to come and look and of course, he didn't see what all the fuss was about. When it comes to appearances, Matt is one of the least fussy people I know. Usually I appreciate that. In that moment, I did not.

My parents are both in their forties. I've never spotted a grey hair on either of their heads, and lately I've been looking more closely. None in my father's beard from what I can tell either. Isn't that where men show their age first?

 I'm standing frozen, transfixed, with a hot curling iron in my hand, wearing a salmon colored sleeveless dress in the middle of winter in a dark hotel room next to a highway in Columbus, Ohio, ticking through the Rolodex of grey hairs I have archived in my memory, significant ones. My Nan's blond color shampoo in the shower at the lake house when I was young. Her first attempts at covering what she now wears proudly. My aunt confessing that she's been dying her hair black for 15 years. A few streaks of silver in a couple of my friends, always yanked. And then there it was. The streak, buried far in the back, but still there. A forgotten memory of my childhood. Squelched as quickly as it could stubbornly reappear every time I sat down, cape resting around my narrow shoulders in the spinning salon chair.

Since then my grey streak has been more novelty and less foreboding omen for me. I'd like to say I've always been an old soul or something equally cliche, but the fact is that I haven't. I haven't always been an old soul. Sure, I like a lot of the same activities as my grandmother, and I'll gladly partake in them with her or alone, but really, I'm still figuring out new things about myself just about daily. I think that makes me still pretty young in the grand scheme.

My grey streak? It's not exactly a badge of honor, because I can't for the life of me figure what it's done to deserve that. I guess the best I can decide is that it's been a constant. It's stood there, stubborn, despite all the ways I've tried to yank it, cover it, or forget about it. No matter what I do, it takes root and hangs on for dear life. It's watched me change and grow and love and hate just about everything about myself. And it never mattered because it wasn't going to change, not really, not even when it was unrecognizable.  And now, I like it, just the way it is. Finally. 

I guess it's kind of like me. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

what i think about when i think about summer. and growing up.

Everyone walks to work here. Even the fat, even the lazy. That's how small a place this is, that's how close we're breathing onto each other and how even whispers sound like screams. That's how it is here.

There are tourists and there are locals and then there are everyone else. I am among the 'everyone elses', we work in the bars and restaurants and docks and golf cart rental kiosks during the season. We don't belong, but we recognize that, for right now, we are here to stay anyway. We get to behave like tourists and act almost as entitled as the locals and then, at the end of the season, we disappear until the next spring or forever. We are a dime a dozen and we are constantly reminded.

But for now, we are here, we are young, we are invincible, and we are making cash. There are no banks here. Only envelopes with our names scrawled across in safes at our places of employment or cups we've swiped from work, crammed with bills. The fruit of our labor. Whatever is left in the morning after we've closed all the bars. It's a spin cycle. On repeat. We work to keep it spinning faster and faster, anxious with hope that the days will stretch instead of tighten. That the next night will be a stumble home over gravel and grass and not a boat ride and drive back to wherever we came from. We pray that we'll forget how to drive. We worship the summer. We beg this case to produce just a few more beers. We appeal desperately to the sun, to the tourists we mock and curse to keep flooding in, and to the smell of the dumpster to continue to rot and stink in the alley we walk through to get back home after our shift. We're feverish with the feeling of all we have set foot on here, all we have laid out hands on. And we are drunk. We are drunk, or hungover, or in the state of flux in between. Still, we are standing on a rock.

This is an island. And not in the figurative sense. This is an island, surrounded by water and too far to swim to from any other other bit of land. It is tiny and yet it looms large at the same time. It is enough. In the summer, it is everything.

The first time I turned up here it was still winter and I'd never been on a ferry before. I paid my six dollars and boarded the boat, on the way to my interview to be a waitress for the summer. I'd answered an ad I saw on the internet one day while scanning for a summer escape from my university basement desk job.  On that first ferry there were only a handful of other passengers, if that. A couple of ladies hauling as many Walmart bags as they could handle back over from the main land. Stocking up on supplies, no real stores on the island, and nothing open yet anyway. I sat in the corner of the inside cabin upstairs on the groaning vessel and felt out of place. I was wearing heels. And a pencil skirt. And shivering.

In two summers that was the only time I rode in the inside cabin, or wore heels for that matter. The inside cabin was for tourists. Reserved for those too hungover to be more than three feet from the bathroom, for those who don't relish in the wind raking indelicately through sun kissed tresses. No, for every ride after that I elbowed and edged my way to the front bench upstairs, outside, especially if I was headed to the island, that way I could have the best view, the most wind, feel the waves most intensely, so eager to get back.

It's easy to confuse a place like the island for home, especially when you don't feel tethered to any one place anyhow.

 We live in a dorm-like building. There are rules there, and a strict enforcer called "Dorm Dad" who, despite his portly stature and propensity for flirting with the boarders and starting his day with booze in his coffee cup, will actually fine the fuck out of you at the first sight of a beer can inside the building or a guest that isn't paying rent inside.  The last part is mostly moot, we're all only hooking up with each other anyway, so we don't mind. Plenty of warm beds to keep us entertained enough with each other after hours. Dorm Dad watches the hallway cameras with rapture, just waiting for some poor girl to forget her towel when she goes to shower and tries to make a mad dash to her room. We follow the rules or don't follow the rules, it's too easy to forget those parts. Sometimes the girls walk around the back of the buildings in packs, lining up to pee on the side of dorm that's always blanketed in shade, one hand holding our clothes way from the stream, a half-empty beer can in the other. We never worry about being caught, no one will see us, nothing is at stake except missing out on something out front.

There are two bathrooms in the building. The upstairs for girls and downstairs for boys. And make no mistake, we are girls and boys and not men and women, no matter what we were before we landed here. Anyway, it is explained that there is a girls bathroom and and boys bathroom, but that's not really true. When the time arises, everyone uses whichever bathroom is closest. We are never surprised and we take pride in this; we meet every challenge, we create situations just to rise to the occasion. We are reckless with one another. We are reckless with ourselves. Nothing feels as good as being that alive.

On the evenings when it isn't raining, no matter the day of the week except Saturday, everyone congregates outside the dorm. There are picnic tables, there is a lawn. There is always more booze and a spare cigarette and someone willing to share. Everyone congregates, coming together and splitting apart and multiplying almost like amoeba under a microscope, but make no mistake, there are factions. We may be on a tiny island, but this is a place that thrives and encourages cliques to form, invisible lines to hold everyone in their place.

We are the wait staff. The people out front for the customers to see. The ones who look healthy and all-American. We're part of the display and we know it, we love it. The kitchen staffs and bus boys are townies from across the water, trash from the towns dotted on the shore's crust, or foreign kids. Mostly Russians and Macedonians. The foreigners are the smart kids that expected more and just wanted a piece of Americana culture. Instead they get to wash dishes, chain smoke, and get drunk in the corners of bars. Some speak decent English and they are allowed in the outer circles of groups. Some speak almost none and cluster and cling to each other. Sometimes when the magic is right, alcohol proves a great equalizer and we all sing some shitty song over one sad guitar. Off key, too in love with ourselves and everything around us to notice or care. It's summer, who fucking cares, right?

We're the cool girls, we get our own booze and we go out to the tables before the boys do. We're not waiting for them, but all we want is for them to join us. For them to grin and swig from our bottles and place a hand on our thigh under the table. We're nearly blue in the face holding our breaths, holding our poses, hiding our desperation for one of them to sit down next to us. They almost always do. They're on the same stage, they know their roles. And the darkness hugs us and the drink warms us and we hold hands and couple off and go on walks or we go to bed alone, ignored, ready to try again tomorrow. You never know if the result will be the same of different, but at least we're the ones getting attention, if anyone is.
We are the group that everyone wants to be a a part of. We are the most reckless, the ones that needed to escape the doldrums of outside life the most, and we cling to this despite our place in the light. We drink the most, laugh the loudest, look the best, and have the greatest chance of falling into favorable graces with the locals- or at least of them knowing who we are. We have older siblings who paved the way for us here, or we are at least hooking up with someone who does. Everyone is having fun here, but we are having the most fun. We are having the time of our lives. We are most gluttonously consuming sunsets and bottles of island wine. We are sure we are sleeping under the fountain of youth.

Everything important seems so far away.

Nothing can touch us here. Nothing can touch me. Even after I get an expensive helicopter ride off the island to a mainland hospital for alcohol poisoning on my birthday. I can barely hear the strain in my parents' worried voices over all the "It'll be a great stories!" all around me. It's already a great story. I'm so alive. I'm so thirsty. I feel greedy for one more of everything I've felt. Everything coarsing through my veins is never enough because the next moment will always bring more. I lose touch with people. I don't care. Nothing is real but everything I'm doing and feeling moment to moment. It's too much to try to explain. Why would I try anyway, when just living it instead is so goddamn easy?

I've heard it being compared to doing heroin the first time, always going back to try to get a high like the first one,  but I've never done that, so I can't say.

Nothing that good, that powerful, that fast coming, can last. This is the lesson you learn after you've left, before you've learned anything else. You can go back to visit or to live another summer, but you can't drink enough to hide all the cracks that start appearing from banging yourself around with abandon. We all try anyway. We all just need a little bit of the way it was the first time. Remember that? That was the best. We're all here again, all the people who mattered anyway, so what's the problem?

If it's an apex, it's the height of stupidity. It's the summit where one side climbing is blissful irresponsibility and the slide downward is heartbreak and the reality of all the choices you made while you were still allowed to run wild. It's harder to run wild that second summer. The people, the island institutions you used to name drop about jokingly and roll your eyes start recognizing your face, feeling threatened by your presence, not sure if they want you there anymore. Is this still a game? Why is this a two-way transaction now?  They'll tighten your reigns. You see all the same places you used to run free, but you can't get to them anymore, not if you want to be allowed to stay.

It's a trap.

Once you realize you've been snared, the desperation sets in. Snared, scared animals are always the meanest. All the trapped animals biting at each other because they can't get close enough to the keeper of the keys. This is the way it is. This is the way that the 'everyone elses' act toward each other, ripping at the seems, just trying to tear someone else apart enough that no one else will notice where they're falling apart themselves.

Remember how much fun it used to be?

Yes, let's remember it. We'll recount it over Oberons- Remember how we used to grab them out of the cooler behind the bar after our shifts and go sit on the patio and drink them while we counted our money? Shift drinks, the first one always free. We'd compare customers and recount the night before if there hadn't been time, but there was always time, wasn't there?  We'd discuss the night stretching ahead, itching for it to start fast and crazy, but willing it to last forever, to top the last one. Plans are made according to the teams playing on the one grassy softball diamond, the island league, the amount of cash in our hands, and the hours of remaining daylight. It's an equation only we know, only we can work the solution. We're so good at this kind of math.

We laugh and laugh and do our hair and makeup side by side just as we half-assedly did when we stumbled out of bed this morning, but this time with more care. We try on clothes, but really, it doesn't matter what we're wearing. We're tan. We're pretty. We're paying. We've got each other and we're fine.

You've got to understand that all the good gets jumbled up together. The bad does the same.

The first summer I left with a full heart, the second with an empty one.

I think it's what growing up feels like.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

things are pretty okay over here.

Okay Okay, I haven't been around much lately. I mean, trust me, I've been around. I just haven't been here.
So here's a bit of an update. I got into every school I applied to. Which sounds more impressive than saying I got into both schools I applied to. Yes, there were only two. But still. I know, you're shocked that someone who already ended two sentences with prepositions in this paragraph alone is such a hot commodity. Such are the ways of the world.
Anyway. Yesterday I sent my acceptance to my first choice. Although still in the 'unofficial' stages, this is a huge step for me.
I'm moving to the mountains, guys. I'm headed west. SHIT IS CRAZY RIGHT NOW. Mostly in my head and ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. Most of them good, even.
Updates on other parts of my life? I'm still not an aunt yet. My sister and I went and got pedicures last night and I was secretly willing her to go into labor the entire time. I know, I'm such a bitch. But seriously, if you'd have seen her, you'd agree it's a favor. Even if her water broke in a nail salon. Can you imagine the scene? God, I love scenes.
My little toenails are bright red now and ready for spring, along with the rest of me. Thankfully, the overall climate has been totally conducive to my desire to be outside as much as humanly possible. AKA anyone who doesn't have their windows down in a show of solidarity with the earth needs to chill the eff out and breath in some of this lovely spring air.
On Friday Matt and I went to the Black Keys show but not before we sat out on a patio and had drinks in the sun. Drinking beers outside in the sun probably falls pretty close to my all time three favorite activities. I mean really, I wore a dress and flip flops. It was pretty stellar. Now I'm trying to thinking of my three favorite activities. Oh brother. Another post for another time.
On Saturday we went to Indiana's LARGEST NATURAL WATERFALL. I love spectacle and things that claim to be the '-est!' of anything. That was a win. Packed a picnic and took off to the west. Turns out, it's only like an hour from where we live. Anyway, we tooled around there for a while and then came home and watched a basketball game or two since I'm apparently not immune to March Madness, and then I jaunted off for some beers with a couple of ladies I know with Irish heritage. I mean, I'm always in it for beers. Plus green is totally my favorite color.
On Sunday I weeded, tilled, and planted in my garden and read my book on the front porch. I've got little sproutlings coming up from last year and I'm so impressed with myself. I come from a long line to gardeners, so to not have inherited this ability to nourish plants to life would have been pretty damn depressing.
I'm feeling a little sun-tanned. I don't hate it.
Back to checking craigslist for apartment listings every five seconds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SIGH (of relief)

I now interrupt your regularly scheduled emotionally-wrought self-indulgent drivel for some big news!
I got into grad school!!!!!
I'm still waiting to hear back from my top choice school, but at least one place I applied has found me worthy, which is a total morale boost/game changer.
Yesterday around noon my dad sent me a text, informing me that I had received a letter in the mail from one of the schools I was waiting to hear back from.
Boom. Body slammed by dread, instantly!
Since I was meeting my entire family for dinner in celebration of my youngest brother's birthday last night, I asked father dear to bring the letter with him.
And then for the rest of my work day I really marinated in my own anxiety. I decided, because I'm completely neurotic, that I would wait until I was completely alone to open the letter and learn my fate.
So that prolonged my agony.
After dinner where I was constantly pestered, but held fast to my conviction,  Matt drove us home and I basically fled to the park in my car. It was a lovely night, I had my windows down and the music up, a total knot in the pit of my stomach.
As soon as I parked, I pulled the thin little envelope out of my purse and turned it over in my hands a few times. It was terribly thin. The kind of thin rejection letters are known to be.
I took a deep breath, reminded myself that this wasn't my first choice school and I was going to be fine either way, and started ripping it along the seam.
Much to my surprise, I looked down at letter inside and the first word was a resounding "CONGRATULATIONS."
Color me shocked.
After that, my night was a flurry of feverishly texting, sipping champagne, and fielding about a million questions I don't have answers for yet.
So basically, it was awesome.
And now?
A big, huge, gargantuan sigh of relief.

Friday, March 9, 2012

the other side of the coin

There's a particular sadness that comes with making a choice, and that's the part I sometimes get caught up in. The other side of the coin. That scrawny kid that didn't get picked.
I've been known to make bad decisions, sometimes just so I can pick the underdog. Sometimes just to make sure it was the wrong decision.
And where do all the possibilities that will never become realities go? Do they just fall off into the universe, waiting to be called up in a fleeting moment or fit of nostalgia? Do they become the worst things, doubt, regret?
Aren't those the worst things?
And didn't they start off innocent enough, as just the other option, the possibility that for whatever reason, we didn't go with?
I guess I'm asking because I made the 'right' choices, took the brighter path, followed directions from Those Who Would Know, and yet, I'm still in unfamiliar and unfriendly territory.
No, it doesn't make sense to pine away over the turns I did not choose, the roads I did not go down, but it is perhaps easier than forcing myself to continue plunging down uncertain paths in the knowledge that sometimes the things that look the most right don't even guarantee to get you where you want to go.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Once he broke down into tears as he told me there was just no other girl like me.
Hearing something like that from the one person you want to say it, it's some sort of trap. It's not a promise when he reaches for your hand. It's not a promise when you're leaning against your car and he reaches over and pulls your coat apart, splits it open like a pea pod. It's not a promise when he leans inside and brushes your hair out of your face and looks into your eyes.
It's not even a promise when he promises this is the last time you'll have to have this conversation. Please believe, you may both want to remain hopeful that it's true, but it's definitely not a promise.
It is a promise when he cries with his hands resting on the picnic table without gloves even though it's prickly cold and you feel a bite in your own fingers despite the fact that you're wearing a pair, so you reach over and put your little hands over his big ones and he looks up at you with those brown oil slicks of eyes and you actually return the gaze for the first time since you met that day. You're outside because you didn't want your heart to thaw this time, the frigid temperature is the only thing holding it together. When you touch him, when you look into his eyes, it's over. You're just a puddle, even if you look intact. It's a promise, but you're making it to him and he already knows you mean your promises, so please, refrain.
It's better to be the one not making any promises.
You can believe him later that day-  after following you back to your apartment and having sex with you and then falling asleep until he's got to leave again- when he tells you it's only because he hasn't slept since he last saw you. You can believe.
In fact, you probably should. And you probably will.
Go ahead and believe that he loves you and being around you makes him human.
But maybe keep in mind that he's already human no matter what. The chromosomes just match up, the genetic material. The way he acts, sure it's bad without you, but he'll never be anything other than human. We are still animals. Remember that. Because sometimes you'll wish you could will him to become a wolf or a lion or maybe even a bug you can squash with your shoe in passing. But he'll always be flesh and blood and nothing will change how trapped in human form he'll always remain. Behavior notwithstanding.
Forgive yourself for never knowing if he's really telling the truth or not. It's okay that despite everything you still want to believe every word out of his mouth. It's a pretty mouth. It's a mouth that means something to you. Even if everything he said was only half true, if you always believe him, you've got a 50/50 chance of calling it right.
Sometimes, when things get particularly trying, when he's really feeling low, he'll seek you out again, even after years. Don't mistake this for a change of heart, for love spanning the time and miles in one long connecting stride. He needs validation. He's coming to the person who, when they give it, it actually means something. That's not love. I know, I know. It's something.
It is something.
Try to take it as the something it is and not the something that you wish it would be. Seeing your name in his inbox, it doesn't send him into a tailspin. It doesn't change things. A wave of nausea isn't sweeping over him right now. He's not telling the whole story. Besides, you're a better storyteller.
One day we were at the end of a three hour drive and I knew. I knew we were going nowhere. I started ugly crying as we passed over a set of railroad tracks. I didn't hide it, I wanted him to notice. I wanted him to see what he was doing to me. It's funny how people spring to action when the driver starts getting hysterical.
I told him I wasn't getting on the ferry, he'd have to go to the island without me.
He made me some more promises, so I got on the boat. But, looking out at the water I knew- Even his promises aren't promises.
I loved him as long as he let me anyway. I keep my promises.
And now I keep them to someone else. And it feels better when the other person means their promises too.
So much better.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

natural disasters.

Sometimes terrible things happen on perfect days. The first warm and sunny day after a punishing winter doesn't care how bad you need some good news, it's just a system of pressure and circumstance. Of science. And sometimes, it is the good news.
It never happens like this in the movies, but sometimes you hear your new favorite song on a day cloudy and 42 degrees. Sometimes the salt stains and dirty snow are in various states of melting and soaking into the earth and it's ugly. Maybe we're more open to new favorite songs on the sunny days, but a true gem will shine no matter the conditions outside your window.
I was on the bus the first time Tegan and Sara's "Where Does the Good Go?" came on my ipod shuffle. It was crowded on the bus and winter and I didn't want to be going to class, my hands were cold because I forgot my gloves and lord only knows the last time I'd managed to bathe. It was one of the worst moments of my life, hearing that song for the first time with strangers jammed in all around me, not giving a shit that my poor little heart was crumbling. It's still one of my favorite songs.
Yeah, maybe we're nothing more than the sum of those little moments that stick to our ribs.
Or maybe we are.
Who am I to say?
Anyway, today is beautiful, so probably nothing terribly significant will happen.
Except that my wonderful boyfriend got called out in the middle of the night and so this morning I had a delicious surprise from the bakery down the street waiting for me.
I guess that's pretty significant.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


So, I've safely returned to the Midwest.

I made it through the hellish initial travel day, the three hour long interview where I am in competition with at least 30 other people for eight spots, and, despite missing my 8am first flight toward home Sunday, I did make it home, albeit not until 11pm.

And here I am sitting in my cubicle, doing my work or at least pretending to, just as it was before I left. Nothing has changed, really. I don't know. Nothing has changed. But everything feels different. Sitting there on Saturday, surrounded by mountains, getting to know more about this city that I'd only been to once before, becoming excited at the idea of making a life there, it makes everything feel different. It's getting to be that scary period where you've committed to something in your mind, but you don't have to follow through yet because it's still out of your hands, but not much time is left until the baton is passed and you've got to decide to run or just let it hang there loose until it falls and you stay in place.

If I get in, I'm moving to Montana. That's where I am.

It's just, I've been standing still, waiting or paralyzed or unsure for too long now. I'm worried that if I don't take off at a sprint, I'll be stuck in this state of complacency forever. It's sort of an exciting breed or terrifying to place myself in a landscape so starkly different from what I'm accustomed to. At the same time, Missoula isn't tiny or lacking in modern comforts. But it is so, so different. I think I need that. Everyone I met there was just so happy to be there. People want to stay. They want to enjoy the natural resources that surround them, they want to do what they can to preserve them. Such a simple concept. So different from the shithole suburbs and cities I've forced myself into, surrounded by people I can't stand.

You know what I think of when I think about moving to Montana? I think about driving out there alone. Loading up my car and streaking across the flat lands and prairies in a blurred line of speed. I think about feeling the spetrum of emotions that I am capable of from the full impact of making such a radical decision. Of banging on the steering wheel and scream-singing along to every genre my ipod and cds represent. There could be tears as I stride across Iowa. I could blow kisses to everyone I pass in the Dakotas. You never know. I could go off route on purpose just to find my way back. It's definitely a trek I'm planning on taking by myself.

Another thing. Yesterday I flew into Salt Lake City for the third or fourth time. This was the first time I really looked out the window as we made our descent. Now, my whole life, I read things and I'll cry, I'll hear music and attach myself to it's meaning and sound and I'll feel so much. But I've never really been all that emotional when it comes to seeing things. Sure, I love a good landscape, relish in peering at the mountains, but it's not really moving, just more enjoyable, favorable. But flying over the Great Salt Lake, I've never seen anything so magnificent. I'm not kidding. This massive body of water is shrouded by mountains and god, the water is every color imaginable. It was really something. Just. God. Really something. Bigger than I thought it could be. Like something from Never Never land.. If I ever make it that way, the lake alone would make it hard to leave again.

I love the water.

What else? In the interview they asked us what animal we would be right then, if we could be anything. Also, our favorite books and movies. One girl said she'd be a golden eagle, I liked her. She had blonde curly hair that she was constantly in a state of flux with having up or down. I said I'd be a river otter and they said that was the first time anyone had said that and then the guy right after me stared at me in almost confusion and said he was going to say that too. I believed him. I liked him. I liked everyone, though. Everyone seemed smart and eager to do well. One lady said her favorite movie was The Blair Witch Project... kind of weird if you ask me. We were on couches for that question and she was probably in her 50s wearing a too-short skirt and had one leg tucked up underneath her. You could see down her skirt. I felt awkward for her. She was a large woman. Honestly, I wish I had a better idea of what they were looking for. Everyone was smart. I liked my answers and didn't let myself be nervous and was just myself. I laughed my real laugh, so I must have been comfortable.

We drove to Idaho through a mountain pass on Saturday and the drive was terrifying because there was a ton of snow and my friend Counrtey is a wild driver, but we made it unscathed to this trailhead that leads to some natural hot springs. Oh my god, one of the coolest experiences. The sensation of being enveloped in warm water in the middle of a freezing stream in the mountains in the winter with snow all around was almost like being in a scene from a book or a movie. Just surreal. We stayed about an hour and a half, until we were sufficiently pruney, and then hiked the mile or so back to the truck. Just a normal day for people who make their lives there. I'd go all the time.

Flying back to Indiana after missing my morning flight because I overslept which had to do with a sing a long that lasted until at least 4 am.... was depressing. Not just to be leaving there and coming back to my life and my job here. But just looking at the people travelling to Indy. So much less interesting to me than the people travelling west. I didn't speak to anyone on my way back. It was the least I could do as a form of protest.

I got into this book I'm reading on my last flight and this little passage struck me so hard. You know, just knocked the wind right out of me. Isn't it wild how the Universe times things? Isn't it wild how an arrangement of words can take on so much meaning? Stop me I'm getting carried away. Here it is:

"The worst thing, she would tell him, is that she can no longer distinguish stars: When I think I have found one it moves out of view, just metal in orbit or a transportation vehicle. There are no longer fixed points by which to determine my direction, she would tell him. How can I ever make a wish?"

That's some kind of loss. Now I want to meet the writer and climb into her head and see what she saw in order to come up with something so lovely. Yeah, creepy. I know, I know.

So that was my trip. The best kind of heartbreaking. I'm glad to be home and not glad to be home. I think maybe as we get older that only gets worse. Or maybe that's just my outlook right now