Thursday, May 31, 2012

st louis: the paris of the midwest

I guess we're closer to the weekend to come than to the one that's passed, but I went to ST. LOUIS for the first time last weekend, so please allow me to provide you with some details from my inaugural visit to the great state of Missouri.

For those of us not geographically inclined, let me inform you that St. Louis is located on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. And mighty it is.

there she is. 

We rolled into town after a lovely 3.5 hour drive, completed in its entirety by Matt, in our rented Aveo.
HAHAHA. OMG look at that pose. I'll probably definitely get in trouble for posting this. 

Yes. I said Aveo.

I've never seen the man so excited to drive a car in his life. I've also never seen him consume a smoothie either. I credit that to the Aveo. I also credit the fact that we didn't bicker AT ALL the entire drive to the novelty of the Aveo.

It was smooth sailing.

So we get there and we get to our hotel which is smack dab in the middle of the arch and the St. Louis Cardinal's baseball stadium and we're like THIS IS PERFECT. Because the whole reason for the trip was that the Phillies were in St Louis, and as Phillies fans, we went to see them because the budget is a bit tight to make a trip to Philly this year.

that's our hotel. that's the arch. i got a little picture happy, being that i was a first time tourist of the city and all. 

Anyway, I purchased tickets to the Saturday game and surprised Matt with them months ago, but then my dad happened to 'know a guy' so he got us even better tickets for the Friday match-up, right behind home plate. Luckily the rich folk around us didn't razz us too much, because I've had the pleasure of witnessing Matt get into a screaming match with opposing fans in both Cincinnati and Chicago, and it puts me on edge.

i took this from our seats. pretty fancy. 

We both drank A LOT of beers at the game. Which was pretty stupid because they're really pricey, but whatever, vacation right?

Then this happened, and every time I read it I burst out laughing:

i came out of the bathroom in our hotel room and  he had mysteriously disappeared. 

On Saturday I woke up and my right eye was all stabby/scratched/red and angry, so I wore sunglasses the remainder of the weekend and drank a lot.

We went on several adventures and it was a great day:

this place is called Blondies and their food was mouthwatering. my mouth is watering just thinking about it
i was pretty obsessed with the swank level. 

brewery stop. 

in his defense, it was really really hot out. 

hog roast. no weekend is complete without pork. 

Matt got really tired of taking pictures with me and I continued to make him take them anyway because I'm documenting our life whether or not he wants to actively participate.

Our seats for the Saturday game were equally as awesome, if you ask me. But then again I did actually pay for these ones.

kyle kendrick pitched a hell of a game. here he is walking to the dugout before the game.

pretty city.


another picture! from our seats!

we were right next to the dugout.

wasted gatorade! good game!

Immediately after the game I went to bed because my eye was throbbing and tears were steaming down my face uncontrollably, like a deranged person.

On Sunday morning my poor eyeball wasn't improved, but we were going home that day and we still hadn't been up in the arch, so I powered through it and we went.

It was rad, obviously.
me and the arch!





And then we went to the only place that could have topped brunch the day before, a brewery with shaded outdoor seating.

I HIGHLY recommend Square One Brewery. 

Here I discovered my new favorite beer ever, a Maple Stout. God damn that thing was good. I could have drank an entire growler-ful, but it was only 9:30am and Matt probably would have gotten grumpy about it, wonky eye or not.

make sure you order biscuits and gravy if you go. you won't regret it.  

And then I fashioned myself an eye patch to block out the light of the piercing sun and we rode off into the horizon, leaving St. Louis and the mighty Mississipp behind.

But we'll be back, because St. Louis was badass, even if I only saw it with one eye.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

my boyfriend is the smartest man alive.

And let me tell you why. 

Because Wednesday night is cleaning night in our house. 


Basically cleaning night is a time when we as a couple have the immense pleasure of being at each other's throats for several hours after the actual cleaning is over, usually ending in me crying about how allergic I am to our lovely pet. 

she weighs 160 pounds. those jowls sling slobber six feet high in places. 

We used to not have a weekly cleaning night, and that was worse because the house would become gradually more disgusting and I'd make increasingly frequent passive-aggressive attempts at hinting to Matt that he needed to scrub the goddamn bathtub or something. Matt does not speak 'passive aggressive.' Much to my dismay we have to actively communicate. Pity. 

But now we have weekly cleaning night and while I hate it, this plan usually confines our fighting time to one night a week. 

But not this week. Because this week my own boyfriend brought out the heavy artillery. 

Yes, he came home armed with a bottle of my favorite champagne. CHILLED. 

I know. 

And somehow, scrubbing hardened, crusty dog slobber off of the walls whilst sipping some bubbly doesn't seem quite so dehumanizing. 

In fact, it almost felt a bit glamourous. 


You're a smart man, Matthew. I'll see you and a fresh bottle (please?) next Wednesday. Cheers.

i suppose i'll allow them to stay. but only one is allowed in the bed at night. 

i don't know.

I don't know that much about anything, and it really pisses me off.
For example, I don't know that much about sailing. I can sail an actual tiny vessel, probably. Maybe a Sunfish or something small, you know? I've done it before, when I spent a summer in New Hampshire as a kayak instructor. I sailed that lake a few times, but I was always in a state of borderline panic while doing it. I can't trust the wind as much as I can trust the water because I can't for the life of me read it. Still, I sailed. I managed it.  But I don't know all the nautical terminology and how to tie dozens of kinds of knots and how to read the wind. I hit one child with the boom as it swung wildly once and honestly, I was more mad than concerned when it happened. Why would they send me out to instruct sailing? I don't even trust the wind! Mostly not being able to read the wind bothers me, because it seems like a skill that you either have or you don't- you can try to teach it, but you can never really master it unless it is a gift you are born with.
I love to read, I want to read everything, why don't I know how to read the wind?
So frustrating.
Also frustrating to me:
I don't know anything about poetry.
In fact, I get literally no pleasure from poetry and it makes me feel low class, like someone with unrefined and poor taste. Uneducated. Shallow. Mostly I hate that it makes me feel shallow.
But I also feel kind of a mild disdain for people who want to talk about and brag about reading and writing poetry, because hello, pretentious.
I don't know if I'd rather be shallow or pretentious.
Ideally, neither, but I don't know if I can have my cake and eat it too in this scenario.
I don't know how to play the violin, or the piano, or even the clarinet. I've never played an instrument and it grates on me that I don't know if I would be good at it. I'm 25, almost 26, shouldn't I know if I have any musical aptitude by now?
Most of the time I don't know what day of the week it is, how much money is in my bank account, what I'm having for dinner tonight, or where my cell phone is. I don't mind not knowing these things, usually, unless I need to know right then, but usually I don't so it's okay that I don't know.
It bothers me greatly that I don't know how to play bridge, or change a tire, and that I've never started a fire with damp wood and no matches or lighter. I can't stand that I don't know more about my grandparents lives, any other language fluently, what people are thinking about when they go suddenly quiet, or if I'll ever actually get to the point in my life when actually enjoy exercise.
But I think I secretly know the answer to the last one there, and the answer is no,  so I'm just going to keep on acting like I have no idea.
I don't know how to paint watercolor well even though I can't seem to make myself stop trying, or stop cursing in front of children, or how to go to a bar or party without drinking. But I think those things are parts of my character, so I'm trying to embrace them.
Sometimes I wish I knew how to fly a plane, steal a car, knock someone out with one punch, and disappear, become someone else completely. But those are all romantic things, left over from a dream of becoming a spy that I've never been able to outrun. I don't know why I've always wanted to be a secret agent. I don't know how to go about becoming one.
The worst, I think is knowing just a bit, enough to get by, But not really knowing that much at all in the grand scheme. Everything that I set my mind to, I want to be the best, throw myself into, know the most. When it becomes evident that the task of learning every single detail about soemthing is nearly impossible, I usually give up and desert it all together. I don' t know why, I just do.

Friday, May 25, 2012

coping and moping.

Most of my social interactions revolve around me:
1. Hastily building a facade of calm so that I don't look like a total spaz.
2. Failing immediately at that venture.
3. Asking about a million questions to take the pressure off of myself.
(4) And/or drinking quite a lot and hastily skipping from topic to topic with much passion and enthusiastic hand gestures for each, albeit fleetingly, as I no longer have any semblance of an attention span.
Which is probably why sitting on my front porch yesterday evening, after the horrifying debacle of losing quite a bit of my current writing, with a novel whilst (on an empty stomach, of course) consuming approximately eight cans of leftover cheap beer from my recent camping weekend was, basically, a perfect night.
Until Matt got home from working a very long day around 7:45 to find me quite drunk and not at all packed for the weekend away we're departing on in approximately three hours. Two of which will be spent at my desk, at work.
God love him.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

i am in mourning.

Today, I decided that for once in my life, I would act like a responsible adult and organize my entire email account.
This, as would be the case with most people I know, is a huge undertaking. But to add to that magnitude of this project, let me mention that I also treat the draft function of my account as a place that I park ongoing writing projects so that I can update them whenever they need edits or I think of something to add- from anywhere. I also use this account as my diary/journal/emotional dump-all and primary means of communication with my best friend abroad.
So, we're talking thousands of things to organize. And I thought, 'What the hell, maybe I can knock this out in an afternoon."
Because I'm nothing if not overconfident about goals.
And you know what? Everything was going pretty damn well. For about two and a half hours. Because that's how long it look me to organize the inbox itself into various categories.
And then I was like. "Why don't you organize your drafts so you know where everything is?" Because what rational person wouldn't think that?
So I set off to do just that.
And I moved the first 50 to various folders and titled and dated them by when I started them. And then I clicked 'select all' and then I clicked 'discard,' because they're already obvious in their assigned folders, why would I need a copy in a draft section too? I could clean out my drafts! Everything would have a place and not have to hang out in the vast draft wasteland or disorganization of doom! Why didn't I think of this sooner?!
But you know what happened to those fifty most recently updated items, some of them projects that I'd been working on for months?
They didn't stay in their assigned folders.
They all fucking WHOOSH disappeared. And thanks to my google prowess, I've discovered that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY to recover them.
I am having such a meltdown right now, that frankly, it's remarkable my shaking hands have been able to type this
All the curse words in all the land will never be enough to express how I feel right now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

talking to strangers.

"I always hate this part" I said as I grasped the seat in front of me like it would stabilize my rattling body. The plane wheels finally bounced and setteld onto pavement as we landed in Salt Lake City. The part I hate is the slowing down. The roar and push forward as the plane barrels like the bullet down the runway. It's not a sound that inspires faith in the sensation of arrival, if you ask me.

Beside me, he looked unruffled and began to gather his things, switched on his cell phone.

It was a long taxi and we were on the back of the plane, giving us another half hour side by side, but the conversation didn't flow the way it had when we were in the air. It kept stalling and jumping along, suddenly ill at ease. That's the way it is when you're stuck with someone you think you could like, but you'll never see again.

This awkward antsiness is the reason I don't make conversation on planes.

I hate making conversation on planes.

Phone on, I checked my email and start reading through. Texted the appropriate people to let them know I'd landed.

One more flight until Montana.

It was late and I was exhausted, and still a three hour layover in Salt Lake.

I looked over at him surreptitiously and realized I didn't even know his name. That I probably never would. It's funny what people will tell you on planes without even offering up their name. He didn't know mine either. I could lie if I wanted. I could leave without uttering so much as a pleasantry.

Finally the door to the cabin was pried open and mountain air started making its way languidly toward us. It was winter, the chill felt easier to breathe than whatever was pumped through our skyward can.  It had been a long flight. We hadn't even started talking until after the in flight movie, which I'd already seen. Almost the descent before the conversation had started.

He'd spent several minutes trying to good-naturedly explain to me what he did. The job sounded like a bore, some kind of investment bank risk assessment. I tried, because sometimes half the battle with people is listening and asking the appropriate questions. Still, I was relieved when he started talking about buying a bike off of craiglist, only to crash it while drunk and having to spend more money repairing it than it had cost him originally. That kind of stuff I can relate to.

He was from Charleston, traveling with some friends to Salt Lake for a five day ski trip. Rich white people pay good money to leave their warm climates to spend recreational time in places most people avoid living.

Oh wait, I'm moving to one of them.

We live in strange times.

And then we were rising. He handed me my yellow coat from the overhead compartment. I said my thanks as I took it and craned my neck to check the snails pace progress of the rows ahead exiting the plane. We're still going nowhere but my legs are grateful for the weight.

I thought about all the things I knew about him just from twenty minutes. How just talking with him had made me want to visit Charleston.

God, he had a good head of hair.

He was the kind of man women fought over, this I could tell, despite my own personal lack of interest. I wondered who was fighting over him. Who was checking his facebook repeatedly, waiting for any scrap of information. I wondered all the things I would never know, like how many hearts he'd broken or if his mother and father were proud of him, if he'd ever broken his brother's arm by accident when they were playing in the back yard as kids.  Did he even have a brother?

He was reading Atlas Shrugged during the flight, a book that despite my subborn will and the way my eyes dance over pages of print, I've never made it all the way through. He was further along than I'd ever gotten. How many times had I tried? Three? Four? I always started it in the bathtub. Maybe that was the problem.

When I'd confessed that fact to him, he'd laughed.

And then the aisle opened before us, a pathway.

I suddenly felt the pressure of all the things I could possibly say to him in this last moment before we went our separate ways, but I came up with nothing, just walked away. Despite his aisle seat, he gestured for me to go first. So I let my hands guide my carry-on down the center aisle and picked up my pace.

I rolled my luggage with urgency to get away as soon as I reached the tiles at the end of the ramp . I had no idea where I was going, where my next gate would be, I just needed to get away from him. To get to the point where I'd never see him again in my life. For no other reason than the anticipation of that fact driving me to the point of insanity.

It felt like an escape.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

happy place.

Well, the weather is growing more conducive to my ideal state of peacefully coexisting with the planet by the day, which usually means a lot more celebratory bourbon in my belly, but this year has actually meant more evenings spent reading at the park and the 2012 inaugural canoe trip. 8 miles on Friday and 13 on Saturday. The picture below might actually be the only time Erin picked up her paddle the entire weekend, because it was posed and I made her.

This is mostly because I become a powerhungry, bossy, asshole as soon as I hit the water. I can't help that I'm a canoing all star. At least Erin doesn't seem to mind much.

This weekend was basically a blur of euphoria and sunshine.
For the third summer summer in a row, Erin and I skipped work (requested off in advance) on Friday and made the two hour drive down the the river and surrounding forrest that houses some of the best, or at least most hilarious, moments in our entire friendship.

This thirty pack was approx $10.... I felt like a freshman in college again, except we didn't have Hamms there.

Every year we're better prepared. In fact, I even wore SPF 50 and remembered to pack a cutting board this weekend. I'm a regular girl scout these days.
Aside from an excuse not to bathe and a reason to wear my bathing suit for 48+ consecutive hours, our weekends on the river give us enough distance from our real lives to look at things from a different angle and bounce questions off of a ear willing to listen and help make sense of it all.
But really, my main goal was to get fried by the sun and float on the water. Check and check.

When we rolled up, my jeep packed to the gills on Friday around noon, we were informed we wouldn't be able to camp in our normal spot because there were scout troops coming in for the night. THE HUMANITY! We've camped in the same exact spot every single time we've ever gone down there. It just wouldn't do to have us move. We walk around the side of the office and peer down at our normal spot and it's not even mowed! The grass and weeds are waist high! I'm already higly paranoid and semi anxiety-ridden about ticks, and now this?!

Luckily, as the news is kicking in and Erin and I are looking at each other in confusion and horror, our friend Cody walks up and the two men step into the office and leave us standing there to be confused and panic some more. Plus maybe also to look at each other and start jumping up and down excitedly, at the good timing and all.  
Cody comes back out and and suggests we go ahead and get out on the water before we set up camp this time. and we'll figure it out when we get back.

He totally knows our spot. He wouldn't let us down.
We arrive back from our 8 mile paddle to a freshly mowed campsite and a pinic table and fire wood provded for us in our absense.
It pays to make friends with the owner's son.

Also, I got Erin to wear an Ohio State Snuggie, which is a major accomplishment, as all I ever hear out of her mouth is Boiler UP! Go Purdue!

Suck it, Purdue.

Until next time, Brookville.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

some truth.

he'd just eaten seven hotdogs on dollar dog night. i, however, have no excuse. we are the most photogenic couple to grace the earth, obviously.

There are things I take for granted now that in less than three months may cause tantrums and tears in their absence. This is more than just having an Apple store within a 25 mile radius of my person for inevitable technology-related meltdowns, although I've already gritted my teeth in anticipation of such events.
This is something more along the lines of struggling to feed myself, lacking back-rubs and soothing words, and the absence of a warm body I've grown so accustomed to waking up next to.
What I'm trying to say is that Matt isn't coming to Montana with me.
At least not at first.
Let me say up front that I am the reason for this. I have asked him to hang back. I've insisted in my own stubborn way that this is a path I need to forge on my own. Because honestly, I feel it like electricity moving through my veins, my need to set off on my own. To me, it's a fact as solid as my eyes being green and my perpetual appetite for bacon. It defies any logical explanation for me, it just is. I need to go alone, to start this pursuit on my own, to go forth without company.
In true Matt form he's taken this request as he always does with my self-over analyzed bombs of news that aren't what he wanted to hear. First he was silent, then he fought me, and then he accepted it, because he loves me and knows that my way is just as ingrained in me as all the other qualities he loves. The good with the bad. The easy with the difficult.
To say he understands my need to leave alone probably misses the mark. In truth, I can't even fully wrap my mind around this compulsion, let alone give a cohesive and coherent argument to present my case. But he accepts this as my choice and my decision, and for that I am flooded with gratitude and overtaken by affection for him.
It took me a long time to reason with myself about this decision, and a lot of grappling with feelings of guilt and selfishness at pushing a distance nearly a country-width between us, especially when Matt is vehemently against us being apart. He planned to move with me wherever I went to grad school from the start, no matter how far or at what cost. He's supportive and amazing and I don't deserve it.
But he's not coming now, and it's my doing.
I know the day I leave is one we're both dreading in our own way. But I'm heading toward something I am drawn to with wonder and he's being left behind, so what follows the moment we part will be an utterly different experience for us both. Now that the room has stopped spinning a bit at the reality of the events unfolding and I've had time to calm down and consider things, clarity is coming a bit more easily. But only a bit.
As I've pondered and poked at the reasons for my decision, I realized a few things about the nature of my choice.
1. I genuinely don't want to be with anyone else in this world. Just Matt. In my heart, I don't look at my leaving as me leaving him, just a necessary step in the process until we're reunited.
2. I have total faith in the strength of our relationship. Total faith. Which is kind of eerie, to be honest. I know it will be hard at times, as I've done a long distance relationship before, but I'm going into it with total confidence this time. We will be fine. We will learn a lot. We will emerge stronger and intact.
3. Going back to school is fucking hard and grad school is very time consuming. I've been out of school for four years. I'm nervous about this. Actually, I'm scared shitless. It's enough of an adjustment and commitment without dragging a stubborn and antisocial man who doesn't want to move to Montana and 160 pound beast-dog across the country with me. I need focus and peace and alone time to process. I fear with Matt there I would not be able to find a good balance for my time. I will have no time to speak of anyway. I cannot afford distraction and resentment because of hard adjustments. I adjust to change almost instantly, Matt is a little slower to come around. It's just a fact, not a fault. Still, it is something I've had to consider.
4. Matt does not want to move to Montana. It's one of my biggest dreams. I will not have my dream hampered from the start by someone who doesn't want to be there, however unintentional, however much I love that person with all of my heart. However much he may have tried to hide it. I would have known. Things would have gotten weird. Bad weird.
5. This may be my last chance to live alone. Ever. I can't for the life of me let that go easily. I want one last cozy nook of the world that is mine and mine alone.  
6. Matt and I have very different ideas about what makes a fulfilling leisure time activity. I want to be outside playing and or reading and or at the bar with my friends and he wants to be at home on the couch watching sports and playing xbox. It's leisure time and there's no wrong way to do it, but in any precious time I have to spend in leisure while I have such an impressive display of the great outdoors at my disposal, I'm not interested in holing up inside. At all. I brought no television to this relationship and I don't intend to carry one with me out west. That's not be being a pretentious hipster, that is me voicing my needs honestly, part of the reason I'm moving out west is the breathtaking landscape. I need to be out in it.
7. I am infuriatingly selfish.
8. My guts. My head. My heart. My soul. They're all working together on this one and the message is clear. Do this thing for yourself. This is you, pursuing your dreams. It gets harder to chase them every single day that you wait. Run. Hunt them. Catch them. This is something you have to do to feel purpose and contentment with life, no matter how great your partner. You have to be okay with yourself, love yourself first. This is a journey you must take alone. You can do it. Trust yourself.
And so I am. I'm doing it by myself.
The plan is for Matt and I to start talking about him moving west after Christmas when he's had time to save some money, look for a job, and buy a car- Another good reason for him to wait.
 We've talked and fought and hugged and sat in silence over this. And now it's done and we move forward with the plan in place. Not all of our arguments and misunderstandings have such amicable and positive endings, but I'm comforted to see that the big ones do. The ones that truly matter in the grand scheme, those we can work through and tease out and iron of wrinkles.
I'm not really afraid of spiders, so I can't say I'll be missing my protector from icky things, but there are millions of other ways Matt saves me every single day, and I can't wait to fully appreciate every single one of them in his absence, and then thank him repeatedly when we are reunited. But for now:
I love you, Matt. Thank you for saving me hundreds of times every single day in every way I need it.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


It used to be easier to be naked.

In fact, for a time, it happened more often than not. Any spare night stuck in a small town with nothing to do and no bad habits to speak of just yet.

It started with sneaking out a back window of my parent's house, one by one throwing off the blankets clasped tightly over our bare skin, and then making a mad dash, blind with fear, around the house- Returning to our discarded blankets and desperately throwing them over ourselves again, pulling them tight and brandishing them like shields against the dark, our howls of laughter piercing the silent night, wild, possessed, under a full moon.

As risk goes, the stakes grew ever higher.  The ventures escalated so as to continue bringing the desired feeling of recklessness and hysteria.

We'd be breathless with our daring, sprinting single file or ambling slowly, intentionally, in a pack. In the local parks of town or the streets that pulsed like veins through our parents' neighborhoods. It was always late, but not quite late enough to insure not being spotted.

The prospect of getting caught was a constant roaring in our ears. The looming fear of getting caught was half the fun.

Rhyme and reason had no place in our exploits. When you're young, you're still fast enough to get away from them. We were young.

One night, at the public park in town, we crept completely unclothed over the long wooden bridge, spanning the river that split the sprawling fields and forest in half on either side, and faced the more public side of the park boldly, daring our most exhibitionary friend to run a lap around the bathroom structure, 100 yards away. Every time we'd push each other further, try to stretch the limits, or maybe it was simply to see if there were any at all. She took off under the dim orange of night fought by streetlamp and we whisper-screamed to her in encouragement and excitement. Jumping up and down, our white bodies too young still to bounce or vibrate once we ceased our celebratory leaps.

Skinny girls, naked in the dark. Afraid of nothing, or naive enough to know we were the exception rather than the rule. We haunted the town with our careless streaks through the night; at least anyone who spotted us blurring through the horizon probably thought we were ghosts.

Suddenly the plink! plink! plink! of bike tires on the bridge, low words of encouragement from father to son, two bikes passing us from above unknowingly as we struggled to tumble silently into the leaves, rocks, and mud below. A narrow escape.

Then, everything shaking all around with barely contained laughter billowing from our every pore as we laid sprawled in various states of bruised and battered discomfort at the bottom of the hill. Our stranded friend crouched in the bushes, timing perfectly coincided to have her arrival at the building give her necessary shelter. We crawled up the hill like swamp things, feeling blindly for each others fingers and limbs, emerging to find her slinking back to us in the dark. Near silence as we crept across the bridge back to our stranded vehicle in the dark. The hasty pulling on of shorts and popping of our heads through tshirts punctuated with breathless exclamations of everything racing through our minds during our almost-confrontation.

And then windows down and loud, loud music as we fled the scene publicly, daring anyone to care or take notice.

It used to be easier to be naked.

But I'll gladly take modesty if it means retaining the friendships our bold tomfoolery rooted deeply. These are my people. They are my home.

What did you do in high school?

Monday, May 14, 2012

life preservers.

I can't see faces anymore, just outlines of bodies swaying to the music. Still, I kick further because I'm not scared yet.

The water, any water is always more terrifying to me when I'm not submerged in it. It seems to me like a suggestion of a threat, an idea that gently points to danger, 'You can't control this." Yet, when I'm up to my neck, I almost always feel swaddled. Carried. Held onto. Isn't it funny that we call them bodies of water? I guess so much of their anatomy does personify human action, at least in my mind.

I kick further and further, waiting for someone to notice how brave I am, how far I've gone, what distance I've put between myself and the rocky cliffs of shore.

"You should be scared, " I think to them. "What if something happened to me now? Could you save me in time?"

Do we sometimes do things just to make people prove their love for us? Just so they try to keep us safe? Just to test and make sure.

There's a flat boulder perched on the shore. It's where we're allowed to congregate now that we're here for round two. Going to the Mansion is a privilege we've earned with our blistered feet and sore shoulders. Those trays get heavier all the time.

The boulder my friends rest upon is suspended several feet above the water at an angle no man could have willingly produced. Somehow precarious rings a little dull for the illustration. Still, here is where we make our descent on sunny afternoons into the relief of the lake's beckoning waves. It's the kind of jump that you have to steel yourself for mentally. The kind of jump for which you take deep breaths and count down, even as an adult-aged person.

The boulder itself is now shewn with beer cans, bottles, blankets, towels, discarded clothes, sun screen, and an inner tube. An ironic nod to water wings shaped like fishies. Or a non-ironic nod for those of us who are scared of the water. Despite the strong pull to be on an island surrounded on all sides by water and waves, a surprising amount of people here are actually afraid of the lake. And despite the swelling boat traffic and basic goal of getting drunk by most people who visit the island, very few people seem to drown here.

My friend Mary and I grabbed a bottle of wine one night and took off for the beach alone, a long walk from the trusty porch lamp that soaked the yard of our summer home when the dim moon couldn't shed enough light. It was a long walk made short by the wine we passed between us as we strode quick and sure in the dark. We reached and shore and stood silent like a prayer for a moment, taking in the dark expanse no one claimed but us. We floated and talked and marveled at how good the water felt on our limbs, how nice it felt to be so unselfconscious in the act of swimming. How lovely the lack of light. And then, thoroughly wrinkled, we wrapped our shivering bodies in towels and hitchhiked with some guys from the campsite going back to town, giggling in the back of a rusty pickup truck as we bounced our way back home.

It's nights like that which serve to snag like a splinter on my memory as I try to sand it down, simplify it as a time either bad or good. It catches just enough that neither quites fits- how could a place that produced such a perfect night be all bad?  Besides, it's a place I loved with reverence for a time. A home of sorts, if not forever. How could I ever simplify something so complex?

But Mary wasn't there that day for my test, and if she had, likely she would have been conducting it with me, along with the few other friends I've kept from my summers on the rock.

And then I remember the people I knew, their distance-muffled laughter and shouting above The Moon and Antarctica coming from portable speakers, blissfully unconcerned with the growing distance between my rhythmic movement and the boulder on which they stood. It was then that I realized the faces didn't matter so much as the human proximity. Aside from a few strong female bonds, roles could be filled by nearly anyone, so long as they were willing to read the lines with enough bravado. When I was gone, as I would be a few short weeks from that day, someone else would be fucking my boyfriend, coaxing drink orders out of windblown tourists, and drinking straight from the bottle on the boulder with my friends.

The realization made me feel so much smaller than treading water out in the middle of a constantly moving great lake ever did.

I'm a strong swimmer, so I never really had to test the allegiance of the people standing ashore to the drum of my pulse, a fact for which I'm sure, even in their ignorance, they're infinitely grateful.

As am I.

Friday, May 11, 2012

my own personal rulebook.

Use your turn signal.
Always know what direction you're travelling, north, south, east, or west.
When wondering whether to talk or listen, listen.
Be kind to animals.
Do not collect people for novelty and entertainment, be a true friend.
Offer comfort.
If possible, walk.
Give it time.
But not too much time.
Talk it out.
Write it out.
Figure out how it REALLY makes you feel.
Be polite.
Don't pretend you understand something to save yourself from looking ignorant, ask.
Tell the truth.
Call your parents.
Know what you're truly afraid of. Push it, but respect it.
Indulge your impulses.
Tell people what you like about them.
Be on time.
Better yet, be early.
Offer to help, even when it's not apparent that help is needed.  
Play outside every chance you get.
Read everything you can.
Try to learn something.
Be generous with time to those that you love.
Don't complain.
Try it. Experience it. Learn from it.
Don't sleep in your contacts.
Stay away from reality tv. Even when you're hungover. Especially when hungover.
If it takes less than one minute, do it now. no matter how annoying.
Accept that you like to go to bed early and rise early. enjoy mornings.
Make time to spend alone.
Demand respect.
Be respectiful.
Remember birthdays and send cards.
Always have stamps handy.
Push yourself.
Do what you say you will.
Carry a small knife, a needle and thread, and mint gum always.
Back up from the mirror. At least 6 more inches.
Be mindful of body language, yours and those around you.
Put that in your calendar. NOW. Before you forget. You WILL forget.
Sing along loudly. Dance even more loudly.
When you're hungry, eat. Listen to your body.
Don't be embarrassed to say no to anything you feel may be harmful. Your risks are yours alone.
Stand up straight.
Strive. Always. Nurture that part of your person that is always hungry for more, bigger, better.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

my hand is a wimp.

looks completely normal. hurts like a mother. yes, i have freckles on my palm.

So here's something awesome slash really embarrassing:  I think I need to have my hand x-rayed.

Now, I've always been super accident prone in general and incredibly idiotic when drunk, so I've had my fair share of injuries. Usually bumps and bruises, occasionally something that needs ice thrown on it, every once in a blue moon something that needs inspection by a medical professional.

It all just kind of comes with the territory. Give me a simple flight of stairs one step and I will easily find a way to fall up/down it, no matter my mental state.

So naturally the knowledge for this tendency to accidentally hurt myself is usually enough to prevent me from further putting my person into harm's way or, god forbid, seeking out injury/tempting fate.

With a few exceptions.

About two months ago I was driving along, throwing a fit in my car like the two year old I am at heart. I decided it would definitely help me calm down if I took my aggression out on something physically. Because that's so far really helped me the past 25 years. Right.

So, being the typically non-militant gal that I am, I wasn't really sure how to actually accomplish this, plus I am severely impatient, so I just closed my fist and took and jab at my radio display without really thinking.

Yeah, nothing.

But you know what? I'm not a quitter. So I decided to give it another shot.

This time, I was stopped at a light so I really wound up and punched the thing, for good measure.

Holy shit you guys.

Have you ever punched something harder than your hand with all your might or even half of your might? It's fucking dumb, first of all. Second of all, I broke my radio display, so that was stupid. Third of all, I'm the asshole punching shit in my car which doesn't bode well for my mental stability. And I mean, this was purely out of curiosity anyway, kind of an experiment to see if I would feel anything.

And I did. I felt like an idiot.

Plus I hurt my hand.

You see, at first it just felt kind of bruised. Like a good little hand, it never got swollen or REALLY hurt. So, I thought we were in business and everything would be fine except that I'm apparently unstable and do idiotic things.

But no. I mean, it's been two months now and we're still not swollen or unbearable, but making a fist really hurts and holding a pen really hurts and basically touching anything with my pinky sends shooting pains up my wrist. I'm guessing that's not a sign of healing.

Here's the other thing. If you're going to do stupid, impulsive things, there is usually a price to pay for it. Since I'm moving across the country in less than three months, and I am literally saving pennies and cannot afford to pay this price. Granted, I have insurance so it should be mostly covered, but insurance isn't magic money, I will still have to pay up to my deductible.


I totally didn't need to eat until my move!

So anyway, I'm thinking of trying to rig up a splint on my pinky finger for a week or three to see if that does any good since the pain isn't killing me now, what harm will a few more weeks do? Believe me, I know how idiotic that sounds. I know. Too bad. I'm stubborn and poor.

Let this be a cautionary tale, the radio display in your motor vehicle will  likely win a fight against you.  

nothing appears to have gone awry. yet the entire right side of my hand hurts.
don't try to fight the radio. it never works out. the reason i look so miserable in this picture is because i was actually in pain. super lame.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

art is emotional.

Nan and Papa in front of their soon-to-be home.

Friday afternoon I cut out of work early and drove the five hours Northeast to my grandparent's house, because even at twenty five, when given the option of this or nearly anything else, I'll still choose a visit to grandmother's.

We've always been close, although there have been times where a lag between us speaking grows too long and uncomfortable and requires repair.  Still, we reach out to each other to bridge the gap. Because we're family, and we have to, yes, but also because we choose each other.

When, a few years ago, they sold the lake cottage where I spent all of my childhood summers getting sunburned and running wild, I was sure I could never forgive them; I cried myself to sleep for months mourning the place that held so many of my happiest memories. Yet there I was on the day they moved into their new home, helping carry boxes down the perilous stairs and holding a hand for morale and support.

They mean so much that even the fleeting thought of them one day being taken away from me brings involuntary tears to my eyes before I squelch it and move on with my day. A reaction too powerful to really ignore despite the refusal of my stubborn mind to acknowledge the thought.

This weekend, we had a great visit. We dined and cocktailed and chatted and heart-to-hearted. It was everything I needed it to be and it always is. I didn't want to leave, but then again, I've never wanted to leave. They're my biggest fans, so interested in everything I have to say, I feel like a celebrity in their midst. They're equally as fascinating to me. I've grown fixated on asking any question that pops into my mind, determined to learn as much of them and their lives as I can. I attempt to memorize everything so that nothing will ever be lost, no matter the way time and change try to erase things.

After dinner on Friday night we wandered the eclectic downtown area of Ann Arbor, on our way to the ice cream shop as has become our tradition. They're spoiling me, but I think secretly they're partly glad for my visits as a way to excuse generous ice cream consumption. Either way, we're all winning.

We were chatting as we passed a frame shop and I mentioned a map I bought several years ago of the lake that fed my childhood, and how I'd been meaning to have it framed, but it keeps getting lost in the shuffle of life.  Try as I might not to, I always end up bring up the lake when we're together, pushing the tender place we all have on our hearts. What happened next was odd, and heartwrenching.

My papa looked down at my nan and they had a short conversation as if I wasn't even there, and then seamlessly incorporated me back in.

Papa: Nance, I think Sara should get the painting of the cottage, she's always been the one that loved it the most.
Nan: Yes, that sounds right.
Papa: How does that sound, Sara?
Me: I love the painting, of course I'd love to have it. But that's so far away, I've never even thought of it.
Papa: Well it won't be for a while, we're hanging it in the new house. We've still got some life left in us. Just, you know, when the time comes.
Me: I can't really think about that without crying.
Papa: Well, okay. Enough then.

As I am literally choking back tears. I'm just not ready for them to start divvying up their things.
The painting in question is one they had commissioned several years ago, of the cottage and my Nan's garden there in peak form, a reminder they had created for when they were spending winter or fall in their homes in Florida or Ohio.

It's a large picture and it hangs over the fireplace of their sole remaining home in a suburb of Ann Arbor, which they're now selling to move into a smaller home in a retirement community this summer, a fact that equally breaks my heart and infuriates me. I can't stand to think of them getting older and older until they'll eventually leave me.

I just can't even consider it.

They're downsizing for the move to their new, considerably smaller house, and things are being sold and claimed by my dad and his brothers. They're purging their things, and I can't help but think it one of the saddest things a person will ever do in their lives. After a lifetime of continuously, and often accidentally, accumulating all the stuff that makes a life, getting rid of it, putting it into younger hands. Letting things go.
While I'm thrilled at the prospect of having the beautiful painting, a reminder of my favorite place and of my favorite people hanging in my own home someday, I genuinely hope the day never, ever comes when it actually becomes mine.

It was an emotional weekend.

my happiest place.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

the daily gchat: on running out of gas while going 75 mph

 Jessica:  hahahahahha
i like your attitude today
it's good
 me:  yeah, i'm feeling pretty over everything
and really blase if we're being honest
 Jessica:  hah yeah i can sense it
no worries
so you're taking tomorrow off at least?
or heading out after work?
 me:  half daze
oh so get this shit
i'm driving home from work
like normal
and all of the sudden my car shuts down
in the far left lane of 465
so i'm coasting
and trying to get over
and people are honking and shit
and i'm like, sorry guys, my car's being a horrendous bitch
 Jessica:  oh my god
that' so scary!
 me:  and signalling the universal i don't know shoulder shrug
 Jessica:  hahahahhah
 me:  it was terrifying
so i get all the way over
and it's decided that i ran out of gas
 Jessica:  oh shit
 me:  because i'm on the phone with matt
even though my gas light ALWAYS comes on
and this time it didn't
so i had no idea
anyway matt's at home so he leaves to get a gas can and come help me
which i'm aware is going to take 40 plus minutes
so naturally i'm grateful that i got all the way to the side of the road
plus it's hot as BALLS
 Jessica:  oh god this is getting worse
 me:  so I roll down the windows on the passengar side and pull out my book and get to reading
since i've got some time.
i've got my hazards on, i'm not trying to watching traffic flying at me from behind
so like 25 minutes in
i'm offically engrossed with my book
typical sara
 Jessica:  typical haha
 me:  and all sudden something shifts in my periphery
and a cop is standing RIGHT THERE at my window. and i have no idea how long
 he been there creepily spying on me
 Jessica:  hahahhahaha
 me:  it scared the piss out of me
and i think he felt bad
 Jessica:  why didn't he knock?
 me:  slash was kind of like 'what the hell?'
 Jessica:  haha yeah probably
 me:  'he didn't want to startle me'
but um, he did anyway
so i explain my situation
and how matt is on his way
and whatnot
probably seeming just a blase as i am right now
because i'm fine, obviously
and help is on the way
there was a weird vibe
i mean i feel like there's always a vaguely suspicious vibe whenever i encounter law enforcement
i must look guilty or something
so he sat behind me with his lights on until matt got here
and then pulled away right when we did
 Jessica:  that is so weird
what a gentlemen?
that's sketchy about your light not coming on
 me:  yeah i'm pretty pissed about that
i've never run out of gas before
but i mean
i tempt fate with that allllllllll the time
so i was kind of overdue i guess
 Jessica:  haha you and me both
but god that's wild
the car just shuts off
i always wondered what happens
just dunzo
no more driving for you
it's like a big fuck you
 me:  yeah
i mean
no accelerating
i was like SHIT
i'm slowing down
no matter what i do, i'm slowing down
pretty bad stuff
def don't recommend

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

an ode to my early twenties.

There was a period of my life when I felt light, carefree. Light as a feather. I'd swing and twist and nearly lift my toes right off the ground to fly. I knew there were consequences, but when they came, I dealt with them casually, flippantly, did the minimal amount to make them go away so I could go back to feeling infinitely small and able to be blown every which way by the universe.
This lightness, it wasn't always a good thing. It's doesn't inspire much hope for digging your heels into the ground and holding steady.
Steady. Steady, now.
In my early twenties, geez, nothing felt steady. Not my living situation, my bank account, my relationships, especially my means of expressing my emotions. No, I was light. Too light for steady. A constant state of flux means lots of wonderful, beautiful change. But it also means nothing is certain, stable.
There was nothing sturdy about my existence.
Light is good, though, for a number of reasons. It allows for curiosity, adventure, learning to compromise and improvise. It's recklessness and pushing the boundaries and finding out how it feels when you say nothing when every fiber of your being screams 'Take a stand!"
I have this vision of myself, my early twenties self. I'm expelling and consuming so much energy, I'm feeling like I could be blown miles by one mouthful of breath sent in my direction as a gust. I'm so light that the smallest thing, a smell, a chord, one word can send me reeling to further boundaries in my emotional spectrum than I ever previously knew possible. I'm learning at every turn so much. I'm gobbling it all up so willingly. Why wouldn't I?
But I mean, there's the other side of that too.
I'm spending my last 200 dollars on that pair of jeans that make my butt look the best it's ever looked, because what could possibly be more important than a pair of jeans that fit perfectly? I'll pay my phone bill next month, I swear. And then I'll swear off jeans completely in the next sentence, but it doesn't matter. I'm too light to be reached and dragged down. I'll just float away from it all.
It was a time to abuse my body and my mind, really put it through the test of everything it can take.
There's something to be said about being willing to completely let go of everything around you. Relinquish control. I'm not so good at that now, things weigh down on me, hold me in place,  prevent me from throwing back those five extra shots. Or maybe it's the feeling the next day etched into my memory from being repeated one too many times.
Either way, I'm heavier now, in a sense. And that's fine. Really, it is. I mean, it's just one of those things I think that happens with time. You brush up against things and the friction leaves their residue and pretty soon you're covered in parts and pieces of everything you've ever run into, and the build up makes you heavier. Or something like that.
Isn't it hilarious how people never change? Isn't it heartbreaking to realize that we have to anyway?
When you're young, when you're light, there's still hope that one day you'll collide into one another full speed again. They'll catch up, or you will, or you'll find a way back to each other through darkened alleys and fields of wildflowers. It's easier. It helps you to stay light to think this way. You're never as naive as when you tell yourself that you're going to be forever friends with the person that just drove away from you.
I mean, you've just given them part of your heart. You feel lighter just from it's lack of mass in your chest cavity.
Dearest self. You did light like a champion. It's possible that you did the very best you could have done with what you had. Maybe no one could have done it better in this body, hooked up to this mind. Certainly no one could have done it the exact same way. No one could have possibly ended up in the exact same places and time that you did.
I came out whole.
That time is over.
I may be heavier, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. I feel whole, sturdy, up to the challenge. And sometimes, every now and then, I still feel slivers of light hitting me at the right angle. And I dance and float in them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

grabbing dollars in ditkaland, part two

Finally, mercy appears in the form of a gigantic man wearing one of those hats I most often think of as worn by cabbies. What are those called, anyway? He's round and not wearing gloves and doesn''t even look a little bit cold. Lucky bastard. He ambles over toward the Will Call building, set apart from the stadium by a wide walkway, directly across from the gate I was told to go to. He tries the door, locked. I can just tell he's here for the same reason I am. I can practically smell it.  I stiffly pace over to him and ask him if he's working? For the Bears? I was told to come here? And no one has showed up yet? And I'm not sure where to go? Name drop my boss?
 Because I'm idiotic when I'm uncomfortable and everything comes across as an annoying, childlike question.
At the mention of my bosses name, he grins and assures me that I'm in the right place, jokes that I should have known my boss is never on time to anything. Yes, silly me, I should have known. My poor frostbitten toes should have known not to be punctual. But I'm relieved to be in the right place, and sure enough a person with a headset and clipboard appears seconds later to unlock the door of the will call building, dispensing paperwork and barking instructions.
'This is what I'm doing,' I tell myself, because no one else bothered to tell me. I'm in the ticketbooth. I'm in will call. Fanfuckingtastic. Have I mentioned that I spent a short time as a cashier in a retail setting as a teen and my hands would tremble uncontrollably every time the line grew to more than three people? I must have a complex about making people wait or something, I feel like it's a lot of pressure.
The next thing I know, I'm shuffling into the unheated building as the lights inside it slowly grow to full glow and an odd assortment of native southsiders trickle in. It's a small narrow space, a line of windows facing the stadium. To tell the truth, the little building never got warm enough to be much of a comfort to me, although I never made the mistake of not wearing socks again in the middle of a Chicago winter. Some lessons are just more painfully learned than others,
I liked the job, surprisingly enough. I loved the people seated on either side of me as I worked the window for L-R. (the beginning of the alphabet was too concentrated to trust a first-timer.) They were encouraging and kind and part of the union, it made me feel at home. I got into a rhythm. I made jokes and conversation. I made a friend, Diana, who would walk the mile or two back to her car with me and then drive me home from the first game, bless her.
It was funny, the fans, the people who came to will call. They were so excited to be there and some were drunk and almost all were dressed ridiculously for the sake of passion and fandom. And so many firsts. It was dads taking kids to first games and first dates and tourists from out of the country who wanted to see an American football game. It sort of made me love football again. There's a look that people would get in their eye when I'd shuffle through the stack and find the ticket with their name printed on it. A mixture of relief and glee and goodwill toward man. There was something particular to Chicago fans too, that I never did pinpoint- and I hate to call it "Midwestern," but I think that's part of what it was, There we were in the middle of a huge city that's moving so fast all around, trying to get to a game,  and they're still making small talk with the girl in the will call booth.
Eventually, my boss showed up and gave me a 'Hiya, Sara." and a look that suggested he knew I could fend for myself all along.
And sure I could. But I still felt a little stung. It was before I realized that bosses don't always assume the role of older sibling/aunt/uncle/parent and look out for you, which was what I'd always had before.
I was told by the others that he didn't trust most people to do the Bears job, this is one he reserved for the people he held in very high regard. As with most things whispered reverantly to me about my boss from nearly everyone that knew him, I let it lull me into a state of complacency and privilege. He was a person worth knowing. People knew him. He had some power, some pull, I'd hit the lottery. Yes, I let these things drown out the hysterical voice down inside me that screamed, "But he's not paying you!!!!!!!!' I was working so hard to be breezy and cool in the big city.
I kept promising myself that soon knowing him would pay off. I just had to be patient and soon enough I'd be running with the wolves, doing lunch at fancy restaurants for my three closest and extremely succesful gal pals and taking midweek shopping sprees on Michigan Ave. I was mere handshakes and high fives away from Sex and the City: Chicago. But truth be told, I've never been patient, or particularly good at using my connections with people for personal gain. Plus my credit card was fast approaching it's already ridiculously high limit. It was winter in Chicago, even my attempts to pick up a bartending job were thwarted by lack of clientele braving the weather for a beer.
After the last Bears home game of the season, I told my boss we needed to part ways. I gave him two weeks, screened all the emails that came from his craiglist ad for a new assistant, and called and scheduled interviews with potential candidates. The irony that this was the first actual assistant work I'd done since I started wasn't lost on me.
Despite everything, I liked him.
He didn't show up on my last day, and I wasn't surprised, not really. I left him the spreadsheet of my hours and calculated that he owed me over five hundred dollars. And I was being generous, not greedy.
Two days later my mother showed up and helped my load my thing and took me to a final lunch in Chicago before heading down to Indianapolis.
I didn't hear from him for at least two months, until one day I got a piece of mail from the union he ran.  Standing on one leg in my parents kitchen, I ripped open the envelope, hoping against hope to find a fat check. Or at least the 500 dollars I'd actually charged him for. Instead, it contained only a crisp one hundred dollar bill and a post-it that said "Call me if you ever need work in Chicago!"
The Bears checks all arrived on time, pity they didn't have enough home games to keep me afloat.