Wednesday, March 26, 2008

three (3) bedtime thoughts

1.) realizing that i am technologically challenged, if you tilt your head to the left and say that is not the cutest dog you have ever seen, there is something seriously wrong with you. get over the fact that he is wearing a dress. really, it is precious.

2.) i always like to ask in conversation with others where they would be, if they could be anywhere in the world right now, in this moment, with no constraints. if i could be anywhere in the world right now, it would be back here. the carlyle in manhattan, with mallory and dad, wandering into museums and having doormen who wink at you and hearing eartha kitt and watching shakespeare in central park as the sun sets and the fireflies come out and drinking coffee on yellow velvet couches with sunflowers and lilies and reading the new york times.

3.) if you need proof that your family is far less weird than you ever thought, look no further.
i offer a photograph of my mother forcibly dressing my sister's cat in a bumblebee outfit. was it halloween? it was not. it was, in fact, december. and this is not unusual. if i knew how to switch cell phone pictures onto the computer, i could show you sights that would have PETA swarming my parent's house faster than jack bauer could torture an answer out of a terrorist. when my mom calls, the picture that pops up shows her about five feet from our front door, dragging the cat behind her on a leash. she once let winston (yes, that adorable dog above) free in a goat pen in half moon bay. just because she thought it would be funny to see winston chase all the goats. needless to say, he did nothing of the sort. this from the same woman who now wants to have the dog sleep in a small doggy bed, instead of the kennel he's been sleeping in for nine years, just in case a burglar comes in the night. so that he can jump out, bite them to shreds, and save us all. the only problem lies in the fact that to keep winston in the laundry room, where he sleeps, we have to stack suitcases preventing him from getting out. my mom is sure that he'll somehow manage to leap over the luggage when he senses that we are in mortal danger; much as lassie would know to pull timmy out of the well. "he'll just know!" she says.

it must be nice to be normal.

mmmm . . . . good night moon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

spring cleaning

spring cleaning.
i'm obsessed.
and there isn't nearly enough of it to do in my 200 square-foot studio; so it's been spilling over into everything lately.  my office, my car, and, regrettably, my closet.  in a fit of cleaning frenzy, i always underestimate what i actually want/need in my wardrobe.  favoring order and space over clutter, i get rid of jeans, dresses, comfy sweatpants, and shoes; all of which i end up missing desperately after the euphoria of a chaos-free closet fades.  i end up missing my totally impractical purple flats, my favorite high school sweatshirt, and regretting that i ever parted with that questionable cocktail dress.  i could have worn it with those flats.  damn. 
but i digress.
this year, spring cleaning has gone to a new level entirely: college papers, summer resumes, pictures reminiscent of the arrested development mystery photo (in that they're fuzzy, not that they're balls.  just to clarify.), e-mails, and songs. 
i'm spring-cleaning my iTunes.
with that, i present four songs that i have chosen to delete forever.  but not without a bit of a heavy heart.  the songs, and the stories behind them:

1.) "thanks for the memories" (aka thx fr th mmrs)
first of all, i am more than totally embarrassed to admit that this song was ever a part of my collection.  this isn't a cute, oh-can-you-believe-she-still-listens-to-hanson, kind of song.  it's a bad song, sung and performed badly by a deeply annoying chicago band.  however, it will forever be the soundtrack to one of my favorite moments - and, ironically, one of my favorite memories.
my very best friend in the whole world got married last september.  it was a beautiful ceremony - touching, elegant, and with a totally awesome MOH toast to boot :)  for some odd reason, the bride allowed her normally good taste to be taken over by the heat of the moment, or something, and chose this Fall Out Boy tune as the bridal party song.  we did our best to shake it to this totally tuneless, rhythm-less song, but i doubt we had any real success.  it is an impossible task.  so, we stuck to the time-tested tactic of shouting out the words in a big circle while pumping our fists in the air, getting especially proficient during the chorus and awkwardly silent for the rest of it.

2.) one sweet day, mariah carey & boyz II men
sorry, i never told you/all i wanted to saaaaaaaay . . .
i'm already mad at myself for getting rid of this one.  i think that daydream was one of the first CDs i ever purchased.  my friends gina, yvonne, and i used to turn it on as loudly as our parents would let us and dance through all 75 minutes of it in one of our basements, singing every word to every song and incorporating grand hand gestures worthy of a true diva like mariah.  
however, at the age of 22, i am a bit humiliated to admit that i still cry every time i hear this song.  i'm listening to it on youtube right now.  and crying.  tears.  
i have some pride.

3.) linger, the cranberries
when i was 8 or 9, my older cousin ryan told me that this song was about farts ("don't let it burn, don't let it fade/do you have to, do you have to let it linger?" etc. etc.).  this song, i can't listen to without laughing.  and crinkling my nose a little bit.  

4.) sexyback, j.t. 
the house that i lived in last year was fortunate enough to have a few lovers of the downtown dance scene - most especially, that holy of holies, tonic. (which was, more often than not, a post-script to our cosmos with gary at tee-off!) thursday nights, our pregaming ritual usually consisted of a few drinks mixed (or not mixed) in the kitchen, getting opinions on outfits, and listening to a deafening soundtrack of the latest hits.  except that, somehow, this particular song never really made it off the rotation.  it's a feel-good number, to be sure, but one can only take the refrain and mechanized vocals so many times before the song starts to lose all meaning.  and i don't want to get down on justin, so i thought i'd retire this one for a bit.

whew.  that's enough for one night.  

i'm quickly adding all the jay-z i can, though.  counting down the days until april 16th.   

Sunday, March 16, 2008

st patrick's day and the midwest

there are very few days out of the year when i wish i was still living in chicago. today, of course, is no exception - however, knowing that i could be this girl certainly sweetens the pot. that's right - the famous st. patrick's day parade; celebrated in honor of the snake-chasing man himself with copious amounts of green beer and an already murky river downtown being dyed 'emerald.'

[little-known fact: march 17th is an official public holiday in ireland (naturally), Montserrat (a leetle British island in the Leewards) and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Why only that province, i do not know. don't you worry, though, the good folks at guinness are lobbying to make march 17th a federal holiday in the great country of canada.]

don't be fooled by the deceptively tranquil look of the picture above. chicago in march is one of the harshest, ugliest, most god-forsaken places in the entire world. i kid you not. just about the time when the rest of the world is witnessing blooming crocuses and daffodils, watching baby animals take their first steps and smelling freshly-mown grass; just then, it is a bone-chilling twenty-four degrees in the windy city, with biting winds causing the "feels like" temperature to plummet to the single digits.

so, i suppose it's only natural that a place like this would want to celebrate . . . well, any occasion with something to take their collective minds off of their misery (not to mention Seasonal Affective Disorder). however, i never really understood why st. patrick himself was celebrated. i mean, turns out that even the snake thing is bunk. and why the beer? pat was a fairly pious man; i hardly think he would go around partaking of the green party juice.
all of this, however, was resolved when i learned that mr. patrick is credited with having taught the simple folk of ireland the concept of the trinity - explaining that just as a shamrock is one unit composed of three distinct leaves, so the trinity comprises the three figures of the godhead: father, son, and holy spirit.

(i've wondered what happens if he happens to grab a four-leafed clover when imparting his wisdom to those around him. i can just picture the conversation:
"but saint patrick, what about the fourth leaf? what does that represent in the trinity?"
"oh, shit!")

so, you know, there's that. party on, chicago. party on.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

endings and today

after a great weekend in colorado, attempting to ski in breath-taking craggy mountains (i actually skied fairly well, but did not, unfortunately, rock the all-white snow ensemble with a faux fur vest and black skis that i had always dreamed i would wear when tearing up the slopes) and eating delicious food and spending some really wonderful time with a really wonderful family, i return to santa barbara only to feel a bit let down. disappointed. sad, really.

do you remember going to summer camp in junior high or high school? church camp, more specifically - you have a great times, make new friends, flirt, swim, and connect in deep ways with God and others as only a bunch of prank-playing, goldfish-swallowing, sunburned 14-year-olds can? and then, you take a bus back over the flat wisconsin highways, your surroundings becoming more and more familiar, until you collect your belongings (which could take hours, given the haphazard way the hundreds of suitcases and sleeping bags were strewn about the gym entrance), get in mom or dad's car, and wave goodbye to your new friends. Wishing that it was next year already, wishing for another day of jumping off the docks and standing on chairs while you sang and long conversations with heretofore strangers about the nature of God's love for us and knowing that you can change the world.

that's how i feel - at the end of most every trip, these days. well, every good one. i get nostalgic and wish that i could turn back the clock for just one day; wish that i could recapture that feeling; that indescribable, i-am-on-vacation-and-carefree feeling; that connection with place and time and others. sometimes, i think that i am most truly in the moment when i am away from my ordinary life.

so, yesterday, thinking about all of this in trader joe's, i decided to buy myself some flowers - ranunculus (is that the correct plural form? ranunculae? ranunculi? ranunculuses? . . . i bought myself many a ranunculus. ranuncula. hmmm.....), which are so fun-looking with their paper-thin petals, which look as if they have been watercolored with shades of berries and the sun and sunset magentas. then, i went on a run in my neighborhood. i feel badly for anyone who doesn't live in santa barbara - really. my god, it is SO beautiful. as i ran, i noticed every house up and down every street, and how different they all were. how each one has a story, from its inception, up through this very moment. how people make those stories. the mountains were a dusky purple - the color they turn just before sunset - and flowers were literally bursting into bloom. huge clumps of wisteria over arbors, yellow buttercups springing shyly from the ground, honeysuckle more fragrant than any perfume, and my body, running forward and up and down, that could propel me forward and take in all of these sights and scents and could deliver oxygen to my muscles and sweat to cool me and take in air.

forgive my run-ons; it just struck me that all of this was nothing short of a miracle.

and it helped me, for those moments outdoors and for the rest of the night, to live a little bit more in each moment - to be grateful for these trips and journeys (while still allowing nostalgia its place); to acknowledge the goodness of all different places and people while simultaneously recognizing the beauty and sacredness and infinity of this present moment.

so, that helps me through the sadness of endings - a vacation ending, a day ending, a chapter in life ending. not all at the same time; not all now, but they have and will come. as the wise men of semisonic (flashback!) remind us:

'every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.'

(an aside: i just finished the bell jar and found it to be less depressing than it's made out to be. just really self-involved. which i guess is a certain kind of depression. but, would very much recommend the books tweak and beautiful boy; the story of a son's addiction to crystal meth seen through his eyes (tweak) and his father's (beautiful boy). really well-written, both of them, and thought-provoking and interesting and touching - and a different experience to get to read about the same events through two very different lenses. who doesn't love a good drug-addiction story?)

Monday, March 3, 2008

thank you, and keep going.

i don't want to be one of those annoying people who always thinks that in announcing her current reading selection (or in this case, several-months-ago-now-re-reading-selection), everyone will drop their sue grafton book of the moment for my recommendation, but i don't want to hold this one back. i don't know if anyone even reads this, actually, other than zack and michele. and anna (thanks!). but i don't think you (that's the universal 'you') should spend any more time not having read this book by my friend shauna.

i totally didn't want to read it at first - i spent time actively avoiding it, in fact - because i had read some of her other stuff when i was in highschool and it was all 'celebrate this' and 'be happy about that' and i was afraid that i wouldn't be okay because i don't feel like celebrating all of the time. i was wrong. i mean, there are the calls to celebration and to rejoicing, but they act as reminders for people like me to get off our cynical asses and drink champagne or spend an extra three minutes sitting by the ocean, just breathing in.

especially these first few days of march. for me, for my friends in chicago, for laurie.

"I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe
that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this
day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big
moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered
like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny
moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we
grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of
life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it,
because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think
I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour,
every conversation, every meal, every meeting."
-shauna niequist