Monday, March 29, 2010

chin up, chin down

Can you really predict how March ends or begins? I never have been able to. In the past I have declared from mountains that March is my least favorite month. Bad things have always happened in March. I've been dumped, people have died, I've lost sleep, time, years of my life, a pair of pants. I've looked up and down the Marches of my history and found them entirely lacking.

In retrospect of this weekend I am thinking maybe I just refused to see the good things that also happened in March. The child in me still sees the bad in everything, the poet in me clings to that blackness and writes it out emphatically, but the adult I try to be knows that surely not all of my Marches have been all heartbreak and hair-tearing chaos.

This weekend Trinity presented A Midsummer Night's Dream, western style. Yours truly was the costume director and played the part of Philostrate. Friday was opening night. But let's start Friday morning.

8:15, study for Evaluation 2.
9:00, yawn, have headache, take Evaluation 2 during Educational Psychology & Human Development.
9:40, wait a billion years for breakfast. Eat said breakfast, crave sleep.
11:00, go to chapel, fall asleep in the last 20 minutes.
12:00, take a nap.
1:45, write a reflective essay with dyad partner for Philosophy.
2:15, fall asleep in Romantic Lit.
3:15, fall asleep in Philosophy.
4:00, call fiance. Have sudden desire to call my boss.
4:15, call boss about summer job. Apparently, I don't have one!
4:40, sit in room and cry. think deeply. pray.
5:00, eat dinner with roomie.
5:30, go to the chapel and start play excitement.

And then we had 'the play.' I said my lines and wore eight pounds of make-up and danced backstage. But, seeing no one greet me afterwards, having no one to congratulate just me or bring me flowers, a great weight pressed at my chest. There was an after party, and I forced myself to go, knowing that I would feel even worse sitting alone in my room.

Saturday was much of the same. After-party included.

I am exhausted, but...

Walking back to my room at 2am, or today after getting breakfast and drinking coffee, I told myself the good things that had happened. I forced myself to believe that everything was no so horrible, that there were good moments involving playing a baby grand piano or a finished assignment or a nap.

Today is not ending the way that I would like it to. Tomorrow I find out about a job for next school year, and Wednesday there's a possibility of mending a friendship. March may go out in the same fashion that it entered--bloody teeth and sharp claws. It may not end in the way that I need it to, the way I hope it will, the way that would be easiest and least traumatizing. The least detrimental to a better future.

But I will find good things still. I will take to heart the sunshine, despite the freezing wind. I will enjoy the prospect of fixing things, at least until I find out whether or not they are fixed. I will breathe deeply of gracious professors who give second, third, fourth chances and of faithful friends who listen with open hands and hearts. I will take time to calm down with a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate. (free chocolate, mind you.)

Most of all, I will listen to new music. I have created a playlist (on called "Chin Up, Chin Down, You are a Princess", named after a quote on a picture from a friend. It makes no sense. But it gives me a little pep every time I see it. The playlist includes upbeat (but not poppy) music, lots of piano, and most importantly the Midsummer Night's Dream playlist arranged by our dear Oberon.

I will find good things. I will not fall apart.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Of sunsets and icebergs

Again I sit in the quiet darkness of my room, drinking caffeinated liquids. I am agitated under the fluorescent glow of my desk lamp and the humming of my computer's fan is not making me feel any better. I have a lot to do this week. Three papers (one of them late already), a quiz, a presentation, and an exam. I am currently multi-tasking and writing my late paper as well as discussing with my Ed Psych partner what we should do for our presentation. Oh, and I have to lead some class devotionals. Not gonna prepare for that quite yet.

As I sit, my ears are burning with a new auditory drug. It's called 'Opal (Error Love opalowski rmx)' by sayCet. A friend of a friend had me listen to it. I couldn't buy it anywhere. It's only available in Podcast form on iTunes. (for free...) I seriously recommend it.

I was in Lafayette, Indiana when I heard said song. I recently traveled to Indiana with my roomie/best friend for spring break. As it was, to date, the farthest I have ever been from my home I have concluded that such a trip requires reflection.

Reflection #1. I love places. I love places the same way that I love movies. I am eclectic and unpredictable and don't fit in with my peers, as far as taste goes. This comparison would make complete sense, except that I've seen a lot of good movies, I have not been to a good deal of places. (I've been to Canada. I hated Canada. Probably because I spent the entire week their with a broken ankle on a house boat.) But the places I have been, I love. Even if I am not in love with the people or the situation, like a sprained ankle in Canada or a family crisis in Oregon, I can find beauty in every place. And, strange as it might sound, some of my favorite and most beautiful places are not usually considered "beautiful" or even "decent." For instance, I love South Dakota. Not the famous parts, either. I've never been to Mount Rushmore.

So I was in Indiana for about 8 days and everywhere I went, I looked. And everywhere I looked, I loved. Indiana is unlike every other place I have been. Most places are. It is a strange combination of flat, rolling hills, much like South Dakota. And it is lush with trees, like my home state Washington. It gets really hot and really cold, like Illinois. But it was different. And it was beautiful.

Reflection #2. There is only one cat in the whole world that I don't hate, and it lives in Frankfort, IN.

Reflection #3. This is the sunset I saw immediately entering IN.

That was my spring break. A beautiful landscape, a beautiful friend. There were several trips to Goodwill and mountains of movies and lots of morning coffee.

Then I came back to school. I returned to Illinois on Saturday afternoon, had the night to myself, spent the majority of yesterday in more sweet solitude, and then classes started up again today. I went to all of them. I did my homework. (except for that paper looming over my head...) And tonight I had play practice.

I was walking over to the chapel with a friend, and somehow we got on the topic of being mysterious. I was trying to convince her that she was more of an enigma than she thought.

"Not nearly as much as you!" she said.
"What?" I asked.
"I'm not nearly as mysterious as you. You're like an iceberg."
"An iceberg?" By this time, I was close to feeling insulted.
"There's more of you under the surface than you're willing to admit. You've got a poetic soul. You're more of an enigma than me." She said all this with a sly smile.

This conversation also deserves some reflection. It's been a few years since anyone said I was enigmatic or mysterious. I've certainly never been called an iceberg before. A little strange, unexpected, but perhaps just the necessary conversation to pull together my disaster of a week.

Reflection #1. I don't think I am mysterious. Or an enigma. I am a highly expressive person. I have learned how to express myself with words or music, with paint on my clothes and charcoal on my palms, clay under my nails, or pinpricks on my fingertips.

Reflection #2. Despite Reflection #1, I am still, apparently, mysterious. I admit that I have secrets. They are not necessarily bad secrets, but I don't write them on my clothes for strangers to see. My secrets are pulled delicately out of taped up boxes and shown to those who have similar containers of similar stories. I express myself. I tell my story. I do, I do!

Reflection #3. If I express myself but I am still an enigma, perhaps I do not express myself enough. Perhaps my story is wound too tightly in an intangible poem or an obscure pastel drawing.

Reflection #4. Most of my expressions are retellings of past experiences.

Reflection #5. Maybe the mystery I struggle with is not that I do not express myself. Maybe I express too much of the person I was, and not enough of the person I have become. That's who people want to know, right? People want to know who I am. The person I was is connect to the present, of course. The person I was is an important part of the story. But I don't usually finish the story. I don't usually say, "This is where I'm at now."

So I'm an iceberg. I don't say as much as I think I do. I guess that much is obvious. But I'm going to need a reason to reveal all that stuff under the water. Anyone up for a swim?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a vision too removed to mention

When I first started this blog a couple months ago I made a list in my orange notebook full of graph paper. This list was made of several tiny lists, all categories of things you lose and things you find and how that might possibly relate to real life somehow. I wanted something that people could relate to, things that happen every day. Because, like I said in the very beginning, there are some losses too large to share with the whole world, some finds that not everyone even seeks. So we start with the small losses and the seemingly insignificant discoveries and go from there. From that list there is one story that I've been *dying* to tell. So, here I go.

I will begin by reminding you all that everyone has bad days, and consequently reminding you that we shouldn't need a reminder for that sort of thing. But it's true. Don't you forget it. Everyone has bad days. One day you wake up and you can't find your keys, you spill coffee on your new pants which you sacrificed $30 for in order to please your boss who said just yesterday, "You could try to look more professional," and when you get to work there is an angry customer on the phone, the printer is out of ink and you realize that you didn't pack a lunch so you have to drive to McDonald's while you're out buying more printer cartridges and the greasy food makes you feel queasy for the rest of the day and then you go home and you DIE.

At least, you want to die. Now, imagine that same scenario... but from a fourth grader's paradigm. This is where my story comes in.

In fourth grade, I still had very few friends. At least, in my mind I had very few friends. And they were mostly boys. Girls didn't think I was pretty, cute, or cool and so they didn't want to play with me. When I tried to play with them they put their hands on their scrawny mini-skirted hips and declared that I wasn't invited to play the game. (Which, by 4th grade, was definitely something involving Pokemon or *NSYNC.) Instead, I spent recess with Jake and Chris and we pretended we were aboard the sinking Titanic.

One weekend I decided to make the game more fun. I made badges for everyone in the 'Titanic' group. I spent all weekend drawing them and cutting them out, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to put magnets on the back. I had a badge for Jake, first captain, and me, the second captain. There was a badge for every member of the band and the toilet cleaner--at 10 years old I thought this was hilarious.

Monday came, and I got them all ready in a little plastic bag and stuffed them in my backpack. I was especially excited for school today, so I put in a new pair of earrings. For Christmas my Aunt Jan had given me three pairs of gem stone earrings. There was a clear pair, a purple pair, and a blue pair. The blue ones were the biggest and at this time blue was still my favorite color so I put them in and walked down to the bus stop with a smile on my face. Today will be a good day, I decided.

Now, I should mention that along with not having eight-billion friends I was also still a tom boy. I didn't always look the part of a tom boy, considering I wore skirts and dresses to school every day until 1st grade when a boy said he could see my panties while I was on the monkey bars. But by fourth grade I was well into the sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes phase. Wearing earrings was a big deal for me. I hoped, quietly and nervously, that maybe one of the cool girls in my class would notice the earrings and comment on them.

When I got to school I showed the Titanic badges to Jake, but he didn't seem that interested. He said, "Oh, those are neat! Why are there magnets on the back?" We didn't talk about it again until first recess. I brought the badges out with me and we tried to hold them up to our chests proudly as the Titanic sank into the playground, but fifteen minutes later when the bell rang at least half the badges had disappeared into the murky depths of the wood chip ocean.

At the next recess, Jake got sick and couldn't come outside. He was highly allergic to peanuts and even the slightest whiff of it could kill him. So I played by myself, mostly. I tried joining in on a Pokemon game, but I only knew one character--Pikachu--and Kylee said there were already three Pikachus. She glared at me and told me that I couldn't play with them.

So I entertained myself at the jungle gym. I had mastered the skill in 2nd grade, resulting in blistered hands for months, but by that time my palms were callused and strong. Standing in line for the monkey bars, a boy named John came up next to me. John was an autistic boy that had been in my class every year, joining us for art lessons and other things. As John approached so did another boy, Ryan. I smiled at John and said hello, but Ryan was not under the impression that I was being nice.

"Don't make fun of him!" Ryan shouted at me, scowling angrily. This was confusing to me because Ryan was also in my class, and knew that John and I were friends.

"John's been in our class since 2nd grade!" I exclaimed.

"Well, he's my friend," Ryan said.

It was then my turn on the monkey bars so I swung across. When I dropped down I hit my ear with my arm, and felt one of my earrings fall out. I frantically began looking around for it just as the bell rang. Still in shock from Ryan's harsh words and with the now urgent need to find my earring, tears sprung to my eyes. The bell stopped ringing and everyone was rushing inside and the teacher on recess duty was calling, "Come inside, little girl!" and I had to obey.

At the end of the day when I came home I thought that no one was there. My brothers and my dad usually got home about half an hour after me so I went and sat down on the couch. And I cried. I cried like I had just lost a pet. I cried about my entire horrible day and how I had expected to be so good and it wasn't at all.

And then my brother Jon came downstairs. He was very concerned in his eighteen-year-old way and wanted to know why I was crying. It took a couple tries before I admitted with embarrassment that I had lost an earring. I don't remember if I told him about the rest of my awful day, but regardless, he sat down on the couch and gave me a big hug. He laughed at me a little, but he definitely made me feel better.

And that is where the finding comes in. I didn't actually lose a lot that day. I lost a bit of my pride when the badges were lame. I lost more of my pride when Kylee told me for the billionth time that I couldn't play with her. According to Ryan I had lost a friend. And I lost an earring. I had lost the chance to look pretty, to be girly, to be wanted and accepted.

But then I came home and was wanted and accepted by my own family. As stupid and mushy as that sounds... I have a point.

You're going to have a bad day. I don't care if you're 10 or 21, you're going to have a bad day. You will spill, crush, stumble, and lose. But hopefully there will be someone to pick you up, dust you off and tell you that there are better days to come. Whoever hurt you today was obviously acting out of their own hurt and frustration. They had a bad day, they gave you a bad day, but don't go spreading it around.

Just start over. Tell your bad day to get lost and go find a good tomorrow.

--Sidenote. I lose earrings ALL THE TIME. Still. More than ten years later. It still makes me upset. The end.