Tag Archives: life

Sorry to Spoil it For You, but I Die in the End

the world goes on

the world goes on

Did you know that it rains almost every afternoon here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and that bear hunting season is from November through January 2nd? Did you know that these forests have gross centipedes and tons of bugs and flies and rhododendrons whose white flowers then turn a sickly gold color when they fall off?

Did you know that (some) people from the south add the prefix Miss to first names of women, so Emily becomes Miss Emily and Myra becomes Miss Myra? Well it’s true. It’s all true.

It’s hard to know what to believe sometimes, or what’s worth taking a stand on. Hard to know where the truth can be found or where you’re better off just picking an opinion and justifying it with whatever you have at hand though in the end you know it’s just your gut that tells you so.

What is young? What is old? Is there only younger and older or are old and young set in stone, or are those things you tell yourself to make sense of how you feel? How much of me is tied to my body and my ability to do things like sleep on the bus for 3 hours and then spend an entire day walking around a new city? If I can’t do that anymore, am I still me?

When is the right time to be afraid? What is there to be afraid of? Has fear ever helped me become more of the person that I want to be?

Where are the limits to my own crapabilities?

I looked out over the Blue Ridge Mountains today, over Buncombe county and I saw the rolling blue peaks and the sun rising over them and a cloudy sky that looked kind of like water. I wanted to feel at peace and to feel serene like everything was going to be okay. When I was younger, I used to be able to do that, to zoom out until I was looking down at myself from the stars and I was so tiny and everything was going to be okay because the world would go on after I was gone.

Now that I’ve gotten older, it’s harder to zoom out, to remember how fast this life will go by and how my to-do list and goals and priorities will go away just as fast as I will. As I’ve grown older, so has my sense of self-importance.

There’s so much to know, but I will only know some of it. There’s so much to see, but I will only see some of it. And the world will go on as usual.

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That’s Just Me Staring at Your Ear

Scowl_earI find myself staring at ears a lot nowadays, on the subway or when I’m standing behind people in line at Peet’s. I zone in on the ear, or the back of the neck, or the elbow of the jacket, where it’s pulled tight but I can still see some wrinkles in it from where it’d been crumpled up and left in the passenger’s seat.

I try to memorize every detail possible, or at least take them all in.

The staring started after I got interested in other people and wanted to swim into their lives and know all their stories and secrets. I’m pretty sure that makes me the opposite of a psychopath, so you don’t need to worry about my mental health, mom. Also, I’m taking vitamin B12 which improves mental function and tastes like candy.

The ear is a very personal part of the body. Only best friends and lovers know the ears of others intimately. I myself don’t know my ears very well. If you stared at one long enough, you might get to know it better than I do, and then in that one way, you would know me better than I know myself.

The same applies to certain parts of clothing – the back of a shirt or a coattail. I’m not aware, as I’m going about business as usual, how my clothing sits on me, how the wind is affecting it or what the pattern of raindrops is on my back or umbrella. Only someone else could know those things about me.

In digging into these minute observations, the boring pattern of ear hair, where a certain mole falls on the neck, or the mundane way the fabric appears to be worn at the knees and the jeans are feathering, I feel – and stay with me here – that I’m taking back control of time and adding detail to the blurs that other people can become around me.

earOften, during the past month or so, I’ve wished I could memorize every single face I see, the eyes and the nose and the skin tone and the blemishes, and that I could understand something of the story behind that face, where she had come from and where she was going, what he was thinking about and hoping, and everyone with a different story, all of them distinct but reassuring in their similarities, in the familiar concerns everyone has, the desire for good health and love, the dream of  taking time off to be with family or friends or travel the world, the fears of being alone or not living a life that’s worthwhile.

Jostling, rushing for a seat on the bus, walking past others on the streets – this is the way I have to live in a city. I’ve learned the ways to cope when there are so many people and so many heartbreaks and joys that could burst out and give me some perspective on my life. It’s self-defense, and it’s necessary.

But on the MUNI, when I’m staring at ears and dress pants, it becomes clear that there’s really nothing between me and this other human, that I could reach out and start a conversation with them and they would respond as they would respond. That’s the real fear – that there’s nothing there, no barrier, not a single thing.

We’re all in the same vehicle together with our burdens and curiosities and there’s nothing stopping us from sharing them with one another, except for everything.

And now I’ve overstepped the bounds of this article of talking about my new habit of ear-detail-gathering, and I know longing for intimate conversation on the MUNI is bizarre and would be psychotic except for those B12 vitamins I’m taking, but I guess I just want to remind myself that life is more interesting than the boundaries I create for myself.

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And You Wonder What’ll Happen to You

Got one!

Every day begins the same. The curtains open onto the morning. Waking up. Either too early or too late, the last dreamy wisps evaporating, leaving only vague recollections of my father, Colorado, and a buffet. The hot water boiler takes the same amount of time, with its impossible churning and final beep beep beep “I’m done.”

One cup of hand-brewed coffee, because Folger’s isn’t ground for the French press, and it’s either Folger’s or Ralph’s coffee crystals, which look like brown glitter and taste like a nightmare, so the Folger’s is in my cup, and yes, it’s a pretty damned good part about waking up.

And then I’m at the computer, my morning, evening, and afternoon friend, my whirring, over-heating, crashing buddy, my decrepit warehouse. My morning deletion of emails is followed by the usual wondering what to read, the nagging feeling that something better is always out there, and that my time would probably be best spent reading articles all day and learning about the world since it’s so easy to have it shrink to the size of my personal experience.

I read an article and in the back of my mind I want to be looking for jobs instead, jobs that will bring me into new social circles, to new realms of pay, to continued lack or blessed presence of health benefits, to 9-5, to an office with catered food or an office where I’ll be bringing my PB&J or something else entirely.

And then it’s Halloween again, and I’m wondering what I want to be today. What is the perfect intersection of my dreams, my skills, and the realities of living what with the mounting cost of soft serve ice cream? What is the worth of each corner of the triangle—are dreams less valuable than reality even though I think I was told I could be anything I wanted to be?

The game is different than I thought it would be. I’m not sure of the rules, how it’s won, and who’s on my team. Making a difference seems secondary to making a living.

And you wonder what’ll happen to you, when the things you thought you believed in don’t affect your actions, when there are so many opportunities for you to become either someone you wanted to be or something you never thought you would be.

It’s easy for these things to change based on your neighborhood.

Maybe I’ll go hunt unicorns in ancient Redwood forest groves, but not to capture them. I just want to speak with them, and find out how they’ve managed to stay who they are for so long.

Then I’ll trap them, and start a circus about following your dreams.

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5 Everyday Items You Can Replace with Scotch Eggs

Enough talking about them. I need to eat one.

Today, we complete the Scotch egg trilogy, part of the Miracles of British Cookery series. (parts 1 and 2 here)

For years, the Scotch egg has been used primarily as a foodstuff and a mediocre bludgeoning device. However, it is documented by science that you can also improve your pathetic life by using the Scotch egg in place of these five everyday items.

1. Easter Eggs: As the Holy day grows nearer, children are already dreaming of annihilating the chocolate bunnies hidden in their grassy Easter baskets. In order to spice up the Holy Easter Egg Hunt, fry up a couple dozen Scotch eggs and use them as an environmentally friendly option to the plastic ones. It will be an event the entire neighborhood is sure to remember. As a bonus, you will probably not be asked to organize it again.

2. Cookie Bouquets: For the same price as a three cookie bouquet delivered in a pail and gone within a day, you can make over 30 Scotch eggs. Stick them on wooden skewers and arrange them in buckets. Imagine your loved ones’ surprise when they behold the stark physical beauty of their favorite treat on a stick.

3. Faberge eggs: Instead of flaunting your wealth with a tacky symbol of capitalist wealth, consider putting a Scotch egg on display in your china case. As opposed to a Faberge egg, a well placed Scotch egg highlights the practicality, good taste, and thrift of a home instead of the wasteful excess that disgusts most visitors.

4. Meals: Scotch eggs are a natural powerfood, with each one containing roughly 500 calories. By replacing two meals a day with one Scotch egg (per meal), and eating a head of cabbage for the third you could could lose up to five pounds a week, depending on everything else. Note: this diet is not for those concerned about scurvy or other diseases caused by malnutrition.

5. School Mascots: More than a symbol reminding us of the Brits’ hardened arteries, the humble Scotch egg is also a symbol of bravery and persistence. Some unknown genius sat in a darkened room with her two favorite foods–a hardboiled egg in one hand and a sausage in the other–and knew there had to be a way to unite them. Despite being told it couldn’t be done, she achieved the impossible. Competitors and friends alike will fear the Fighting Scotch Eggs for their tenacity and tendency to achieve miracles. At halftime of every game, the school chefs can roll out a barrel of Scotch eggs onto the playing field.* Scrambling for the treats will ensue, as well as laughter, mirth, joy, and complete happiness.

*This idea originated from someone else’s mind vineyard. You know who you are.

P.S. A link to a real recipe for Scotch eggs.

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This One’s for All the Bloggers Out There

So this is what a hangover is. I don’t remember this picture being taken. Why am I putting this on the internet?

I was eating a PB&J out of tinfoil during class and thinking about blogging, as I often do. I had recently read a friend’s blog that he just started a few months ago and doesn’t update very often. Its future doesn’t look good—a few more months it will likely become another blog corpse silently occupying net space.  As I read his first tentative posts, I was reminded of my own blogging beginnings that stretch back to my senior year of high school.

It was a secret blog, called The Drevet (now deleted), and I posted a mere two times. The first one was the obligatory and awkward, “Hello world,” in which it seemed I was preparing to face all of humanity and be utterly rejected. It was the kind of introduction that set the bar so low even I couldn’t reach it. After only two months I stopped thinking about The Drevet and life moved on.

As I continued to reminisce and munch on my sandwich, I stumbled across another phase of beginnings: college. At this point, I suddenly realized the striking similarity between getting drunk for the first time and blogging for the first time.

When I first overindulged, not a moment before I turned twenty one (wink), I was fascinated with the very experience of it. “Wow,” I thought, “so this is what being drunk is like.”  It didn’t matter what came next in the evening because we were already having an awesome time through the act of inebriation itself, which was to us was inherently interesting.

In the beginning, I was also captivated by the phenomenon of blogging. The fact I could publish whatever I wanted for strangers to read and maybe enjoy was both thrilling and terrifying. And just as newbies feel awkward around alcohol, like they’re doing something taboo and exciting, I would get nervous in front of the computer screen, staring at the blank blog post box and wondering what I would say to the world. What if someone actually read it?

As a baby lush, I felt the constant need to discuss my level of sloshedness with my fellow drinkers, “I’m not drunk guys,” “Do I seem drunk?”  “I’m drunk drunk drunk drunk drunk,” etc. To everyone else this kind of blathering indicated it was time to change conversation partners. The more experienced drinkers had already found out that being drunk is not interesting or special, but to me the topic was endlessly engrossing for everyone and worth repeating dozens of time in the same night.

Similarly, in the first blog posts, I was self conscious about the fact I was blogging and tended to talk about the act itself, how it was hard to think of something to write or that I didn’t think anyone was reading it (no one was), and the end result was that I wouldn’t say anything at all and my predictions would come true. And just like a group of okay friends that get drunk at home hoping for something exciting to happen and then end up going to bed early, I wasted the potential of blogging by using it in a sarcastic and apathetic manner, only to defeat myself in the end.

Through many unfortunate nights and some unfortunate blogposts, I learned the real magic comes with a critical combination of both substance and medium: blogging and content, or alcohol and activities. But like most things, this is the kind of lesson that one must learn through their own experience, though we hope for our own sakes that newcomers learn it before anyone heads to the bathroom to vomit.

And my metaphorical vomiting days aren’t over yet. I will always be learning both how to drink better and how to blog better.

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