Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We are heading back to my alma mater tonight for a few days, which is great because I sure do need a break from all the long hours and leaking shoes. I haven't been back in nearly 11 years, and it is funny to be planning to be a tourist in a place I take so for granted. As though it isn't where I learned how to learn how to be a person.

There's a gift in those years, one that I was too eager to leave behind because as fast as possible is for a while the only way we know how to run. But for a while everything was still and time stretched forever and in hindsight I'm pretty sure that all we ever did was laugh and write poetry. (To be fair, that's essentially all we do now as well.) All of which is to say that I am very much looking forward to seeing my friends, and my old town, and eating a Cuban sandwich, and introducing this girl now to that girl then.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A few weeks ago I started folding origami hearts for Valentine's Day with no real purpose in mind, figuring that once I folded enough a plan for what to do with them would show up. In a way I suppose this was a devotional act--I was making them to transform some moment for one person somehow--but mostly I was just folding. If we try a little most of our motions are devotional anyway. It's one of the best parts of getting to be people.

My friend passed away this weekend, and I am feeling a familiar jumble of things. It is sad that she is gone at the same time that it is a relief that she is free of so much pain. It is sad that she has left behind a family and would have been sadder if she hadn't. She died a month before her party, and this is perhaps the thing that is sticking with me the most--how often she asked everyone to dance with her, how completely she defied her disease and all that it tried to take from her. I've been thinking about a lunch, just before we knew for sure that she was sick, sitting on some steps in the sun.  She was on a cleanse, eating nothing with flavor, but all she wanted to talk about was things that would make us laugh.

She's been on my mind a lot the last few months and I though about her now and again while I was making all of those hearts. It was a gesture she would have approved of, going forward with more love than plan. It is just one more way of thinking that we had in common.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It feels like I tend to tally up our pluses and minuses more in January, as though I am using it to predict the year. One impending marriage, one impending baby. One new case of brain cancer. A city swept by the football madness and just adorable amounts of enthusiasm. Compared to Januaries past we are certainly on the plus side, or maybe it only feels that way because my own pluses are more than my minuses. Either way I will take it.

Last week I read a story about a plan to bring more dietary iron to a community suffering from iron deficiency. Giving the world a cast-iron skillet would be the obvious solution, but one that is prohibitively expensive. Adding a small block of iron to a cooking pot would be cheaper and easier but, when given a small block of iron, the village women found them to be rather more useful as doorstops.

But it turned out that there was a fish in town that stood for good luck. And if you turn a block of iron into good luck, people are more likely to cook with it and eat up all that luck. No matter where you go something is lucky, and of all the ways to make everyone healthier I do not think that a little bit of luck in your soup is the worst way.

I suppose we could create our own luck, but it seems like a better idea to make it for someone else, given the option. If we need a motto for January to make one for the year, it seems to me like that's the one to use.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Hello, 2014.

When you got here I was in a room filled with people that I like, waiting for fireworks from a Space Needle too fogged in for them to get out. We retreated back to the television to see if the fireworks were there, but it turned out that even from the Space Needle you couldn't really see the Space Needle fireworks. Score one for the fog. But as always fireworks are just a bonus for events with friends and champagne and kissing at midnight, and I wouldn't trade the fun for fireworks. Probably.

This morning I walked to work on sidewalks just caked with streamers and confetti, shining in the gray from empty champagne bottles with their tops snapped off. I'm sure it will all get smushed together into brown soon enough, but I appreciated how bright everything had remained through a night and a day and a night.

I'm not usually one for resolutions, but I appreciate that my horoscope for the moment says this:
I predict that you will commit no major acts of self-sabotage in 2014. Congrats! I also foresee that you will be exceptionally careful not to hurt or damage yourself. Hooray! More good news: You won't be as critical of yourself as you have sometimes been in the past. The judgmental little voice in the back of your head won't be nearly as active. Yay! Even your negative emotions will diminish in frequency and intensity. Hallelujah! Whoopee! Abracadabra!
All of which sounds just fine to me. Let's go with that, 2014. If we work together, we just might get there.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, I have had a nice time being friends with you.

I moved this year, for the first time in 10 years, in with my nice boyfriend. I changed jobs for the first time in almost as many years. After a few years of revolutions like growing new skin from knives and glitter it has been a nice change to move forward instead of just away. I wandered a little, to Hawaii and Asheville and twice to New York, back to magic Orcas. I met babies and celebrated engagements and learned how to make flatbread.

We lost my nan this year, unexpectedly, and while we are no stranger to loss in these woods it's a unique experience to lose someone who has been gone for so long. Still, as we go along we find ourselves riddled with empty places, pocked with holes, and that's never any easier to accept. Even when we grow back around what is gone.

Mostly you were quiet, 2013, a nice year for breathing and thinking and laughing. I think of Jane Kenyon's "Happiness":
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone. 
Or, I suppose, the most important part, like this line from Mindy Nettifee, "One look from you and my spine reincarnates as kite string." I think you're pretty alright, 2013.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

I read Cry, the Beloved Country around the same time most people do--maybe 9th, 10th grade. In Wuthering Heights Catherine Earnshaw says, "I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind." At some point I adopted that as the best way of explaining the books that come to you just when you need them and forever alter the alignment of your brain, and Cry, the Beloved Country was just that kind. It was the first time I had heard of apartheid and it came to me as I was starting to realize for myself the startling breadth of injustice and hurt in the world. And so it was subsequently because of Alan Paton that I read about Nelson Mandela and started thinking deeply about the startling breadth of kindness and light that is also possible in the world. This is the side that I have tried to fall on ever since, and part of what led me to this life as a public servant.

I spend a lot more time thinking about South Africa these days than one would think, but I work in HIV prevention research and that is one of our battlefronts. It's one of those funny through lines that happen in life all the time, how I spend half of my days thinking about this place that was so abstract to me as a young teenager but still, for a while, a place that I spent half my time thinking about. Like wine through water.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tomorrow is my favorite holiday, and while I can sometimes get a little Proustian in the long-winded the thing right now is to get Proustian in this way: "Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."

Just now, nothing could be better than this.