Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Majoring in Jealousy

It is the end of September, and there is nowhere on the planet I would rather be than a college campus somewhere in the continental United States.
I have been enamored with the pomp and dignity of college since I was old enough to appreciate my father's affinity for Dartmouth green. There was an undeniable pride and a claim laid on that simple color, and I knew it carried more than aesthetic preference. Our cars, and his polo shirts, were not that noble forest green for naught: it represented frigid winter walks to class, successes, failures, and a shared experience with his father, brother, and thousands of other alumni who had ever played frisbee on the Big Green, or eaten at Thayer Hall.


I always knew I was going to go to college, someday, and wanted it to be somewhere far away where I could settle into that storybook place of stoic libraries, leafy walkways, and brick history.


I understood from an early age the magic and privilege of a college education- that it separated you from other people in a subtle way- and that the four years of a person's undergraduate study tends to be remembered with a wistful look in the eye and always the trace of a youthful smile, if not a blatant grin.

I expected a lot from college. I wanted to revel in block letter sweatshirts, in frosty air at football games, in late night study sessions with friends, in rivalries. I wanted to learn and learn and learn. I wanted to become a lady. I wanted to find a College Boyfriend, and wear his block letter sweatshirts, and walk hand in hand to the dining hall, to brilliant guest speakers in sloping lecture halls, to grow up.
I expected prestige, and the impressed look of recognition my future employers and friends would have when I humbly stated my alma mater. I expected competition, and success, and rich textbooks that would sit in my garage for decades after graduation, that I would fondly thumb through when it was time to pack up and move, which I could not bear to part with.


I will not go into my disappointments (namely that I wanted more than anything to attend a noble institute of higher learning out of this great state of Oregon) but want to express that my jealousy of students who got to attend the unversities and colleges of my dreams faded when I had four brilliant years of my own at the perfectly reputable University of Oregon, and now is churning into a new kind of envy: anyone who still gets to walk to class over the crunch of autumn leaves. Anyone who lives in a big old house with friends, and who has the absolute privilege of exploring the works and theories of the world's greatest geniuses for nothing more than the act of learning and processing it; anyone who will get to celebrate passing a test with a pint of beer at the campus bar. Anyone who gets to take advantage of the safe haven of youth, and revel in irresponsibility and privilege... may the good Lord above strike you dead if you take it for granted.

I was struck most heavily by this while studying abroad last year: that there is not a single demographic of people I know of who are more luxuriously cared for and privileged than American college students. We travel and live in relative squalor of other cultures and countries for FUN. We go into debt, or our parents do, to pay for us to live at a glorified summer camp for FOUR YEARS (though it's usually five these days). We are the lucky ones.

My younger brother is a senior in high school somehow, and is starting to look at where he will go spend these highly formative and important next four years. The best part? I can tell he's actually getting a little excited about it, a little invested in it.

So here's to you, College. Here's to being spoiled, and pompous, and self-important, and young, and full of potential, and smart. May we never, really, graduate.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Sneak Peek into the Cellar...

I won't explain fully, yet, but here is a preview of my next solo adventure:

Hairline Fracture 1







This is an experiment with the fluidity of natural lines, and the joy of organic composition.
(In other words, it's my hair. Call me crazy, but I think these could make excellent prints).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Run

I always loved how many definitions follow the word "run" in the dictionary. It is a testament to the ability of the human brain, and the magic of words, that we ever understand "run" at all.

A few manifestations of "run" in my own life:

I have a manager who literally runs around the office. You can hear him coming, which is great, because the other two managers sneak up on you, and all of a sudden, they know you like flat black boots from Nordstrom, read wedding planning blogs religiously, and that you chat with your best friends on Gmail pretty much all the live long day. But not Jagadees. He kind of goes sprinting off between the aisles of cubicles haphazardly, and not in great form either. He is noisy because the tops of his feet drag, and I think he sometimes runs into corners. It is one of the few joys of my day, and I hope he never slows down. He also just got a haircut, and it looks like someone sharpened his head with an Exacto knife, the way we used to do it in art class: all angular and uneven.

"Run" by the electronic band Air is one of the sexiest songs ever. I have not been able to listen to it since the split as it recalls the sensation of a smile, of candle smoke, of "stay like this," and of snow.

Last night, I plotted my escape. Again. I don't know if I am actually going to run away anywhere, or what it would solve, but I think I am finally understanding the nature of a "late rebellious streak." People rebel and push against norms when they feel trapped, suffocated, bored, and unchallenged. Check. Check. Check. Check.
Plus, watching Anthony Bourdain galavanting around Uruguay on his fantastic show "No Reservations" only increased my need for travel.

Is it travel? Or is it living in another place that I want? I think the latter. One can always make the argument that once you live there, wherever that may be, then it's just like anywhere. Yeah, you try living in a suburb of Portland and then living in an apartment in Paris and then tell me it's the same. Or with your friends in Hawaii. Maybe it is, I don't know yet. I think I like the idea of being somewhere where you make your own norms.
I'm not pulling that "oh, society is restricting me!" bullshit, but, there are neighborhoods and environments that are more conducive to learning and growing than others. I would like to find one, and carefully plot a move, as I won't allow myself to run there.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Care About Imaginary People

I wonder if you know how important the people in your life became to me. Not important in the sense that I revere and love them, but important to my daily musings and activities. These people are inexplicably linked to my preferences and opinions.
It is frightening, as I've never met them, which maybe explains my fascination with these characters you have illustrated for me.

I think this is creepy. I don't think you operate like this. I wish that I didn't- that I did not care and that I could separate myself, if not from you, but from all these other forces in your life that should not have any impact on my own. I should not CARE what your best girl friends are wearing or listening to or driving, and I should definitely not compare my own tastes to theirs.
Primarily and most importantly because I do not know them, and then because they have all let you down at one point or another, and I have not.
They should be measuring themselves against me, if anything.
But then, there should be no measuring at all, because, like I said: it's creepy.
It's like I can't get it in my head that this time, these months, are an opportunity to think about myself. It's become a futile task and that is so disheartening.

I think it's something that people strive for- to put others first, and to love and care for other people and to sacrifice your own wants and desires to help and support others... but good God, there is a limit! There is a difference between selfish and self-interested and I need to cultivate the latter immediately. It was a characteristic and a skill I used to possess instinctively and I think I lost it somewhere along the line of relationships I empty myself into.

Maybe instead of trying something new every day, I should try to do something for MYSELF every day.
On Saturday, I tried to sneak into the student section at the football game for myself, and ended up not only pissing off the security guard, but actually hurting her feelings. You have no idea what this was like. When I did succeed in sneaking past her, I watched the first half of the game in a drunk panic, with two sweatshirts draped over my head as a disguise. I even made The Good Bitch switch sunglasses with me, lest the security guard (who lamented that she was ONLY working this job because her husband decided to have an affair and she was just trying to keep her kids, dammit, and would I please just have fun, but stay out of trouble and her way) recognize me, divulge her ENTIRE life story, and arrest me, in that order. See what happens when I try to do something for myself?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Habitat for My Sanity

Volunteering certainly has it perks. I know the point is to do it for the benefit of other people, but sometimes it can work out beneficially for everyone.
For instance: our office was supposed to come in and work on Saturday, but because I had signed up weeks and weeks ago to do a Habitat for Humanity build that day, I was excused. (I also pointed out that I might be more hindrance than help if I were to come in to work on this project that I don't actually know anything about).

Past volunteer experiences of mine have generally been coupled with some greater cause or notion (i.e. Jesus) or have been compulsory for my involvement in an organization (the National Honor Society, my sorority) and have always been an activity I shared with at least one other friend. I have never just up and decided to volunteer simply for the reason that I am willing, and able.

Notable volunteering opportunities that I remember, despite me doing them for credit:

-KLOV radio station "Hunger 2 Hope Telathon." The station set up a dozen phones in our youth group room, and I signed up for a few hours to come in and answer phones. I was really surprised by some of the conversations I had with people. One woman spoke in a hurried whisper, because she didn't want her husband to know she was calling and wanted to donate $10.

- Oregon Ballet something something. Melanie and I manned the merch table at The Nutcracker, I think.

- Sorority 5-K run/walk for EC Cares. I generally didn't run, or walk, but cheered people on from street corners with poorly painted signs.

- Sorority golf tournament for WomenSpace: I had to caddy for my dad the day after the only fist-fight I've ever been in. The bald spot where the bitch had stolen some hair from my skull ached all day. I was also livid at everyone who got to have fun, and ride around wasted on the golf carts, crashing into trees and harassing the beercart lady.

- 30 Hour Famine. I did this one twice, and was terrible at raising money for it, so I don't think it counts as a philanthropic effort, either. The first time I did it as a high schooler, and the second time I was also in high school, but was working with the middle school group. This was not fun at all, and was actually horrendously exhausting. We were not to eat anything for 30 hours, and in the midst of our hunger pains and cranky dealings with crankier middle schoolers, idly shoved boxes of food around a warehouse for a few hours. It was dusty, the boxes were heavy, and I was fucking starving. As soon as I left, I drove to the Giant Burger and got a double bacon- cheeseburger, a blackberry milkshake, and a large order of cajun fries. (Then I died and had to be resusscitated by removing large chunks of lard from my capillaries).

- Various mission trips which included putting in time at:
* A day-care/Vacation Bible School on an Indian Reservation in Montana (the memorable part of this was that we had to go around the rundown neighborhoods in the morning, knocking on people's doors to collect their children for the day. These adults, some already swaying into the doorjamb and reeking of grain alcohol, would shuffle their half-dressed, sticky children out the door into our care. At the end of the day, after dealing with some kids who kicked, spit, bit, escaped, cried, and sulked, we walked them home. Sometimes, this would take hours, as some of this children were too young to know how to get home). For those of us who were not built for such emotional trauma, we could paint dilapidated houses around town.

* An orphanage in Ensenada, Mexico. I really bonded with a little guy, until someone told me it was the cook's son. I felt cheated.

* An overnight camp for the residents of that same orphanage, two years later, in Ensenada. We basically continued construction on the camp, and got to act as camp counselors. On a day-trip to the beach, our old bus careened around the cliffside on a windy stretch of road. One of the orphanage workers pointed out the valley on our right, separated from us only by blue Mexican sky. Blanketing the bottom of the valley hundreds of feet below us were the remnants of rusted cars that had gone flying around these roads, and had hurtled to certain death in drunken, fiery blazes and high-impact crashes. We rode in stupified silence, wondering if for every upside down car in that valley was one corresponding child at the orphanage.

* Habitat for Humanity in Oakland, California. Not only did we have to worry about construction materials falling on us, we were concerned about getting shot. I somehow contracted strep throat, was prescribed Vicodin, still primed/painted the ceilings of a house all day long, and ended up picking paint flecks out of my scalp for two weeks.

The Habitat for Humanity experience couldn't have been all bad, as I signed up to work with them this last weekend. This time, there was no credit, no greater purpose that was spoken of. The work spoke for itself, as a dozen women shingled, put up siding, and installed skylights on a home for a single mother with three little boys. The best part is that it's a Women Build- meaning that only women have built this house (other than contracting for the foundation, and specialty electrical stuff). The women I met came from years of Air Force experience, mothering, wifeing, working, brokenness, boring jobs, failed careers, successful expressions of selflessness, adventure. We hammered and sawed alongside each other, and took pride in the placement of a single nail, of a centered bubble in a level.
We didn't have to talk about why we were there or who we were helping, it was clear that each woman was gaining as much from the sweat and the satisfaction of a job well done as she would have from acknowledging that she was building a safe place for another woman and her children.
It was good just to work.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My mom argued that if he'd been hot, I wouldn't have cared:

From a Gmail chat with the Dance Fighter this morning...

10:38 AM
Dance Fighter: I am watching that movie where the kids talk
me: look who's talking?
Dance Fighter: yeah! haha
me: hahaha- i want to come get in bed with you! oh, i told you i got asked out at work, right? by John?
Dance Fighter: NO!
me: omg.
Dance Fighter: Who is John
who would he look like?
10:40 AM me: oh good... let me thinkkkkk
one of those creepily thin and pale guys who you think is 22 but is really 30
i can't think of any. shoot.
i mean, he's really nice. but, he is one of the IT guys here, and we went to lunch last week, because, why not and i wanted thai food
Dance Fighter: haha
10:41 AM what did he say
did he have any game?
me: and then we fuckin get back here, and our cubes are near each other and he comes over and says, in a low voice, "hey uh, _____? can i talk to you in the hall for a sec?"
and i wanted to throw up
Dance Fighter: oh, GROSS
me: so we get out in the hall and i look at him bitchily like, get on with it. and he says in that low, serious voice again, "would you want to go out sometime?”
10:42 AM Dance Fighter: this is the best
this is like better than the office

Dance Fighter: or maybe that is because there are still two more weeks until the office starts

me: at which point i squinched up my face and alluded to my recent traumatic and devastating breakup, and also mentioned how uncomfortable i am with us being at work together
oh, it gets better
me: so THEN we come back inside, and then i get an email on monday or something that is apologizing profusely for his actions
Dance Fighter: oh no
you need to secretly snap photos of these people
me: i say, basically, "yes, it did make me uncomfortable, and yes it was totally off base. don't do it again, apology accepted."
10:44 AM Dance Fighter: omg you like owned him
me: so THEN YESTERDAY he came up to my desk AGAIN and wanted to go out in the hall and talk
Dance Fighter: DOn't do it again!
me: and i was ssoooo ruude
i was like, "uh, i'm kind of busy?"
Dance Fighter: oh what did he talk about?
me: he apologized, again!
Dance Fighter: wow
he really likes you
me: and i was so short with him, i was like, "seriously. you are making this really awkward. don't bring it up again. ever."
10:45 AM Dance Fighter: omg
haha
me: he was like, "so you aren't going to like, quit your job over this?" and i almost snapped, but i did say, "if i quit my job it would be for a plethora of other reasons, NAMELY THAT I HATE IT"
so i told him to drop it, and then strutted back into the office.
THEN
10:46 AM Dance Fighter: he wanted you to quit your job so he can frequently ask you out
me: hahahaha
Dance Fighter: THEN?!
me: he came up to my desk AGAIN
and wanted to talk in the motherfucking hall, AGAIN
Dance Fighter: WHAT WHY
this is bordering harassment
me: and i said, literally, "John. i swear to God..." and he goes " no no it's about something else"
10:47 AM Dance Fighter: this is so so funny
me: and he wanted to get flowers for some secretary who was sick and wanted it to be a surprise and didn't know where to order flowers because he just moved here from ohio
and i was like, fucking email me!
Dance Fighter: oh he is SOOOO LONELY!
me: yeah well so am i! i just text my ex like every other normal person!
Dance Fighter: umm, _____, can we talk in the hall?
10:49 AM me: i will throw up on your face if you say that to me in person
even before he asked me out he gave me the willies. like, just his voice, poor guy.
Dance Fighter: I probably will
me: i shudder
Dance Fighter: hahahah
10:50 AM John, I SWEAR TO GOD
me: yeah laugh it up.
i seriously do want to quit
haha

Also, I don't know WHAT they think I do around here all day... I told them this morning I had No.THING. to work on today and they said they'd find something... that was HOURS ago. If they come over here and I'm blogging, it's not my fault, man.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Plot to Save My Life

The way I see it, today, is that I have three options:
Rotting in this cubicle is not one of them.
(You can tell this job sucks as 2 posts now have been in outline format).

1. Take a few months in Hawaii to figure out what my next move is.


Pros:
a. It's freakin' Hawaii.
b. I get to delay important decisions until later.
c. I have a free place to stay, with people who will be constructive
and beneficial to me at this time of my life.

Cons:
a. I will not be making much money, and I just bought a car that needs some
payment attention.
b. I sunburn easily.
c. This might not help me feel any more fulfilled or excited about tackling
life in the real world.

2. Take a few months to volunteer in a part of the world I have never been to (i.e. there is a great opportunity in India to work with women who have left prostitution behind to pursue a safer livelihood).


Pros:
a. By helping people, I take the focus off of me.
b. I get to delay important decisions until later- they may also seem
less important by the time I have to make them.
c. I think I could benefit from being in a totally different
environment. (So like last summer in Morocco, take II. With no boy
to email every day and run home to.
d. I really want to go to India.

Cons:
a. Expensive.
b. By helping people, I take the focus off of me. I am not willing to
accept that I am such a loving person I can't take care of my own ideas
and goals and feelings and future.

3. Find a more suitable job here in Portland, get my own place, deal with it.



Pros:
a. I face reality.
b. I am responsible.
c. I get to pay off my car.
d. I get to live alone.

Cons:
a. I face reality.
b. I am responsible.
c. I get to pay off my car.
d. I get to live alone.



(Photo Credits: All images from Flickr- users Kaldon, EB Sylvester, Meredith Farmer)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Expensive Ways to Stay Distracted

I have some news.

I have actually been BUSY at work. I got the nerve to ask for more stuff to do, and they said, "Yup. Here's a ton of stuff."
It's better for my sanity to delete tab stops out of training documents all day than it is to stalk people on Facebook. Who would have thought? Huh.

Other news:

1. The Redhead and I do MusicFestNW, success ensued.

a. If you have not seen Ratatat live, your life is not as rad or sweaty as it could be.

b. When a man in an ice cream truck gives you a free ice cream sandwich before you see the band Battles, eat it. Num num num.

c. If you're going to see The Blakes
i. Don't get there late or you'll miss your favorite song.
ii. Don't expect the lead singer to have a sweat gland deficiency. He doesn't. He will shake your hand and you will wish he hadn't.

d. Minor failing: If you are trying to go to TV on the Radio with The Redhead, you should make sure that the guy she recently made out with and her long-time-lovaaah are not also planning on going. This will make you miss the show in an effort to avoid them both.

2. I got to go exploring on Saturday in SE Portland at the Stars and Splendid antique mall. They were having a delightful sale and I acquired a lot of fun old pieces that gleam of quirk and charm.
They'll be new again soon, when I infuse a little of me into them. And then Ima sell 'em. Becaaaaause....

3. I definitely got a new car. Her name is Dixie, and we've been bonding. She must have recently been cast off by someone who maybe didn't love her like she loved, or maybe she's a sassy bitch who left of her own accord, so either way, we're getting to know each other. Dixie's interests: keeping her nose clean, gold, zipping, loud music, knowing all the names of all the songs on the radio, letting people put things in her big-ass trunk.

4. The Dance Fighter and I had lunch.. I think we thought if we both ate enough Mexican food we could drown ourselves in a sorrowful black bean catastrophe and not have to stick around for the depressing dessert course that is the next phase of our lives (who likes Mexican dessert anyway? Fried ice cream is the shittiest excuse for a dessert ever). Basically, I'm not the only one having trouble with the men-folk these days. (Yes, I named you. It's perfect because you're such a fighter, and you've got this gleeful dancing spirit to you... that is also sometimes expressed in the artful form of Dance Fighting).

Recent New Things for the Day include:
- Playing in a co-ed softball league double-header game on Friday.

- Seeing The Blakes, Ratatat, Menomena, Battles, The Mommyheads, Langhorne Slim, and Fleet Foxes (I actually may have seen FF at Sasquatch this past year... but I was so full of bad gyro, good love, and great company that I may have been distracted. Also, booze).

-What else do you want from me? I bought my first car!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

_____ is.... (fill in the blank)

On Facebook you can update your status so that everyone in the free world knows what you're up to/thinking/hating/missing/loving. It is the modern day equivalent of the AOL Instant Messenger "Away Message," the medium by which one could always know the emotional state of their peers when I was in middle and high school.

I think I went like, a year and a half before even accessing this particular function of Facebook, because I didn't like people knowing my business, or being passive-aggressive and dramatic about sending a vague message to someone with a poignant song lyric or some airy statement about how mad I am. I also don't like thinking I'm a person who needs that kind of public validation.

Well guess what. I'm blogging, and additionally, I am smitten with the Facebook Status thing now. We all need a little validation.
But I still run into moments when I gotta restrain myself, you know? It is tempting to want to tell everyone at your university (plus your elementary school buddies, your distant cousins, your parents' friends who decided they needed to see what that FB business was all about, kids who were in your cabin at camp, ex-co-workers and high school best friends) EXACTLY what kind of UNIQUE PAIN you are experiencing, through the medium of that perfect song lyric or coy Marilyn Monroe quote (you know, the one about the wise woman leaving before she is left) but there is a line that can be crossed. It is embarassing to cross it. And I will not do it.

People get talked about for putting up shit like,
"Becky Smith... didn't know this would hurt so much :("
"Jane Wallace... is slow dancing in a burning room"
"David Wu... won't ever be understood by anyone."


Mostly because for the rest of the day a flurry of concerned messages lets you know just how melodramatic you were being: "What are you so mad about?" "What did he do this time?" "Did that happen to you..? Or is that a Coldplay song?"

So I'll do it here, because I think I know the only person who reads this (it's better that way). If I were shameless, or drunk and unconcerned, my Facebook status today would read:

"______ is really fucking furious."
"_______ wants the last year of her life back."
"_______ would kick you in the face if you were in the same state."
"_______ doesn't understand and probably never will."
"_______ is at a therapy appointment, which her own mother recommended she attend."
"_______ doesn't know how to do this and would like to take the day off with a handle of 151 and sit by a body of water somewhere, forgetting."

I feel better already.

New Things I've Done In The Last Week:
- Spent $170 on a pair of jeans last night. Oops. (Whatever, if you could buy sex, and wear it, it would be these jeans).

- Worked at the Bumbershoot music festival all weekend and saw the following bands live for the first time: !!!, Band of Horses, The Black Keys, Ingrid Michaelson, T.I., Estelle

-Finally went and supported Justin Klump at the Aladdin last night. I am so excited for him and proud of how far he's come, and the passion with which he's pursuing his dream. Mostly, I'm impressed he has a dream.

- Left work early and went to a job interview. (!)

I saw some old friends at the show last night who invited me to escape this quarter-life-crisis (thx John Mayer) at their place in Hawaii for as long as it takes to clear my head.
"_________ is totally considering running away to Hawaii."