Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beautiful Ruins

I started this book on the coast of somewhere beautiful. Laying on a beach staring off into the crystal clear aquamarine water off the coast of Cancun Mexico. My sun-tanned toes glistening in the sun, flip-flops forgotten by the lounge chair. I was excited about the prospect of visiting the Cinque Terre myself (my planned 40th birthday adventure --start planning all those who are interested :)  You have nine more years). I read a few pages at home in Seattle, cuddled on the couch under a blanket, the occasional ray of sunshine coming through the sliding-glass door of my apartment living room. I finished the book on a shaded park bench at the entrance to a canyon in Utah, gazing into the blue-green waters of the dam, staring at the clear blue sky above me, and pondering all the places my life has been; My flip-flops keeping my feet company as the geese meander around in the lush green grass bathed in sunshine.  I never thought that I'd make it to the glitzy shores of the Cancun paradise. It seemed a place out of reach for a long time in my life. And for a long time, I never thought I'd make it back here. Back to a place where I could see myself returning- to the place I left to become myself in a time that is at once so long ago, and a blink away from yesterday. The person I was when I left is not the person I'm returning as. Am I ready to turn the page to this next chapter of my life? I finally think that I am. I've contemplated it for a long time --whether I was strong and secure enough in who I am to return to a place that is so different from a world that I've come to love. I spent a short time today driving through the college campus that consumes so many of my memories from this place. So much of my foundation spring-board into life. And it too has changed. Buildings are new, buildings have changed, and some are just gone. But my memories remain unfiltered by the shadow of time. And what a metaphor that was for me today.

There would seem to be nothing more obvious, more tangible and palpable than the present moment. And yet it eludes us completely. All the sadness of life lies in that fact. 
--Milan Kundera (as quoted in Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter)

My next few tangible present moments are going to be hard. There's going to be tears and smiles, laughter and silence. And isn't that the way it should be? Isn't any situation worth living in deserving of wistful tears of sadness and farewell when it comes to an end? All situations come to an end, you know. For better or for worse. Nothing is permanent and fixed. Such a beautiful fact of life. If it wasn't so, what a dull boring existence we'd have. No room for growth or failure. No room for experiences, love, loss, and learning. It's a strange thing to feel so significant a chapter coming to a close. Standing on the precipice of change; fear, trepidation, and excitement coursing through your veins as you count down to leap.

This is the stuff life is made of. And at the end I only hope I am able to reflect back on my journey and realize that I made the right decisions and marvel at all that I've seen, accomplished, and become. That's all any of us can really hope for.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Every vacation I go on there is a moment. A moment when I sit back in wonder and say to myself, "This is why I travel." There is so much culture in the world, so much beauty, and so much to experience! I'm not naive enough to think that resort life is authentic real-life culture, but its in the meeting people, talking to them, hearing their stories, smiling, laughing with them, and learning their language. It's in the food, the drink, the music, the dance. That moment that must be felt, words cannot do it justice. We are all the same. And that is why I travel.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

That Little Voice

There are just a few things that have the capacity to cripple me with instant self-doubt and loathing. That make it so hard to quiet the voice in my head. The voice that says unkind things. Walking into a salsa room in New Orleans or a merengue floor in Cancun. And it's sad because I can dance. I LOVE to dance. I am not evolved enough to dance over top of that paralyzing voice. Yet.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Believe

Today I believe:

In love.

                     In friendship.

      That being the truest version of yourself is the only way to be happy.

             In saying Yes.

                                       In hope.

That even when you work your ass off to make your dreams come true, sometimes God has a better plan.

                                                            In being selfish.

        In Books.

                                               That traveling is the best means of maintaining one's sanity.

In playing full force until you run out of money --then eating the food from the back of the freezer until payday. Lather, rinse, repeat.

                      In staying up late and going to bed early.

                                                               That life should always be full of surprises.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Today's Literary Wisdom

"That night at the Brooklyn party, I was playing the girl who was in style, the girl a man like Nick wants: the Cool Girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, don't they? She's a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games ...and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she's hosting the world's biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want...

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they're fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men --friends, coworkers, strangers-- giddy over these awful pretender women, and I'd want to sit those men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who'd like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I'd want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn't really love chili dogs that much --no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They're not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they're pretending to be the woman a man want them to be. Oh, and if you're not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn't want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version --maybe he's a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he's a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every F****** thing he likes and doesn't ever complain...

I waited patiently --years-- for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love cosmos, organize scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we'd say, Yeah, he's a Cool Guy.

But it never happened. Instead, women across the nation colluded in our degradation! Pretty soon Cool Girl became the standard girl. Men believed she existed --she wasn't just a dreamgirl one in a million. Every girl was supposed to be this girl, and if you weren't then there was something wrong with you.

But it's tempting to be Cool Girl. For someone like me, who likes to win, it's tempting to want to be the girl every guy wants... I didn't worry about anything that came next. Nothing had consequence, I was living in the moment, and I could feel myself getting shallower and dumber. But also happy.

...But then it had to stop, because it wasn't real, it wasn't me... It all started collapsing on itself.I hated Nick for being surprised when I became me... He truly seemed astonished when I asked him to listen to me. He couldn't believe I didn't love wax-stripping myself... That I did mind when he didn't show up for drinks with my friends... Again, I don't get it: if you let a man cancel plans or decline to do things for you, you loose. You don't get what you want. It's pretty clear."

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (p. 222-225)

(Maybe this is the rant of a sociopath teetering over the line *spoiler alert* but the premise is that level of raw that can only be achieved by stark truth.)