Monday, August 5, 2013

bits & fragments

we're in the heart of a wet mississippi summer. we've had to say goodbye to a few of our much cared-for plants that just couldn't swim. 

the crape myrtles are in full bloom and grace my dining room table shadowing the oranges. the neighbors share their tomatoes. the mint i picked from below the back steps and potted has outgrown its quarters. and the rosemary is just as content as ever to never die. i had a pear right off the tree. they are only excellent when they are crunchy.

still somehow on a school schedule, i am yet again amazed at how quickly the summer break flies by. i am relieved, for the first time, that it has done so. the work days are so much longer when the kids are at the Club all day. 

two weddings have come and passed. one, a traditional first methodist gig with chill-bump-inducing choir music, rooftop dancing, and shrimp & grits. the other, a horror movie themed union of jew and catholic in an historical musicale. both were rather elegant in their own way, and when there's cake, there's always a good time.

i had another birthday. this one came during a vacation for the first time. the beach, gourmet popsicles, lots and lots of Italian food, winning trivia, lots and lots of cake, my first cannoli, a musical review, my first chocolate martini (which was delicious and made me realize i should never waste my money on that again because white russians), and breakfast every day with family i never see.

i'm reading the cuckoo's calling by jk rowling robert galbraith. cracking the spine of the ninth book by such a master has for the ninth time, reminded me of how inadequate i feel as a writer and how eager i can be as a writer. but once more, i remind myself to be a reader.

wedding pictures are available here and here. we were tremendously blessed to have Sara Beth taking stock of each moment that day, as well as many others who gave the use of their cameras to supply more memories.

i have been home for one week, and i ache for travel again. moving around a lot lets you know that you don't need as many things as you think you do. keeps life lighter. to be able to pick up and go at a moment's notice, and you know what is of value.

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.
You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

~Cesare Pavese~ 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

the trade

it is no surprise to those who know me well or to those who may have caught a previous post that i like to express my current frustrations with the global system in which we find ourselves a part. since those sentiments have been written here more than once, i will refrain from them in this post, as there is another reason for these words today.

in my confusion and concerns for how i am to find my place in this world without taking part in the systems that exploit other humans in the form of child labor or slavery, i recognize that it is very hard. it is seemingly impossible. how do i avoid cheap clothes and necessary food items even though i know that someone somewhere could have been abused for it? many times i can't. or i don't. the argument, as i said, is not the point of this post, but the argument is what leads me to the point. just because avoiding is hard to do does not mean it's not worth the try. and in this journey, i have learned a lot about how this system has changed things for the worse. 

one such thing is the occupation known as the trade. the butcher. the milkman. the beekeeper. the seamstress. the clockmaker. the cheesemaker. the jeweller. the tailor. the welder. the florist. the theatrical technician. the lumberjack. the carpenter. the cleaner. the painter. the brewer.

many of these are still around, but not in abundance. and while florists are still up and running, how many people do you know who go to school to become a florist? at this point in our world, my generation and the one before it have become so accustomed to the convenience and the practicality of walmart and amazon. and while i will be the last one to argue against amazon, i have to say that there is comfort in purchasing your goods from someone who knows those goods. and i don't just mean in general. i mean those goods. those particular ones you have in your hands. i am blessed to have come from an upbringing that valued working with your hands. my father and his brothers all were/are self-employed in jewelry repair, carpentry, farming, and electricity. and now that i have my own home, pinterest has made me believe that i can do things too! i know how to make a scarf, soap, sugar scrub, candles, lip balm, and envelopes. i want to make my own vanilla, root beer, butters, flavor-infused sugars, and salad dressings. i dream of a world where i buy my dining room table from the person who made it. where i get my dress's rip mended from the person who sewed it. where i get advice on how to not kill my oregano from the one who grew it. and i do not believe that world to be dead. which is why, in my efforts to expand the expertise of my hands, i hope to be a part of keeping that world alive.

not that i expect such things to make a career for me, but what a blessing it is to connect with the creator of our world by doing the very thing that defines our existence? what a blessing it is to always be learning something new about how the tiniest aspects of the world work when you watch how the champagne yeast is fermenting your root beer in your laundry room?

i am encouraged by the pockets of society who continue to keep this going. and you would be surprised to find many of these trades exist quietly in your own backyard. the artisans are coming back. the coffee roaster. the salt harvester. the photographer. the woodworker. the writer. some are blessed to be able to support themselves and their families on these talents, some are not. but for me, i am also blessed by the ability to recognize that art expands far beyond painting and drawing. for me, the only one of my mom's girls without that interest, it feels good.

Monday, May 20, 2013

weddings/engagements: now that i have experience to offer

1. you will not think of everything, no matter how hard you try.

2. you will not think of everything, no matter how hard you try.

2.a. however, do try your hardest to think of everything, you will get farther than you think.

3. the smartest thing you can do (that is if you are like me and lack the budget for a professional wedding planner), is to reach out to your friends who know what they're doing/have done it a time or twelve, and let them think of things for you. 

4. regardless of how well things are planned, stress happens. you will feel bad about how much your family and friends are stressing themselves for you. but they are your family and friends, it's sort of in the understood contract, and heaven knows you worked your butt for them a time or two.

5. do not wear blue panties when trying on dresses.

6. playing the "i won't tell them, i'll just try to find reasons to make my ring obvious until they notice it" game is not worth it, nor is it all that fun. most people will not pay attention. 

7. i've yet to meet anyone who wedded in a courthouse and regretted it.

8. if you don't have to pay more, then don't.

9. never swear to never declare, "it's my wedding" because you will.

10. never swear that your plans will be so simple that you won't be like all those other brides who declared they wished they had eloped when all the stress settled in, because you will.

11. within reason, it's okay to declare, "it's my wedding"

12. it's never too early to complete a task

13. even though it may get old when everyone wants to share their own stories related to planning/wedding/showers/parties/honeymoon/family dealings, it's worth it in the end.

14. sometimes you will have to badger people for help. don't feel bad about this. if they offered, it is up to you to keep reminding them of that.

15. vendors give your name to other vendors. those vendors will then contact you without your permission to sell you things.when an unsolicited vendor keeps calling you, suck it up and answer the phone to say that you are not interested. ignoring each phone call in hopes that they will give up is futile. they never give up.

16. re-gifting is not a sin, it's a practicality.

17. some people elope, some people create spectacles. do what you want, and don't let anyone take away the things that mean the most to you. you and your fiance are in charge of the guest list. you and your fiance are in charge of everything. if you have to have boundaries, then you figure out how to work with them. no one gets to figure them out for you. 

18. you won't truly believe it until it's the day of, but you will get married regardless of what happens with the flowers, the food, the weather, the music, the sound system, or your nails.

19. and most importantly, SWITCH PHONES WITH YOUR SISTER THE DAY BEFORE AND THE DAY OF AND DON'T TELL ANYONE. well, you know, except for maybe your mom and fiance. BUT NO ONE ELSE.

20. Tell everyone that you love them.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

on becoming

i think we all have those moments that hit us never in expectation. something is said, and we reply as we may have replied many a time, but for this time, we pay attention to our words. it's like when you catch your reflection in another mirror's reflection, and you're inopinate because while you see yourself all the time, you never get to look directly at that side of yourself. and suddenly you aren't as familiar as you thought you were. 
why did i say that?
when did i start feeling this way?
i don't remember always being like this.
i amaze myself with the change in me. i am in awe of the capacity of a person to metamorphose over time. ever so slowly through changes that seem not too far from the original being until time is over and the original being has gone. i will never lose my reverence for the sentiments of Henri Bergson:

"We are seeking only the precise meaning that our consciousness gives to this word "exist," and we find that for a conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. "

i credit many circumstances and individuals as the hands that i allowed to shape my mind. my mother is the unconventional sort who rebels against boundaries and lives for the loopholes of rules. perhaps this is part of why i never accept them without understanding them. it is not in my nature to rebel, intrinsically, but rather to question. the world is bounteous in beauty and enchantment and allure, and my chimera involves all of these whisking me into them. but the world also brings disillusionment and egos for ill-gain. and the faces for these often emulate one another. i fear more than anything being ruined because i chose to trust. because i chose to shut my mind to all the possibilities to the what-ifs that could have warned me. and that is why i inquire. i credit my professor for broadening my perception of the passion of a female voice, and her husband for revealing the ways my words make me. i credit the mistakes of those before me as my measure. i credit my father for my belief in living truth above speaking it. i credit the one with whom i may never be on speaking terms again for for my utmost happiness, and the one i know will be sitting next to me as we knit and drink french press coffee as old ladies for the same. i credit this generation of thinkers and doubters and questioners and artists and makers for how i wish to live my every day. 

i changed. the one i was and the one i am are not the same, though we are. we remember each other, and we do not get to stay together. 

i have to say how the truth of change blesses me. how refreshing to know that when we have reached the end of ourselves there is more ground to tread, and it is therefore not the end. how refreshing it is to know that when we have made such a mess of our days and we want to escape ourselves, we can! i am not the person i was ten years ago or even five years ago, and i can say with as much certainty i will not be the same person in the next five or ten years. and to watch the change happen within us is just as fascinating as watching the change happen outside of us. i have understood the notion and the necessity of social justice and caring for the lowly more than i ever have before, and that has some to do with my growth, but it has much to do with the changing world around me. the rise in number of days of service and the spread of occupations such as my own bring excitement and inspiration and the thought that maybe things really can be better. and even in the changes that are not as inspirational, i wonder for the good in them. i am marrying in a time when it seems everyone around me is unmarrying. and i wonder. for the tragedy that breaks the heart and the family in two is unforeseen, until it has passed. and then it was seen coming all along. i wonder at the paradox of my heart finding a home in the midst of all others searching for shelters. i wonder what this means for me and for the world. i feel gratitude for the paths my life brought me through, and i pray i will always say that. i pray for them to say that as well. for our stories begin and end. and we can't say how or why. but just as spring opens, touching skilfully, mysteriously, her first rose, i wait for light to open in these other lives. i want their stories to be sense to them. and i wish them to know that gratitude for change that i hope to always know.

i feel an end approaching as the next two months close in on me. and i say goodbye with bittersweetness. it's always sad to see a dear friend leave for good. but somehow another makes her way into your world, and she becomes the person you never knew you needed. and she so overwhelms your life, you forget the hole left by the last visitor, as if there were never a hole to begin with. i am excited to meet this new girl. i hope she becomes my life with all pleasantness and patience as the ones before her.

Friday, February 15, 2013

the only thing more annoying than valentine's day is everyone who complains about it

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! 
I feel somewhat reflective on this particular day, as work is slow, Lent has recently begun, everybody's talking about love, and in the constant flux of my life, I just like to ponder. Once, my pastor told me something and suggested I do like Mary and ponder those things in my heart. It was such an interesting piece of advice for what he then said to me, but I've since held onto those words as I realized that my life is always a pondering of my heart. I never felt such a close connection with any of the protagonists in the many stories of the Bible, but it gave me great encouragement to identify with Mary.

Until last year, I never had a boy to do the Valentine's thing with, but I still liked Valentine's Day. First of all, if I was ever sad about being single, it wasn't because it was Valentine's Day. I didn't need a holiday to make me feel sad about not having somebody. Second of all, (and this should actually be first of all, but we'll keep moving) candy. I can't think of any reason why we should be sad about candy (outside of the extremes where child labor is the reason we have chocolate). And now that I do have somebody, it's simply an excuse for a date (again, as if I needed a holiday for this). But whatever the sentiments, I believe that with winter being such a dull time, any reason for someone to get or give a piece of paper, cardboard, or foliage to say that you're great is a wonderful thing well worth the effort. Also, candy. We should be looking for excuses every day to make somebody feel lovely and loved, so since the work has already been done for us on February 14th, we should be happy and relieved. I have felt just as loved and appreciated when my friends, roommate, or mom made me Valentines as I have these past two Valentine's holidays with my special someone. I never had a reason to dread the day. And I never called it Singles Awareness Day, because again, I didn't need a holiday to remind me of that. So as ridiculous as the notion of this day can be, I have no problems with it.

As for my ponderings about Lent and whether or not I should physically do something to commemorate this time of year, I've decided to be more intentional about the structure of my life. Every day I wake up, feed my dog, feed myself, clothe myself, make my lunch, go to work, come home, feed myself, shower, zone out in front of a computer screen, and go to bed. I believe there is more I can do to expand my time and make the most of my being. I need to read more and write more. I need to learn new things without neglecting the perfecting of the things I know. I need to bathe my dog. I need to be outside more. I need to make sure May 11th doesn't surprise me with unfinished tasks. 

Unfortunately, pondering doesn't accomplish all of those things. But I have to do it. 

Some people stay busy so they won't be caught pondering. It inevitably brings up things that are painful because we find the truths about ourselves and about others that we normally wish to avoid. I have many times brought myself to tears in my lonesome hours because the silence revealed to me the unpleasant needs for change in my life. But you see, I feel odd in that I have never been one to busy myself so I don't have to think about something. I have been just the opposite. There are many things that do not get accomplished because I like to sit and think too much. Even in the pain, I like it. I like the cleansing that I feel when I dwell on situations and events and people. I like the resolve that I feel ever more closer to when I've completed inner discussion on an issue. People are never as introspective as they should be, and while I consider myself quite the introspecter, (it's not a word, you don't have to look it up) I should hate anyone to think I feel better than others. I most certainly do not. With these activities bringing faults to light, I can assure you that I feel awful at times. But in order to clean a wound, the dirt must be brought to the surface. And only then will we feel like the clean, healed, and unblemished individuals we always hope to be.