Sunday, January 30, 2011

All Of The Lights

There is discontent.

Wednesday night, with earbuds in and cued to Sigur Ros, I hunkered down in my hotel bed and wrote a long, teary-eyed email to Erica. I don't know what I'm doing here.

It had been a long day of deflation and disappointments. In the morning I woke up to "Don't Let It Bring You Down" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young floating around in my head. I didn't get the email I had been waiting for, the one I did receive hadn't been what I had been hoping for, I wasn't getting time to write, and it was that first day on a long trip when that feeling of being lost and removed from your friends is just starting to set in. In the afternoon I sat in a conference room while one of the Disaster Corps directors told us that being in the field or picking up a hammer was not at all what they wanted us to do. I looked around the room at my training partners and thought, "But...I want to be in the field. I want to build, I want to sandbag and build tents out of tarp and board up windows... That's why I'm here. Isn't that why I'm here?" And from the looks on my partner's faces, I could tell that most of them were thinking the same thing.

So why were we here? The question rumbled throughout the room and during break and after training, and soon the rumbling turned into animated, distressed conversations. Things started coming out, though it was all secondhand, and only cured from pointed, cornered conversations with the directors. We all knew that Habitat had secured a grant that had allowed them to build another Disaster Corps. What we didn't know - what they didn't tell us - was that the grant money is only to be used to help the affiliates in the Gulf, and only until the end of March. And it isn't actually for a corps that would respond to's to help affiliates prepare for the possibility of disaster. "So I could be doing office work, or getting permits for building, or just basically setting up a stupid office and telling people what to do with it," I wrote to Erica.

"Oh, you mean the Free Administrative Corps?" My new friend Arlene quipped the next evening. Mutiny striking, a group of us had gathered and organized an outing to the French Quarter. People were pissed, and we all felt a collective need to get out of there. I felt relief...I had felt so duped the day before, but also felt that somehow I must have misunderstood something...certainly along the way I hadn't been listening closely enough or I misread the material wrong..."No," Carol said, as we tipped our drinks back and ordered seafood for the table. "That's what we all thought we would be doing. That's how they got us down here. You don't name something "Disaster Corps" and then tell those people that what they're really there to do is help secure office equipment for a Habitat office in Lafayette."

And they still don't know when or where they're deploying us. They've known about this grant for at least a year - from 2008, from some reports - but only started contacting qualifying affiliates a few weeks ago. And surprise - hardly any afllilates have responded to an email from headquarters telling them that they're sending someone down to tell them what they're doing wrong and all the things that they need to start doing. So they're calling them now. As in, phone calls have started this week. So, bottom line is that they need to find a way to deploy all of us to affiliates who really may not want us, and we need to be deployed for two weeks before March 31st. And then Disaster Corps, as it stands, is essentially over.

So there is dissent. And more information is coming out about the way Habitat money - donations, grant money, and otherwise - is distributed and used, and the real reason why re-building in the Gulf has been so slow, and why Habitat will probably never use the corps of volunteers who are qualified and skilled and willing to be first responders and/or go overseas. And I'm not even angry anymore...just deflated, and kind of heartbroken. Disillusioned. Like this girl who arrives on campus all ready and eager to throw her bags down and get to work on changing the world, and then she learns that, oh, you only want us here to do data entry? Oh. Okay.

There are bright spots.

My new friend Arlene helped start the first battered woman's shelter (in Austin, Texas), then she wrote a book (on the history of philosophy) and next she helped start the first Rape Crisis Hotline, and then went to law school and became an immigration lawyer and had five kids and then walked into a restaurant in Wyoming one day and decided to buy it. Now she lives in Wyoming and works as a grant writer and is one of the most inspiring women I've ever met. I don't think it's entirely coincidental that she looks a little like Emmylou Harris. It's like staring into a photograph of everything I've ever hoped to be when I'm in my third chapter of life.

My new friend Carol is from New York. She's close to my age and is vivacious and funny and energetic and makes friends wherever she goes. She plans and promotes events and food-related businesses and venues and is highly invested in sustainable development and growth and might turn a building she just bought into a vertical farm. We fell in love with each other within the first five minutes of meeting and have been almost inseparable since.

My new friend Forrest is a youth minister from North Carolina. He's married with three kids and is funny and laid back and we became friends on our first night here when we bonded over the fact that we would probably be texting on our phones (me for work and to friends, him to his kids - do it with me - aww!) throughout the entire training. Today we spent the entire day together, just walking around the Garden District and French Quarter (covering, oh, about ten miles on foot). Which means that he's now one of the very few people in this world that I can spend an entire day with and still be completely delighted with by the end of it. We took cheesy photographs of each other at landmarks and joked about people stalking him in the Garden District because they thought he was Brad Pitt and he made the grumpy trolley conductor actually laugh _"We're just tourists, maaaaan! We don't know aaanythiiiing!" - when we messed up our transfer and had to ride back with him.

And today, as Forrest and I walked around and fell in love with New Orleans, we talked about the experience and decided that we were just going to be positive about it and try to learn as much as we can and then leverage it towards what we really want to do. "We are the only 62 people in the world who have gotten this particular training," my comrade Dick said tonight. "And even if we have no idea why the fuck we're actually here, we are a force to be reckoned with."

So there's discontent, and there's bright spots, and I will be flying home late on Wednesday evening, with Erica's words floating around in my mind... You lightened your load at home, which is an awesome thing. And you mentally prepared yourself to change your life - move away - do something you're passionate about even if it's risky. I didn't lose anything. Truth? It wasn't what I wanted it to be, it wasn't at all what I thought it would be, but maybe it wasn't supposed to. I have two businesses to run, a book to promote, two books to complete, and friends and family that I already miss so fervently that it hurts. My desire to do this didn't come from a lack of love for my life. So I won't be sad to come home. But now that I do have that image in my mind of what was so close to being real, I'm not going to let it go. I know I can do this, and I know that I want to do this. I just have to figure out a way to do it. So it's back to the hunt I go.

I was so excited about our date I had to take a nap.

Dudes of the world: Do not ask me out and then show up 20 minutes late. Especially if your excuse is that you overslept from your nap. WTF. This date is over before it even started. That is all. - J.K.
My friend J.K.'s Facebook status reminded me of a curious habit amongst men. This particular operational standard - the Pre-Date Nap/Lateness Excuse - has also happened to me personally at least three times. My favorite was when a date showed up late, announced that he was late because he had taken a long nap, and had just thrown on the cleanest shirt he could find from his pile of dirty clothes. I was 21, though, and he was super cute, and so we ended up going out for 3 years. However, I'm older now, and today, no matter how cute you are, that stuff would not fly. (Okay, so a date did try to pull that a couple months ago, but he also didn't have a soul, and so that was the least of my worries)

Seriously, what is it with this? It's one thing to take a nap before a date - possibly you want to be well-rested for what you predict will be stimulating conversation and invigorating interaction. That's nice. However, please don't announce this to your date. And especially not when your nap went so long as to make you late. We're not your mom, and so we're not going to feel sorry for you. What we will do is take this to mean that the idea of going on a date with us jazzed you up so much that you couldn't help falling asleep right after work, and/or couldn't be bothered to not only go through standard date prep (such as taking a shower, changing your shirt, brushing your teeth, doing your hair, etc.) but you couldn't even care enough to show up on time.

So tell me, dear male readers, what's up with this? Because you wouldn't do this before a job interview, right? So is there something I'm missing on why guys would do this before a date? Is this something that a lot of guys do, but have the good sense to either show up on time or not share that they napped pre-date? Is this something that you guys pass around the campfire as secret boy knowledge? I actually want to know what you think.

Which is rare. So you should take advantage of it.

In bed.

"It's amazing how much good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Last night

My homeboy Dave promised me that we would go to the Winter X Games next year. No matter what.

I've already started planning for it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011



"I heard this internet thing is going to take off any day now."

Via my friend Chuck Olson, whom I don't see enough of in real life but whom continually delights me on an internets basis.

I may have used "who/whom" improperly there. Whom gives a shit, though, right?

Early morning.

It's early in the Mardi Gras hotel ballroom. After more dreams about him - ones where I somehow found myself defending his honor before standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, contemplating a daring leap into what would surely only be lift-off instead of a fall - I slipped out of bed and padded around the dark hotel room, trying not to wake my roommate as I dressed and left for downstairs. Writing was supposed to get rid of the dreams, I thought to myself, as I gratefully sighed into dark coffee and cued up the laptop.

Being a young person here has inadvertently made me popular - last night I cemented my place, apparently, by regailing the table with my tale of how I chose North Park simply based on the fact that during summer camp in high school I had a crush on a counselor who went there - which does not leave me with much solitary writing time, I'm finding out. The old folks are overwhelmingly interested in my small laptop and whether or not I have a fella. Earphones do not deter them. And that's fine - there are a lot of great people here, I'm finding, and I'm starting to really enjoy their company. But it's hard, on mornings like this, when the need to write leaves this great big ache in my chest, this strange loneliness to just be quiet and solitary and tuck into words.

The dating. What does it mean. I slipped on a black sundress in the bathroom this morning - the sun is out in New Orleans today - and wondered if there really was any point to it. I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I think that I should do it because I just...should. Because I couldn't, before, and so now that I can with nary an anxiety, maybe I should. But sometimes, I still just don't see the point. I've had small moments of terror this month, wondering if I've just been play-acting all this time that the numbness isn't still there. We're back to the part where I don't miss the kissing or the sleeping and can't even really see the point in all of it. It's just a lot of touching, isn't it? It won't get the books written or the houses built or the company on the cover of Outside magazine. I've been on a couple of dates with some really great men, but I still find myself hoping that they won't try to kiss me at the end. And what is that? There's only a couple of men in this world that I've found myself wondering about this year, to see what it might be like to spend time with them. That sounds so incredibly boring. Let's try this instead: Wait for them at the airport. Go for coffee with them in the morning. The kind where it doesn't seem to be just a lot of touching or going to the movies...where their actual present lives and minds are the kind that make me want to not talk, just do. Fill my life with the things that are important because they would be important, to me. And those men are across the world right now, literally or figuratively. Which might be the point. I don't know...I'm kind of tired of thinking about it. And the today's training is about to begin, and so it's back to managing amongst mud and water and wind and fire.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

But, for the record, there are no hilarious or romantic movies set in New Orleans.

I'm good in airports. There's something that I've always loved about them: The hustle, the energy, the feeling that you're in a bit of an amusement park. I wandered around the Minneapolis one yesterday morning with a Starbucks in my hand, staring up at the board and trying to decide - if I could go anywhere - where would I go.

Iceland. Africa. Vancouver. Washington. Norway.

Or, New Orleans. I boarded the flight to find that the guy next to me had stolen my window seat, and that everyone and their mom had brought on two pieces of carry-on luggage to store in the overhead compartments, so I had to check my small piece of luggage (10 days into a carry-on! Play like a champion) and longingly look out the window when the guy was bent over his book or off to the bathroom. But I cued up "Airplanes" by The Local Natives on my iPod and read my magazine and jostled my neighbor every time I dug into my bulging bag for something and then I felt better.

It was the shuttle ride, however. One of the Habitat For Humanity Int'l directors was manning it - who was wonderful and warm and very friendly - but I had the misfortune of getting stuck in the shuttle with two other trainees who were A. Retired B. Obnoxious C. Very intent on making it known that they had DONE ALL OF THIS BEFORE. Their favorite was asking a lot of smug inside "Giovanni, will there be ____ again this year?" questions. I stayed quiet and stared out the window at the passing palm trees.

It was later shared that they had been part of the inaugural core group that the HFH had started years ago, when they were given a grant or an initiative to recruit "Baby Boomers," though no one was certain as to why that particular age group had been targeted. I had not been aware of this, nor had I been prepared for the fact that the majority of this group might be retirees. On the plus side, I did get the inside track on all the great area buffet places.

In my room, I decamped and plugged in and threw myself onto my bed, flipping on the TV and staring out the window. How come there are never any cute boys at camp, I thought to myself, as I stared out the huge window. You know what I mean, though, right? You spend your childhood watching movies like Dirty Dancing or Meatballs and you just kind of start to expect that you'll show up somewhere to find the dreamiest boy standing at the registration table. And it never really works out that way, does it. There's never really a movie about how you go to camp and everyone there is boring and the camp kind of sucks and it looks nothing like it did in the brochures and now you're just stuck there, for a whole summer, while all your best friends are home cruising the loop with the guys from the hockey team.

But it was the travel, and the settling in, as it always is, and after a while my mood lifted. My roommate's name is Jane. She's from Boston, and she is also retired. However, she returned to our room at some point last evening and announced that the bar across the street does 3-4-1's during Happy Hour, so I think we'll get along just swimmingly.

Today is meetings. And trainings. And more meetings. And mixers. Sitting in the back of the hotel conference room, I zone out as we talk about definitions of disaster and I stare at the pictures of Katrina and Haiti and Chile and remind myself that this is not what I am here for...I'm here for the field, for the dirt and mud and wood and hammers and sandbagging and tarps. We found out today that there were over 300 applicants. They only selected 65. Everyone looked around the room at the other people selected and I realized that maybe it wasn't so bad, to be one of the youngest people here.

Tonight I'll try to find a quiet place to write and work and think about the dream I had last night. Our hotel is miles away from anything cool and there will barely be an opportunity to venture into any of the interesting parts of the city (why would you bring a group of people down to New Orleans for a 10-day volunteer training and not even think about planning any group outings or opportunities to tour around? Laaame), but I'm trying to not be sore about it. I'm still here, and I'm still doing this, and soon I'll be somewhere else, ready and able to help others when they need help. And that's what it's about, right?

* Hand art courtesy of Jason Galdonik, the best boyfriend I could ever ask for my best friend Karah.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the eve of my departure.

It's late. I've been hitting the exhaustion point at around 11 pm this past week, which is not okay because that's when things finally get quiet and I can get some real work done. So. A pot of hot black coffee has been made and the Local Natives have been queued up. The Local Natives...a lot of great things have happened this year. One of the best, I have to say, is Gorilla Manor. There aren't a lot of albums - whole entire albums - that I love...that can both buoy me up and make me think and spur me on and just feel consistently great. This is the album I listened to nonstop from August to the end of October, when my whole entire life changed. It may have changed because of this album. I wouldn't dismiss the notion.

Last Monday morning I woke up early, slipped out of bed, and booked my flights. It's hard to believe that was only a week ago. I leave tomorrow morning, and the plan is to arrive back in Minneapolis the evening of the 2nd. Four days before my 32nd birthday. "WOW! Your life is so changed from this time last year, holy crap," my friend Karah wrote the other day. I had to sit back and think about it. The apartment. Pooks. The book. Leaving behavioral therapy. Groucho. Cyber Dating Sidekick. And now this. And it hasn't even really been a full year - it was May, when everything started to happen. I wonder what will happen this year.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Brocavore

"The newest urban man-in-demand - the brocavore - is more down with nature. He's all about eating local and organic, making his own beer and drinking from mason jars." - Jennifer Ganshirt, managing partner, Frank About Women, a marketing-to-women consulting firm.

Thank you, Jennifer, for taking someone who might have been somewhat interesting and making them sound like a hipster douche. Also, who drinks from mason jars? Where is this happening? Who is doing this?

[image via]

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Only two and a half days left to git yerself some of my stuff. Things are going FAST (yaaay!), so if you want something, call dibs on it now. For instance, if you at all want any of the books or DVDs, you should probably let me know today, otherwise the whole lot of them are going to the ol' booksellers and Disc Go Rounds. I don't know what you're waiting for, anyway. You can sit there, with one of my books, and read it, and think, "I wonder what Amber thought when she read this part, too? God, I feel so close to her right now..." Right? Pretty much the most amazing experience in the world, yeah?

There's also a Pyrex set going up later today, as well as a crockpot and some assorted collectibles, etc. So. Get excited. I'm excited. You should be excited.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Okay, so let me say this: I don't know why I scheduled so many dates for this week. Why did I think it was good idea to try to cram in all of these dates in between selling all of my worldly possessions, packing, trying to see all my friends, and working?

Here's how it typically goes, though - I told a client about this a couple of weeks ago - you join (or rejoin) an online dating service and feel initially elated at all the attention you're getting (if you're a girl). And then the onslaught of the bad messages and the weird guys begins, and you start to feel exhausted and disillusioned and are tempted to give it all up. But if you stick it out for just a little longer, you'll soon find your inbox filled with messages from men that you're excited to hear from. A couple weeks will go by, and that's when it begins - they will all start asking to meet, all at the same time.

And here's what it is, mostly - it kind of kills me, the thought of having to email these guys for two more weeks with nary a clue as to whether we have any real chemistry. So. If I'm going to have a pen-pal when I'm in New Orleans, mayhaps I should know whether or not I actually want to be in-person pals with them, too, right?

But wow. A lot of work. I was complaining about it to Erica over email the last day or two, and she wrote: ONLY you would be whimsical and energetic enough to date this week. you are wonderful and nuts...You need a pit crew. Seriously - like a dating pit crew. To keep you hydrated and fed, touch up your make up and give you pep talks or listen to the horror stories / glowing reviews. Bring you new tights. Whatevah.

Which had me dying. A dating pit crew? Best idea ever.

The kicker about this week is that the two guys that I would prefer to spend time with are either out of town or incommunicado due to professional obligations. For instance, the guy I talked about last week, the one whom I really wanted to talk to and whom finally messaged me? We traded novellas about TRON, Kenny Loggins, and Over The Top. I never meet a guy that I can actually geek out with about this stuff. And for the first time in a long time, I'm actually looking forward to getting messages from someone. As in, I specifically check my inbox to see if he's written back yet or not. And here's why I'm dumb - I knew he was leaving town this week, but I didn't tell him I was leaving town next week because I wanted to see how long he was going to be gone before bringing it up - like a "Oh hey, by the way, I'm leaving on Monday, so since you get back on Wednesday, maybe..." - but he hasn't written back yet. I think I might have freaked him out with my geekatron tendencies, you guys. Which would be really, really sad, because the kid looks a little like Gerard Way and completely gets it when it comes to easy-listening, cheesy movies, and dry sarcasm.

He's totally not going to write me back, is he.

The other guy is totally awesome and we've met already and I think he's interesting and funny and handsome and great. But. He might also be reading this blog so we're just going to leave it at that. Have fun in Portland!

The date rundown and my thoughts concerning said rundown:

I had a date on Sunday with a guy who was very nice and nice-looking and we had a nice conversation. But no sparks. He asked me out for a second date and I told him that maybe he should give me a call when I come back in February. Because I am also Nice.

Monday night's date started out weak...the initial nerves of being in front of someone that you might actually like made it feel like a stiff interview at first, but then suddenly it turned the corner and I was laughing out loud, for longer than usual. He would like to see me again, before I leave, he told me at the end of the date. I nodded him and told him that I would like that, too. And then I literally saw an online article the next day that was about the exact same thing that we had been joking about, so I sent it to him and he asked if he could take me out to dinner on Friday (fancy!). So. Looking forward to it.

Last night I talked to a boy I'm supposed to go on a date with on Friday afternoon. Even after nineteen million years of doing this, I still don't really see the point of talking on the phone before you meet up. If anything, it's just going to kill it. And why do we need to sit around and talk about all the stuff that we could talk about, face-to-face, on our date? Which, actually, now? Probably going to cancel the date.

Tonight I was supposed to hang out with someone that I've been on a few dates with. He wanted to see me before I left, but we had to hang out at my place so I could make Craigslist drop-offs, etc. So I clean, procure libations, put on a dress, and basically set the scene for what could be a romantic evening. And then he decides not to come over because "it's too cold out." And that's when you get deleted from my phone and blocked on OkCupid.

I have another date tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, because if nothing else, I think we'll have a really interesting conversation. I think he might be my type. But, I don't think I'm his. So we'll see.

And then it's the two dates on Friday, AND THEN NO MORE DATES FOR TWO WEEKS.

But, on the docket -

Two promising guys. One is super cute and super fly, the other one is totally the outdoorsy type that just kills me. Listen to this: I also like to think about where I want to go on the earth. I dream of doing long wilderness trips with a lover, spending time traveling the natural landscape by human or wind power, watching sunsets fade to black on the endless horizon, and experiencing what nature has to offer. If you desire this too, we should talk.

I DO desire this! Except I don't know if I would say "lover" because that's kind of gross, but since you have a beard and kind of look like Ray LaMontagne and you've spent a whole year living in the wilderness, I will overlook it.

And then there's this extremely attractive but rather opinionated (as in, animal rights and veganism, etc, which I'm down with, but this guy seems like the kind who would walk into my apartment and then swivel around, screaming, "Leatha! I see LEATHA!") man who seems to really like me on OkC, but in a weird way I'm trying to temper that for him because I don't really think he's going to be all that into me in real life. But then he wrote me this message about how some guy named "gangsta" commented on my Hotness nom that I was "more teacher hot than wicked hot." Which, whatever...I'm not even trying to be in this thing. But thank you, gangsta, for enlightening me that Teacher Hot is not the same as Wicked Hot. Duly noted. Also, thanks to the guy on OkCupid for thinking that this would be an awesome thing to bring up.

And that's it. That's all I got on dating for this week. GO BACK TO YOUR OWN LIVES, EVERYONE.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's an internetting yard sale, errr'ybody!

So next Monday I will be flying to New Orleans to begin my Disaster Corps training (yaaaay!). From there, I will find out the schedule of my future deployment. I could be coming home for a month and then be deployed to the Gulf for a couple of weeks and then come home again, etc., or, based on my application and their current need, it is entirely likely that I could be deployed straightaway to a different location for up to a year.

Which would be awesome. I'm kind of that girl whom, since she was 17, has held to that romantic notion of being able to fit all of her belongings into one suitcase so that she could fly out at a moment's notice. And goddamn, you still has not fully sunk in that something I've wanted for so long is finally happening (much less an all-expense paid trip to New Orleans in the middle of winter. Hollaaa!).

While some of the details of this could potentially be not so awesome - aka, how do you make rent when you're busy learning how to clean up oil spills and build houses in the Gulf - I'm looking on the bright side.

And that includes selling all of my stuff.

As most of you know, I've been thinking about doing this for a while now. I generally do an annual purging, but with all of the life changes that have taken place over the's just freaking time, yo. I don't want to have to come home and spend a week packing and storing a bunch of things I don't even want or need, and bottom line? Every extra bit of cash is going to help tremendously in being able to make rent while I'm gone. My lease is until May, and I'm determined to do everything I can to honor it.

So. Since this is my blog and I can do whatever the frick-frack I want with it, I'll be posting stuff for sale on this site in the next week. This first batch is a collection of stuff that I was going to post on Craigslist, anyway... There is still a lot - a lot a lot - of things that I will be posting/selling, so keep yer eyes peeled. Not that I feel like everyone would want my crap, but dudes, I was thisclose to getting rid of my breadmaker, and then along comes this lovely lady, who heard about it and gave it a new home. Who knew that she'd been wanting a breadmaker forever?! Not me. And I know everything.

So go take a look around at the Internet Yard Sale. Postings will be updated endlessly between now and next Monday.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I like beards.

So Connor Twit-tahed about this earlier tonight, and I subsequently spent the next half hour just staring at my computer screen in awe.

I'm not going to say that everything cool happens in Portland.

But. This would help in building the case.

Information Superloveway, PAVED!

It's happened, you guys.

The day is finally here.

Cyber Dating Sidekick is live, open, and ready for business.

There will most likely be some tweaks to it in the near future - for instance, this girl is helping me with an even more kickass design for the site (I don't know if you can tell, but it will probably have something to do with superheros...) - and I'll be working hard in this next week to add some more stuff to make it even more fun, but dudes. I finally have an actual, official, online dating consultancy site. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet about the online dating posts I write...if I'll post them here and there, or just there to make sure you slackers actually hit it up every once in a while and keep me company at work.

I'm undecided.

But, exciting, right?! You guys! We did it. Our dreams have come true.

And by "our", I mean "mine".

Hello guitar player.

Bands like this were the reason why I tried so hard to ruin my relationship with my parents in high school so I'd have a reason to run away to Seattle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aaand anotha OkCupid gem...

"hey whats up.u r so beautiful and funny,id love to get to know u better,hit m up so we can talk,if u dont i'll put out every hair follicle in my eyebrows untill i hear from u,lol..u would let me walk around like that,would u ?"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today has been...

** My friend Dave nominated me for the Hotness contest, which was completely sweet and flattering and goddamn, I cannot think of any kinder words that I could possibly want said of me. I completely spaced this out, though, until this morning, when I logged onto OkCupid to work on a client's profile only to be met with at least 15 messages along the lines of "What up Vita HOTTIE!", "U R so hot, I voted 4 U", and "If I held my own Hotness Contest...(insert cheesy proposition here)." At first I thought someone had posted a fake profile of my face on a "Hot or Not" type-site as a joke (and if they had, I was swiftly crafting a plan to track them down and rip their neck out), but then after the fourth message I finally figured it out. I was reminded later today that I was told that this was going to happen, but apparently if the subject does not revolve around writing, boys, music, making out, Kanye West's Twitter feed, the lead actor in TRON, and/or unicorns fighting bears, I'm not really paying that close of attention to it.

** The one kid on OkCupid that I've been dying to talk to finally messaged me today. And not about the Hotness Contest.

** I was accepted into the Habitat For Humanity Disaster Corps. This is something I've literally wanted to do since I was 19, and the whole point of doing all the things I did in my early twenties - India, England, EMT training, etc - were in hopes of further preparing myself for something like this. As most of you know, though, life kind of went off track after that, and while it's always been in the back of my mind, I didn't seriously pursue it until after I left my therapist career last October. While I was hopeful and did my best to present a solid, winsome case for why they should consider me, I felt it might be a long shot, and so I didn't tell anyone about it. Tonight I got the news that they are flying me down to New Orleans at the end of the month for training, and then I will most likely be deployed in February or March. While there are a lot of logistical details that I'll need to work out - little stuff, like what to do about my apartment and Pooks, etc - for now, for tonight, knowing that this thing, this life that I've badly wanted for 10+ years is finally happening... It's pretty great.

And awesome.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Royal We

If I sat across from you and you asked for it, I would tell you that I don't really believe that you've ever been in love. Or if you have, it's been with a girl you met when you were young...someone who made you wait, someone who did not want you as much as you wanted her. You are the kind who only respects those who are not stupid enough to fall for you. The ones who are sweet and fascinating and beautiful and complicated, but set apart just enough so that they will never really be yours, which is exactly why you want them. You want the beauty and you want the intelligence, so much so that you quickly shun and shame those who do not fall into those easy boxes. Yet when you find it, it terrifies you to think that they might want you back, because then how beautiful and intelligent can they really be? And you like to break them. You might enjoy spending time with them for a while, and you will most definitely enjoy taking from them what they have to offer you, but in the end, the only display of emotion and affection you're really interested in are their tears, their eyes turning away from you, heavy steps down the dark and early road. It's your triumph over beauty. Your sad, broken, scared way of never having to really want anything better than what you can already easily attain.

The thing I find most curious about this is that you are also the very man whom women love to take care of. You never really have to worry about where you're going to stay or what you're going to eat or with whom you're going to sleep with next because there's always some pretty girl around the corner ready and willing to take you in. Eager to do so. They will take pity on you and ask you to stay with them, mistaking your migrant mind for lost eyes. They're just being kind, they'll tell you and themselves, but deep down they think that if they take care of you, it will be the best way to make you stay. That if you see them all the time, then surely you will have to see something in them that will cull your affection. In the early morning light and all that. What they will only realize later is that it will only further ensure your resentment and distaste. The more you see them, the more they will become real. And that's not what you want. Even though you would never admit this because it rightly makes you sound shallow and a bit delusional and pathetically poetic, you want the Muse. You mourn her, because she doesn't exist, and if she ever had, she would surely be dead by now, used up and ravaged to extinction by all of your predecessors. So you tell yourself that you simply want beauty, and maybe some intelligence, and maybe a Woman to admire, but you really don't. That girl will destroy you, leave you beaten and sobbing and with nothing but blank pages to stare at. Best to stick with what you know.

You like me because I don't really like you. Because I don't really care that much about impressing you or if you're really all that around. It bothers you that I'm not tracking down your stuff to pore over it, trying to gain some insight into this complicated, mysterious man. I don't because I don't have to, because I already know everything about you. And we're really not all that different. I'll let you text me in the morning and make me dinner and brush your hands through my hair when you kiss me, because this is what you do when you're trying to be soft and romantic and endearing. It's like a sweater you wear...this is who I am when I'm pretending to adore you so that you'll adore me. And I'll let you do this because it is rather adorable to watch you try, and because the one thing that I will like about you is that you won't expect me to take the lead or hold you down, and so you will be delighted when I do so. This will bother you later. It should mean that I want you. When, later, you try to disappear in order to rile up my dismay, and I simply go back to work until you show up again - as you will do, either in two weeks or five months or ten years - you will cite this reasoning again. I should have wanted you. And I do, but not in the way that you think. I want you because I know it won't break me. Because I can slip onto your lap and kiss you, unbidden and unasked, and I don't wonder what it says about me. Because the dark early road doesn't bother me, and most of the time I will prefer it to your early morning light. Because I will enjoy spending time with you and I will enjoy taking all that you wish to offer, but I will never try to cull your affection or ask you to stay.

So if I sat across from you and you asked for it, I would tell you that we're really not all that different. Different temperaments, yes. You like to suck the sap of your brooding so you can remain cold and cruel and cunning, while I am continually trying to bleed mine out so I no longer have to be those. I don't look for the We in anything you do, while you will - methodically, if with trepidation - search for it in everything of mine. Like this. You will automatically assume it's attributed wholly to you, but you should know it's not. It's the We of 10 years ago, it's the We of last year, and it's the We of now. I am here, I am this, here we are. You are there, you are that, and we are nothing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

This is what I did on Wednesday.

"I'm just a rock star. You know? I'm a rock star at life, I'm a rock star at work, I'm a rock star in my relationships. I just live life 110%. Like a rock star."

- The "You are sooo not Robert Downey Jr. and I want to leave right now" date.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

It's the emptiness, I think. The feeling of forlorn. I nod and smile and look down at the table and suddenly feel irrationally sad. Look what I have to keep going through. Why aren't you here yet, why do I have to keep doing this. I will drink my beer and suffer through this conversation and go home to my empty apartment, where I will sit on the edge of my bed and sigh and note my reflection in the mirror but feel keenly that I do not wish to study it, not right now, and not tomorrow, either. Because all it signifies is that there must be something wanting, something that I'm just not seeing. Because if I did, then I would change it, and then I wouldn't still be alone.

But it only happens on the mediocre dates, and the moment passes almost as quickly as it comes. It's not all bad, you think to yourself, smiling as he stands, nodding when he tells you that this has been fun. At least there's dates and beer and conversation, but it feels like it will be an eternity until you can actually just feel close to someone. The heat of their body, the rush of their breath. If you want to be good, at least. The worst is going on dates and dates and dates and realizing that if things were different, if it were 10 years ago, there would be no problem in simply taking this person home and gaining from them what you could...but it's now and so it takes forever. 6 dates that will never happen. The large put-upon sighs come on those wasted evenings, the ones where the pomp and circumstance are the only things worth commenting on. It's not that you're unhappy being on your own. It's simply that, on nights like this one, you just wish that you didn't have to be, anymore.

And what's the alternative, I ask myself, as I slowly meander home in the cold night. I can keep going on these dates and keep collecting the experiences and keep suffering through the lessons of how to not, in fact, attract the pompous and pretentious, or I can just stop and join a nunnery and seal my own fate. No good Choose Your Own Adventure here. And it's only the mediocre dates, I tell myself again, as I walk in the door. And it really only takes one, right? This dating thing, it's a numbers game, and it only takes one.

But where are you, and why aren't you here yet, and boy, when you get here, do I have some stories for you.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Northern Lights

It's an early winter morning. I used to love these...back when I lived in Spooner, I loved to wake up early, slip downstairs, and sip on my coffee while I stood at the window, watching the sun rise over the snow. Muscles still loose and warm, hours yet to drink coffee and write before I had to head over to Munchkin's, it was this silent, peaceful, comforting awakening. I would think of it for years afterward, when I moved to the city, wondering when I might get that back.

The sleep was heavy, and I awoke wondering what it was that I was supposed to do. I had a dream about him again. Please don't is it possible to miss someone you barely even know. How does it work, for him to be in my dreams when I've hardly even spoken to him. And there was something that I was supposed to do while he was gone, the dream said. This voice that wasn't mine, telling me something that I understood but now cannot remember.

I have a date this evening, with a man who exactly fits my recently-declared parameters. He rides a motorcycle and reads Hemingway and races iceboats and is a bit older than I am. He seems affable and jolly but serious and direct when the subject calls for it, and he reminds me of Robert Downey Jr., which means I'm in trouble if my assessment proves to be true. Is it smart, noble, I wondered, as I laid in bed this morning, to be going on dates with other people when I keep having dreams of another. Yes, I told myself, as I slipped out and padded into the kitchen. Because they are real, present, here. Because he is leaving, and you may not ever see him again, and he probably doesn't even remember the face to your name. Because this might be crazy. But you were supposed to stay, I remember thinking, when I heard the news. There was supposed to be an entire month to figure out what this was. To meet you again and know, and then go back to being logical and practical and set. And now I have to go on dates and do things and have you still in the back of my mind, floating up into my dreams, this unresolved mystery that won't fade away. Please don't go.

My cat is needy, and I pull her onto my lap while the oatmeal cooks and the coffee brews. The sky outside is gray, and the snow is falling. "Heima" by Sigur Ros is playing, and I think idly of meteor showers and Northern Lights and a week in the north. Erica and I walked outside last night, tilted our heads back, and hoped out the appearance of the Quadrantid meteor showers. They did not appear. "Damn these city lights," I breathed out, thinking back to how, on any given night in the north, you could walk out and see every celestial happenstance in the sky. And further south, in the Blue Hills, you can see the Northern Lights dance almost every clear, cold, winter night. It's a phenomenon that I don't understand and almost don't like to speak of - that most there don't like to speak of - because it's so precious and remarkable that it makes one feel almost furtive and bashful about it. Surely you're not supposed to see them every night. In the arctic, this might make sense. In Bruce, Wisconsin, it does not.

Pooks and I are leaving for the North on Sunday. We will be spending a week at the lake house with Dutch, the family dog, while my parents are in Georgia. I can't remember the last time I spent a whole solitary week, completely without another person's company. There will be treks out into the woods in Wellies or snowshoes, a tromping across the lake to the Loon Island, nightly sky-watching out on the deck with a hot thermos, long afternoons of reading by the fire, and quiet nights of cooking to the songs of Van Morrison and Ray LaMontagne. These are the plans to make it so that I don't turn into the woman from Misery, I laughingly told Erica last night. And writing. And writing.

When the coffee is finally dark and pressed, I carry it over to the window and look out. I am lucky, and I feel it every single morning. There have literally been mornings when I've woken up and clutched at my covers out of giddiness from how much writing I get to do now. What you want wants you...I think about this as the snow falls, and I feel it deeply, like spreading liquid warmth. What you want wants you. So it's to the north on Sunday, to tromp in the snow and stare up at stars and write and dream and wake up, each day a small piece of longing for the unbidden and remarkable.


There are some things that you just never forget about online dating. Even if you've been happily ensconced in a relationship for years, you're still going to remember the cardinal rules crafted from even a small, limited experience in the game (such as, men with 24 pictures on their profile are not as interested in you as they are in themselves).

However, similar in the way they say endorphins rush into your brain when you hold your newborn child for the first time in order make you to forget most of the pain of childbirth so you'll keep on having babies, so too do we forget how exhausting online dating can be when we stop doing it. Which is why, less than a month ago, I threw myself back into the game again...I felt that, if I were going to advise people on it, I should probably refresh myself on what it really felt like to be in the throes of it.

Consider me refreshed. Also consider yourself in for few more delightful dating posts...because there is no way I'm going through this stuff unless I can at least use it for blog material.

First story on the docket? The Soulless Ginger.

Yeah. It's a good one.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sisters, Part Four

I am jealous of the dreams in the way I'm jealous of the scarf lying around Heather's neck. I lost my breath a little when she walked in and I recognized it. “That's mine,” I thought to myself, but bit the words back from my tongue.

You were wearing it the night I came home from England. You had waited for me at the airport, and I had noticed that scarf right away. Well, maybe not right away...I noticed the way your serious eyes scanned the crowd; then the way you stood, feet set apart, the confidence pose I had first noticed about you and now loved; the way your hands were tucked into your coat pockets; then that you had gotten a new scarf; and then the way you laughed when I threw my bag down and ran the rest of the way to you. And then the way the corners of your eyes were wet, just a little bit, when you pulled away from the longest kiss we had ever had, our first in three months, and then gently cupped my face into your hands and kissed me again.

Later, in the lobby of our favorite hotel, I stood next to you and stared at that scarf as you waited patiently in line to check in. It was new, probably from The Gap, and perfect for you, with its wide stripes of charcoal gray and deep black. That was such a curious thing about you...this logging boy from northern Wisconsin who knew how to dress better than anyone I had ever known. And in this effortless, almost careless way. But the scarf was new, and I felt so forlorn as I stared at it, wondering what else I must have missed while I was gone from you. Lost in my thoughts, I tugged on it a little, and you bent down and kissed my forehead. I miss that about you, the way you used to do that.

The thing I remember most about that night, though, is lying in that hotel bed and softly weeping as you continued to kiss me, as your body descended and then moved over mine. Your strong shoulders, the lean muscle and sinew of your arms, the warm span of your back and the hard ripples of your stomach...I was so beyond joy to feel your present body in my hands. And so afraid that I would wake up and this would all be a dream...that I would be back in England, 7 hours over the sea, missing you again, missing more things from your life.

And now that scarf is just one more piece of you that I no longer have. There is a particular possessive anxiety that comes with that. I stare at that scarf and I imagine myself jumping up from the table, grabbing it off of Heather's neck, and dashing out of the Thymes with it. Because you were mine, and that scarf was a part of my life with you, and so I want it. And if I don't have it, what else is there to show? To say, “He was mine and I was his. See? Look here.” And if I can't do that, if I can't have all of you that still exists here when you do not, how am I possibly going to manage to stay alive, to survive, through this. Then what is the point of still being here.

Part Five -->

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Sisters, Part Three

With a glance towards Heather, which tells me this is something they've talked about already, Heidi haltingly begins to tell me about a dream she's had of you, too. She was with you, floating above the row of pines by the train tracks in Weirgor, where it happened. You just stood there, silent and looking at her, and she couldn't stop asking you questions...are you okay, where are you now, why did you leave. You pointed. She turned and saw a wheelchair, and then a hospital bed. When she turned back to ask you about it, you were gone again. “I felt like he was telling me that he had the choice of either choosing to go and having us remember him how he was, or staying and being...paralyzed, I guess.”

“And he never would have chosen that,” I hear myself suddenly say. I thought about how strong you were. Proud. You would have been miserable, like that. It wouldn't have been a life. I shake my head at them. “He never would have wanted that.”

They both stare at me with wide eyes and nod slowly, and I look over at the table in the corner and then down at my hands again. I know Heidi's dream is something I need to hear. And I know that it will make it better, someday, to know that was the choice you made, that was why you had to go. But right now, in this coffeeshop with your sisters, it doesn't matter. I just want you here, I just want you back.

Come back come back come back. At night it floats out of my mouth, this whispered stream of a spell. Clutching the covers in the dark right before I pull them over my head, right before everything breaks. Come back. You have to come back.

I try to will them to me. The dreams. I just want to see you again. Standing in front of me, even if just for a moment, so I can ask you what it is that I need to know more than anything. Do you still love me. Or do you hate me now, and are staying away from me on purpose, for all the things I should have done, never told you. The only dream I’ve had was not long after you died, but you weren’t in it. And that was the point, I think. There wasn’t anyone in it, really…no images, just the pitch black space and voices. I was calling your house. Your father answered, and I asked for you. He fell silent, and after a few moments I remembered, to my horror, that you were dead and that I shouldn't have called. But I couldn't seem to say anything, and so the silence stretched on until the hum of it changed, and I knew that your father had drifted away, leaving the line dead, with only me still hanging on.

Part Four -->


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Other Smooth Stylings

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...