Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Giving Season: O to Make a Difference

Amidst the busy holiday season, I offer this. It is a fresh way to make a difference. It offers the chance to feel that one person, that you, can actually bring about change. I am putting it on my Christmas list. I challenge anyone who reads this to click on the links and learn more and see if you too aren't pushed to do something to help. The final push was watching this video.

I have a good heart. I want to make the world better but too often the problems seem overwhelming and I feel too small to make an impact and the message gets lost. This book, this movement offer real solutions that each one of use can be a part of and that is something worth sharing!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Visions of You: Motorcycle Drive By

I know I don't write on here enough. I know that. I know it because my head is swimming. Writing is what gives me peace. When elements of my life are not shared, it is like they are floating wildly in my head and the only way to calm myself is to pin them down with words. I lay in bed at night and think, I should write about this... but I fall asleep before I can coax myself out of bed and to a computer. While I sleep the thoughts that I have carefully collected escape into the night. And I have to start chasing them around all over again.

It is Friday. My boss left early today. That is always nice. The office is quiet and everyone is content. I am listening to music as I work. Usually music allows me to move quickly through my tasks and serves as more of a beat to type to than a distraction. There are songs though that are serious exceptions to that rule. There are songs that are so paralyzing that work, or really anything other than a complete stop, is impossible.

Summer time and the wind is blowing outside
in lower Chelsea
And I don't know what I'm doing
in this city
The sun is always in my eyes
It crashes through the windows

Motorcycle Drive By is one of those songs. If you do not know that song, you should. But it may not mean as much to you as it does me. And that is okay. If you are a music person in any sense of the word, you probably have a song like that as well.

No matter where you are when you here it, you stop and it takes you in. I actually get butterflies when I hear it. The kind of butterflies that move about not only in my stomach but on the right day spread to my chest, my throat, and even cause my hands to shake.

Today is one of those days.

This song connects me to my memories, my friends, my adventures, and possibly my future. Music in a way that nothing else can, draws me closer to those places. Music brings up memories that you forgot to remember. Music shakes up your soul. And knowing all of that, how could I possibly do anything else when a songs like that is playing in my ears.

And I never been so alone
And I've never been so alive

(*The italics are lyrics from Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind. It was written by Stephan Jenkins and appears on the bands first album. I had the amazing fortune to meet him a few months ago. Please ignore my weird expression. I was beyond happy in this moment.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Writing Decisions: Rev It Up

Some people are just made to inspire. They have the voice, the enthusiasm, the spirit and the ability to make you believe.

My father has a lifelong friend and, well, their friendship story deserves its own post. But for this post I will say that every time I talk to this friend- I want to go out and conquer the world. I'm pretty sure if he walked around with me all of the time that I would own a company or a country or something equivalently cool and impressive.

He is somebody who has overcome a lot of obstacles in his life and has had a lot of success. He squeezes life like a lemon into his glass and enjoys every drop.

He is the wise mentor and I am the eager student. We talk writing. I don't do that enough. It is refreshing.

As we hung up the phone I thanked him for his kind words and and his support. He responded like he was my coach and I was running back onto the field after half time,

"You gotta rev it up! Rev it up!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Portfolio Piece: Snow Angels

The snow was falling so fast that by the time she reached the coffee shop and looked back, she could no longer see the footprints that got her to the door. She had only walked five blocks from her house but her limbs were numb. She was careful to open the door so that the wind would not startle the guests already inside. It should not have been a surprise that other than Kate’s waiting friend, and the few older men at the bar; there was only one other table.

It had been snowing since midafternoon and the snow had put a near stop to all city movement and Friday night activities. Kate had come home from work only an hour before and had hoped to snuggle up on the couch with her boyfriend. He was home first and was already waiting there with pizza. But as they turned on the first movie, her phone rang. It was one of Kate’s good friends and she was crying. She needed to meet and talk. The moment Kate heard the tears she slipped off the couch and started looking for jeans to pull on. She promised to meet Tasha in an hour at the coffee shop turned wine bar up the street.

The café was dimly lit but small enough that it only took her a moment to see everyone in the café and spot her friend sitting at a nearby table. Tasha was facing Kate on a bench against the wall. She was wearing a knit scarf wrapped tightly about her shoulders and was holding a mug close to her face with both hands. Kate began taking off her layers as she approached the table and scooted into a wooden chair facing away from the door. The waitress was to the table by the time Kate had her things situated around her. She blew into her hands as the waitress dropped a small menu.
“What would you like sweetie?” Kate looked at Tasha and squished up her face in decision.
“Whatever she is having. That looks warm.” She answered handing the menu back to the waitress without looking at it. The waitress nodded and went back to the counter.
“What did I just order?” Kate asked. Tasha slid the mug across the table. Kate sipped. “Hot and not too strong, perfect.” She said as she handed the mug back and prepared to turn the conversation. “So, how are you?”

At the question, Tasha’s eyes became glassy and she pulled her hands off the table and into her lap. Her shoulders turned in and she looked as though she was experiencing a physical pain. “I have been better. It just took me by surprise. I feel like such a fool. I was expecting an engagement soon and now it’s just done. I’m alone.” Her words stopped abruptly. She had said these words before but every now and then she spoke them as though the pain today was as sharp as the pain when it happened, four months ago. Kate nodded in understanding and Tasha pushed the idea of crying out of her head. Kate’s mug was just then dropped to the table.

“You spend that much time with somebody, building a life, a future, and when it’s done, you’re just supposed to move on and start again? I do not know how anybody does it. And the worst part is that when it happened, everybody wanted to talk, everybody wanted to offer me a shoulder but now it’s been four months and nobody wants to hear it anymore.” She paused to breathe, as she had not until this moment. “So thank you for being here. I know what it was for you to come out. I just needed to say this. I was so unprepared. I have watched too many romantic comedies. I thought I found him, my Soul Mate. I completely misunderstood the term.”

Kate smiled sadly at her friend, “You are right in every way. I do not know how people move on either. It’s hard, but you are doing it. I think that word is overused. Soul Mate.” Kate repeated the word as though it tasted bitter. “It sets us all up for failure. Are we really supposed to believe that there is only one person in the world for us and when we find that person we will just know and then like magic everything is solved.”

“Exactly!” Tasha exclaimed, smiling for the first time that night. “I have been thinking about this. A lot. Probably too much, and I have decided that I am ok with the word but not within the context of how most people use it.” Kate leaned in closer and rested her chin on her left hand waiting for Tasha’s epiphany to be shared.

“What if your soul mate is a person put on the earth to change your life, but what if you don’t ever meet that person. Maybe that part does not matter. Maybe the only thing that matters is that you and this person both exist to create a balance in the universe. That can happen without each person knowing, right?”

“Well I think I follow you. So you are saying that you close a metaphorical door in your own life and that person is there to open your metaphorical window and maybe neither of you ever know it?”

“Yes. And the best part about this is that it takes all of the pressure off of me. I do not need to search for a soul mate. Instead, I can just go on a date if I feel like having a nice meal and not paying.” Both girls laughed as the waitress came back around for another drink order.

Kate did not realize how much time had gone by until her cell phone rang. It was Ben wondering where she was. The snow was still heavy and he did not want her walking by herself. She assured him that she would be fine and said that she would be on her way home in five minutes. She said that she would call him during her walk so that he would not worry.

As Kate wrapped herself back up in layers she noticed that all of the people who were at the cafe when she arrived were still in their respective seats. Tasha and Kate hugged goodbye outside of the door as they had opposite walks home. The wind was blowing so hard and the snow so heavy that Kate not only forgot to call Ben but also had she remembered, would have chosen to keep both hands dug inside her pockets. The walk was slow and seemed longer than when she walked to the café.
The roads were quiet and peaceful. Not a single car passed Kate on what is normally a moderately busy road. The branches on all of the trees hung low with fresh ice and snow. She could almost forget the bitter cold for a moment to enjoy the beauty of a quiet city covered in snow.

When she reached her door she felt a pit in her stomach and she remembered that Ben was waiting for her call. She stepped to the door and fished out her keys. She had thick woolen mittens that really impeded on getting the key inside the lock and pushing the door open. When she finally got the door open, she noticed Ben right on the other side of the door. He was sitting in a blue chair and was still staring at the television. His stillness was a clear sign that he was upset. Kate again took off her now wet layers and spread them through the hallways before walking over to his chair or saying anything.

“I’m home.” She bent over from behind the chair and kissed his forehead. He reached up and pulled her right hand so that she would step to the front of the chair.
“I was worried about you. I called. I sat at home all night. I know your friend needed you but I needed you too. I try to be understanding and a good boyfriend to you but sometimes you make it difficult. We live together and we do not see each other enough. We work too much and tonight when the whole city is inside, it’s my girl who has to go out.”

Kate had pulled her hand away from him and stepped back from him. It hurt to hear him say this and she was not sure if she should be mad at him or herself. She did just jump up the moment the phone rang without thinking about how Ben would feel. But she was just trying to be a good friend and he should understand. She felt two sides pulling at her and she did not know how to respond so she just bit her bottom lip and stared back at him.

“Besides,” He said after an extended silence. “They have been broken up for four months. She should be over it by now.” Ben said it casually as though his anger with Kate had already faded. Kate was not sure if it was just the words or if it was more, but something inside her flipped and she became very upset. She felt her face get very warm and the room felt small. She needed to breath. She needed to step outside. She grabbed her boots and coat off the floor and before Ben could react, Kate was up and heading out the door again.
“Kate, don’t go out there!”
“I just need to go out for a moment, I will be back in a few minutes. What you said really bothered me and before I explain it, I want to breath.” Ben put his arms up in submission and like that the door closed behind Kate.”

The cold air did help. The air was so cold that she no longer wanted to cry. She just wanted to walk fast. She did want the cold to make her feel numb once more. She turned up the street and started walking the main street back toward the café. She was once again content with the beauty of the city in the storm and slowed her pace to watch her surroundings. She could vaguely see a person walking toward her. The person was about three blocks away and taking advantage of the empty roads by walking down the middle of them. This made her smile. The person weaved from one side to the other telling Kate that the person was either drunk or just having fun. She chose to think that the person was just playing with the city. Making a game of the cold walk home.

It seemed to be over before she knew that it happened. A car took a right hand turn in front of Kate forcing her to jump back. She only noticed the car because she had her head turned watching the zigzag walker. The car was driving much too fast for the snowstorm and turned into the wrong lane. Kate was still catching her breath from her own jump back when she saw the car hit the pedestrian. She watched his body fly into the air, his limbs flailing like a rag doll. And like a lightning storm, only remembered hearing the crack after his body came down and landed in a pile of snow on the side of the road.

The car backed up and the wheels screeched. The car shifted into drive and was gone before she could take a step. With the car gone, the streets were again empty. Kate’s legs were frozen and now, she really could not breath. The only thing she could manage to do was to start screaming, “Help! Help!”
It did not take long for a middle-aged couple in their pajamas to run down their front steps. They were a few houses from where Kate stood and they were between her and the victim. She pointed and the couple quickly saw the blood, the tire tracks, and then the person. “I’m a doctor. Call 9-1-1!” The older woman shouted as her and her husband dashed down the street. Without taking a step Kate pulled the phone out of her pocket and although she knows she gave all of the information that the operator wanted, Kate does not know what words she spoke. It was not real, only it was. It was too real. It was a blur. She stayed on the phone long enough to know that help was on the way. She watched the couple crouch beside the victim. The husband looked up at the sky and shouted, “He’s breathing!”

“Help is on the way!” Kate shouted back and as she did she could hear the ambulance in the distance. Not knowing what other assistance she could provide and starting to feel as though she could move again, Kate ran home.

She took her mittens off before she ever got to the door so that her key would be ready. She wanted to be inside as quickly as possible. She wanted to apologize to Ben. She wanted him to hold her and tell her that this was a bad dream. She got inside to find herself in darkness. Ben had gone to bed. Kate felt depleted and as she climbed the stairs she took off every article of clothing. Her body began to tingle as it warmed and when she reached their bedroom door, she was naked. She opened the door so tenderly and with just enough light from the window could see Ben sleeping. He was on his side, facing her pillow with his hand stretched across, holding nothing. She smiled at him as she lifted the blankets. Ben raised his hand to allow her room. She took her spot and stretched her legs out. It was then she noticed that her body was trembling. Not from the cold but from fear.
“I am sorry my love.” Ben whispered. “I love you so very much.”
“I love you too.” Kate said and took a long deep breath in and out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Helping a Friend: I May or May Not be in a Commercial

What do you say when your friend asks you to help her film a commercial on a random Saturday morning? Apparently, I say yes.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weekend Away: In Defense of North Dakota

Two weeks is longer than I am comfortable without having a new post. In my defense, it has been very busy around here. Nick started his MBA which has triggered my own desire to go to graduate school. This past weekend close friends had a wedding reception (wedding happened earlier this summer in Africa, which you can read about here)and the two day celebration coincided with a second set of good friends coming to visit from out of town. And the weekend before that, I went on a road trip with my friend Sam to North Dakota.
I had never been to North Dakota and I really wanted to go. I really want to go everywhere. I want to see as much of this world as I can and I think it's silly to not see every state in your own country. I have been to 26 states now, including the big ND. I think North Dakota is beautiful. It is completely underappreciated.

I am strugglnig now to find the right words to explain it to you. I often find that happens to me when talking about landscape. It amazes me how far you can see and how little is there. I mean that in the best way possible. Farms and shelter belts

sprinkled around fields of corn, sunflowers, wheat, and soy beans, just to name a few. It is a place where cows and turkeys out number humans.
To get to where we were staying we drove four hours West on a higway and then turned onto a much darker, more remote road for another hour and a half. At one point, Sam pointed out lights on the horizon. She said that was our destination and it was twenty miles away.

I took over 100 pictures, mostly from a car window and we were there for 48 hours. I could not stop. The fields,

the clouds,

the sunset,

it is something to be appreciated. The weekend in North Dakota was a great reminder of how many places there really are to see and how much travelling I really need to do.
I think Northen Calfornia is next. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our Boys: The Search for Duke and Toby

Yesterday I spent lots of money, time, and sanity at the vet. On the drive home as the boys finally settled down, I started thinking about what it took to find our dogs and how having them the past year, really has changed my life.

I grew up with dogs. In my whole life there was only a one year long period in which, I did not have a dog. It was very difficult. I became puppy obsessed. The way others pine for babies or marriage, I was for canines. I had puppy-fever.

It wasn’t too difficult to convince Nick what needed to be done. The hard part was finding a dog. It seems like for most people they go out to "just look" and magically come home with a fury bundle of joy. Not us. Nick is an engineer and therefore a lot of research went into it. He started reading giant textbook like material and learned as much as he could about breeds, training, etc. Meanwhile, I became addicted to sites like petfinder.com and fell in love day after day.

When Nick finally decided we were ready to become dog owners, we went to a "Puppy Meet and Greet". It is exactly what it sounds like.

It was simultaneously the best and worst way to spend a Saturday. You spend the whole time playing with insanely cute puppies but you leave empty handed, wishing you could take every last one home with you. If you are looking for a dog and live within an hour on Minneapolis, I strongly recommend this shelter. The people who run it, truly care for the animals they help.

We found a puppy that we thought would be perfect for us. We spent time playing with her and set up a time for the shelter to come see our home to make sure it was fit.

Within an hour, of leaving Nick's throat started to close. He had trouble breathing and was completely stuffed up. A week later Nick's doctor confirmed that Nick was highly allergic to dogs. The doctor recommended that we not get a puppy. Nick recommended that we look into hypoallergenic breeds.

I was not happy about the idea. I wanted a dog that could protect me and all I could imagine was a little puff ball that would be better in my purse than on a leash. I finally swallowed my ideas of what I thought I wanted and started looking at the possibilities.

I found miniature schnauzers to be a hypoallergenic breed that was known to be very sweet but protective. I saw a picture of a litter that was just born and fell in love. Nick was hoping for a West Highland Terrier. He grew up with a westie (as they are commonly called) and his whole family just absolutely loves the breed.

I was really hoping to get a rescue dog but after so much time and effort, I was exhausted and just ready to have my dog. I scheduled an appointment with a breeder and the day before we went to go meet the puppies, I received an email from Nick’s eleven-year-old cousin.

She was explaining that her family was moving to Germany on a military assignment and were going to have to give their dogs up for adoption. She went on to say that she knew Nick and I had been looking for a dog and was wondering if we would be interested in taking their dogs. Toby, a four-year-old miniature schnauzer and Duke, a ten-year-old westie. The exact two breeds we had been looking for.

It was a rescue of the best kind. We have had the boys for over a year now and every day I fall in love all over again.

Toby is a rascal. He is so much trouble but he is also the most loving dog I have ever known.

Duke is our old man. He’s stubborn and quirky but mellow and sweet. Everyday when I turn down my street after a long day at work, I feel my spirit pick up when I remember that as soon as I open the door, I will be greeted by those cute faces and wagging tails and for that I am so grateful.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Change: Going All Out

So something happened today. I don't know what but it's as if a match was lit inside me. I'm so fired up. Something seemingly small happened at work and it was, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back.
I went home last week to Boston and it became strikingly clear that something had to give. A change. I felt it but was not quite sure what to do with it. The feelings made being in Boston hard and leaving, even harder. Since I have been back I have been tossing thoughts in my head. On the bus, I sit and dissect my life. I look at each piece of it. Is this working? Is this what I want? What to do? How to change? What to change? You know how when something is going on in your life it seems as though the whole world is making references to it. That's how it is. This morning I was on the bus reading "The Secret Life of Bees", (great book) and a line in it was,

May was saying that when it's time to die,
go ahead and die,
and when it's time to live, live.
Don't sort-of-maybe live,
but live like you're going all out,
like you're not afraid.

Today something pushed. It's not like everything is clear but it's starting to make a little more sense. I hate that I have to be at work right now, in a cube, staring at spreadsheets because all I want to do is go home and make things happen.
I know I am being vague right now but it is not as a teaser. It is because I am writing this as it develops. I don't think it will be one change, I am hoping for a series of changes. A series of steps that bring me somewhere new and exciting. When I write things, even just to myself, it makes it real. Sharing it with whoever reads this, makes it even stronger. Hopefully that strength will carry me when I don't feel as excited as I do right now. Carry me through the mornings when the guy at the coffee shop does not add a shot of espresso to my coffee. Wish me luck. I promise to update with more detail. When there are details.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Portfolio Piece: The Debate

I said in my first blog post that I would be sharing some fiction and work from the archive. I figured tonight would be a good time for that. I will note when I pull something previously written by calling it a "Portfolio Piece". I am posting a commentary piece I wrote during the presidential debates last fall. Old, I know, but still relevant as it is not really about the debate. Anyway, enjoy!

As I sit here and watch the debate I am dumbstruck. Do not worry. This has nothing to do with politics or even the state of the nation. This is much smaller and much more tangible. I am in my living room perched on the couch, work clothes still on, shoes off. I am able to see myself from the outside. I become aware of my breathing and everything seems to slow down. In this moment, like none other before, I realize that I am an adult. I am my mother and my father. I am every teacher that has ever stood before me with a lesson in hand.

I look at the floor in front of me and imagine a small child. I imagine her playing with something that keeps her in one position, like a coloring book. She would be less concerned with the history unfolding on our television and more concerned with what color blue to use for the sky. She would be pulled from her shading when she hears something about polar bears not being able to live on melting ice. That would get her attention. She would drop her crayon and look, not to the television but up at me. She would be waiting for a sign that the world is okay. She would see how intently I am watching the screen and the few men talking feverishly.

She would notice that I examine each word. I weigh the plans and promises of both politicians against my own ideas. I try to search their faces for authenticity. I have thoughts on every topic, but I do not have fear. Just as a passenger of a plane might look to a flight attendant during turbulence, the little girl would look to me and find comfort.

I must admit that my mind is made up. I know whom I will vote for and knowing does not alter my need to watch. I want to feel connected to my country, to this process, to this moment. As the debate moves on, I realize how much I already know and how strong my opinions are. I realize how important this time is and that I am living history. I realize that with or without little kids playing beneath me, I am now my parents and my teachers. I am an adult. It is scary and real but with the new role, I am not allowed to be scared and so I watch.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Later Will Be Better: A Procrastinator's Promise

My horoscope today said that my creative upswing would be coming to an end. I took that to mean that today was opposite day and my ability to focus and create would come rushing in like it has so many times before.

There are so many things I should be focusing on and I always seem to choose the one that should be put on a back burner. In college I always chose the night before a paper was due to rearrange my room or give the apartment a deep cleaning. Even earlier this year after my boy and I sat down and had a long and exhausting talk over career options and opportunities for growth, I decided to paint the office.

There's something to it and I don't know what. For the most part my backwards way of working has played out alright. I clean when I should be writing. I work-out when I should be cleaning, I write when I should be sleeping, and so on. But in the end it all gets done. Sometimes though, I wish I was better at directing myself. It is like I'm a rebelling teenager only I'm the one setting the tasks in the first place.

I love making to-do lists. I love feeling organized. I'll create lengthy and complicated lists and hold onto them for weeks at a time. Rarely are the easy things done first but there is something satisfying in looking back at what I've accomplished even if the accomplishment is an oil change.

My boy often says anything big you want to do is just a series of small steps. He's right. Imagine planning a trip to Europe. It's buying tickets, picking destinations, hotels, etc. Each step is one small thing but without addressing each step, you can miss something major or even worse, you may never go to Europe.

My relationship is wonderful but I have to admit that in some aspects we are so different. He does not have this problem with procrastination. He puts off things like putting away dishes and socks. But I think my whole schedule of doing things at off times, completely confuses him.

I guess my reason for writing this is to ask, doesn't everybody procrastinate a little bit? I don't know if I'd trust somebody who said they never procrastinated on anything, ever. Tonight, I did not do laundry, I did not finish reading my book, but I did write and I did put up a new background which I think I'm pretty happy with. I need to mark if off my to do list... tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

And If I Could Surely Would Today: The 5 Year

And if I could
Surely would today
And if I knew
All the words to say
And I could
Wisp you away
To my world...

The opening verse to one of my favorite Songs. It is called "10 ft tall" and is by an Australian Artist named Pete Murray. The song is beautiful and reminds me of my boyfriend. Speaking of boyfriend.... Happy Anniversary Darling! I love you very much.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Good Laugh Is Sunshine in the House: A Comedy Promo

I have never attended the Fringe Festival but that is only because I did not know it existed. I feel kind of cheated that this has been happening in my area and I have missed out.
I love laughing and I do it often. I surround myself with friends that know how to find amusement in the everyday. At least once a week I make myself laugh so hard I cry. Usually it is something stupid that when I tell others about, they politely smile and back away. What I enjoy even more than laughing at my own inside jokes is watching live comedy. It amazes me that some people are so funny that they are paid just to make people laugh. I admire their ability.
I am lucky to live in an area that has really great comedy venues. My personal favorite is The Brave New Workshop It is a Saturday Night Live type skit comedy show. The actors are hysterical, the drinks are cheap, and the themes are pretty clever. If you also enjoy laughter and comedy shows, you should check it out.
Ok so back to my original point. My colleague/friend Sam has inroduced me to the Fringe Festival. The webiste will do a better job of explaining it than I can. There are over 150 shows being offered over a ten day period. They are held at venues all over the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area. Sam's show is called Sarah, Your Ovaries Are Drying Up: The Musical. It was rated by the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine as one of the top shows to see this year! I have seen a few sneak previews and It looks really funny!! There are five show times running between August 1st and August 9th. Check it out on the website!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Simple Inspiration: Voices of Experience

Today I will leave just a few quotes. I find reading these inspires me and makes me feel connected to the literary world. It is comforting to know that everyone struggles. The difference is that even in their struggle the words find themselves so beautifully on the page.

"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment."
-Hart Crane

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart"
-William Wordsworth

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
-Anton Chekhov

"Please write again soon. Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into others lives and I come back to my own with greater contentment."
-Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time."
-George Bernard Shaw

"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know."
-Ernest Hemingway

"You cant' wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club."
-Jack London

"Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners."
-Virginia Woolf

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nothing Happened as Planned: A Grateful Retelling

Five years ago yesterday my life started to change in ways I could have never imagined. On July 5th, 2004 I left my house in Boston for a study abroad in Wollongong, Australia. I was 21 years old and flying by myself to the other side of the world. Although I have always been fairly independent, this was a complete departure from anything I had ever done. I was nervous for the flight and for everything that was to follow.
My itinerary included a flight from Boston to Memphis to Los Angeles. I was scheduled to meet a group of students at LAX and continue onto Melbourne, Australia. Nothing really went according to plan and though at the time I thought of it all as bad luck, now I believe that fate stepped in and guided me into the rest of my life.
1.) Boston – Memphis: Fire at a rental car place in Boston’s Logan Airport shut down the terminal which delayed my flight.
2.) Memphis – Dallas: Because the flight was delayed, I missed my flight out of Memphis. I was rerouted to Dallas, Texas.
3.) Dallas – Los Angeles: Thirty minutes to catch my next plane. With three bags over my shoulder, passport and tickets in hand, and a cell phone on my ear; I ran through the terminal toward my gate. I talked to my parents for maybe a minute and a half. When I hung up, my passport was gone. A cold chill ran through my body. I turned around to run back onto the plane and was stopped by security. I explained my situation through streaming tears. Flight attendants were sent to look for my passport as I scoured the area just outside of the gate. The passport was gone. Vanished. My flight was the last one of the day so I boarded, sans passport. Flying to California, I was frustrated, embarrassed, and only a few hours into my 5 month long journey, I wanted to go home.
I made it to Los Angeles with just enough time to catch my flight to Australia but without a passport, I wasn’t going anywhere. At 1:00am, 18 hours after I started my trip, I checked into a hotel near the airport. I spent the entire next day at the federal building in Los Angeles and after 9 hours and $200, I had a new passport. I was on a plane to Australia exactly 24 hours after my scheduled flight.

Fast forward the 20 hour flight, the confusion and excitement of landing in a foreign country, and the several modes of transportation I finally met with my already travelling tour group (you know, those people I was supposed to meet in LA). I was dropped on the side of the road next to a parked bus. I was told that my group was off having lunch but I could climb aboard and wait. There were jackets and bags on all of the seats so I just chose a seat toward the back.
When kids my age started boarding, I was introduced by the driver as the girl who lost her passport. My story preceded me. The girl sitting behind me offered to show pictures of things that I had missed thus far, mainly a kangaroo stampede. I found out later, I had actually stolen her seat and that is how we started talking. I am proud to say that five years later, the girl whose seat I stole is my best friend.
That night, I sat next to a boy on the bus on the way to dinner whom I had not yet met. He was quieter then most but really cute. He was from Minnesota and was unlike anybody I had ever met. Five years later, we are together and living in Minneapolis. That night at dinner, there was a small group of people who were talking about ordering wine. I inserted myself in the conversation and said I would be happy to split a bottle. We did, and today those people are still some of my greatest friends.
Had things played out differently, I do not know who or where I would be. For all of the changes in my life, the moments that matter, and the things that didn’t go as planned; my journey to Australia will forever stand out as the time that something bigger than me, whatever you want to call it, took over and guided me somewhere new and wonderful.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I. What's in a Name? Last Call for the Blog Train

Somehow I missed the blog train. Here I was typing away in word doc or writing in *gasp* an actual journal. How middle school of me. The wonderful world of blog only came to me this last year. And when it came to me it hit hard like a mid-summer rainstorm in the Midwest- only not scary. I was introduced to a single amazing/inspiring/beautiful/ blog through a friend, which you can read about here. I was captivated by the story of this young woman (pretty much my age) and her undeniable strength and her wonderful family. I was hooked. I began to read her sisters blog, which you can read here. I started finding myself at blogs which I linked to through that blog and so forth. I started mentioning to friends and coworkers that I was looking at this blog or that blog and I was met with the realization that I was quite behind in the discovery of this linked world. Shoot! I have always been so on top of things. And the questions started to come as to why I did not have one. I was the one who was always writing. I did not have an answer. I already knew I wanted to connect and now this could be how.

What do I call it? How do you pick a name that in essence defines what you have to say to the world and at the same time somehow comes off sounding cute or even dare I say- clever. Too much pressure I bestow upon myself. Maybe I should just keep it simple. I think I need more of that in my life. Simplicity. Oh, I think I have something.

I have read so many blogs and as many as I view and as much as I am inspired by what I see and read, I must admit- I have yet to find myself in a blog. What I mean is that I am not the main character. Not yet. I am not married, I do not have children, I do not own a house, I am not very fashionable, I am not a very good cook. So out the window go so many of my favorite blog topics. What I have to offer are stories, thoughts, plans for some of the above items, and a need to write. Maybe I should start with what I do have. I have a loving boyfriend of almost five years, two highly entertaining dogs, a developing career, a supportive but distant family (1,390 miles away according to Google Maps), fabulous friends, and half a duplex. Not so bad.

So bear with me as I try to get a hang of this world in which more than my hard drive sees the vast array of jumbled thoughts and striving words. Maybe I will include some fiction pieces as well, might as well make them public somewhere. My hope is that writing to an audience with regular updates will clear some of the writing cobwebs and allow a deeper recognition of the simple things, everyday moments, that make life a little sweeter.