Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thorto & Lev

Five highlights from the wedding weekend:
(1)   The ceremony on the bluffs. It was chilly. But how exciting to have it outside.
(2)   The almost-husband tearing up upon seeing Thorto about to walk down the aisle.
(3)   Thorto really knowing what had happened. A couple of times during the weekend, I heard her say with full awareness, “My life is changing dramatically.” She got it. This might seem like a given, but I don’t think it is.
(4)    Driving up the big hill to the entrance to campus alongside a steep ravine with a million trees–all of them red, yellow, and light green. 
(5)  Aiko making fun of people loving this season--"Oh, the beautiful leaves. The crisp air." Just seeing Aiko in general. And her parents. And so many people I hadn’t seen in a long time. 

"You're worth the worry, I would do the same
If we all went back to another time
I will love you over." 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Four years ago today

Principia campus. November 1, 2009. 

My friend Thorto is getting married this weekend, and I'm flying to Illinois today for the big event. We roomed together in Fall of '07 in a room with ladybugs galore. On any given night, one of these supposedly dainty bugs would dive-bomb us over and over while we did homework. She was my first roommate in that building there in the picture. Since I'm returning to campus this weekend, I CANNOT HELP THE NOSTALGIA. But I also know that no good is contained in these

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Three Loving Musketeers

I’ve been working with Bezu for the past three years, and Friday was her last day at our branch. Our superiors have moved her to another branch.  
She has been working for the company for 32 years. When my mom was pregnant with me, she and Bezu were both at the same branch, and Bezu was pregnant with her first, too.
On the day of my interview, I met Bezu, and she treated me like family. The first few times I saw her, she assured me that she would be there to help me and that I could come to her with any questions I had. 
I’ve learned a lot from her about loving unselfishly.
Whenever she brought a transaction over from the desk, she stood there and looked at me intently as I processed it. She peered at me, her head cocked down a bit, the signal that she was giving her attention to me. She’d look at me for a moment this way, her eyes gleaming. And then she’d usually say something nice about something I was wearing. Who else, during a busy day, would stop and stare at their coworker like that? She had to stand there anyway. The transaction had to be done. But most people still wouldn't think of using that time to focus on someone else. 

Tonight, when my aunt Ziva, my mom, Blondie and I were driving home from church, Ziva told us about an interaction she’d had with someone who visited our church recently. I’d seen her the Sunday she visited–a small, elderly woman sitting a couple pews ahead of me. If I’m remembering correctly, her hair was dyed the color of beets, and she had a cute black hat. She was hunched pretty far over. From what I could tell, she seemed very loving.
I didn’t get chance to meet her, but Ziva did, and tonight she told us, “That woman is an incredible person. She is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. When you talk, she really looks at you. She is completely focused, fascinated by every word you say. And it’s like she’s known you her whole life.”

Ziva was reminded of her interaction with that woman because the woman’s daughter showed up to our service tonight. She has visited a couple times in the past few weeks. I hadn’t met her yet, and tonight, someone introduced Blondie and me to her. She immediately dove into substantial conversation. But she wasn’t showing off. She was connecting with us the whole time, and she drew me into the present. She said something about the “light of consciousness,” and I truly felt that as we talked. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Ant has been saying that I should read something by the financial guru Suze Orman. She found one of Suze's books, The Courage to Be Rich, in a used book store and passed it along. Oh gosh, that title. I started reading it this weekend and liked this idea: “The notion of stating your goals in the present tense rather than as an expression of future intent is not new. It actually dates back to a tenth-century Hindu text called The Outlook of Shiva, written by a scholar called Somananda. In it, he instructs us to act as if we already embody our goal, no matter the disparity between what we are and what we wish to become. It is important not to allow doubt to cause us to abandon our intention but to maintain ‘an unwavering awareness’ by affirming our goal with confidence and conviction. In this way, Somananda explains, our being aligns itself with our intention, and the goal becomes manifest.”

March 2012. The reservoir by my house.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A customer

This young man walked into the bank today. I can always tell when they don't have an account with us. He looked about twenty-two. He was tan, probably from working in the sun. Dark hair. I wasn't really seeing him in detail. Sometimes, people are blurry. I'm not looking straight at them. He passed me a check drawn on our bank, something one of our customers had probably given him for some work he had done. I asked him for his license. He included "ma'am" in his statement of assent as he passed the i.d. to me. The driver's license was from South Carolina. "Southern hospitality. Truly," I thought, noticing that he'd said "ma'am" more genuinely than I'd almost ever heard it. It was not an automatic addition to his sentence. It was a soft but present statement of praise. When I was growing up, I resisted polite phrases, thinking of them as inauthentic, considering etiquette a prison. Sure, I used the expected language. I didn't want to come across as a jerk. But I still, to this day, can't use the word "please" without cringing. I try to get around it with other nice ways of asking for things. I collected some twenties for the young man, and he used the word "ma'am" one more time. As we said goodbye, he sort of bowed. This guy BOWED. A little curtsy in the middle of a Wednesday at a bank he'd never been to. It was sweet. We do like to be respected. I guess I just didn't like respect when I was younger because I didn't like power, and I wanted us all to be equal. But I guess it's better if we all treat each other like royalty.

I still don't think polite phrases are for me. I cannot wrap my head around the custom of saying "Bless you" after a sneeze. As long as I have the spirit of treating them like royalty, I'll say and do good things.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Carpe Whatever

I have felt pressure, for the past three years, to seize life. Today, the day after the birthday, it seemed to me that the pressure's expiration date had arrived. I've hounded myself enough. I guess I just didn't want to realize down the road that I should have done this or that, if only I had done this or that. Today I felt no fear–just gratitude. Heck, the first 24 years were awesome. There's already been so much good that I'm set for life. I know that's not how it works. I know that good things will happen. But it's nice to feel like I'm riding, coasting. I don't need anything else. I don't need anything.
Yesterday. Photo by Blondie.
"Let the century pass me by
Standing under a night sky
Tomorrow means nothing." 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Playlist of my life

I turn 25 today. I compiled a playlist for the 24 ages I've been before. I planned to pick one song to represent each year, but I ended up choosing albums for certain years, and, in one case, I couldn’t limit myself to one selection.

Age 4: first favorite song, Enya’s Orinoco Flow [heard it at daycare during naptime and fell for it]
5: West Side Story End Credits [danced ‘ballet’ to this one in the living room many times]
6: Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight [sang this to the boys I liked in 1st grade]
7: Natalie Cole’s Route 66
8: Jewel’s You Were Meant For Me
9: James Horner’s Titanic Soundtrack
10: Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris
11: New Radicals’ You Get What You Give
12: Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP
13: Vanessa Carlton’s Be Not Nobody Album
14: Carbon Leaf’s Echo Echo Album
15: Jewel’s This Way
16: Blink 182’s I Miss You
17: Carbon Leaf’s Indian Summer Album [beginning things with Blondie, trip to Hilton Head a la Indian Summer]
18: Modest Mouse’s The World At Large [away at college for the first time]
19: Con Dolore’s Keeper
20: Shout Out Loud’s Impossible & Coldplay everything [Impossible was my song for the England Abroad and I discovered Coldplay right after the Abroad]
21: Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind [dancing to this during the career conference, full of gratitude for Prin, which was, for me, the NY of this song]
22: Bon Iver’s Skinny Love
23: Matt and Kim’s Daylight
24: Twenty-One Pilots’ Holding Onto You

"Let me sail, let me sail,
let the orinoco flow,
Let me reach, let me beach
On the shores of Tripoli." Ah, Enya calling to my 4-year-old soul. The thing is, I still like all these songs. So, apparently we're born with a certain taste? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I loved the humidity tonight. I biked to the middle school, the one I attended at the turn of the century. In seventh grade, I had a tradition in the afternoon of doing my math homework right when I got home and then biking to school to deliver the hulking book to my locker, so I wouldn’t have to lug it the next day with all the other books. I biked that route tonight listening to Brand New. I needed the muggy air, the smell of honeysuckle coming at me at certain points along the way, the creek before the school full because of recent rain, the shock of magenta azaleas on the golf course. I needed these sights, the old sights, the steep dirt path I used to take from the bike path to the basketball court. The first time Blondie hung out at my house we biked to the middle school and stood at the court. I remember there was a funny conversation—already a perfect circle, the way they are now with a thousand funny revelations that we both understand in the same way. When I pumped my way up the hill behind the school tonight and stood at the top, about to cruise around the building, I opted for Vanessa Carlton’s White Houses, a perfect song for nostalgia. I don’t know, guys. Nostalgia is sometimes my medicine. 

Like, actually, I'm a creep. Shampoo bottles from hotel at AWP conference. 
"We'll tidy up, 
It's sad to hold, but leave your shell to us,
You explode."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Perfect Love

Learn to love with LOVE FIRST and all the little things about someone second. That way, all the little things fall into the first category.

I could say that more clearly.   

Love should come first. Perfect, complete, total love should preclude anything else from really having substance. All the other little things are nice–the things they say, the things they do. But they’re just little shadows, beautiful little shadows. The only real thing, the only substantial thing, is love.

Dough and I talked about this on April 15, the Monday we drove from her condo in Tempe to the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had seen it before, and it affected us more than we thought it would. When we walked out to the lookout, Mather Point, and got our first sight of the canyon, I felt like my stomach stretched out to include the whole thing.

At the lookout, we milled around looking for potential picture-takers. We didn’t realize how obvious we were being. A woman stepped up, “I’ll take your picture.” And we laughed at ourselves for thinking we’d been discreet.

After a bit of staring at the canyon from the edge, we retreated to a higher point further back and sat on a boulder. I said, “It’s appropriate that we were talking in the car about love being so huge, being everything.” Now we were overlooking a huge canyon, the perfect setting for this thought.

I mentioned something I’d said to her before, “When I see you, I don’t see you as a physical body. When I look at some people, I see their body, and I think, ‘Oh, that’s them.’ But when I see, say, your leg,” I gestured at her leg, “I never think it’s you.” That’s just one illustration of the love I described above. I see her as perfect, and her body is secondary to that, not something all that substantial. Same with her thoughts and her expressions and her clothes. They are not her. They are great, but they are not her. Her is something in the ether, something spiritual that can’t be taken down with wind or fire.

One of the things Dough and I love about our friendship is that we are completely honest with each other. And I think the perfect love, the love that precludes all else, is what makes this possible.

Canyon sisters. April 15, 2013.
“If all you wanted was me, I'd give you nothing less."