Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Past in Present"

Before I share my next three and most recent brilliant traces, I would like to share the lyrics of a song that hit me like a burst of cold water this morning as my train was pulling into Seattle.

The song is "Past in Present" by Feist. It struck me so hard because while my present is the happiest I have been in many years, I still have portions of my past that creep up on me when I'm not looking.

Even though I have moved forward from the heart break, portions of the last three brilliant traces are still present in my life - one who is still a friend, one who I can't escape the memory of, and one who still makes my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach when I think about him.

"Past in Present"
by Feist

The scarlet letter isn't black
Gotta know who's got your back
Because they're right in front of you
Because they're telling you the truth

So much present inside my present
Inside my present so...so much past
Inside my present inside my past
Inside my present
So, so

Feeling it from dark to bright
When a wrong becomes a right
When a mountain fills with light
It's a volcano, it's a volcano
It's a volcano, it's a volcano

So much present, inside my present
Inside my present
So, so much past

Inside my present, inside my present
Inside my present
So, so much past

Inside my present
Inside my present...
So, so much past

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

brilliant trace #6

You were a friend of my best friend, and the instant I met you I knew you were going to steal my heart.

I was sitting on a couch in the basement of CBGB’s on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and in one smooth motion you sat down next to me and with a gentle nod cleared the long, dark silky hair from your face.

You turned to me and asked, “Who might you be?”

We had barely introduced ourselves before you were called up to the stage with your band.

I remained on the couch captivated by the emotion in your voice and the humor in your performance. I realized at that moment there was no probably in the matter of you stealing my heart.

After your show, and couple of other people talked about getting a bite to eat. You turned to me and asked if I was going to join all of you because we barely even had the chance to say hello.

I of course said yes.

At the end of the night, which included trekking several blocks to a bizarre costume party in the Lower East Village, you gave me a copy of your band’s demo album. You apologized for the amateur quality of the CD. At the time, I didn’t know how modest you were being, which is something I can attest to after endlessly listening to your album during my long subway commutes between work, school, and home.

Our brief encounter that September evening soon led to numerous late night phone calls, and hours upon hours of instant messaging during our droning workdays. In between all of our silly banter and play-on-words, we talked about our dreams, life, love, and losing love.

After two months of long-distance dating, so to speak, I made a venture west to Philadelphia to spend Halloween with my best friend, you, and your circle of friends.

After a roaring good time of board games, I laid my head in your lap and we all watched a countdown of Hollywood’s scariest movie moments. While everyone was fixated on the television, I was fixated on you gently running your fingers through my hair while I rubbed the small of your back. It was tender, safe, and warm.

Over the next month, we exchanged a number of mixed CDs. When done right, we both understood the brilliance, sentiment, humor, and power behind mixing a compilation of music for someone.

In December, you came to visit me in New York and taught me how to make your grandma’s secret marinara sauce. You told me I had to learn it out of pure necessity because the eating habits I'd developed over the years while dashing from work to class to the acting studio were atrocious. You said just because I was busy and broke didn’t mean I should sacrifice my health.

While our pot of marinara boiled on the stove, we curled up in my over-sized chair to watch a Bobby Darin special I'd recorded from PBS. I told you your charisma reminded me of him. You didn't believe me, but I still think I’m right.

We spent the rest of the weekend with your friends attending a book reading and art show. We all wanted you stay in New York a little longer, but you insisted on returning to Philadelphia to help your ex-girlfriend, who you'd been with for five years, move out of the apartment the two of you shared.

I feel like a fool now believing I was something more than a rebound for you, but I guess we all need to face the truth sometimes so we can see where we stand in the grand scheme of things.

I asked you after that weekend what you were feeling given the recent breakup, and all you could tell me was that you were emotionally unavailable. You said you decided right after your break up that you were going to be single for a while and get your head on straight. Then, meeting a “wonderful little creature named Vanessa” had complicated all of that.

You remained loyal to your convictions of being being single and I respected your reasoning. We remained friends, but somewhat estranged. I was holding out hope you might come to your senses and realize what we could be.

Then, a few months after our conversation, my best friend informed me you were in a new relationship with someone. I asked you about your new girlfriend, and you told me it was serious.

I felt a jolt of blood and disbelief rush to my face while my heart sank, and all I could think was that I'd known from the beginning you’d steal my heart. I just didn't realize you would break it.

I learned from you not to wait on anyone to figure things out, because if someone really wants to be with me they’ll make it happen. No matter how confusing it might be.

Current status of brilliant trace #6: Married

brilliant trace #7

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Take the things you love . . ."

In following along with my flow of brilliant traces, here are some lyrics I think encapsulate what it means to love, lose love, and love again - hopefully without losing faith.
This is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
You try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

From: "On the Radio" by Regina Spektor

Friday, November 30, 2007

brilliant trace #5

Running into you can only be described as magnetic.

It was the day after Christmas and we were both celebrating the holidays at a bar in our hometown. I didn't know you personally because you had graduated a year before me, but I knew of you.

You saw me drinking a pint of beer and said, "Casavant's Creative Corner," citing the title of the column I used to write for our high school newspaper.

You said you had always read my column and were now going to graduate school in Alaska for creative writing. I blushed thinking about the naivety and simplicity of my writing back then. But you assured me you had enjoyed it.

We instantly bonded over our Mason jar pints talking about the novel you were in the process of writing, and the acting career I was pursuing in New York. I ended up driving you home later that night and you politely asked if it was OK to kiss me.

I answered by saying, "I thought you were never going to ask."

We then made plans to hang out the following night, which led to a full-fledged romantic holiday affair. We were completely inseparable, and at one point you went up to my friend who worked at the bar and thanked her for pointing me out to you.

She later told me you said that I was "the most amazing girl you had ever met."

Three days later as our holiday romance grew toward a close we were both at a loss for how to end things. Luckily a blizzard blew into town and you were forced to delay your traveling plans of heading to Grand Forks and then Alaska.

Thinking you had already left town, I got an unexpected call from you late in the evening. You said you would have called sooner but had to spend the majority of the day tracking down my parents' unpublished phone number. I was flattered.

We played with my new puppy Izzy B until everyone in my parents' house had gone to bed. Then we lay on the floor of my parents' living room face-to-face with our bodies facing opposite directions. We talked about our goals in life, and then had the most amazing kiss I'd ever had at that point in my life. We continued laying there staring into each others' eyes until I looked down to giggle in embarrassment.

You asked me what I was laughing about, and I told you it was too embarrassing to tell.

Then I looked up into your adoring eyes and told you I finally understood the pain in Bob Seger's voice when he sang the song "We've Got Tonight."

You looked back into my eyes amazed and said you were thinking about the exact same thing.

After a brief moment of giggling between the two of us you started singing in a cheesy rocker voice:
I know it’s late.
I know you're weary.
I know your plans don't include me.
Still here we are, both of us lonely.
Longing for shelter from all that we see.
Then you grabbed my hand tighter, and in laughter and a few tears I joined you:
We've got tonight.
Who needs tomorrow?
Lets make it last, lets find a way.
Turn off the light.
Come take my hand now.
We've got tonight babe,
Why don't we stay?
We secretly spent the night together spooning on the cot in my mom's sewing room. We woke up in the morning hearing your mom's voice on my parents' answering machine asking where you were. We hadn't even realized that in the moments of our singing and sleeping the blizzard had cleared.

I did my best not to cry all day after dropping you off at your mom's house. However, the damn broke free when I heard you voice on the phone that evening. You said you were standing in the entryway of a K-Mart in Grand Forks. You'd just hiked about a mile in a blizzard trying to find a pay phone so you could hear my voice before going to sleep.

We continued our romance as I returned to New York and you started your long journey back to Alaska. One of our last dates was on the phone while you were waiting in the Seattle airport for your plane to Alaska.

We laughed at the fact that we were both making mixed CDs for each other. You also told me you were looking at graduate schools in New York, and I said that it would be nice to spend my spring vacation visiting you in Alaska.

Unfortunately none of what we'd talked about came true. Instead, I received an email from you on the same day I received your mixed CD package in the snail mail. The email read that things were moving too fast and you just "couldn't."

That was our last communication about us, and as I tried to reach you over the next few months I was left with nothing. No response, no explanation. Just nothing.

For months I spent my nights falling asleep to U2's "With or Without You" and waking up to Bob Seger's "You'll Accompany Me." I was searching for answers of what happened, and finally had to reside myself to the fact that I would never find them.

From you I learned to beware the fool-hearted romantic.

Current status of brilliant trace #5: In a relationship

brilliant trace #6

Friday, November 23, 2007

brilliant trace #4

It's strange that it took so long for us to find each other.

Not only had our families been friends for generations, but we were also the same age and had grown up in small towns where our love for music and art helped us escape the suffocating stillness of country life.

We were 23 and bright-eyed about what our futures could hold. I was living in New York and chasing my dreams of acting. You were in Omaha discovering your love for photography. We still had no idea the other existed.

Then one day, family members who thought we'd have a lot to talk about gave our email addresses to each other. It turns out they were right.

At first our conversations were short, mainly you asking me questions about New York. After awhile we started to share more with each other, especially after we were both dumped by our current mates.

After about a year of talking online, our emails had grown into two- to three- page letters that we would send once or twice a day. We finally decided it was time to meet and for you to explore New York.

I remember waiting for you to knock on my door. I was pacing back-and-forth in my apartment wondering if you'd look like the person I had imagined who was somewhat short and perhaps a bit scruffy. Later you told me that you were imagining me as a tall and lanky girl with red hair.

It makes me laugh to think how wrong both us were.

You were tall, clean-cut, and very dashing. I was short with dark brown hair. The only feature we both had right were our striking blue eyes.

It didn't even take a full hour for us connect in person. Before we knew it we were exploring Manhattan, laughing, talking, and staying up all night sharing our dreams with each other. It felt as if we'd known each other our whole lives.

You were the man who helped me put the pieces of my heart back together and restored my passion for life after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had claimed it.

You finally decided to move to New York after spending another week with me and I with you in Omaha. In between those visits were weekly phone conversations lasting between three and five hours. We joked that our phone companies would call to see if we were still alive after you moved in and our phone bills significantly decreased.

There are parts of me that wish I could go back to the first year of our relationship. It was so magical that I was too scared to ruin it by asking where we stood with each other. In hindsight, I should have faced my fears and asked the question because the ambiguity of it all is what ultimately destroyed us.
Lost My Breath
(Written May 11, 2003)

I can't and I won't pretend, love
comes slowly and patiently, painfully
walking on eggshells.

A whisper carries truth, tight
lips speak louder, hearts
break silently.

I hate you, I love, I hate you, I love you.
I found this poem the other day I had written in the leather-bound journal you gave me with the inscription, "For stories & poems, plays & rhymes. May your thoughts find a home between these lines."

I can still recall the exact conversation that put an end to us.

I had finally gotten the courage to ask where we stood, and I was smacked with the words that I'm "a little psycho" and "emotionally high maintenance" just like every other girl who had come into your life.

You later apologized for what you said, and admitted it was something you convinced yourself of so you could push me away because you were incapable of loving.

It was too late though to salvage anything, even a friendship, because I had seen the real side of you in those hurtful words. Not the ideal I had built in my head of a dashing blue-eyed artist who left his favorite CD on my pillow to keep me company while we were apart.

You set the stage for my pattern of falling for guys who become instantly enamored with me and then turn on me just as fast.

However, I did manage to learn from you to never be afraid to ask where I stand with someone. Despite how much it may hurt, it's better to know than live in ambiguity.

Status of brilliant trace #4: Married

brilliant trace #5

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Proverbs 26:11

I am interrupting my flow of brilliant traces to share a quote.

"As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
- Proverbs 26:11

I am not a religious person in the way most would interpret the word religious. However, I am a firm believer in karma, love, and the absence of love - otherwise known as indifference.

That said, when venting to a friend today about a rather recent frustration with a brilliant trace that has yet to heal, I was given this quote from the Bible.

I share it with you here, taken from my purple leather-bound Holy Bible: New International Version that I received when confirmed in the fact that I could recite the teachings of Martin Luther without fail.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

brilliant trace #3

We met while waiting tables together at a New York City restaurant. We were both 19, but from two completely different backgrounds.

I was a small-town girl chasing after her dreams in the big city, and you were an inner-city boy born in Ecuador and living in a small one-bedroom apartment in Queens with your padre, hermano, and little hermana.

We would spend afternoons talking about our future goals, for me it was acting and you it was taking care of your family and gaining citizenship. Then at night you'd teach me how to Salsa and Merengue in my dorm room so I could impress your padre at a summer barbecue where you were going to introduce me to your familia.

However, I never got to meet your padre because he died of cancer a few days before the barbecue. Instead of dancing, we spent that weekend at your father's funeral.

You tried to remain strong for your family, especially your little hermana, but you were only a kid. You would come to me at night and cry while I held you. Then one night you returned the favor when I received news from home that one of my best friends had died unexpectedly.

Over the next few months we tried to hold each other together, but it wasn't working. We started spending fewer and fewer nights together. You said it was because your abuela was moving in to take care of you and your siblings, but I knew the truth. Our sadness together was too much for a pair of kids to handle.

I decided to move to Queens so we could be closer to each other, and you could have more time with your familia. Your abuela made me laugh, instructing you to help me find a safe apartment because I was too innocent and pretty to find one myself. Your little hermana was also sweet, trying to teach me Spanish with homemade lessons scribbled in her school notebook.

I'm not sure when it was you started cheating on me with the hostess where we worked, but I'll always remember the day you left me for her. You were my first serious boyfriend who eventually crushed my heart to pieces and took away my innocence when it came to matters of love.

After more than a year of being forced to watch you and her carry on in front of me, I finally had enough experience as a waitress to get a new job. I was moving forward and moving on, putting the pieces of my heart back together. So when you called me out of the blue a year later I wasn't sure what to think.

We decided to meet at our coffee shop. I was expecting some sort of apology, and instead you offered me a small sum of money to marry you for a green card. You told me you had a whole plan worked out; that we would get divorced after four years so you could marry the girl you left me for and she could get her own green card.

You told me that you were asking me for this favor because you knew I was a good person who always wanted the best for everyone.

I was lucky you waited so long to propose, albeit not in the most romantic way, because it was long enough for me to see you for the selfish and despicable person you were. Instead of saying yes, I calmly told you to go to hell and left you sitting in our coffee shop.

From you I learned that there are people in this world who don't deserve my compassion, tears, or forgiveness. I also learned to never date a co-worker.

Current status of brilliant trace #3: Unknown

brilliant trace #4

brilliant trace #2

It was chemistry when we met, quite literally. We were paired together as lab partners, and a very unlikely friendship unfolded before our eyes.

You were on the fringe of the popular crowd, and I was on the fringe of the not-so-popular crowd.

We'd spend hours talking online before instant messaging was a common form of communication. It was the medium where we could tell each other anything except that we liked each other.

Our relationship and chemistry was this intangible thing that neither of us could explain nor understand. About a year out of high school we finally had the courage to tell each other how we felt, but it was too late.

We were living in different parts of the country - literally and figuratively.

From you I learned that people should never be afraid to utter the words, "I like you," because if we wait too long the moment might pass us by.

Current status of brilliant trace #2: Married

brilliant trace #3

brilliant trace #1

We met during drama club in high school. You were a senior and I was a freshman. Your cologne was subtle and would linger in a room for several seconds after you'd leave. Your laughter and smile would do the same.

You were my first crush to turn into a boyfriend. We'd spend hours sitting in your car in the dead of winter talking because it was the only place we could be alone.

You were there for me when no one else could be. You'd let me pour my heart out to you, whether it was about my grades in school or my mom lying in a hospital fighting for her life. You would listen, you would console, and then you'd do everything in your power to make me laugh.

The first time you broke up with me was the hardest. The second was also painful, and so was the third. I shouldn't have taken you back after that, but you had been my shoulder to cry on and my joker to laugh with for more than a year. I didn't know how to let that go.

Then after you broke my heart a fourth time I realized it was harder to be with you than without you.

From you I learned there are guys in this world who will be forever lost in trying to find themselves, and there isn't room for anyone in a heart that can't be found.

Current status of brilliant trace #1: Unknown

brilliant trace #2

It's complicated

I succumbed to joining Facebook last week, and I have to say I'm very pleased with my lack of will power.

The social-networking website is far superior to its competitors when it comes to being in tune with my generation. I could list a plethora of its features as proof of this, but my favorite is under the category of "relationship status" where there is an option to choose "it's complicated."

I don't think there's any word or phrase that could better describe my generation's experience when it comes to navigating all the variables that exist in today's relationships, causing many of us to become paralyzed with indecision.

We can travel faster and stay connected in ways no other generation has experienced. We can study, live, and work in three different places at the same time. We can instantly see captured memories with the click of a digital camera, and just as easily delete the ones we don't want to keep.

The world and all its infinitesimal opportunities continue to whirl around us faster and faster, and in all the chaos we seem to lose our ability, and sometimes common decency, in tending to matters of the heart.

When I started this blog I didn't intend to write anything too deeply personal about my romantic life, fearing that I would undo the stitches I've so delicately sewn my heart back together with over the years.

Then I remembered a monologue from the play Brilliant Traces by Cindy Lou Johnson that I had performed nearly a decade ago at the J. Beckson Studios.
Did you ever think that one time, a long time ago, when you were a little child, you were visited by extraterrestrials? They say that when you are visited by an extraterrestrial - after the visit, the extraterrestrial puts this spell on you so you cannot remember the encounter at all, and you wake up only with this sad kind of longing for something, but you don't know what. And you carry that sad longing with you all the rest of your life. And they say that if, by chance, you get hypnotized, then you reveal the encounter, under hypnosis and when you wake up, you remember it, and then, it is no longer a sad longing, but a real thing, which you know about, and even if people think you're crazy, talking all the time about your extraterrestrial encounter, that's OK, because in your heart you know what it was that had been locked up for so long and you are greatly relieved.
In Johnson's own words from a 1989 New York Times article, the play is about "people who were scarred but were trying to make something of value out of their pain."

So, even if you think I'm crazy, over the next 10 days I'll list the top 10 indelible and complicated "brilliant traces" left on my heart, and what I've learned from each boy who put them there.

No names will be mentioned, only experiences - and perhaps through this process I will finally find my own relief.

brilliant trace #1

Thursday, October 18, 2007

HappiNess

Right now, at this very moment, I'm sipping a delicious mocha delicately topped with whip cream.

It's from Seattle's oldest coffee house, which is right across the street from my office. On my walk there I could smell the fullness of autumn as the wind swirled trios of dancing leaves around me.

Now that I'm back in my office with Izzy B snoring at my feet, the mocha rousing my tongue, and the scene of bright yellows, oranges, and reds dancing across Seattle's pale October sky entertaining my eyes - all I can say is that I absolutely love my current life.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Candy causes murmurings of the heart

I apologize for my lack of actual blogging contact. I've been a bit busy with family, friends, work, and getting healthy (nothing serious, just a minor reaction to some medication.)

I do have a wonderful creative rambling floating around in my head about the state of relationships among us in the GenX/Millenial/Y/GenNext crowd that is is just itching to come out. However, I have promised myself that I will finish organizing my apartment tonight - so that will have to wait.

In the meantime, Iggy the iPod shuffled to a song today that spoke to me about asking ourselves the question why, I wanted to share my interpretation of the lyrics.
"Good Enough"
Hey your glass is empty
it's a hell of a long way home.
Why don't you let me take you?
It's no good to go alone.

I never would have opened up,
but you seemed so real to me.
After all the bullshit I've heard,
it's refreshing not to see.

I don't have to pretend,
she doesn't expect it from me.

So don't tell me I
haven't been good to you.
Don't tell me I
have never been there for you.
Just tell me why
nothing is good enough.

Hey little girl would you like some candy?
Your momma said that it's OK.
The door is open, come on outside.

No, I can't come out today.

It's not the wind that cracked your shoulder
and threw you to the ground.
Who's there that makes you so afraid?

You're shaken to the bone.

You know, I don't understand.
You deserve so much more than this.

So don't tell me why,
he's never been good to you.
Don't tell me why,
he's never been there for you.
And I'll tell you that why,
is simply is not good enough.

So just let me try,
and I will be good to you.
Just let me try,
and I will be there for you.

I'll show you why you're so much more than good enough ...


Monday, October 1, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

seattle SO sweet

My back was still aching today, and I was exhausted from the sun. However, it was all worth it for the the highlight of my summer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Amen to that!

Headline in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Dogs are Men: More single women seem to be finding the perfect man in their pooches

I can definitely attest. My shih tzu Izzy B is by far the most: loyal, loving, committed, uncomplicated, and dependable companion I've ever had.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My alive day - Sept. 11, 2001

I am six years alive today, and there is much to celebrate.

Personally
  1. Two of my best friends are celebrating their first full day at home with their new baby boy who was born on Labor Day (funny enough.) They survived a very difficult delivery that came very close to taking the life of the mother this weekend.

  2. My mom is cancer-free and recuperating at home from a painful but successful surgery yesterday - and hopefully her surgery tomorrow will be equally as successful.

  3. I have established a great group of friends and a very active social life in a city I adore (although my heart will always be with New York.)
Professionally
  1. I have a job that I love for the first time in my life, which is opening many doors for me to continue moving forward.

  2. I am making enough money to not only exist, but also to live.

  3. I still get to wear blue jeans at work every now and then.
Politically
  1. The Bush Administration is floundering like it should have years ago.

  2. It seems that for the first time in my life I will be able to vote FOR a presidential candidate rather than AGAINST one.

  3. The truth behind invading Iraq and all the Wag-The-Dog trickery the Bush Administration has pulled is finally being scrutinized - forcing all his cronies to resign.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"When there is nothing left to burn . . ."

I've been meaning to sit down and write about an insightful conversation I recently had on life and relationships among my generation - but wouldn't you know it - life keeps getting in the way.

So, until I have more time to sit down and write about that conversation in a way that will do it justice, I want to talk a little bit about music.

I've always been a connoisseur of music, which my insane CD collection can attest to. And for some reason lately, music has had an even larger presence in my life, something that is definitely most welcomed and a major reason I wanted to move back to Seattle. (After living in New York for seven years, I can definitely say that Seattle has a FAR better music scene.)

While some people find inspiration in nature, some in faith or religion, and others on the pages of books, I happen to find most of mine in music and lyrics.

I always used to think I was less intelligent and academic than a lot of my friends because of this. That was until I had an editor, who I greatly respected, once ask me if I was a book person or a music person. The answer rolled off my tongue without a bit of hesitation, and a bright light flicked on inside of my head.

While I consider the books I have read to be my friends who I like to keep around, I consider my music collection to be an assortment of spiritual advisers, philosophers, and comedians who keep me thinking, laughing, and dancing.

The reason I chose to write about this topic tonight is that on the way home from work I was struck by the lyrics and rhythm of a song by the band Stars. I discovered this band a few years ago, and they have a sound that would best be described as a lovechild between Death Cab for Cutie and Frente!. (If you don't know any of these bands, I am sorry for you and hope that you can discover their music in this vast universe we call Cyberspace.)

The title of the aforementioned song is "Your Ex-Lover is Dead." Now, despite what your knee-jerk reaction to that title might be, my reason for finding inspiration in it had less to do with my recent heartbreak and more to do with personal survival.

One week from yesterday will mark the six-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I have yet to be able to write about my reflections of that day.

My mind is still processing why it is that a co-worker found me and helped me escape death by mere minutes. Why my life out of thousands of others was spared. Why our country's retaliation has become the forgotten war in Afghanistan. Why hundreds of thousands more have died unjustly in the name of "freedom" in Iraq. Why the American public has forgotten that Bush and Congress work for us, and that we have the right to fire dishonest employees. And why, despite all of this, our lives seem virtually unaffected on a daily basis.

So, perhaps "when there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire," to quote the scary old-man voice at the beginning of "Your Ex-Lover is Dead."

(For curious minds, there is a video available of the song on the Stars website.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

"I'm sensitive"

While drifting in and out of sleep during an afternoon nap the other day, Iggy the iPod shuffled to the song "I'm Sensitive," which is a favorite Jewel tune I hadn't heard in a years.

I can identify with many stanzas of the song, especially the chorus - "Please be careful with me, I'm sensitive and I would like to stay that way." But this time, one stanza in particular jumped out at me:
"I was thinking that it might do some good if we robbed all the cynics and took all their food. That way what they believe will have taken place, and we can give it to people who have some faith."
The words just kept running through my mind today, and I found it amazing how two simple sentences can apply to everything from White House scandals to jaded hearts to poverty to global warming.

Words are such wonderful, brilliant things when used to make thought provoking art.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

What is rich enough?

I was catching up on my magazine reading tonight while enjoying the $3.50 Guiness special at my local pub - which has basically become an extension of my apartment. The magazine of choice, out of my many subscriptions, was the June/July issue of Foreign Policy. It's a magazine of essays about current events by journalists, scholars, and public officials.

The article that caught my eye was "21 Solutions to Save the World," which gave brief theories about how to address the world's top 21 problems. Among those theories was one titled "An Embarrassment of Riches," by Howard Gardner, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Gardner's theory offered a way to correct the imbalance of riches among classes of people, which has grown to absurd extremes in recent years.

While I didn't completely agree with Gardner's formula of how to go about correcting the imbalance of riches, I couldn't help but think about how incredibly astute the title of his theory was - "An Embarrassment of Riches."

It got me thinking about my own struggles through the years to make ends meet while going to school and waiting tables full-time. I had written about this subject almost a year ago on my former MySpace blog:
"I can tell you what it's like . . . "
September 15, 2006

" . . . My last day of work at the Peninsula Daily News was Wednesday. I hustled, slept very little and had basically no life to call my own for the past year.

Part of the craziness was welcomed. It was a nice diversion from my own reality of being very lonely and depressed in a place where I thought it would never stop raining. Sadness can swallow a person alive if they let it.

I think the transition from college to career is difficult for almost everyone. The changes in your life happen so rapidly, and before you know it you're waking up in the morning asking yourself, "Is this really my life now?" There's no semester breaks, summer vacations or a final destination.

I didn't miss the semester breaks or summer vacations so much. Mine were always filled with work, which usually consisted of waiting tables in high-end restaurants and serving people who were living off trust funds and completely detached from reality. Their babies were treated as fashion accessories, who turned into black American Express cardholders by age 13.

I remember over one Christmas vacation I was working a busy brunch shift at Fred's, a restaurant on the top floor of Barney's New York that charged $25 for a hamburger. We were two waiters down, and I was covering a full section that consisted of about 12 tables with 36 demanding customers.

I approached a family of three - a mother whose face was paralyzed from botox injections, a father who I'd served a few days earlier when he treated his mistress to lunch, and their 19-year-old daughter. The father had just made a lame joke that their daughter was well on her way to earning a major in shopping after her first semester of college.

I didn't laugh. I didn't have the energy to pretend I cared. It was the holidays, I missed my family and my feet were aching.

The father looked up at me and said, "Didn't you get it? She's majoring in shopping." He then took a moment to laugh again at his joke.

I cracked a smile so I could get on with taking their order. At that point, his wife grabbed my hand and said, "It's okay honey. It's a joke for educated people."

I wanted to scream at her, "Look bitch. I'm an honors student at Hunter College a few blocks north of here. I don't have time to take your demeaning remarks today as I'm swamped in serving the heartless and wretched just so I can buy my textbooks next semester. So maybe you should tell your daughter to apply herself now, or she might end up like you with a face full of cow poison and a husband who doesn't recognize the woman he married."

Instead, I snapped my hand away and asked they wanted to eat. I couldn't afford to open my mouth and be fired. ..."

In remembering this story, it brought to mind recent discussions I've had with my father about the importance of financial security and making a living wage - or the discussions with peers about how insane it is that the federal government defines an independent as someone 25 years or older if single (forcing a great majority of young adults, like myself, to go into extreme debt to pay for college.)

So, my question to all of you is, "Where is the line drawn between being rich enough, and embarrassingly rich?"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Baggage

In the month absence from my Nook, I've been thinking about baggage. I guess living out of boxes scattered around a 325 square-foot apartment will do that to a person.

And all I can think is that this is my good baggage.

In an attempt to start anew on this next chapter of my life, I got rid of every possession reminding me of certain places and people I am better without (even if my heart refuses to feel it.)

I am left with:
  • several boxes of books
  • one large box of CDs (which would be double if not for Iggy the iPod)
  • six garbage bags of clothes
  • one suitcase of shoes
  • a few stuffed animals
  • one lovely real animal named Izzy B
  • my violin and some art
  • a plastic tote with all my newspaper and magazine bylines
  • a set of sheets and an air mattress (but I just got my new bed, YEAH)
  • several blankets that were gifted to me
  • one very old television and a set of rabbit ears
  • two boxes of dishes and cookware
  • a traveling case filled with files
  • one small box of photos, playbills, and old letters
  • and of course my laptop and cell phone
While a lot of these things are necessities or good sentiments, I have to wonder at what point does good baggage become dead weight? Despite my best efforts to start fresh, I still feel like I'm carrying around a lot of stuff I threw away or sold.

I've realized there are just unpleasant experiences and people who come into our lives that we'll never forget, even if they only end up being a small footnote at the end of one of many chapters. No matter how many dumpsters we fill, or yard sales we have, the memories will never be fully forged from our brain.

I guess that's a good thing. Otherwise we'd end up living our whole lives feeling like something was missing because we wouldn't know the difference between happiness and sadness.

Granted, it's scary as hell to recognize and deal with the bad baggage we carry with us, but I think it's an important thing to do. Sure, we'll never get rid of it. But facing it will give us courage to move forward, hopefully with a clear head, so we can make yesterday's heartbreaks the happy endings of tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Moving Forward

How odd is it that what is believed to be one of the most unluckiest of days of the year fell within the same week of what was supposed to be one of the luckiest days in a 100 years?

Luck or no luck, I'm moving forward and have made a fantastic mix to celebrate my feeling of freedom. Like all of the mixes I make, the songs have a general theme tying them together. What is different about this mix is that all of the songs are arranged by the lyrics that speak the most to me rather than the flow of music. It was a little experiment, and I have to say I'm quite happy with it.

This is also the first mix I've made for myself. All of my previous mixes were made for friends in need, saying hello or goodbye, and guys that eventually broke my heart. So, without further ado, here is to Moving Forward:

1. So Long - Guster
"Yes I'm blue, but from holding my breath, like I have from the start. I'm the villain and I should confess, I liked you better before."

2. Far Behind - Social Distortion
"Your narcissistic ways have gotten the best of you, so I'm leaving you to sink in all your glory. ... Get out of my way, I've got better things to do."

3. Domino - Van Morrison
"And if you never hear from me, that just means I would rather not."

4. Blacking Out the Friction - Death Cab for Cutie
"I think that it's brainless to assume that making changes to your window's view will give a new perspective."

5. Let Him Fly - Dixie Chicks
"It took a while to understand the beauty of just letting go. 'Cause it would take an acrobat, and I already tried all that. I'm gonna let him fly."

6. Go Ahead - Rilo Kiley
"If you want to hold onto the first girl that you meet, or if you want to settle down and plant roses at my feet, go ahead. ... If you want better things, then I want you to have them."

7. Fidelity - Regina Spektor
"And by protecting my heart truly I got lost in the sounds."

8. Ageless Beauty - Stars
"Cruelty makes its holes, but on the shoreline time will hold its promise."

9. North of Heaven - Edwyn Collins
"Things can only get better. What's around the corner, who can tell? I'll build a little place just north of heaven, I'm kinda tired of living south of hell."

10. The Resistance - Sam Roberts Band
"I was born a restless soul. I never did what I was told. That old fire rages on."

11. I Will Be Free - Nil Lara
"For many years I've been held inside this wishing well."

12. Breakdown - Jack Johnson
"You can't stop wishing if you don't let go of the things that you find and you lose and you know."

13. Free To Decide - The Cranberries
"And I'm free to decide, I'm free to decide."

14. Whatever It Is - Ben Lee
"So wake up and do it. Whatever it is, just do it."

15. Stand - REM
"Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before? Now stand in the place where you work. ... Think about the place where you live."

16. Hands - Jewel
"My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours they are my own. ... In the end only kindness matters."

17. Downhill From Here - The Frames
"So let go of the wheel, and forget how to steer. It's all downhill from here."

18. Someday - The Strokes
"Tables they turn sometimes."

19. She's Got Her Ticket - Tracy Chapman
"And she'll fly, fly fly ..."

20. Sunshine - Matt Costa
"Sha la la la la la la la"
(I have to admit that this last song was really only chosen because it makes me completely happy and giddy - mostly because I have a huge crush on Mr. Costa. But I rationalize this choice by the fact that the whole point of the mix is about moving away from darkness and into sunshine.)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

10 lucky insights into life

There was a lot of talk this weekend about the lucky powers 07-07-07 was to bring. I even heard from a lady this weekend that more than 43,000 people got married on Saturday just for the luck factor.

Of course, I don't know the complete validity of the lady’s statement, or anything about her other than she’s a baby boomer who’s married to a man who loves to read as much as her, and neither of them can throw their books away. However, what I do know is that meeting her on 07-07-07 was a lucky coincidence because she and her husband bought three bookshelves from my friends and me at our moving sale.

Anyway, all this talk of luck and the fact that most of us will only experience an 07-07-07 day once in our lives got me thinking of all the insights into life I was lucky enough to gain this year. So, here they are:

Nessa's 10 lucky insights into life between 07-07-06 and 07-07-07

  1. The hardest thing in moving on is letting go of any guilt, hurt, anger, love, hope or expectations that hold us back either professionally or personally.


  2. Mending a broken heart is easier the second time around - especially when there are friends and family helping you put it back together.


  3. Rumors may spread like wild fire - but they can only destroy your dignity if you let them.


  4. Discontentment is a warning sign that there's a sharp curve ahead in the "Journey of Life" Road, and ...


  5. ... having the courage to steer into the curve keeps us from getting stuck in a rut.


  6. True friends are those who care to point out your dysfunctional behavior.


  7. There's something to be said for only dating men who have real beds.


  8. Doubt is a weed that can strangle us if not plucked early.


  9. Death and existence are evident, living isn't.


  10. Finding home means finding yourself.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

luck - n. the force that seems to work for good or ill in a person's life

I've never thought of myself as a superstitious person, but on Friday I realized how much attention I give to impulse wishes made on shooting stars, yellow stop lights, and digital clocks turning to the hour of 11:11.

Even though very few of these wishes have come true, at least to my knowledge, I keep making them.

The impulse wish that caught my attention on Friday was made while walking to the final interview for a new job in Seattle that could open many doors for me both professionally and personally.

As I was walking to the interview, I noticed the latch of my necklace had moved to the front and was touching the sparkling gem that the chain was holding. So, I held the latch and thought of how much I wanted this new job and the new life it could bring about for me. I guess it wasn't really a wish I made; just more of throwing a thought out to the universe and hoping it heard me. Then I moved the latch to the back of my neck and kept walking.

While I make a lot of silly and impulsive wishes on random things, wishing on necklaces is something I put a little bit more thought into, because every piece of jewelry I own has a special meaning to me. This particular necklace came from my acting coach in New York, JoAnna Beckson, who I lovingly refer to as my Manhattan Mama. I wear the necklace and matching earrings, which are very simple and silver with just a hint of sparkle, to every big interview and occasion in my life.

Shortly after wishing on the necklace, I looked down and noticed the chain of it had broken and the sparkling gem was nowhere in sight. I looked up and down the sidewalk from the point where I had made the wish to where I had noticed the necklace was broken. The whole time I kept thinking, "This isn't good. This isn't a good omen at all."

After several minutes of looking like a scatter-brained lady searching the sidewalk, I gave up and continued walking to my interview while nervously fiddling around with the broken chain of my necklace. That's when I remembered about a girl I met at theater camp one summer who wore a very fragile and frayed bracelet on her wrist. She said it was a wish bracelet, and that once the bracelet fell off it meant the wish she made when she put it on would come true. Granted the idea of the wish bracelet came from the imaginative mind of a 14-year-old girl, the thought brought comfort to me in losing the sparkling gem of a very special necklace.

Then, right before I went in for my final interview, I decided to straighten out my suit and the sparkling gem fell softly to the floor. All I could think was, "This is good. This is definitely a good omen."

Low and behold, I was officially offered the job yesterday and will be moving to Seattle before the end of the month to start my new life. So, I think I'm going to keep wishing on little things and walking through every door that opens for me. That's how I've lived my life so far, and have walked through enough doors to have traveled all the way from one ocean to another.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Epiphany

It wasn't until this very moment that I fully understood the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of my life."

Only, at this present moment I need to edit it a bit to say, "Tomorrow may very well be the first day of the rest of my life."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Love your life . . ."

A little more than a year ago the world lost an amazingly kind-hearted man, and I lost one of my dearest friends. Pete Flitton, the goofy red-head who grew up next door to me, was the kind of man who on his death bed kept a journal of all the troubles of his family and friends. He would take this journal, and in the late hours when he couldn't sleep he would pray. He would pray for their happiness, their sanity, their hearts, and anything else he noticed they needed.

He was a man of patience, a man of selflessness, a man of understanding, a man of love, and a man of laughter. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. Even as he was dying of cancer at the age of 27, he would do his best to make everyone around him smile and forget for just a moment the reality of the situation. Even at his funeral, Pete the ultimate Star Wars junkie, made sure everyone got a chuckle by wearing his Star Wars tie.

At the time of Pete's death I was at a very bad place in my life, and spent my days either working my fingers to the bone or sleeping way too much. I had simply stopped living, and was merely existing.

Then one day, as I was frantically getting into my car to rush back to the newsroom to file a story, I noticed a torn slip of paper tucked behind the gas pedal. I thought maybe it was a receipt or a piece of scrap paper I had used to scribble down some directions. Instead, it was a white piece of paper that simply read, "Love your life. -Henry David Thoreau." I sat in my car staring at the piece of paper for the longest time. I couldn't make heads or tails of how it got there, but as I was holding it I got the strangest and most comforting feeling that it was a message from Pete.

The full quote from Chapter 18 of Thoreau's Walden reads:
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse."
Here I was, a completely healthy person sitting in a pile of self-pity and hating nearly everything about my life. For a moment I felt guilty and fool-hearted, but then thought of how Pete would tell me to let go of the guilt and start living. So I did, and wonderful things happened. I even started a gratitude journal, and would write down five things I was thankful for each day. My entries ranged from stuff as simple as a good cup of coffee, to more meaningful things like having a tight-knit family who would do anything for each other.

The point of the journal was for me to not take life for granted, because it's such an easy thing to do when you're caught up in your own head (which is a place where I frequently get lost). Then as the months went on and things in my life seemed to really pick up - a new job, a new car, a new home, a new group of friends, a new love - I forgot about the journal and taking time to be grateful for all the blessings in my life.

Well, as the roller coaster of life kept moving along, some of those great things got tossed around and lost. I again started sinking into a realm of anxiety and depression, and there were days that it took every ounce of my being to get out of bed.

Then about a week ago I got my gratitude wake-up. One of my best friends from high school called me out of the blue and came to visit for a few days with her boyfriend. I noticed they each had a stone in the pockets of their jeans, and I would catch them every now and then holding them and closing their eyes. I asked what the stones were for, and they explained they were gratitude stones. Anytime they felt the stone or were reminded of its presence, they would take a moment out of their day to thank the universe for something in their lives.

Later during their visit we were all on the beach wading our feet in the cold salt water when her boyfriend came running up to me and said he thought I should have my very own gratitude stone. He opened his hands, and there were several rocks he had collected. He told me to choose one. So I did. It was small and gray with white striations all over it. I put the stone in my pocket, and then we all played around in the water and sand feeling carefree and laughing like children.

After my friend and her boyfriend left, I forgot about the stone. Then today as I was fumbling around at work and feeling the drone of the clock ticking minutes from my life, I felt a tiny bump in the pocket of my pants. It was my gratitude stone, and I thought about my friends, my family, my dog, my health, and everything else in this life that I could say thank you for to the universe. Then, when I was driving home, I went to grab my sunglasses from the dashboard of my car, and there was the slip of paper with the message Pete had sent me nearly a year ago, "Love your life."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Be still"

"When you are in doubt, be still, and wait. When doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still. Be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists, as it surely will. Then act with courage."
-Chief White Eagle of the Ponca (1800s - 1914)

Monday, June 25, 2007

What do I say

I nibbled on the memory of you,
but the morsel grew stale.

Passion is the casualty of patience I suppose.

I proceeded with caution, but here I am again.

You, like the others,
put words into my head,
and thoughts into my voice.

Scaring yourself, perhaps out of fear.

I tried to un-squeak the rustiness of your heart,
but it only tightened the hinges on mine.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Top 10 reasons why I left MySpace

10. Phishers and spammers.
9. Pictures don't always speak a thousand words.
8. People substituting e-mails and phone calls with comments.
7. I like face-to-face socializing more than chatting in a world of virtual reality.
6. The people I truly want in my life already know where to find me.
5. Not everything is meant to be out in the open. That's why personal lives are personal.
4. I'd rather have people checking my page for what I have to say than what I look like.
3. Saying goodbye is hard enough without having to physically delete someone.
2. I don't like ranking the importance of anyone.
1. Rupert Murdoch is evil.