Thursday, December 16, 2010


I will be going out of town for a couple of weeks, so no blog posts while I'm gone! Also, I am hoping to get back to more frequent posting after I take my big exam in February...

13 Lucky Things I Learned in 2010

1.Everyone else is just as afraid as I am to assert what they really want and to be who they really are. But if I go first, even when I'm scared shitless, others will overcome their fears and do it too. The world will become more meaningful and beautiful.

2.Time does not pass at the same speed for everyone. I need to keep this in mind when creating expectations for myself and others.

3.Money is freedom. I wish that weren't the case, but in our world, it's true. It doesn't take a lot of money to have freedom, but it does take at least enough to create an exit door when you need one. Learning to save is not a virtue. It is a precious tool of survival.

4.There is a sort of frantic, overcompensating rush of words I sometimes find spilling out of my mouth. I realize now that it only happens when I force myself to try to be something I cannot and do not want to be.

5.Changing my mind does not make me insincere. Only lying to myself or others about how my mind has changed would make me insincere.

6.If I think another human being is beautiful, I should never fail to tell them, even if it scares me to say it.

7.I am not obligated to have children. If I want to someday, I can, but it's not required.

8.Comfort is safe and easy, but does not create excitement or stimulate growth. I don't think it's for me. Constant intoxication glimmers with a beauty matched only by the darkness of its destructive impact. I don't think it's for me. In 2011, I will find or create something that falls somewhere in between.

9.Christmas means more when you spend no money at all. All I want for Christmas is to have Brynn read Dickens's A Christmas Carol out loud while Ahren, Megan, Grandma Lo, Kim, and I sip tea, eat those caramel wafer things, and put a jigsaw puzzle together.

10.It is okay to take as much time as I need to make major life decisions, even when they affect other people in my life. Taking time to make the right decision does not mean I am wasting other people's time. They are responsible for their own lives. It is up to them to make sure their lives do not feel wasted. It is up to me to make sure mine does not feel wasted.

11.If I find myself pushing someone else too hard, it might be myself I am subconsciously trying to set free.

12.If I want something badly enough, doors WILL open. They will open because I will finally stop being a lazy coward and begin to do the things I know I need to do to open the doors.

13.I am love.

What did you learn, dear readers?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Giraffe Lady...

...lives with her aging mother out in the suburbs. She used to have her own place before the recession. She used to have a job and spent her nights with friends in a garage band on Lake City Way. She tells me all this at a bus stop at 6:30AM on a Saturday. There's no cover over the stop, so we stand under a fir tree to semi-avoid the drizzle. The streetlight gives her pale blue, watery, red-rimmed eyes a purblind cave fish look. Her frizzy, chin-length red hair sticks out pyramidal from the crown of her head, making her look like a goofy One Piece character. Her breath smells like alfalfa. She is on her way to the zoo, where she's volunteered for decades. She spends every Saturday morning mucking out giraffe pens. All the giraffes have Buddhist and Hindu names, and she tells stories about them like they're her children. Her favorite giraffe was transferred to the Oregon Zoo. She talks about him like he was her boyfriend. His Hindu name started with an H, but what everyone called him was "Houdini", because he always found a way to escape his pen. The Oregon Zoo staff once had to retrieve him from the streets of Portland's Pearl District. He was found looming over a hot dog stand.

She really misses Houdini. It broke her heart when they transferred him. Once, she and her mother dove down to Portland to see him. The Oregon "keeper" took her out to Houdini's field, and he definitely remembered her. She could tell by the way he immediately looked up when he heard her voice.

On the bus, I try to get my own seat, but she insists that we sit together. "It'll be packed soon," she tells me. "We might as well sit with someone we like." I try to look enthused. I'd rather be reading my Aleksandar Hemon, but I try to convince myself that every day life brings us unique opportunities, and that we need to be receptive to them. Besides, I'm cornered in the window seat. What can I do?

She tells me about the length of giraffe gestation, about giraffe lifespan, giraffe nutrition, giraffe illnesses. When she runs out of giraffe facts, she gets a nostalgic look in her eyes. She smiles, shakes her head, and wistfully reminisces, "That Houdini... He was really something." I silently vow to never catch the 6:30AM Saturday bus again. Listening to her makes me want to bolt. Her soul feels lonely. Her breath must smell exactly like a giraffe's. It is more than I can handle.

Magic Spell (Written in Ruby-Slipper-Red Glitter Pencil)

Wake up, Sleepy One. Wake up now. Hear crows outside your window. Look out to see them. Love their beauty for the first time ever. Love them because I love them. Remember the crow photo I took the last time you saw me. Then come find me. You know where. I'll be there with my nerd girl books. Come and tell me your thoughts on true, eternal love. Then I'll put cracks in your illusions, and you can do the same to mine. Come illuminate your flaws for me so I can stop idolizing you. Come with soup on your chin. Come with that hat that makes you look like unappealing Nicolas Cage. Come with hairy knuckles. Come with your hesitation. Come in the door magical, exit human. Come reveal the differences between you and your book collection. Come sweet and beautiful, oddly shaped and curly haired. Come because my void is aching with the delusion that you are what I want you to be. Come be my spontaneous friend... my best friend in the universe. Tell me the vulnerable secrets you hoard so stingily. I'll tell you more of my Bukowski-ugly sins to underscore in your mind that I'm the wrong kind of magic.

I need some help inverting my perspective. I need one last brick to smash a certain film projector in my world... a certain illusion projector that casts beautifully deceptive images upon the screens of you and all of your kind.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Judy

I am not a gorp thief. Ahren or Matt might tell you otherwise, but they would be liars. I am an innocent lass with a golden heart full of good intentions. Don't believe their slanderous accusations for a minute!

Here's how it all really happened. It was back when Ahren and I were still roommates. I had never been to Mount Rainier before, and so Matt and Heather invited us to come hike it with them one summer Saturday. Ahren and I prepared our gorp the night before. Ahren filled his Ziploc bag with Skittles (Skittles!), Cheerios, and something else... maybe Chex? Chocolate Chips? Whatever, the point is... NO NUTS! (Ahren has a nut allergy.) And I filled my bag with M&M's (which really DO look like Skittles at a glance), cashews, almonds, walnuts, pretzels, Cheerios, Chex, crutons, barbecue potato chips, and Corn Nuts. (I could DEFINITELY make millions if I started my own gorp business.)

Saturday morning we woke up at 6AM and grunted at each other sleepily as we packed our backpacks. I PERSONALLY put MY gorp in MY backpack. Despite my blurry, spectacle-less 6AM eyes, I knew which bag of gorp was mine. I could tell by the M&M's. I then ate a hearty breakfast alone (Ahren didn't believe in food before eleven), and then we were on our way in Matt and Heather's car. Half an hour later, I was starving. I took out my bag of gorp and began eating it daintily, jaws unhinged like Garfield's, fists full of as much gorp as I could possibly scoop up in each grab. Ahren looked at me in what I can definitely say was disgust. (Maybe a Cheerio was stuck on my nose? Maybe he thought I should chew with my mouth closed? Such an aristocrat, that Ahren!) "Aren't you even going to wait until we get to the mountain?" he asked with disdain. I started to retort with something witty, but then his eyes bulged out with horror. "Hey, that's MY gorp!" he wailed.

I stopped chewing, a crescent of broken Cheerio hanging off my lip. I looked at the crumbs on my pants and the disheveled Ziploc bag in my hands. Two orange Skittles and one chocolate chip were the last sad vestiges of what had once been, I guiltily admit, Ahren's gorp. "Uh..." I stammered, feeling like an ugly, gluttonous hippopotamus. "How could you eat MY gorp?!?!?!" Ahren squealed.

You can imagine how I suffered the rest of the day, Ahren stomping behind me up the mountain, quipping, "Didn't you detect a SLIGHT lack of Cool Ranch flavor Corn Nuts in that bag?" Then there was Matt piping in with, "Hey, where's Ahren's gorp? Oh yeah, that's right, you ATE it all!" Heather was the only gracious one of the bunch, the only one with any manners at all, I tell you. I like that Heather. She's a good one, she is. Matt and Ahren ought to learn from her.

Now I'm sure any fair, intelligent observor will CLEARLY see what occurred here. It is OBVIOUS that Ahren is the real criminal in this case. Anyone who knows him at all will see without a doubt that on that fateful morning, before Matt and Heather picked us up, Ahren tiptoed over to our backpacks as I was enjoying my breakfast. He took advantage of my gastronomical distraction and swapped our gorp bags, all as a dirty prank to malign my reputation. He framed me, I tell you. He WANTED me to eat his gorp, all so he could be the martyr of the situation. He wanted to climb that mountain with an aching noble hunger in his belly so that someday some biographer could write heroic tales about him. But his ploy hasn't fooled me. I'm onto him. That Ahren's not so innocent as he lets on...