Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fear Zone

Today I'm writing to you about a personal topic.  

I'm feeling very vulnerable lately, and it's an uncomfortable feeling.  If there is one thing about vulnerability I have learned from years of being an actor, studying characters and their relationships, and watching human interaction, it is that every person is vulnerable in some way.  Usually, other people's vulnerability makes us uncomfortable, because, for some reason, most people learn from an early age those types of emotions are meant to be kept silent or hidden.  However, vulnerability is also the key that make each of us unique and interesting in our own right.  It is the emotion that makes us more complex and more than one dimensional.  And by vulnerability I don't just mean tears.  We can be vulnerable in our anger and joy, as well as our grief.  I say all that in explanation of why I feel I need to share this.

I grew up feeling safe.  I'm from a relatively small, welcoming town.  I can readily admit now that I was mostly sheltered, but in a healthy sense.  In my childhood, danger was possible rattlesnake bites or falling off the trampoline.  Danger was crossing a busy street without looking both ways first.  Danger was making poor grades.  Danger was eating too much sugar.  Danger was doing something we knew we weren't supposed to do and hearing "We'll just wait until your father gets home."  That always made us want to shit our pants.  Thanks, Mom.

I rarely, very rarely, feared for my personal safety from another human being.  I can't remember feeling physically threatened by another person, and if I did, I think I swept it under my "I'm tough" rug.  I left my car unlocked all through college.  I've never had anything stolen from me, except my purse which I set down in Target and walked away from.  Dumb.  I laughed when my dad wanted to give me pepper spray when we moved to D.C.  It never occurred to me that I would have any reason to use it.

On the first day of the new year, three women about my age were assaulted in Austin. One was attacked on the street, before the man fled.  One awoke to being choked in her own bed, but survived.  One was murdered in her own home.  

All these crimes were committed in our neighborhood, mere blocks away, within the same time frame, and likely by the same person.  Since then there have been hundreds of crime tippers and anonymous calls into the APD.  They have no definite leads.  Several other women have called in reports of seeing a man (fitting the loose description of the attacker) peering into their homes through a window.

I have lived in several different states, all over the country.  I lived near rednecks, country bumpkins, gangs, drug dealers, and politicians alike.  I lived in a city with an extremely high crime rate, where I often walked places by myself, sometimes at night.  I have never been afraid like I am afraid right now.

Of all places, Austin, Texas, with one of the country's lowest crime rates in the country, would be the place I find fear.

Now, this isn't a debilitating fear.  I haven't shut myself in my home and refused to leave, but that's probably because I don't feel entirely safe in my own home.  Clearly, this man knows about breaking and entering.  I haven't missed a day of work.  I haven't really changed my routine.  I AM taking extra precautions.  Hubby doesn't leave me alone at home at night, if it's at all avoidable.  We agreed that Mr. Dog gets to bark, at what or whomever he wants and anytime someone comes near our house.  We no longer scold him.  I never walk around after dark by myself, in fact, I don't even take out the trash.  I lock the door every time I go in or out.  I keep my (now seemingly reasonable) supply of pepper spray in the same spots so I know exactly where to reach for it.  I keep my phone in my pocket.  I look around me as I leave work and walk to my car.  I am more "aware" and "alert."

But I've been having trouble sleeping.  I have had many violent dreams.  I feel unsettled.  Vulnerable.  And these faces are the reason why:

I can't put my finger on why this crime has affected me, more than any other.  Likely reasons are also the most obvious: the close proximity, victims sharing personal similarities, the killer is still at large.  However, I think I'm also old enough to recognize how valuable life is, and how particularly I feel like I have so much more left to do.  I bet this woman, Esme Barrera, felt the same way and would have answered as much, had she been asked.  

I think situations like this also cause us to ask ourselves questions we wouldn't normally: are you a fighter?  If someone attacked you, would you defend yourself?

I used to know the answer to this question, but now I'm not sure what my reaction would be.  I have to admit, some of the "Laurel Fierce" has been shaved away, and it's time I grew it back.  I might live in a neighborhood that is full of fear right now, but I also live next door to really great people, who I know look out for one another.  I have a husband who I know would do anything possible to protect me, and doesn't laugh at me for feeling insecure.  And Lord knows, I have the best little shrill alarm system for our house . . . and it's free because we feed it! 

So I won't be conquered by this fear.  But I do need to be honest about it, because as a really smart person once said:

The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. (President FDR)

I don't think my fear is unjustified or unreasonable, but I did think it was time for me to stop letting it dominate my thoughts.  I have now given my fear a name.  And once something has been named, it can be defeated.

Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it. (Lt. John B. Putnam, Jr.)

Note: I write this post with the full knowledge that unavoidably both my Mom and MIL will read it: so Mom(s), don't freak out.  We're fine.  You'll worry about us until this sick bastard is caught, but just hope and pray he is vulnerable in some way, and that happens more quickly than expected.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Repurposing Re-purposing

We have all these trendy terms these days...


I won't lie - those last few came from a thesaurus.

We're supposed to buy local, shop local, eat locally grown produce, use re-useable bags, upcycle our furniture, donate our old things, recycle our plastics, compost our scraps; and use all organic, all natural, BPA-toxin free, not tested on animals, made in the USA products.  Did I leave anything out?  

People who never before cared about the environment now feel compelled to recycle and use sustainable products because IT'S COOL.  I'm down with that.  I'm not complaining.  I love it.

And what gives me great joy is when this happens in my own life with little or no effort.  Because who doesn't like good things that come with no effort?

You might remember these windows, shown here at our wedding last March.

These are windows Mr. Spouse and I collected from alleyways in the District.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, but I knew I wanted them.  They were diiiiirty, the glass was mostly broken, and several of them had layers of old newspaper GLUED to the panes.  sick.  I won't lie.  (It looks like I'm making a habit of being honest in this post.)  It was several days and many hours that Mr. Spouse and I worked these six windows over to clean them up.  We sanded them, knocked out the broken glass panes, and sanded, and sanded, and sanded s'more. They are still pretty rough looking, but I like rough-looking things... why else would I have married this guy?

So we used them as decoration at our wedding. They helped create that "chapel in the woods" sensation we wanted for our guests.  Then they got stuck in storage for a while.  Even though my parents tried to convince me to leave them swinging in the trees for a while, I knew I would use them for other things and didn't want them out in the elements.  A few months later, my friend Danielle of Sunday Hatch and I got invited to design a photo shoot in Houston.  Out came the trusty window frames to act as backdrop.

Then they went back into storage.  Shortly after the photo shoot, I was contracted to design and coordinate a wedding, where I got to use them as photo displays.  No pictures of that yet!  And then.... this Christmas, we decided not to get a Christmas tree.  So I decorated one of the windows like so, instead.  Funny thing... those little felt ornaments with our initals were also hanging from a tree at our wedding... but whatever.

 And I mixed it up.... also using it as a Christmas card display for some of the cards we received!

And finally, today I decided to hang the other two.

I love them.

And every time I look at these I remember marrying my love, getting creative with one of my best friends, making someone's wedding day super special and pretty, and most of all, I remember the day we went for a walk and found these little windows next to someone's trash can.

That's the real reason you should re-purpose things.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Understanding Compatibility

There is so much more in love than black and white. - Amos Lee

Someone I know posted this book excerpt on their Facebook.  Then I saw it re-posted multiple times.  I think it must ring true for a lot of couples, and I found a lot of encouragement from reading it and also this article: Did I Marry the Wrong Person?  I know that Christianity these days carries a lot of negative connotations, politically and socially, but I do think that many Christian values as they relate to marriage offer success for all couples.  For some of you - if you head over there for a peek - it might sound a bit preachy, perhaps you will find too many biblical references if you read all the way through to the end.  But do me the favor of reading at least the first few paragraphs.  For your convenience I have re-posted the book excerpt that initiated my response here.  What was entirely validating about this was that I have been having these exact thoughts for some time, without being able to put them into words.  I have been trying to use this philosophy to support myself in my own marriage, but also to offer encouragement to friends I know who are still on the hopeless search for "Mr. Right."  This is my response.

How our culture misunderstands compatibility.
excerpt from The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller
In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.

In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:

“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great ... beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”... She had dirty elbows.”

In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.

There is nothing about love that is black and white.  It is a life-long process of discovery, and we will never truly understand the multiple forms love takes or comprehend its deepest depths.  I can say what I'm about to say because I am what people refer to as "happily married."  I hate to kill your Hollywood romantic-comedy, once-upon-a-time love story scenario -  but for 99.9% of people, that isn't how it goes.  If you are not ready to become less selfish and more self-sacrificing, you are not ready to marry anyone.  If you are sitting around waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Just Right to knock on your door, or if you're serial dating for the same purpose, you're probably looking for the Wrong Thing.  No one is ever going to be perfect.

I have an issue with commitment.  Now, don't jump to conclusions.  My issue with commitment was pretty localized to relationships.  I am not afraid of hard work, I can be a very dedicated friend, I was very committed to my education, and in fact, I like to think of myself as loyal.  When it came to love and marriage though, I never thought I would find someone who would a) meet all my incredible standards and expectations b) be able to handle my stubbornness and c) that I would like longer than 2 weeks, for that was about how long my attention span lasted.  For a large part of my life I never expected to marry, and I really struggled with the concept of, what I saw as, "settling" for someone.  For someone so theatrical and so inclined to romanticize everything, I was very logical about my approach to love.  I just didn't think there was a recipe for Mr. Right that would suit my tastes.   

I cannot really tell you why my husband was any different than any other man, or how I came to "know" that he was the one for me, except I think that I had stopped having expectations about who was right.  The facts that I do know are that I met him immediately following my final year of college, which was completely focused on me and me alone.  I wasn't looking for a relationship.  I was solely pursuing my education and my career, and I was learning so many things about who I was. . . alone.  I also know that when I met him, I immediately felt like I could trust him, that he was an innately good soul who sincerely wanted to always do the right thing.  And although I find him sexy, I wouldn't say sparks flew or his eyes sparkled when he smiled.  It wasn't his hot bod or bulging arm muscles.  He wasn't afraid of me... I didn't seem to intimidate him... I just wanted him to take care of me, and I thought I would be pretty good at taking care of him.  He made me feel okay about being alive in this world, like I wasn't meant to go it alone any longer.  I think when you find that kind of love, you think of it in the absolute simplest terms: do I want to live without this person?  After two months, we reached that first "bump" in the road: the possibility of long-distance.  And when he decided to come with me where I was going instead, I was relieved.  I think that was the beginning of "knowing."

Go ahead and laugh, but that's the beginning of our love story.  We met on a road trip and we've been traveling together ever since.  We've had a lot more bumps in the road, and our first year of marriage has been chock full of challenges that many newlyweds don't have to face.  There were many times in our relationship, before and after marriage, that I think we both wondered if we were "compatible" or "right for each other."  We argue a lot.  We like to do things in completely different ways.  We don't really have a lot of hobbies in common.  But I'm coming to understand: that's okay.  Most days now, those conflicts don't worry me.  I'm not frightened when I don't LIKE the person I'm married to every hour of every day.  I don't understand how anyone could have that expectation, and I certainly don't expect it of him.  I feel like it would be impossible to love and appreciate everything about someone all the time.  There are going to be things you just can't stand, that irritate you often.  Again: that's okay.  Those are the things that keep you learning, and make a relationship interesting.  Battling obstacles is what we are meant to do; struggling makes us grow.  If it were simple and easy, trust me, we'd be bored.  We might battle and struggle, but at the root we do also love.  Just because things are hard, doesn't mean we made the wrong choice.

I probably sound like a dream-crusher, but I don't believe in soul-mates.  And if there is someone out there who can reeeeally connect with and reflect my soul in the way you imagine a soul-mate would, I wouldn't want to marry them!  How painful would that be?  So many people have confused standards about who to spend the rest of their lives with. We approach love so selfishly: wanting someone to make ME happy, wanting someone to fulfill MY dreams.  I feel so lucky to have found someone who loves me, but doesn't expect me to stay the same.  He accepts me, not just as I am, but as who I want to be.  We both want to be better people, and marriage is a commitment to never stop trying to become those people.  I hate hearing that "people grew apart."  While I have compassion for that situation, and admit it can happen to anyone, it's something that you allow to happen.  What that means to me is "you just stopped being committed to growing together."  You learn from your mistakes, but you shouldn't flee from them.  We don't outright deserve to be happy in love, rather it's the result of our own personal effort.

Let's be straight about something: I very much believe in love.  I believe that you fall in love and that some loves last longer than others.  But love lasts because you work at it, not because you don't have to work at it.  And if that's not black and white, I don't know what is.

“The truth is, a successful marriage is not the result of marrying the “right” person, feeling the “right” emotions, thinking the “right” thoughts, or even praying the “right” prayers. It’s about doing the “right” things -- period.”
- Mark Gungor

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making Coffee

Last night, Tim asked me if I would quit my job if I didn't have to work.  If he was making enough money, would I go on working at a job that I don't reeeeally love, just for the sake of working? 

I didn't have an answer right away.  There are so many variables to that equation, that I couldn't just definitively say "Yes!" or "No."  (More on this subject in the coming days...)

Then I have a morning like this one, when that answer becomes easy: where I sleep in, cuddling with my dog, slowly wake up to a cold house and make coffee.

making coffee
the floor is cold through socks
knee pressed against stove for balance
hand on hip, toe picking at the peeling vinyl tile
the flamingo stance, acceptable only in sweats

right hand joined to the kettle
the coffee grounds there for meditation
the filling, the sucking down seem metaphors for life
feeling whole, becoming empty

lift the filter, check the progress
could life fit through that one draining hole?
the grains clinging desperately to the sides
washed up, quickly losing flavor, turning bitter

one lump, two?
milk, cream, black to smooth tan
whatever the preference
it's still just a habit

A very high priority on my goal list for 2012, was to write more.  Not necessarily a blog or a journal or anything specifically, just to write more.  I feel like I have been subtly influenced to do this for some time.  

I have always been jealous of my friend, Lee, who has kept a journal her entire life.  She's one of those amazing beings, who had the forethought to write herself a letter to read on her wedding day, back when she was like 16.  She also wrote one for her future husband, if I remember correctly.  When I was sixteen, I certainly wasn't thinking about myself on my wedding day!  And when we were roommates, I would flop on the bed and be falling asleep as she was dutifully chronicling her day, no matter how exhausted she might be.  

A few weeks ago, I helped a woman pick out stationary to give her friend.  They had both just finished reading this book together, about a man who wrote 365 thank you notes in one year.  I was really moved by his dedication, but more so that it had inspired these two women to correspond more.  Then a recent Facebook "discussion" I was having helped me clarify my thoughts on the act of writing. Nothing helps my fear that everything we put on the internet is in danger of being lost.  I don't want to be remembered by my status updates on Facebook, or my resume on LinkedIn.  You can't save text messages.  Maybe it's too much BBC drama-watching, of a romanticized period when people were so dedicated to personal correspondence, or that we know so much of early peoples by letters that were written and treasured long after.  All I know, is that I enjoy reading things I have written down in the past, not only because it reminds me of who I was, but also how I came to be who I am today.

Like this poem.  I wrote that the fall of my senior year at OBU.  In school, I was much better about writing down (usually immediately) things that inspired me or ideas that popped in my head.  This was one of those moments.  I think I was making coffee in our apartment, and between pours I jotted this down.  Someday, I hope one of my children or grandchildren reads this, and gains insight into who I was "way back then" in 2012.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Marriage Bed

Every night I crawl into the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in.  Next to me is my husband, and usually between us, tucked behind someone's knees, or warming someone's toes, is our little dog.  It is the safest place I know.  It has comforted me in sickness, refreshed me in exhaustion, cradled me in love.  It has served us well.  And it was a gift from someone we did not know.

Mr. Spouse and I met in May of 2007, just a few days after I graduated from college.  Most of you know that story.  We went on a road trip together, that lasted only a few days, but when we returned we just kept right on talking.  That summer we spent getting to know one another, but within a few weeks I think we knew . . . if you know what I mean.  There was something different about this time.  I knew, for example, that I would be leaving on September 2 to move to Lexington, Kentucky.  My summer had a definitive ending, his did not.  By August, however, Tim was also moving to Kentucky.  He had enrolled in seminary, found an apartment, and we were going on that adventure now . . . together.

Tim moved without a bed.  He owned very little furniture at all.  In fact, what he did end up using for his apartment was mine to begin with.  What he had to put on his walls, I gave him.  He had nothing to sleep on.  We knew our first item on the agenda once we arrived was to purchase a bed.  After spending the first night sleeping on the floor on a pile of blankets, the next day we went to a little local mattress store that we had passed several times on errands.  We tried some beds, and then left.  We visited several other mattress stores, larger and more commercial and expensive, and then returned to the smaller store.  When we entered the store a second time we were not the only customers.

There was a family, a man, woman, and their daughter - if I remember correctly.  The woman was rather loud, she was very talkative with the salesman, and very picky.  But she meant well.  She tried multiple beds.  She walked with the assistance of a cane, but wasn't old, and she was clearly looking for a top notch mattress.  She saw us testing mattresses together in the "cheaper" section.  We were really the only two sets of customers in a rather small store.  It was hard to avoid her.  We definitely didn't have to try to eavesdrop, but we certainly weren't trying not to.

Suddenly, she called us over and demanded we try the mattress she was standing next to.  We saw no reason not to, except it was $1000 mattress and well out of our price range.  But she wasn't someone you really said no to, so we did it just for fun.  I'm not gonna lie.  That bed felt goooood.  It felt damn good, actually.  Especially after spending the previous night on the cold, hard, wood floor.  It was a spring bed, with a nice and firm, yet cushy, pillow top layer.  Then this woman starts lecturing us on why we should purchase a really good, supportive bed..."to avoid ending up in her shape."  She asked how we came to be there, and learned we were new in town.  She was interested in my theater work, and Tim's being in seminary.  She spoke to us as if we were married... I distinctly remember that: she spoke to us as if we were married, as if we were selecting our marriage bed.

Next thing we know she's negotiating for us with the salesman.  She's telling him he HAS to sell us this bed, and bring down the price, AND throw in 2 memory foam pillows (valued at $50 each) for free.  The guy is just laughing and shaking his head.  We sort of wander away... feeling uncomfortable.  Even if the salesman brought the price way way way down, it was still out of our price range.  We're back over in the "cheap" section, when the salesman approaches us.  I'll never forget what he said...

"This sort of thing doesn't happen everyday, so if I were you, I'd take advantage of it.  This woman wants to pay for half of this mattress, if you'll agree to take it.  She isn't really someone you say no to, so I've agreed to sell the floor sample at a discounted price."

We didn't really know what to say, yet Tim soon found himself paying for half a once out-of-our-reach mattress, with two free memory foam pillows thrown into the deal... for free.  The family finished with their own order, arranged for delivery and departed.  We sort of stood in the store, dumbfounded.  Their van began to pull away.  Suddenly, the the van stopped, the door opened, and the husband ran back in...

"Would you like to join us for dinner?"

I'm not going to lie... I'd like to end the story there, and maybe I should.  After that, it gets awkward and the story no longer feels warm and fuzzy.  I mean, how can you say no to someone who just dropped $500 on you - a perfect stranger?  So we said yes and joined them (at Golden Corral, no less), but it was a dinner full of awkward conversation and indebtedness.  I even remember slipping off one of my rings, and putting it on my ring finger, because it became evident they were rather conservative and religious, and I didn't want to answer any questions of that nature.  Now I laugh at that.... how silly!

But the reason I share this, is because I think that woman was not only generous, but had special intuition about us.  I think she knew something about our relationship even we had yet to learn.  Five years later, we are married, and that bed has gone with us from Kentucky, to Washington, DC, and home to Texas.  It has held us in conflict and contentment.  And it has been a good, supportive friend to us the whole way.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Email: An Unpredictable Form of Communication

What I love most about the written word is that it is almost entirely subjectively interpreted.

What I hate most about the written word is that it is almost entirely subjectively interpreted.

Some of you may have seen the article I cross-posted on my Facebook profile (which all the hipsters now refer to as "timeline").  The article was about the bankruptcy of the US Postal Service.  "Snail Mail" is going out of style.  Unfortunately for me, it is something I love dearly and is close to my heart.

This love for sending and receiving mail was largely imparted me by my mother.  As children we never received a gift without sending a thank you note.  We also were expected to regularly write letters to friends that moved away or family that didn't live nearby.  I have to admit that I didn't always love writing letters, especially thank you notes.  A kid can always find more exciting things to do than pen a letter, but it grew on me, and it is something I still value, and you can bet my kids - should there be any - will be held to the same standard my mother held us to.  

My freshman year of college, my mom averaged a card a week to me.  Sometimes these cards held newspaper clippings, pictures from home, recipes she found interesting, sonic gift cards, and almost always a bit of money.  She kept this up the other three years, even if the average was more monthly than weekly, and that I suspect is largely due to the fact that from my sophomore year on, she had both my sister and I to write.  Never did she miss a holiday opportunity to send the most ridiculously lavish boxes.  My sister and became infamous with the university mail room (not to mention our friends!) for receiving these gigantic boxes filled with goodies.  They were full to the brim with love.

But back to my point.... Email just has no personality.  I don't care how many smiley faces and emoticons you throw in there, it will never equate a handwritten letter.  Besides that, people are lazy with email construction: abbreviated words and misspellings run rampant, and who cares about proper sentence structure!  And all these shortcuts are necessary when typing already cuts writing time at least in half?

However, laziness aside, my real issue with email is that tone, meaning, and intention are so easily misinterpreted.  In fact, especially in the work place, but also amongst friends, I sense that we are almost looking to misinterpret the content and have something to throw our hands up in the air over.  Electronic messages have made it easy for us to be snarky without having to do it to someone's face.  It's so simple to ping back a reply or text with evil intent when there aren't immediate consequences.  And I'm not being accusatory here, as I am every bit as guilty as the next person.

I am endlessly surprised that people choose to deal with conflict through an email - rather than addressing the person IN person.  Are we so afraid of confrontation that we choose a cowards way out?  For that is what this is... cowardly.  To not be able to say those very same words to someone's face is just cowardice.  I suppose you could make the same argument about a letter.  Sure, you can write really hurtful things in a letter.  I've been a recipient of letters that would probably fall into this category.  However, when you are writing something by hand you usually have to think about what it is that you are saying.  It's really simple for me to type something ugly and erase it if I change my mind, but before you write something in ink, you stop and consider things like word placement, commas, and what you are trying to say.  I fully believe that if you are taking the time to write and mail something, more than likely you have good intentions about it since you're making a little bit more of an effort.

Now, there is a time and a place for an email, just don't let it replace personal correspondence, either face-to-face or by mail.  Don't let the ease of it keep you from making the effort to write down a note and stick it in the mail.  And don't use it as a crutch when you've got some dirty work to do.

Now let me introduce you to two of my friends: Pen, meet Paper.  

Y'all will get along great.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

There'd be no distance that could hold us back.

Happy 5th Day of the New Year.... to all FIVE of my readers.

My title today is a lyric from the Death Cab song "The New Year."  The rest of the words are sort of depressing, and I do not intend for this post to be at all depressing, so I'm only posting part of the song.

I wish the world was flat like the old days
Then I could travel just by folding a map
No more airplanes, or speed trains, or freeways
There'd be no distance that could hold us back.

There'd be no distance that could hold us back.
So this is the new year.

SO.  This is the NEW YEAR.  These are my thought on the New Year: 2012.

We have already established how much I love a new year.  I started a new journal last night and I was so irritated I didn't have it with me on our trip to Arkansas, therefore making it impossible to begin the new journal on January 1st, that I dedicated the first whole paragraph to that very complaint.  I like things to start at the beginning (it's the Aristotle in me...).  I like them to have direction (plot), and conflict (climax), and certainly I like a good resolution (conclusion).  Preferably, one that provides hope... but that's just my preference.

I just related my whole year to a play.  You will never suck the drama out of me.  
Joyce, I hope you're reading this.

my new 2012 set of journals from rifle paper co. 

This appears to be a year of travel.  And so "travel" is this year's plot.  In looking ahead, even if all these trips don't pan out, we are planning on a lot of travel: to familiar places, memorable places, new places, and exciting places!  Best of all are the reasons for such travel: friends getting married, honeymoons (finally) being taken, family moving to new locations.  And then, of course, there is the symbolic travel, the travel we do in our daily lives.  The growth we have, the obstacles we face, the decisions we make, and the journey to which all those things amount.  I just have an extra-special feeling about the personal travel we'll be making this year.  

Travel has often been used as an analogy in relation to life.  We are in constant motion.  We move from one place to another.  We travel from babyhood, to adulthood, to what I like to call "ancienthood."  It is all a beautiful and exciting journey, if you make it so, and some journeys last longer than others or take you much farther distances.  But if we face all things in life with the thought that no distance can hold us back, how far can we really go?

My conflict would be this: I've spent these last five years since graduating college being mostly afraid of the distance to whatever is next for me.  It's easier to have dreams than to follow those dreams.  I don't want to do that anymore.  By the way... FIVE YEARS?  wtf.  Where has that time gone? In my head I've been considering them "the lost years," but I think publicly I'll refer to the as "the gap."  It's just taken me a while to realize that as sentimental as I am and as much as I love  reminiscing, I don't want to reach ancienthood only to realize that looking backward is all that I did.  

So this year I plan to use the this lyric as my mantra.  

I still haven't made up my mind, sorry.  I'm sure all five of you were reading this with bated breath expecting an awe-inspiring announcement about what my next career venture will be (oh, the ongoing saga).  I don't have it, because I don't know.  All I do know is that this is a year of travel for me.  I only hope to go places I have never gone, meet new faces and call them friends, revisit old friendships in new places, and let no distance hold me back.  And as with all plays, one can't know the resolution until one has reached the conclusion.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's A New Year

Happy 2012!!!

I shamelessly stole this verbatim from a fellow blogger, Mary (of this blog).  Before I write my more personal commentary on the new year (never fear... it's in the works!) I thought this was a wonderful tradition to start.  Every year Mary fills out this same survey to remember key dates, memories, and events that have taken place.  I thought, "How fun it must be to go back and read these from years before!"  And I stole it.  Clearly, starting out the New Year on a note of pure originality . . .

I hope I remember to do it in 2013.   (Thanks, Mary! -- if you read this...)

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Planned a wedding, said "I Do," rented a house, sent a Holiday Card out.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any last year.  I probably won't make or keep any this year.  However, here are some goals I have...

1. Buy local, Cook more, Eat better.
2. Save money instead of Spending money.
3.  Study a foreign language.
4. Watch less TV/movies and Read more books.
5. Regain active lifestyle and be dedicated about strength training.
6. Journal more.
7. Plan honeymoon trip to Greece and actually Go.
8. Finish furnishing our guest room and then keep it consistently full of guests!
9. Try new things instead of falling into habits.
10. Laugh more, Stay positive, Stop calling myself "old."

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.  But my sister is pregnant with the first grand-baby in our family!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sadly, none.  But we had such an awesome trip to South Africa in 2010, that will tide us over until Greece.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Financial security. Jobs we love. More good friends in Austin.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 20 -- our wedding anniversary.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Gettin' Married!

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't believe in "failure" . . .  I made a lot of mistakes, namely: living beyond our means, worrying about stupid things, not compromising when I should.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really! Yay us!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
$40 butcher block for our kitchen. A great piece at an unbeatable price.  And we use it every day.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Mr. Dog.  He has been such a good dog this year, through many stressful times and lots of big changes.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Members of my extended family around the time of our wedding.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Living in a house at $1500 a month while unemployed.  That will do it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My internship with CLINK Events.  Starting life in Austin. Marriage (broken record...).

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? 
"Home" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? 
Happier, mostly because I'm less stressed out!

II. thinner or fatter? 
About the same, but fatter than I should be.

III. richer or poorer? 
Perhaps poorer in nearby friends, but richer in other things.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Worked out, journaled, studied, completed projects.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Felt sorry for myself, worried, watched TV/Netflix, argued with my husband.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With family in New Braunfels and Gonzales.  With Susanna and Nathan getting married and Margaret announcing "it's a boy," it was an eventful one.  Karen and Catherine came and we had a wonderful visit.  I love that we are all still close cousins.

21. Who had the biggest influence on your life in 2011?
Eeek.  Probably Danielle Goates (of this blog).

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
No... Just sealed the deal.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Friday Night Lights.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Michelle Bachmann?

26. What was the best book you read?
The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Civil Wars.

28. What did you want and get?
A home to make our own. And a yard for Oscar.

29. What did you want and not get?
A really good job, money into savings, a decision about graduate school, 20 lbs lighter.

30. Best movies this year?
The King's Speech.  Technically released December 2010, but close enough... I saw it in 2011.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I have RACKED my brain and still am not positive what I did for my 26th birthday.  I'm pretty sure Tim took me to the Gristmill for dinner and then to see Water for Elephants, which was mediocre.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Deciding on a career.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
JCREW (simple, classy, sophisticated) with a hint of Western.

34. What kept you sane?

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I am fascinated by very few celebrities, but The Royal Family, particularly Kate Middleton, receives a lot of my attention.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Ramping up to Election year... Ron Paul.  I'm more excited about him as a presidential candidate than I have been about any other in my lifetime.  Also, the Royal Wedding.

37. Who did you miss?
Anne Winters, DC friends, Sooz and Nate in Santa Fe, and every other friend who lives just out of reach of "daily friendship" status.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Chelsea Altgelt - the best Bride ever!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
Marriage is work, but rewarding.  Try to be happy with what you have, rather than focused on what you don't, and you'll be more content in the long run.  Even if you're not "doing anything" with your life -- at least enjoy what you are doing.  Details are important, but not the most important thing.  Simple is almost always better, less is usually more.

40.  One word or sentence to describe how you feel about 2011: Grown-up.