Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tops and Bottoms

Tops: 

One of the things I wanted to do this year was type up all of my handwritten notes, musings, and drafts. I've found some horribly written short stories with bad plot lines. It's possible that there is some potential in some of the stories, but I'm afraid it would head more in the direction of Stephanie Meyer than Virginia Woolf :-/. I think I'm more of a nonfiction writer than a fiction writer, which might get in the way of my hopes to someday write a novel. But honestly, my favorite things to read and type up (with a few edits) are pieces that are basically journal entries. I wrote a lot about what I believed in, what I wanted to be, how I wanted to improve myself, and what I wanted to get out of life. 

One that I typed up tonight was one I wrote when I was feeling kind of like I have been this week: overwhelmed, exhausted, and almost constantly on the verge of tears. It was about this night when I was working at a small Christian bookstore back home in ND. I felt this overwhelming need to cry and had no real reason for it. I ended up curling up in a cushioned desk chair in the back of the store for a while eating ramen noodles from a Styrofoam cup and just crying. And then I started writing, and what came out of it was a list of things I wanted. Not physical possessions or riches or anything like that, but desires for knowledge, intellect, grace, faith, and adventure. 

Neat fact: I've actually accomplished a couple of the things I wanted to. I have developed deep, meaningful friendships with a few people and no longer feel the need to "collect" friends. I have managed to read a couple of Hemingway's novels and actually enjoy them.  I've actually let loose a little bit, but still been (mostly) smart about it. I've been in love with someone who was in love with me. I didn't make my bed the other day, and I didn't freak out (seriously, that was on my list, "I want to not freak out when my bed's not made"). I have a job that makes me happy and fulfilled. And I've made a good start on my library full of beautiful, hardcover books. 


Of course, I still have a lot of things I want to accomplish or do. I still want to experience the world, not just see it. I want to run with the bulls. I want to read all the great books ever written in the world.  I want to live in Iceland. I want to build a house. I want to be able to make croissants like a real French baker.

I want to be able to relate to people and be able to hold a two-way conversation with anyone for hours, regardless of age, sex, culture, or social status. I want to make my parents proud of everything I do. If I have children, I want to be a good mother and raise them to be good people. I want to affect positive change in the world.  I want to dance in the rain and picnic in the snow. 

I want to mean what I say and say what I mean and know what I mean when I say what I say. I want to be strong and know that whatever strength I have isn’t actually mine. I want to know the value of silence.  I want to truly have passion for something. I want to live up to my potential. I want to meet Colin Firth.

There are also things I don't want anymore. I don't want to understand the profundity of poetry and art when I first encounter it. Now I know that I want to ponder and reflect and then find meaning. I no longer want to look good in gaucho pants. They're no longer in style, and I've learned how to dress for my body type and I'm happy with what I've got. 

Long story short, it's kind of nice to see how much I've grown and changed in the past 7 years. But it's also kind of nice to see how some things are the same. It will be interesting to look back in another 7 years and see how much things have changed or how much things have stayed the same. 

Bottoms:

I don't often wear pants. It might sound weird, but it's true. I'm much more likely to be found wearing skirts and dresses than pants. So, last week, my "new thing" was wearing pants every day for an entire week. And it was strange. I mean, sure, there was maybe a little bit more freedom. I didn't have to worry about flashing anyone and it was a little warmer than I might have been if I had been wearing skirts or dresses.

I know they say that clothes don't make the man, and I don't believe in designer labels or spending a lot on clothes (I'm the queen of consignment/ thrift shopping and it is rare that I will pay more than $20 for anything, unless it's 100% silk or wool), but I do think that what you wear can affect how you feel about yourself. For example, I find that I feel more confident when I'm in a dress than when I'm wearing anything else, and I think that's why I wear them more often than anything else... and why it's the fastest growing section in my closet. So while this whole wearing pants thing was an interesting experiment, I think I'll stick to dresses and skirts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hello and Goodbye

Hello:

Soooo... as predicted, I'm not very good at this resolution thing. I mean, I've been pretty good at the trying new things, but I haven't been very good about writing about them. I think part of that is because I'm afraid it's not exciting enough to write about. 

Luckily, I finally did something exciting enough! One of the first things I wrote down when I was making my list of new things to try was "Do something spontaneous." I don't do spontaneity. But I decided to go to NYC two weekends ago to visit my oldest friend, LaRissa, who was visiting the city from out west with her husband. We realized that we might not see each other this year, so I started looking at bus tickets and went ahead and bought one only a few days before the trip! 

This might not seem that wild and crazy to some people, but it's hard for me to justify skipping town on a weekend that I have rehearsals and have to sing in church. But something LaRissa said challenged me, "Have you ever been irresponsible?" 

Challenge accepted. 

It was totally worth it. LaRissa and I have been friends for almost 20 years (oi, that makes me feel old!), and I think that's pretty amazing. As you might imagine, we've changed a lot since we were 8, and, despite a rocky stretch, somehow we still manage to find common ground and things to talk about.

For more than half my life, my memories have been wrapped up in things that we've done together: From choir and band trips, to playing dress up in the basement, to calling boys, to planning our futures with the handsome men we were going to marry, to burying a (cooked) turkey in my pasture. And I'm so glad that I get to continue making memories with the Sparky to my Scooter. And even if we can't make our memories together, I know that I can always tell her what's going on and there are certain things that I can only tell her because I know that she's the only one who will understand. So, if I start laughing for no apparent reason when you say something about the weather or yellow ice cream, don't ask me to explain it, because you just won't get it.

Goodbye (totally unrelated): 

I haven't been too good at the finishing of projects. I've made progress on some things, I'm working on reading Les Miserables and I have 70 out of the 101 things I want to do with my life listed. But very recently I reached the end of something intangible, a letting go of hurt, anger, and feeling a lil bit betrayed. Of all the things that I've completed this year, this has given me the most satisfaction. The sad thing is that I can't even really claim it as an accomplishment. I was actually just waiting for it to happen. Don't get me wrong, I took the steps I needed to in order to reach that point, but there are things that take time. But I guess that's why it felt so good to get there. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Slowing Down and Speeding Up

Slowing Down: 
I'm a fast-paced person. I get stressed out when people walk slowly in front of me and I work very efficiently. Not always without mistakes, and I have more than once had to put a sticky note on my computer screen that says "Slow down!" Even random guys on the street have made comments to me recently about the quick pace of my walk.  In my defense, it is dangerous for me to slow down, I'm so used to walking fast that I'm actually more likely to trip over things when walking slowly. All this to say: it is hard for me to slow down, unless I have to. And when you're walking around with people in their 80s, you have to slow down at least a little bit. 

Last Sunday, the head usher at my church invited me to join him for brunch at the National Press Club in downtown DC. He picked me up at my house and we drove to the Club, where he goes every Saturday, usually by himself. Over the course of a couple of hours, he told me a lot about his life. He told me about his wife, his kids, his grandchildren, his job, his retirement.  He was even the chair of the National Press Club for many years and planned their lunches and met politicians, world leaders, actors, singers, and other public figures. 

One thing that struck me was how my mindset can change when I'm with certain people. And how, when I put my mind to it, I can slow my pace a little bit and not be bothered. There are going to be a bajillion people visiting the city for the Inauguration this weekend, and they're not going to know what to do or where to go. I'm going to have to make sure to cut my fingernails so that when I dig my fingernails into the palms of my hands I won't accidentally draw my own blood. 

Hard as it will be, I will try to take the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers and take in what's around me. There's a lot to be learned when you slow down and pay a little more attention. 


Speeding Up:
The one area of my life where I tend to move slowly is in romantic relationships. I know I said this blog was going to be an opportunity for me to write about things other than dating, but as I started writing this post, my dating life fit the theme. Plus, I've been blogging about dating for almost a year now, so it's kind of hard to break that habit. 

My friend G used to make fun of me and said that I had something like 39 bases (instead of the usual 4). It started with just looking at a guy, then moved to eye contact, then a smile... you can guess why it took 39 steps to round them all. For a long time, this was just because it was what was comfortable for me. 


One of my goals this year is to go out of my comfort zone and test my theories about life and love and all that jazz. And I'm already doing that. Yay me! There's a song by Brenda Weiler that I've always loved because it has managed to fit my mood and feelings at various stages in my life. There are a couple of lines that have been sticking out to me lately: 

      I can't talk, so I stutter 
      what I probably shouldn't say 
      I'm becoming too honest for my own good these days
                                    ***
      You make me wanna jump in first for once 
       I won't crumble, I'll climb to the end with you
       because I care
       and because I want to
                                     - Brenda Weiler, Weave My Way

For some reason, this is kind of my motto right now. Kind of like YOLO, but better, because it's not YOLO. I'm growing to like this idea of jumping in. I'm still me, so I'll jump in after carefully calculating the depth, temperature, and circumstances. Careful as I am, I am choosing to jump and press the gas pedal a little bit (mixed metaphor, I know, unless we're talking about me jumping into a boat James Bond style). 

Contrary to what last-year-me might have thought would happen, it's all going pretty well so far and it's been kind of exciting. And simply because I like quotes, I'm going to close with one: 

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” 
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings and Endings

I've never been good at keeping New Year's resolutions, so I'm not sure how well this plan is going to work. But among my New Year's resolutions for 2013 (many of which I'm already failing at miserably), I decided that I would try one new thing each week AND finish something I've left unfinished each week. Beginnings and endings. 

I know it's only been one week, but, so far, unlike my resolution to do crunches and stretch every day, I have succeeded at trying something new this week! I thought that one way to motivate myself would be to blog about it. It also gives me something to write about other than my perpetual single state and musings on love and relationships and crap like that. 

Beginning:

My first "New Experience" happened naturally this week and didn't require too much thought, thankfully. My brain was still  kind of on vacation. But, I found a reason to try using a circular saw for the first time!

I love building things and putting things together and using power tools. I also really like destroying things. One of my favorite experiences in recent years was getting to use a jack hammer to help gut a house for Habitat for Humanity in the DC metro area. Also, I like using sledgehammers and breaking down walls.

This time I was building. I purchased an incomplete bookcase from Ikea in November and bought some shelves to go with it, but the shelves didn't fit. I looked all over the "As Is" section of Ikea to see if I could find the right shelves, but they didn't exist, so I figured I could make it work. I'm very resourceful that way.

Naturally, it took me a month and a half to actually make the time to take care of it. I measured and drew the cutting lines almost immediately and bought the pegs to hold the shelves up, but didn't get to the shelves until this week. You see, I have this problem where I like starting projects but I don't always like completing them because then I'll feel useless when they're done. I know I should remind myself that there are always new projects, but sometimes I can't get that through my thick skull.

Regardless, this weekend, I borrowed my roommate C's circular saw and started to cut my shelves to fit. Unfortunately, circular saws require a lot of battery power and I didn't have much time before nightfall to charge it, so I was only able to cut each shelf partially, but not completely so they stick out a little bit. If I weren't so afraid of impaling myself on the corner of one of the shelves I might just leave it. But I will finish it, I am resolved to do it :)


Ending:

The project I finished this week isn't terribly exciting, but it is something that I always enjoy doing: scrapbooking. I'm all caught up to the most recent events of my life! 


My favorite part of scrapbooking is remembering the times shared with family and friends and I'm so grateful to have photos and mementos to remind me of these things. 2012 was a year of housewarmings (so many of my friends moved!), karaoke, beach trips, new friends, and a LOT of singing and dancing. Not too shabby. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nature versus Nurture

My grandma called me today.  I don't talk to her as often as I probably should, but we had a nice chat tonight.  I had called her last week on her birthday to wish her a happy day and the normal sentiments one shares with someone who is celebrating a birthday.  While talking to her, I realized how much like her I am.  This, in many ways, is surprising because I have spent very little time actually with my grandma throughout my life.

There was only one year that we lived in the same state.  I was born halfway across the world in Saudi Arabia and spent most of my growing up years in North Dakota, thousands of miles from her home in Oregon.  Now, I live all the way across the country.

My grandmother is a bubbly person, much like me.  She loves traveling and experiencing different cultures.  She's talkative.  Very talkative.  I think that's probably where I draw the greatest connection between us.  We both love to talk.  I'm sure my mom draws many similarities to the phone conversations she has with each of us.

Furthermore, we are both used to being loved and adored by those who surround us.  As we were talking tonight she spoke fondly of the people from her church that have been there to support her during this trying time in her life: losing her sister.  I don't know what I would do without my church families, here and back in North Dakota.  We talked about our need to always be busy and active. But she has dropped everything to care for her sister.  I know I would do the same if any of my siblings or my parents were in a similar situation.

Thinking about how alike my grandma and I are makes me think about the concept of nature vs. nurture.  Studies have shown that it's a combination of both that shapes our personalities, and, if I remember correctly, it's about a 50/50 split.

Like many, I was raised by my parents.  But there are many qualities that I have that I would not attribute to my parents.  I'm a little tightly wound and my parents seem more laid back.  I plan everything and my parents live more in the moment.  I also have been a compulsive organizer since I was young and have tried desperately to convert my mom to no avail.

I'm not a big fan of the outdoors and my parents enjoy spending time outside, especially my mom who greatly enjoys camping and horseback riding.  Mom and I have big differences when it comes to packing for trips and I'm perhaps a little high maintenance.    I love ballet and dancing in general and my parents are not so much adept at dancing. I'm also politically more conservative, which is my greatest rebellion. However, I work for a Democrat, so I fail at rebelling.

My parents are both scientists.  Science intrigues me and I wish I had the drive and the ability to enjoy studying biology and chemistry, but I was not blessed with that gift.  Instead, I enjoy reading about political theory and what has driven rulers and governments throughout the ages.  There are times that Mom and I have had entire conversations where we speak at each other: her speaking to me about something scientific and me speaking back about Machiavellian virtue.

As I've gotten older, however, I've noticed that the differences between my parents and me aren't as pronounced as they once seemed.  We are inquisitive people who seek to do what is right.  They have taught me so many things throughout my life that I value more than what I have ever learned in a classroom.  I have learned to be giving, charitable, and helpful from them. I learned how to strive for excellence and I know that if you do poorly in school, it's because YOU didn't study as hard as you should have, not because the professor is out to see you fail.

I have learned to value myself as a human being and as a woman.  I am very much a feminist, even though I have an arguably boyish figure, and I feel strongly that women should never be objectified, whether it be by others or by themselves.  Because of my parents, I have had invaluable experiences that have given me a sense of the world.  They have always been willing to pay for my travels to gain a broader world view and witness the wealth of knowledge the world has to offer. Because of my parents, it drives me crazy to hear someone say that a person must be a terrorist because he or she is Muslim. Nor can I accept any generalization based on religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, or background.

Because of my mom I cry at every baptism, wedding, confirmation, and funeral I ever go to, even if I don't know the person, sympathy and empathy run deep in these veins.  Because of my daddy, I have learned the value of quiet moments and how precious they are.

But mostly, I have learned to love unconditionally.  My parents are great examples of the unconditional love that I believe humans are supposed to have for one another.  So, Mom, if you ever read this, thank you for naturing me and nurturing me and you can tell Daddy, too.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Love Like That...

This might sound strange, but I was thinking today about how I want a relationship with a man like the relationship I have with my furniture.  Okay, yea. No might about it, that DOES sound strange.  But it's true.

I love my furniture and I truly believe that it is fate that brought us together.

First, let me tell you a bit about the furniture.  It is beautiful.  Solid wood with a chocolate finish and "arts and craft style" which is very similar to mission style furniture.  It's very sturdy and solid, but smooth and attractive.  The dresser has 12 drawers of various sizes and a cupboard in the middle with 2 shelves.  It is a micro-organizer's dream.

I found my furniture (a queen bed with boxspring and mattress, a night stand, a trunk, a dresser, and 2 lamps) on craigslist.  I'd been searching for several months for the perfect furniture at the right price.  I had been sleeping for a little over 5 months on an air mattress I got at Target.  I was ready for a real bed and Erica, Ali, and I had decided to lease an apartment in a new building close to the Hill.

Finally, I found the perfect furniture.  I emailed the fellow selling it and heard back very quickly.  He was the only one I ever heard back from in my craigslist search.  He wanted me to see it before deciding to buy it, although I would have been willing to purchase it sight unseen.  I liked what I saw in the pictures.  But I agreed that it would be best to take a look.  So Diana and I drove up to Prince George's County to take a look at this furniture.  I fell in love and agreed to buy it almost immediately.  Stephen (the guy I bought it from) was very amused that I pet the dresser and flat out said, "I am in LOVE".  So we arranged the date for me to pick it up and move it into my new apartment.

I feel very lucky that I was able to get this furniture at an amazing price from a really nice person who was not sketchy at all (craigslist can be kind of a sketch way to meet people).

Every once in a while, I just look at my dresser or nightstand and just think about how lucky I am that I found it.  It's been about 4 months now and I still think it's as beautiful as the day I first saw it.

The way I see it, this is a great metaphor for romantic love among humans.  You search and search for the perfect person for you to spend your life with.  He or she has a few flaws, might be a little scratched on the edges, but in the end fate, or God or whatever/ whomever you believe in, brings you together and as time goes by you fall even more in love with this person.

I don't necessarily believe in soulmates, but I believe that, if you let it happen someone will come into your life that you can't help but fall in love with.

My furniture has many qualities that I'd like in a man: strong, sturdy, comfortable, beautiful, soft, and what I've been waiting for.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brave New World?

So, I have a subscription to Glamour and the newest edition came in the mail today.  One of the first things I saw in the table of contents was a feature on plus size models and making it seem like the magazine was breaking boundaries by featuring them.  I was very intrigued by this, so I turned immediately to the article.  Sure enough there was a beautiful picture of 7 nude full-sized models and then a great article about how full-sized can be sexy.  But, then you turn the page and you are faced with 4 supper-skinny models in black dresses.  I found this odd, considering I had just read an article about plus-sized models.  So I looked at what was on the pages before the article... sure enough, another super skinny model.

For example, the article said, " So what's keeping the fashion and media worlds from portraying as many size 10's and 14's and 20's as we do 0, 2, and 4?" Hmm... Glamour, good question.  Why is it that for every page you have the features a full-sized model you have approximately 10 pages with uber-skinny models?  I'll give it to them for explaining that it's mostly because the designers that provide the clothes usually only make them in sizes smaller than 12.  But how about featuring clothes that every woman can afford.

To me, it took away from the impact of the article and made the magazine seem hypocritical. Here they were glorifying the strength and boldness of these larger models then filling their pages the typical stick-thin models.  Perhaps if they'd made the entire issue about loving your body and not tucking away the "trouble areas" like poochy bellies and saggy arms and filled their pages with pictures of atypical models with full figures and that are maybe not so tall, then I'd be more convinced that society and the media are welcoming the image of fuller figure women.