Thursday, December 27, 2012

all I want this Christmas...

This was published in the Christian Science Monitor on December 22nd, and it's specifically about the kids in Newtown, Connecticut, but I think it goes further than that. 

We could all use a little bit more of innocence these days. And no, innocence does not equal ignorance. Ignorance is lack - lack of information, of knowledge, of understanding or wanting to understand, of empathy. Innocence is full; full of hope, and a faith in ourselves, in others, and in this world that rings clear and true. It is a firm belief that despite the darkness that feels as if it is growing, it is always light that is winning.




May the holidays - and the upcoming year - restore your innocence and cause it to light a fire that burns in your heart all year long.

- Tracy





Thursday, December 13, 2012

weddings! pictures! videos! details! exclamation marks!

I know that some of you really wanted to see some wedding pictures, but I kept thinking to myself, really? REALLY? Maybe it's because I'm selfish, or because I have the attention span of a breath mint, or because I find it hard to get emotionally invested in the photos of people I don't really know very well, but I was pretty sure you guys wouldn't actually enjoy sifting through a bunch of  wedding photos (to be honest, I didn't either. It took a week and a lot of tea to get me through.) So in the spirit of brevity and being aware of the fact that most of you guys have about 2 minutes per blog post, I decided to use the Vimeo video that our photographer, Tanya, put together for us - lots of great photos, plus some footage of Benni and myself dancing like the super dorks that we are, all in about three minutes, so it doesn't suck up too much of your day. I'll also fill you guys in our wedding theme and how the day went down, for you detail-oriented addicts. Sit back and grab some tea!


Tracy and Benni from Tanya Giang on Vimeo.

We ended up making the theme of our wedding Children's Books - it's what we read to each other at night when we first started dating long distance, with Benni being in New York and me in LA. Benni first read The Phantom Tollbooth to me when he found out that I was a terrible sleeper, and to reciprocate I read Where the Sidewalk Ends to him, and then it just sort of blossomed from there. So at our wedding we had ten tables for our guests:  The Phantom Tollbooth, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Things Are, Bunnicula, Alice in Wonderland, Goodnight Moon, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cat in the Hat, Danny the Champion of the World, and A Wrinkle in Time. We made the favors separately for each table - we found white matchboxes that slide open, so we printed up miniature book covers, glued them onto the matchboxes, glued magnetic strips onto the back, and then filled them with magnetic poetry so people could have tiny little miniature books - corresponding to what book their table was themed - on their fridge.

Our wedding was at a vineyard in Simi Valley - we got married in the vineyard's garden, under a white gazebo at the top of a set of stairs, so that everyone down below seated on the grass could see - and then our upstairs reception room was just a few feet away so that we didn't have to worry about guests getting lost or not showing up. Because our wedding was book themed, as decorations we had used books scattered around everywhere - near the food, on the steps leading up to the gazebo, etc. For our centerpieces, we stacked a couple used books and glued them together, then placed hollow books from a craft store on top of of those, and then placed square vases full of autumn-colored flowers in the middle of each table. To save money, we also purchased all of the wine ourselves and placed four bottles at each table, which was more than enough for the 8 or 9 people at each table. 

My flowers were actually paper flowers, made out of three books - Goodnight Moon, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and The Phantom Tollbooth - and they were made by an Etsy shop that specializes in making paper flowers. The woman who runs the shop was also kind enough to make a few smaller flowers for me to put in my hair, which I just glued to bobby pins. :)

We used hollow books a lot, not just for the centerpieces - a hollow "guestbook" held small paper cards that I'd made so people could sign and leave messages for us, we used a larger hollow book for any cards our guests wanted to leave us, and a tiny hollow book also held our rings, which the best man, Benni's father Joe, carried around with him all day. My best friend in the entire world walked me down the aisle. For music, we decided to go nontraditional (surprise surprise), so I walked down the aisle to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles, and we walked down the aisle as husband and wife to "Got to Get You Into My Life", also by the Beatles. Our first dance was to the most perfect song imaginable, Ingrid Michaelson's "You and I." Because we wanted a wedding where people would actually dance, we invited everyone to join us for the last stanza of our First Dance song, then had the DJ immediately play Pink's "Raise Your Glass." It was a huge success, as was hiring a photobooth to keep the guests busy and entertained if they didn't want to dance.

My dress actually had gold leaves on it, so that tied into our colors of black, white, and gold (like book pages). I changed into a brown leather bomber jacket and brown leather boots for the reception because I like to dance (see: video of me dancing like a super dork) and I cannot.dance. in heels. Cannot, will not, nope.

For our ceremony, we had four members of the wedding party (two bridesmaids, two groomsmen) read poems by the likes of ee cummings and Shel Silverstein, before Benni and I read vows that we'd handwritten to each other and then exchanged rings. My cousin Tom was our Officiant for the day.

The food was off-the-hook AMAZING and there was tons of it - butternut squash lasagna, garlic mashed potatoes, Filet Mignon, strawberry and feta salad - and we made it a buffet so that everyone could eat as much as they wanted and didn't have to choose between one main course or another. For dessert, we had cake pops - the baker had them sticking out of vases so they looked like flowers - as well as cheesecake bites and chocolate covered strawberries. And I surprised Benni with a Fudgey the Whale ice cream cake as his groom's cake, and the look on his face - I will never forget how happy he was. 

The whole day was incredibly awesome - just very laid back and drama free (as my friend Stacy said - "Wow, this was an asshole-less wedding! Haven't been to one of those in a while!")  and all about celebrating and partying with friends and family. No last minute freak outs or emergencies, just an amazing day celebrated with some of the most fantastic people I could ever ask for to be in my life.

I think that's about it...I could go on and on but honestly, you all would just die of boredom. So if you have any questions about a vendor because you're planning your own wedding, or you just want to know something else, just email me. I think I've tired you guys out of weddings for quite a while :)

Oh and - happy holidays. I adore you guys. 



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

giving thanks

So it's taken me a bit of time to play catch up with everything going on and make it back here to this blog, as evidenced by the fact that today is my one month wedding anniversary. And now that the wedding is over and people can't ask about it, the two things they DO ask are: "So how's married life?" and "When are you having babies?"

Fun.

Our wedding photographer left the day after our wedding for the East Coast and promptly got waylaid by Hurricane Sandy, so we're still waiting on photos (I'm not complaining - some people lost their HOMES. I can deal with wedding photo delay for as long as need be.) But we do have one thing to share - a video made my adorable and ridiculously talented husband, who's an editor, so he can do this kind of stuff in his sleep. It's a montage of all our photobooth photos, shot by Open Air Photobooth (we recommend them 100% for any type of party - they were terrific) and edited to the song we opened our reception with, right after our first dance - Pink's Raise Your Glass.

So enjoy the video, and please know that I'm grateful for all the love and support you guys have shown me this year - in my ups and downs and wayward trips sideways as I contemplated life, love, wedding planning, hiding under the blankets, and everything in between. I couldn't be more grateful for this little blogging community I have and I'm so grateful for every one of you. If I don't comment more on your blogs, it's not because I'm not reading them or that I don't love catching up on your life, because I do, and if I don't blog more, it's not because I have nothing to say - sometimes it's the exact opposite.

And while I'm on a gratitude kick, right now I'm grateful for my friends, my family, my husband, my health, my happiness, my job, a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, food in my fridge, electricity in my apartment, a car that works, a phone that works, and about three million other things. I am truly so, so blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Monday, October 22, 2012

So... that happened.


More pictures to follow later this week, as I've kind of been avoiding life for the last month, so I'm still playing catch up. I promise you'll get more wedding pics though. PROMISE!

Love and hugs,
Tracy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Summertime (and the living's easy)

 So some of you were like, stop with the pep talks, give us details about what you did over the summer. And while it took me an absurdly long time to load all the pictures, here you go, kids. Ask and ye shall receive.

In No Particular Order Because the Summer Flew By So I Can't Remember When Things Happened:

Benni and I attended two concerts, Pixar in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and Roger Waters live at the LA Coliseum. Both were incredible shows, and we've got one more concert coming up: Florence and the Machine at the Hollywood Bowl the first weekend in October.  SO freakin' excited.


Roger Waters - The Wall - at the LA Coliseum


Pixar in Concert - at the Hollywood Bowl, before the show


Pixar Concert - mid-show. A full orchestra played the scores to every Pixar movie they've made so far (including Brave!)


I got to take a few Fridays off work and instead bum around at the beach...


Zuma Beach - Malibu


Laguna Beach, Orange County

 Sunbathing.


 I celebrated getting another year older and not that much wiser ;)

yummmmmmy

I finished shooting not one but TWO web-series this summer - Hell Froze Over, as the lead actress, and a new web-series called Love-Stupid, where I was the production coordinator and had a two episode arc as an actress on Love-Stupid. Hell Froze Over Season 2 will premiere this fall, so stay tuned!!!

Me hard at work with the clapper on the set of Love-Stupid.


Me...covered in a dirt for a shot of HFO Season 2. You curious yet?!


 We went to the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival to help our friends sell strawberry shortcakes...

I never wanted to see a strawberry again after that day.

...and maybe squeeze in a few rides too.

swings!


And we had our lovely friends throw us an engagement party!

I feel short.

Sunlight and love.

Bridesmaids made of PURE AWESOME - Lira and Stacy.


I continued acting, writing and producing - with two of my favorite people, Lira and April - on a show by, about, and for women - called Our Time of the Month. We perform one show a month, and so far, audience turnout has been fantastic.


Yay!


Dorking it up with April, left, and Lira, on the right.

Benni and I went to San Diego Comic Con again this year - this time with me dressed as Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, and him dressed as Anders. Yes, we're nerds. 

Anders and Starbuck, sittin' in a tree...

The Hulk - made completely out of LEGO's. Awesome!


Now that I got see the Firefly cast in person during a Comic Con panel, I can die happy. From left to right: Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon, Summer Glau. SHINY!

I booked a modeling job for DevaCurl - a hair product specifically designed for girls who have curly hair. It was a two day print job in Culver City, and I had a blast - everyone was so friendly and just really fun to work with. I'd shoot again with them any day! I think I'll be on the products themselves as before and after shots.

Before. How about that mustache, am I right??



After. With a lot more makeup and hair product. Oooof.

We mailed our invitations and got a bunch of other wedding-y stuff done, including finishing the favors, the centerpieces, buying wine for the event, making signs and table assignments...phew! We still have a little bit of stuff left to do, but we're in really good shape and way ahead of schedule. Our wedding is children's book themed, so we used a lot of used books for our centerpieces, signs, table assignments, and our guest book. It's not all finished yet but I promise you'll get pictures after the wedding!

invitations

 
Used book stores are our friends.

Paper heart cut-outs for the guest book.


I went camping - twice. Once to Joshua Tree National Park for the Perseid Meteor shower that happened in August, and again last week, when my family and I made our annual trek out to Yosemite National Park for a week. My hiking boots are happy again.

Merced River, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome

 
 Sunset in Yosemite

Sunset in the rear-view mirror, Joshua Tree National Park


 And that was my summer not-quite-a-vacation. I'm about to get very busy and go into full wedding mode (the wedding is one month from tomorrow) so you'll have forgive me if I fall off the planet again. But there will be pictures when I get back - OH YES - there will be! 

Hugs,
Tracy


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keep Going

Last week (I know, two posts in one month, look at me overachieving like an overachiever!) I posted about the general emotional state of where I was at, but for some of you (cough cough Bath cough) that's just not good enough, no, you want a laundry list of what I've been up to this summer.

And I was gonna post it too, in all its boring glory (it involves a lot of talking about how hollow books are actually a super pain in the ass to make and I don't recommend anyone ever in the entirety of their life deciding to create THIRTY OF THEM as centerpieces for a wedding, also if I ever see modgepodge or an Xacto knife again before I'm ninety years old it will be too soon) but then I realized that today is September 11th and while I'm not held hostage to the tragedy of it anymore and I do my best to ignore the way it's been politicized by both parties, it felt weird to be like, "Today is September 11th! Here is how my wedding is coming along!"

So instead, I'm posting a poem, and then I'm packing my boots and my swiss army knife and my sleeping bag and my sunblock and an obscene amount of marshmallows and my family into three cars and we are driving up to Yosemite. And everything will be restored and I will take deep breaths and surer steps and yes, I will avoid the Plague Mice and maybe when I come back it won't be 100 degrees in LA and THEN I will post about the boring laundry list of what I've been up to this summer.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

milk inside | Sarah Wetzel

I wake, having lost track 
of the hours, a woman in the seat 
next to me weeping 
delicately, the thin 
blue current of her shoulders 
almost indistinguishable 
from the shudders of the plane. 
I’m not usually like this, she says, 
shifting eyes from mine 
to the window. I tell her, At times
we are all like this
, turning 
to the book in my lap. 
What I want to tell her is
Stop. I’ve grown so impatient 
with misery. In the book, a man 
descends thirty-six thousand feet 
below sea level to stare 
at the deepest spot of the world. 
Through his tiny portal cracking 
under the enormous pressure 
of ocean, he says the snuff-colored 
ooze at the bottom resembles 
a big bowl of milk. We think 
we know misery 
yet can’t speak eloquently 
of even such a visible chasm. 
Inside this plane nothing happens. 
We are hundreds of miles
off course, our shape we recognize 
only by the shadow 
following. The woman stares out 
the window, waiting for something 
that won’t come. She rises 
then sits back down. 
What I mean to tell her is 
Keep going.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

semper ad meliora

If you're like me, you thrive off the fight - the kind that brings change. You feed off of it. You don't wish for an easier life; you wish for better walls to climb and wars to kill and people to save. You choose the hard way on purpose, you draw your lines in the ground where people refuse to take a position, and above all, you run towards the fire. You ask the beautiful questions. You like to burn down the barn every once in a while just to see the moon. You take the road less traveled by, you push yourself when others would indulge you, and you know that nothing good comes without a gorgeous, knockdown fight.

It's not because we don't want things to be easy, though, if you're like me. That we wouldn't love to lie down, to sleep through the night, to accept what life drops on our laps with grace and gratitude. To believe that our lives, our homes, our loved ones are untouchable. It's not because we don't want those things.

It's because we don't believe in them. The safe meadows with sunshine streaming down and porches with lemonade... we'd love to stay, it sounds lovely, really, but we've seen too many storms to believe that the calm is anything other than the warning beforehand. We exist in a war zone, and if there is no war to be found, we'll make one ourselves. Just finished building it? Good. Now tear it down. We want to see what's behind that door, over that mountain, inside that holy book. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but at least it lived ten lives first. Every other animal only gets one.

Summer feels like a lie to me - hey baby, it's all good and groovy, let's just chill by the pool, there's nothing to stress about- and when autumn rolls around I'm relieved. Change is coming. The stagnancy I felt during the LA summer will retreat back into the darkness and the part of me that wanted a mighty shove so I could pick myself up off the ground, dust off my bloody knees, and cock my fists thinks finally. Finally. Let's do this.

It is my firm belief that there are two types of people in this world: fighter and healer. You can have a little of both - most somewhat well-adjusted people do - but you pick the way you approach the world and it's either with hands open in acceptance or hands clenched and swinging. The world needs both, and healers don't have it any easier than fighters, in fact I think they have it harder, because everyone's been through storms and it takes a specific kind of courage to sit in that field and believe in its beauty without wondering when the next lightening strike is gonna happen. But fighters have courage of their own, and when their nerve denies them, they go above their nerve.

During the summer, I had nothing to fight for, and so I had nothing to say. Now that autumn is coming, change is in the air, and it feels good. Good, good things are happening, and are going to continue to happen, when I burn down the barn yet again the view will be beautiful.

The healers I keep in my life - and you know who you are - I thank you, again and again, for keeping me balanced and sane and for being in my corner and helping me unclench my fists every once in a while to enjoy the good things that will come and land in my open palms. The labyrinth blows, but I choose it. And, like all of you, I am moving always towards better things, and I'll meet you at the next rest stop.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

tilt-shift

Sometimes I think my brain is like a camera. Besides the fact that I do have a slightly photographic memory (nothing cool or helpful, by the way, it just takes "pictures" of random words on websites or book pages I'm skimming and then I have to go FIND THE WORD or I go insane), my brain has an insane zoom lens that is able to single-handedly wipe out everything else that is going on in my life and, with laser focus, shine a thousand points of light (or darkness) on any given situation. It's this astonishing lack of perspective that I live with on an everyday basis, and sometimes it just kicks my ass into my teeth. My yoga teacher asks, "How are you going to get yourself through this moment?" when we are sometimes in a difficult pose, and I raise my eyes to her in a sort of silent you tell me because damned if I know. I have no idea how to get myself from one moment to the next sometimes, and it alarms me, my lack of perspective.

Yesterday I came face to face with someone else who shared my fabulously craptastic lack of perspective, in LA traffic of all places, and he purposely tried to run me into oncoming traffic with his car. I was deeply afraid, incredibly pissed off, but most of all ashamed for my part of what had happened. Had I done anything violent, stupid or illegal to him? No. But I could have done better. I could have put up with his bullying and just moved over into the next lane to let him pass, as I do for so many other bullies in this town. Because in LA, the person who is the most insane driver, who cares the least for the safety of others, who is the most selfish, wins, up until the day he or she dies in a car wreck, and you just hope to God you're not around on the day that bully's time runs out. My perspective failed me in the worst way possible, and I almost paid a very dear price for it.

But other times my perspective is sharp and clear, with minimal soft-focus on everything that's going on around me. I'm planning a wedding, which has kept me plenty busy, and yet I'd say my stress level, on a scale of one to ten, is probably a three. (I'll get back to you in a month.) But I intuitively know that a wedding is not supposed to be stressful to plan or execute - no matter how many times people have told me otherwise in a sing-songy voice. I'm not supposed to go through a year of hell just to have one perfect day. It just doesn't work that way, even if I believed perfect days actually exist, which I don't. And while it seems that I get to watch everyone else lose perspective around me, I feel like Cassandra, the prophet no one believes, telling them it's going to be just fine. Because, honestly, if Benni and I end up married at the end of the day... it's a good day.

Perspective is scale. It's measuring things against each other, weighing each moment's importance, and being able to toss out what is taking up more energy than it should. It's comparison, it's asking Well is this as important as that? and it's figuring out each moment's place among all the other moments in your life. Is this what you want to focus on? perspective asks, lightly touching each moment like it's in a store, poking fingers into soft sweaters. How about this one? And this one?

It's up to us to have the discerning eye. We cannot grab every moment and treat it as equal, and there are some moments of such utmost important and magnitude that they demand we put down EVERYTHING and simply stop and pay attention. The moment I tell Benni that I will be his wife for the rest of my days is important; the way the napkins on the reception tables are folded is not. The way I treat every person with kindness and respect while driving, whether they deserve it or not, is important. Making a bully embarrassed about the fact that he's a bully is not, in the grand scheme of things, that essential.

Perspective is the art of weighing and measuring and categorizing each moment in our life - and yes, how we are going to get through it - and we are the artist, and our lives are the canvas. And it is the work of a lifetime.

 (Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm not dead/just floating (again)

Sometimes the most unnerving aspect of life is when we take a step back to get perspective and, in doing so, we recognize the patterns in our life. I was trying to come up with a title for this post and kept coming back to the title from that song by Pink - I'm Not Dead, Just Floating. And then I realized I'd used that post title before, so I went and found the other, older post and read all about how I was in a bad place and wasn't blogging or sleeping well and was sorry for pushing people away and not talking about it. It was from July 2011.

So here we are, full circle. Another July post with the same title, same issues. It's tempting to feel discouraged, to feel like I haven't moved forward or progressed much in a year. That my patterns are just endlessly, mindlessly repeating themselves. That I'm walking down the same street, making the same mistakes, falling into the same holes. That I've got no one but myself to blame for the record-skipping that happens in my life.

But nothing feels farther from the truth, actually.

Yes, I still have the personality of someone who doesn't like to ask for help or talk about it. I might always have that. Yes, I suck at blogging on a consistent level. Life keeps me busy enough that I might always do that too. But sleeping is getting easier. Stretching is getting easier. Breathing is getting easier. I am back to doing martial arts, even if it's not as often as I'd like, and I started yoga, and God help us if I don't become a yoga enthusiast by the end of the year with how wonderful it feels, even when I'm doing Pigeon Pose and trying to flip off my instructor at the same time (SPOILER ALERT: it's hard to give someone the bird while doing yoga. Just thought you should know). The strength that I feel, that I remember from before, is coming back and it feels fantastic.

One of my earliest (good) memories of spending time with my family is while hiking. As a family we were a mess. Angry, violent, crappy at communicating. But when we went up into the hills by our house in New Hampshire to pick berries in the summertime, somehow we were able to put our shit aside. Something about being outdoors, about putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe it's that when you're on the side of a mountain with four other people you don't understand and don't particularly like and actually wonder how on earth you came to be related to them, you also realize you can't just leave them there. That you're all in it together.

Or maybe it's perspective. Maybe when you're on the side of a mountain you realize how small you and everyone else is, and the things that you thought mattered don't actually matter all that much. And the anger that usually tightens up your shoulders and jaws just leaves, because you don't have the time or energy for it.

I kept hiking, long after we moved from New Hampshire, whether it was in national parks or deep in the hills of Santa Ana or Angeles Crest Forest or trendy Runyon Canyon in LA. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, taking each step one at a time, listening to my breath and my body telling me what I needed at that moment. Rest or keep going? Rest or keep going? Rest or keep going? I would slowly ascend up mountains, circling around, seeing the same view but each time from a little bit higher perspective. And regardless of whether or not I got as far as I would have liked, I enjoyed the journey and what I learned about myself along the way.

I like to think hiking is the perfect analogy for life. I am higher, much higher up the mountain than I was last July, and though the view looks the same the perspective has shifted. I am stronger now than I was a year ago, and next year I'll look at the same place from an even higher viewpoint and there will be no loss, just gain upon gain upon gain. As for the rest or keep going question, I rested for a few weeks, and now it's time to keep going again. The burnout I felt was a response to pushing myself to do daily uninteresting tasks that will nonetheless yield very great rewards, and I simply needed to step back and get perspective on why I'm doing the things I'm doing and to enjoy the journey, not just the rewards. And finally, to set aside non-negotiable time for myself to do things that rejuvenated, refreshed, and inspired me. Yoga. Naps. Gratitude lists. Prayer. Poetry. Lunch time walks. Good books. I can feel the changes happening under my skin as I take my time for myself. My lungs and heart expand. My fists unclench. My shoulders are less heavy.

The girl who wrote the blog post a year ago probably felt a lot more trapped than I do today, and hadn't quite learned yet that she needed to take care of herself just a little bit better. I am miles away from that girl.

I'm not scared/just changing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Peanut butter, four rooms, and random facts

I've been having a hard time being creative lately. I don't know why, exactly, but it feels like... it feels like I'm dry inside. Like peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth. Can't write, don't feel like acting, and my words just don't come out right, even when I'm talking.

I'm not really sure what this means. I am getting lousy sleep, that's for sure, which Benni helpfully diagnosed as "Nightmare Insomnia" the other day. It means I don't have any trouble falling asleep, but a few hours later, I will wake up screaming and crying from a bad dream, then go back to sleep, then wake up from another bad dream. My brain just isn't processing things right. I'll put it this way - I'm sleeping as much as I drive each day - about two hours. I have the patience of a 2 year old that's permanently in need of just a really good nap. And since sleep and appetite are linked, I haven't been eating much either. Joy.

BUT - I have started working out lately. Which is a GREAT thing. I already feel stronger. I started up again with Escrima (Filipino knife fighting) and found an instructor who combines Escrima with Wing Chun (a hand-to-hand form of martial arts that utilizes grappling mostly), so that's been challenging and fun. And, for those days when I'm NOT feeling violent, I took up Yoga. I had my first class on Monday. 

I have an inkling that my dry spell has something to do with the Four Rooms. This quote sums it up best:  

There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.  - Rumer Godden in A House with Four Rooms

I definitely only live in one room at a time. And visit the others, oh, every other month, maybe. I tend to be very singularly focused - get one thing done at a time. Problem is, life doesn't exactly work that way. I can't be awesome at 1/4th of my life and then ignore the other 3/4ths all the time. It's just not balanced.

So my new goal is to go into each room at least once a day and take care of something - anything - that I can in that area. I'll let you know how it works out. In the meantime, I've decided not to push. All my life I've pushed myself, and rarely just stayed in a place that was sucky and uncomfortable. Doesn't work anymore. So here I am, sitting in it, letting it wade around my ankles, and hopefully it'll move along sometime soon. And I know I've sucked at leaving comments and posting because I sit in front of the monitor after reading all of your posts and... nothing comes out. Nothing. Just...nothing. I am dried up inside. It's weird.

To make up for this being the most boring post in the history of blogging, I thought I'd make a list of five facts about me that you might not know. Because maybe if I'm an interesting person that'll make up for it. (Fingers crossed.)

1) I don't like to waste time on books I don't like. If I can't connect with it, I don't care how many people rave about it (Finnegan's Wake, anyone?), I won't finish it. Life is short. Spend it on the books that move you to tears or make you shake with laughter. This goes for movies too, only the rule I apply here is - no dead animals. I don't care how beautiful the story is or if it has the best acting in the world. If the main animal dies at the end of the movie, no, screw you, you can't make me watch it. I won't. Animals die horribly every day. I don't need Disney movies to drive the point home.

2) All my life I thought what I wanted out of a partner was someone who would sit through the entire credits of a movie with me; someone who would hold my hand while one of us was driving; someone who would sit in silence and listen to the entire song I just told him that he NEEDED to listen to without interrupting or moving on in the conversation. But I got it only half-right - what I really wanted was someone who just naturally did these things, someone who did them before I had to ask him to do them, because it was just who he was. And now that I'm with that guy, it's pretty damn awesome.

3) I'm thinking about shutting this blog down. Because it feels like this world is just kind of over it, you know? No one cares anymore. Having followers used to mean that they'd actually comment. And maybe that's my fault for creating inconsistent, stilted content that doesn't exactly inspire people to visit or leave feedback. But maybe a fresh start is what I need. Not sure. I think I'll give it to the end of the year and if I don't sense anything but a huge wave of apathy when it comes to my blog, maybe I'll just shut it down and invite the 25 or so of you (you know who you are) who have become my blogger family to go meet me in a field somewhere else, under a different blog name. I guess we'll see.

4) Part of what I meant by the words don't come out right can be applied to my last post. I think people interpreted it that the moral of that story was: accept that you're a doormat, then continue being a doormat. Oops. I suck. That's not what I meant to say at all. What I meant to say is: when you love yourself unconditionally, you stop putting up with other people's shit. Which is exactly what happened, and that particular ASS in my life now floats in a completely different boat, in a completely different ocean, than where I am. This person lost all ability to affect me in any way because I took the first step in accepting myself unconditionally and then looking at this person with compassion and saying, "You don't deserve to have my attention." And it was that simple. 

5) I have a random fear of dropping important papers down into the crack between the floor and the elevator. I can't explain it, and I don't think they've named it as a proper phobia yet, but every time I'm in an elevator and I am carrying papers, I clutch them tight to my chest like a freak and take a huge step over the elevator/floor crack of doom.

I never claimed I was normal.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

wholeheartedness

I won't lie in that there aren't some times that I'd like to punch my heart in the face. My whole heart - my wholeheartedness.
 
*************************
I am sitting in therapy like a good person does, because depression is like acne, in that when you follow the right routine and everything clears up you are tempted to go, "Look! I'm fine! I don't need to do this anymore!" and you are tempted to think you are no longer a person who has acne and/or depression, and then you stop following your routine and everything goes to hell, including but not limited to your face. And your heart.

I am telling my therapist about the astonishingly selfish someone who has popped back up into my life, the one that I would love to cut off from my life and never see again but unfortunately, sometimes life just doesn't work that way. Astonishingly Selfish Someone (A.S.S., see what I did there?) is yanking my emotional chain, and man, all I want to do is unhook and then wrap that chain right back around that person's neck. Not very loving of me, but I'm tired and I don't like being manipulated and I'm allergic to Passive Aggressive and I came to the theory a few days back that no one, besides your children, should take up as much energy as the person you're sleeping with. If you have people in your life that take up more emotional energy than your significant other, then you should ditch them.

Unfortunately, this theory doesn't work, because Benni is possibly the most low-key, chill man on the planet. I think a stick is actually more high-maintenance than Benni.

I hate my heart sometimes, I say. And my therapist gets it. She does. She knows that the life I live, where I lead with my heart, where I stay awake at night and try to think of ways to save yet another shelter animal that I saw about to get put to sleep on Facebook, where I get angry at injustice and devastated at death and loss and the way I wear my heart on my sleeve for the whole world to see, that it doesn't exactly make me feel like a winner a lot of the time. In fact, most days I think I got the losing end of the deal.  I tell her so. She nods.

Let me ask you this, though - she asks - who would you rather be? Would you rather be an ASS, an astonishingly selfish someone, or would you rather be you?

I'd rather be me.

So this post is for you. If you came here on purpose, if you're a regular follower and commenter, and you needed this today - it's for you. If you came here on accident, if you stumbled upon this because you were looking for steampunk pictures (that post still gets like 34 hits a day, which blows my mind, but also makes me want to hug the entire internet that much more), and then you read this post - it's for you.

It's for every single one of you who worries that you care too much, too deeply, about the stupid things in life, those of you who wish you could check out and not want to make things better or try to fix people. It's for the people who know they are being taken advantage of but keep caring anyway because what's the alternative? Turn into someone you're not?

It's for those of you who know what it feels like to love people and know that they don't quite know how yet to return that amount of love, so they just keep taking and you just keep giving because you are you and you will never stop being you.

We are told everyday that the cool kids are the ones who don't care about others, who don't look up from their own lives to make one iota of effort to make someone else's life ever so slightly easier, that the best way to get ahead is to step on others and eat each other alive.

I wasn't ever a cool kid. Never will be. Give me my heart, my whole heart, my wholeheartedness. I will wear it proudly, and I will be vulnerable with joy.

I'd rather be me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the unbearable lightness of being

Consider yourself warned that this post will have no neat beginning, middle, and end, no moral to the story, no general theme lined with specific examples, none of the stuff that I usually strive for in my posts. My mother, who is a professional writer, would be ashamed. But I've been busy - busy working, busy chasing my own tail, busy being busy, trying to put one foot in front of the other and accomplish my goals in a linear fashion of when projects are due versus which project has people attached to it that like to scream and wave their hands frantically at me and insist on being the center of my universe.

What I would like to be doing: catching up on episodes of Revenge. Eating my weight in ice cream. Working off the ice cream by doing Yoga or something else that might make me feel strong and healthy and be able to stop my brain from doing the Neurotic Tango when the lights go out - three things I haven't felt or done in a long time.

What I am doing instead: memorizing lines for the show I'm in once a month; memorizing lines for my acting class; memorizing lines for the web-series I'm co-starring in and shooting almost every weekend day (which means I haven't had a proper weekend in a month, as I work Monday through Friday, then shoot 8 am to 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, then go back to work on Mondays); memorizing ASL signs for the ASL class I'm in (my final was last night, and I passed with flying colors); and doing production work (putting together call sheets, call times, time schedules, etc) for the web-series I'm also acting in. I also just got elected to the Board of my church, as its youngest member. Oh, and hey, I'm also planning my wedding.

Color me overwhelmed. With what feels like permanent marker.

So here's a list of things that have got me through the past few weeks.

  • I've started leaving my office during lunch. Instead of sitting at my desk and eating in front of the soft, romantic glow of my computer screen, and occasionally working during my lunch (answering phone calls, responding to the boss' needs, checking work email), one day I just walked out of the damn building with my food and a book and found a quiet place to sit and read while I ate. And it was the best lunch hour of my life. So I did it again the next day, and the next. I can't tell you how much it's improved my sanity to eat while no one is bothering me, and to eat outdoors. It's like getting a high-five from the universe every single day.
  •  This line by Mary Oliver, which pretty much has become my dictum for life: "Pay attention.
    Be astonished. Tell about it.”
    Just about every thing Mary Oliver writes comes down to attention, so much so that she compares it to prayer on numerous occasions. And whenever things suck in my life, it's usually because I'm not paying attention to what really matters, to being in the moment and instead I'm elsewhere, distracted, half-assing it. It's the Kairos moment I talked about as my new year's theme and it's where the root of my spirituality lies and every second I am kind to myself or to someone else (which is by far the most important thing on this planet), it's because I was finally paying attention.
  • An interactive photograph of the entire universe. It's not fake, it's not Photoshop. It's the deepest photograph of the universe as we know it yet, and when things get stressful I literally just go to the website and tilt up the picture 90 degrees so that it feels like I am lying on my back, staring up at stars. It works wonders.
  •  Realizing my ego does not go gently into that good night, and reciting this line over and over again to counteract the loudness of its tantrums: "Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?"(source here)
  •  Following this guy on Twitter. He also wrote a book. Sample dictionary definition of his: "Between, prep.: I live in the area bounded by my expectations and my disappointments."
  • Buying tickets to not one but TWO Hollywood Bowl shows this year: Pixar in Concert in August and Florence + the Machine in early October. 
  • Oh and: fresh strawberries, naps, back rubs from my favorite guy, engagement parties, flip-flop weather, Mother's Day picnics, ice cold pink lemonade, frozen yogurt, clean sheets, too much poetry, letting it go, letting it go even more, and gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Monday, April 30, 2012

National Poetry Month, Part 4

Tired - Langston Hughes

i am so tired of waiting.
aren’t you,
for the world to become good
and beautiful and kind?
let us take a knife
and cut the world in two —
and see what worms are eating
at the rind.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

On the Necessity of Sadness - Mikael de Lara Co

Let me tell you about longing.
Let me presume that I have something
new to say about it, that this room,
naked, its walls pining for clocks,
has something new to say
about absence. Somewhere
the crunch of an apple, fading
sunflowers on a quilt, a window
looking out to a landscape
with a single tree. And you
sitting under it. Let go,
said you to me in a dream,
but by the time the wind
carried your voice to me,
I was already walking through
the yawning door, towards
the small, necessary sadnesses
of waking. I wish
I could hold you now,
but that is a line that has
no place in a poem, like the swollen
sheen of the moon tonight,
or the word absence, or you,
or longing. Let me tell you about
longing. In a distant country
two lovers are on a bench, and pigeons,
unafraid, are perching beside them.
She places a hand on his knee
and says, say to me
the truest thing you can.
I am closing my eyes now.
You are far away. 
 
-------------------------------------------------------- 

Bright Day - Stanley Moss

I sing this morning: Hello, hello.
I proclaim the bright day of the soul.
The sun is a good fellow,
the devil is a good guy, no deaths today I know.
I live because I live. I do not die because I cannot die.
In Tuscan sunlight Masaccio
painted his belief that St. Peter’s shadow
cured a cripple, gave him back his sight.
I’ve come through eighty-five summers. I walk in sunlight.
In my garden, death questions every root, flowers reply.
I know the dark night of the soul
does not need God’s eye,
as a beggar does not need a hand or a bowl.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

For an Album - Adrienne Rich

our story isn’t a file of photographs
faces laughing under green leaves
or snowlit doorways, on the verge of driving
away, our story is not about women
victoriously perched on the one
sunny day of the conference,
nor lovers displaying love:

our story is of moments
when even slow motion moved too fast
for the shutter of the camera:
words blew our lives apart, like so,
eyes that cut & caught each other,
mime of the operating room
where gas & knives quote each other
moments before the telephone
starts ringing: our story is
how still we stood,
how fast.

------------------------------------------------------------

The End of Science Fiction - Lisel Mueller

This is not fantasy, this is our life.
We are the characters
who have invaded the moon,
who cannot stop their computers.
We are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.
 
Both hands are stopped at noon.
We are beginning to live forever,
in lightweight, aluminum bodies
with numbers stamped on our backs.
We dial our words like Muzak.
We hear each other through water.
 
The genre is dead. Invent something new.
Invent a man and a woman
naked in a garden,
invent a child that will save the world,
a man who carries his father
out of a burning city.
Invent a spool of thread
that leads a hero to safety,
invent an island on which he abandons
the woman who saved his life
with no loss of sleep over his betrayal.
 
Invent us as we were
before our bodies glittered
and we stopped bleeding:
invent a shepherd who kills a giant,
a girl who grows into a tree,
a woman who refuses to turn
her back on the past and is changed to salt,
a boy who steals his brother’s birthright
and becomes the head of a nation.
Invent real tears, hard love,
slow-spoken, ancient words,
difficult as a child’s
first steps across a room.
 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

National Poetry Month, Part 3


House of Belonging - David Whyte

sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

A Message from the Wanderer - William E. Stafford

Today outside your prison I stand
and rattle my walking stick: Prisoners, listen;
you have relatives outside. And there are
thousands of ways to escape.

Years ago I bent my skill to keep my
cell locked, had chains smuggled to me in pies,
and shouted my plans to jailers;
but always new plans occurred to me,
or the new heavy locks bent hinges off,
or some stupid jailer would forget
and leave the keys.

Inside, I dreamed of constellations—
those feeding creatures outlined by stars,
their skeletons a darkness between jewels,
heroes that exist only where they are not.

Thus freedom always came nibbling my thought,
just as—often, in light, on the open hills—
you can pass an antelope and not know
and look back, and then—even before you see—
there is something wrong about the grass.
And then you see.

That’s the way everything in the world is waiting.

Now—these few more words, and then I’m
gone: Tell everyone just to remember
their names, and remind others, later, when we
find each other. Tell the little ones
to cry and then go to sleep, curled up
where they can. And if any of us get lost,
if any of us cannot come all the way—
remember: there will come a time when
all we have said and all we have hoped
will be all right.

There will be that form in the grass.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Settlement -  Mary Oliver

look, it’s spring. and last year’s loose dust has turned
into this soft willingness. the wind-flowers have come
up trembling, slowly the brackens are up-lifting their
curvaceous and pale bodies. the thrushes have come
home, none less than filled with mystery, sorrow,
happiness, music, ambition. 
and i am walking out into all of this with nowhere to
go and no task undertaken but to turn the pages of
this beautiful world over and over, in the world of my mind. 
_________
therefore, dark past,
i’m about to do it.
i’m about to forgive you
for everything.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Keys - Nancy Henry

when things got hard 
i used to drive and keep on driving 
once to north carolina 
once to arizona 
i’m through with all that now, i hope. 
the last time was years ago. 
but oh, how i would drive 
and keep on driving! 
the universe around me 
all well in my control; 
anything i wanted on the radio, 
the air blasting hot or cold; 
sobbing as loudly as i cared to sob, 
screaming as loudly as i needed to scream. 
i would live on apples and black coffee, 
shower at truck stops, 
sleep curled up 
in the cozy back seat i loved.
the last time, i left at 3 a.m. 
by new york state, 
i stopped screaming; 
by tulsa 
i stopped sobbing; 
by the time i pulled into flagstaff 
i was thinking 
about the canyon, 
i was so empty. 
thinking about the canyon 
i was. 
i sat on the rim at dawn, 
let all the colors fill me. 
it was cold. i saw my breath 
like steam from a soup pot. 
i saw small fossils in the gravel. 
i saw how much world there was 
how much darkness 
could be swept out 
by the sun.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Flames - Billy Collins

smokey the bear heads
into the autumn woods
with a red can of gasoline
and a box of wooden matches.

his ranger’s hat is cocked
at a disturbing angle.

his brown fur gleams
under the high sun
as his paws, the size
of catcher’s mitts,
crackle into the distance.

he is sick of dispensing
warnings to the careless,
the half-wit camper,
the dumbbell hiker.

he is going to show them
how a professional does it.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Poetry Month, Part 2


On  Last Lines - Suzanne Buffam 

the last line should strike like a lover’s complaint.
you should never see it coming.
and you should never hear the end of it.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Good Night - J. Bradley

 i wanted to write “stay”
on your sides, surround
your bed with oceans
of salt. i hope he folds you
into a fox, loves you
like a splintered arrow,
brandishes the kill
of your lips. may the bouquet
of your hips wither.
may the wolves
forget your name.

 ------------------------------------------------------------------

what lot's wife would have said (if she wasn't a pillar of salt) Karen Finneyfrock

do you remember when we met
in gomorrah? when you were still beardless,
and i would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing
you, when we were young, and blushed with youth
like bruised fruit. did we care then
what our neighbors did
in the dark?

when our first daughter was born
on the river jordan, when our second
cracked her pink head from my body
like a promise, did we worry
what our friends might be
doing with their tongues?

what new crevices they found
to lick love into or strange flesh
to push pleasure from, when we
called them sodomites then,
all we meant by it
was neighbor.

when the angels told us to run
from the city, i went with you,
but even the angels knew
that women always look back.
let me describe for you, lot,
what your city looked like burning
since you never turned around to see it.

sulfur ran its sticky fingers over the skin
of our countrymen. it smelled like burning hair
and rancid eggs. i watched as our friends pulled
chunks of brimstone from their faces. is any form
of loving this indecent?

cover your eyes tight,
husband, until you see stars, convince
yourself you are looking at heaven.

because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbors
are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.

i would say these things to you now, lot,
but an ocean has dried itself on my tongue.
so instead i will stand here, while my body blows itself
grain by grain back over the land of canaan.
i will stand here
and i will watch you
run.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Everything is Waiting for You - David Whyte

your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. as if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. to feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. you must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
the stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. the kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. all the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. everything is waiting for you.

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------

grief calls us to the things of this world - Sherman Alexie

           The morning air is all awash with angels
            —Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”


the eyes open to a blue telephone
in the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

i wonder whom i should call? a plumber,
proctologist, urologist, or priest?

who is blessed among us and most deserves
the first call? i choose my father because

he’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
i dial home. my mother answers. “hey, ma,”

i say, “can i talk to poppa?” she gasps,
and then i remember that my father

has been dead for nearly a year. “shit, mom,”
I say. “i forgot he’s dead. i’m sorry—

how did i forget?” “it’s okay,” she says.
“i made him a cup of instant coffee

this morning and left it on the table—
like i have for, what, twenty-seven years—

and i didn’t realize my mistake
until this afternoon.” my mother laughs

at the angels who wait for us to pause
during the most ordinary of days

and sing our praise to forgetfulness
before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

those angels burden and unbalance us.
those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

those angels, forever falling, snare us
and haul us, prey and praying, into dust.
------------------------------------------------------------------

The Uses of Sorrow -  Mary Oliver

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness. 

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

National Poetry Month, part one

Guess what month it is, everyone? And if you guessed April, NO, that's boring. It's NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! (I don't know why that deserved all caps except to express to you that I'm really, really excited about this.) If you're a newbie to my blog, what I do for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH (okay, that time I seriously didn't need to capitalize it) is post a bunch of the most gorgeous, heart-wrenchingly beautiful, inspiring poems I can find. Right here. For you.

You're welcome. 

The rules for enjoying my poetry posts to the fullest are this: Slow down. Read the poems. Think about them.Carry them with you throughout your day like a secret love letter. Let them illuminate your life.

That's it. You guys can totally do that. Let's get started! YAY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! (just pretend I'm yelling this in Gerard Butler's voice from "300").

PS I've been in a Mary Oliver & Charles Bukowski mood lately. So if the posts favor those two poets more than others... take it up with management.



The Word  by Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,
between “green thread”
and “broccoli,” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”
Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend
and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,
and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing
that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder
or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,
but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom
still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,
—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Living by Nazim Hikmet


i mean you must take living so seriously
      that even at seventy, for example, you will plant olives—
      & not so they’ll be left for your children either,
      but because even though you fear death you don’t believe it,
      because living, i mean, weighs heavier.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

if you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. give in to it. there are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. we are not wise, and not very often
kind. and much can never be redeemed.
still, life has some possibility left. perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. it could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. anyway, that’s often the
case. anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. joy is not made to be a crumb.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

God Says Yes to Me by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Thing Is by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief.
You think,
How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
 I will love you, again.



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