Sunday, November 29, 2009

No-sleep November

So I guess I'll follow my October post by saying that this month has been particularly dissatisfying.

The wondrous melancholy; the wondrous now.

First off, the grocery store has had the fabulous idea to open its doors at a squinty-eyed-8am instead of the luxurious, bountiful 9am we once enjoyed. As a customer, I am happy at this change- no more Safeway milk and eggs before church. As an employee, I am scandalized. There is no way to do four hours of work in three hours, especially when this work is accomplished by over ten bodies. And adding more bodies to the equation just does not equal the hour we've lost. The brainstorming committee (did one even ever exist??) forgot to factor in the small spaces and tight corners of our store that- one would imagine they've forgotten this tiny glitch- are growing ever smaller with the coming of Christmas.

There are other small things that have made November terrible: the tight funds, the ever-expanding dark hours (starting at a very wakeful 4:30pm with almost an entire month to go), squabbles amongst loved ones, etc... but perhaps the most terrible of all has been that horrible sensation that everything is wrong when in fact nothing has really happened at all.

There have been no major catastrophes. We managed to navigate an almost entirely pain-free thanksgiving dinner: stellar menu and sweet company. Pat and I got engaged; I am able (somehow!) to pay my rent; Christy, Laura and I saw New Moon north of the city while sipping beers and passing popcorn around, and I've even managed to go a whole week (except for thanksgiving day of course, and one particular pie post-turkey-day) without sugar or missing a day of running. I've even worked in an abs routine.

So this does not explain the nights I can't sleep I feel so generally unfulfilled. I feel as if I have missed a lily pad somewhere along the way. I ignored an open door, and now here I am, floating and I can't tell which way is up. I wake up in the morning, and my heart immediately finds rock bottom. What is the point, I think tiredly, of waking up or of falling back to sleep? I feel out of my own body, sick with anxiety and find horrible, sharp, irritated things coming out of my mouth- when the truth is that the person I am most irritated with is myself.

I don't believe in restlessness; I believe in content, in living within your means, in finding, enabling and pursuing your own routine. I keep picking up The Cloister Walk and swimming in Kathleen Norris' stories of living at the monastery. I am up to my ears with envy, wishing I could be somewhere something already functions whether or not I show up, whether or not I find the energy to shoulder the weight. I miss college and my home growing up, but not for the virtues of these particular institutions, but instead for my place within them. In these places I have taken off the cloak of otherness and basked instead in the giant warmth of familiarity. These places were my refuge from loneliness, anxiety, and frustration. In her book, Norris relinquishes 'otherness' within the walls of the church. I don't know if this will ever be possible for me. But I do hope for hope.

Which is appropriate given the time of year now inhabited on this new 29th day of November, finally on its way out. Advent.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'd just like to pay a little tribute to October, which was an awesome month this year. And it seems important to note that I have always sort of felt about October the way I feel about doing laundry: I know its necessary, but I'll probably just feel better when its over. I don't exactly know why- November just seems so festive, and September has more to do with school and summer than the following months. October is just something to get through- and halloween (the constant worry that I'm not creative or clever or handy enough to come up with a somehow-both-stunning-and-witty costume) another obligatory holiday leading up to those lovely, plump warm days: Thanksgiving, which I always feel at some point is my favorite holiday until Christmas comes around, toting along with it the charms and attention of my wintry birthday.

But this year October kicked September's ass. My dear friend,who also happens to be my sister, Erin came into town and we romped our way through Seattle, spending entire days walking in the slanting sun-- back when the light lasted all the way until 7...

Then Christy and I went to Forks- we just threw a lunch together, packed our rain gear and optimism and hopped in the car. It was a drive, a ferry ride, and another couple hours in the car, which we spent reading and laughing, and then stopped to take a few pictures. We ate lunch on the beach and then walked around the small town, making a few choice stops purely to witness the booming new businesses...

And then just when you might think the month was wrapping up, my mom came into town and I finally got to show someone all my favorite running spots. We made three kinds of hummus and bought Quark at the Farmer's Market. While she was here, I started my painting lessons and felt for the first time the release of standing all afternoon at my kitchen table with a brush in my hand, pulling colors here and there, and finding out just how much I never knew before.

And it is drizzly now, and gets dark at quarter to five (with about a month to go before the solstice), and quiet and evenings seem to drag on forever. I keep vitamin D in the back pocket of my blue jeans; I keep the phone near by. But sometimes the dark is merely darkness, just what it ought to be on the cusp of December. I'm finding myself grateful.

So thanks October, for being just what you were supposed to be also: brilliant, sun-filled, orange, red, golden, clean, cold.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The word is out

The first person to notice that I am engaged who wasn't in on the whole shenanagan in the first place is named Molly. She is four.

Today we sat eating a snack at the miniature tables the preschool seems full of. My hands were folded across my giant knees, towering above her eating surface.

"I just love your ring!" she told me, like we were sitting on stools at a cocktail bar already on our second round. "Oh, thanks," I responded, flattered but shy.

"Why are you wearing that?" she asked with sweet innocence. It's a social symbol she doesn't yet recognize and for some reason I was a tiny bit jealous. I thought for a minute about her question, then answered, "Because someone gave it to me." Which seemed to satisfy her, and then we talked about Halloween and she spooned applesauce into her mouth. I leaned my head out the doorway and pretended to order our third round.