Thursday, November 30, 2006

the return of suspense

I have a visitor coming this weekend...I pick him up at 6. I can guarantee a story of some sort by Monday, but won't be posting until then (that is unless I get a Crosby-esque burst of inspiration in the middle of the night at some point).

Have a lovely fin de semana folks!

writing is therapy

I have always loved to write, but like so many things in my life - love has not always translated to dedication. In fact, some writing processes (like term papers and other assignments) have been downright torturous. I pride myself (foolishly) on the fact that I turned almost every single paper in late in high school. I was a master at getting extensions - and was rarely penalized for my late assignments. The most impressive example of such procrastination was when I turned in a term paper (upon which my entire grade rested) a full six months late (this was for an independent study course I took with a guest professor in college). I think my procrastination was tied to the fact that I really appreciate what writing is all about - and for that reason it sometimes terrifies me as I fear I won't do it justice. That and I can't stand bad writing - even on a minor assignment. If I was good at anything in school, it was English and writing. So I needed to do it well - and the fear of not doing it well made me put it off.

Blogging has helped my writing process immensely. First off, because unlike assignments and articles I've written in the past - it's first and foremost for me. I can run-on, start sentences with 'and' and simply vent if I need to. And kind-hearted souls out there will even respond! But even as I've freed myself up to do such things, I feel like I am actually learning about and improving on the writing process in a way I've never been dedicated enough to do before.

Somewhat tangentially, I heard an interview with David Crosby the other day that really resonated with me regarding the writing process and how he comes up with his lyrics. He said they often come to him while he's in bed - he'll wake up from a dream and suddenly just need to write them down. It's almost as if he's acting as an intermediary for something else - either that or they come from such a deep place within him they transcend the normal thought process. For the most part - my writing process (at least until this blog) has been somewhat similar. So I could never take myself all that seriously as a writer - because I didn't do much of the "sit down and write" kind of thing that so many accomplished writers practice. It was incredibly edifying to hear someone describe what I DO do, and mention how most writers keep a notepad by their bed and share a similar experience (Scrubs tribute: yes, I just said "do do"). Somehow it made me feel like there is an inherent writer in me after all - that laziness and lack of focus be damned - I have the integral spot inside that finds words before I even know they're there. And maybe I'll never do anything with them like write songs of peace or great poetry - but it feels good to know they might be there anyway.

Now, as a bonafide blogging addict, I at least have an outlet for the daily words and thoughts - and writing is becoming more conscious as I am actually learning to enjoy it for something more than spewing words on a page. Sure - most of my posts are still just that, but I have started to recognize just how long my run-on sentences can be, started to see when a passage could be enhanced by taking words away, rather than adding to it. The rules I once shunned are starting to make sense as I realize how much I have yet to learn about telling a story or engaging someone in an experience. I feel like I'm learning to communicate better and a long-time love has started to become partnered by dedication.

Thanks go to William Smythe today for throwing me a shout out and inspiring me in this post!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's happening

I have had the great fortune to be able to travel fairly extensively in my life. I have traveled in a variety of proximities, but much of it revolved around singing (I visited Canada, Easter Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia with my children's choir and Italy and China with my College choir) and my family. Aside from a family trip to a Mexico Club Med, my first truly international trip was to Kenya when I was 10. I trace much of my fascination and downright reliance on travel back to this trip.

In 1990 my grandfather was 89. He had lived a long life, raised what I consider to be an amazing family and done very well for himself after his family immigrated from Poland in 1906. He had built a life (literally - he was a builder) that accommodated some of the things most important to him - one of which was hunting. My eldest Aunt was her father's daughter, and she embraced the opportunities he made for her, made a fair amount of her own as a pioneer woman in business and has served as a role model for many of us who would love to emulate her success story. Her desire in 1990 was to give her father a gift - a chance to enjoy animals in the wild without shooting them. She was going to take him on safari.

She extended an invitation to our family - would anyone like to join them? My mother and youngest brother (still 14 years older than myself) responded with an enthusiastic YES. A trip was planned for the foursome, they were going to Kenya. During this time, however, my grandfather had been diagnosed with throat cancer (another great love of his life: cigars), and it was touch and go whether he'd be able to go on the trip.

I still remember the day my mom showed up at my school and asked me to wait outside while she talked to my teacher. "How curious," I thought. As we walked home she asked me how I felt about missing two weeks of school. "What for?" I asked. "Grandpa's doctor won't let him go on the Africa trip, and I've asked your aunt if you can go in his place." The trip was paid for, a spot was open, and no one else in the family wanted to go. My mom made the decision for me - extending the trip of a life time to a ten year old who would become an unwitting 4th in numerous games of bridge, an amateur photographer and a lover of all things unknown over the course of the trip.

I have wanted to return to Africa ever since. When I was sixteen my brothers' father (all my siblings are half siblings - two from my Dad's first marriage, including Mac who comments frequently on this blog - and two from my mom's first marriage) passed away. In yet another act of incredible generosity, my brother decided to use a portion of his inheritance to take me on a trip anywhere in the world. I immediately said, "Africa." But, knowing that this was not an opportunity I would likely be extended again, he suggested a true back packing journey through Western Europe, and I'm glad he did as it gave me an opportunity to fall in love with a slew of countries that given my 'pre-disposed to more exotic places' taste, I might not have prioritized otherwise.

I have since returned to Asia and Russia, visited New Zealand, lived in Costa Rica briefly, explored Scandinavia a bit - but Africa has remained a vision etched in the soul of a ten year old girl. And so, through a string of events that reinforce the idea that if you throw your hopes out to the world and they are well placed and worthy, it sometimes responds in force, I am returning in March. I can't wait.

Hope vs. Dreams

I'm starting to find myself and my posts very repetitive. I'm not sure if they come across this way - but I'm so stuck (in a good way) in this new found freedom to dream that I hope I can find new ways to communicate its significance.

Today I am thinking about how opening yourself up to dreams really does introduce the vulnerability of what happens when such dreams do not pan out. At my weakest points the fear of such failure has shut down my dream mechanism all together. Now, as it gears back up, it sometimes goes into imagination overdrive and I think I expose myself to more disappointment than a situation calls for. Of course when I say "situation" what I really mean is "love" because as much as I'm trying to figure out the rest of my life - love is the piece that's absolutely the most fun to dwell on when something stirs it up and gets me excited.

So when I find a person who intrigues me, or have a flirtatious interaction, I start to construct a story of resolution from that moment on about how this person could be the one. There's no limit to my imagination or the details that ensue. Like so many things in my life (be it work or creative pursuits) that have laid stagnant for a long time, as things awaken I yearn to dwell on romance and the possibilities of what could be. For the most part when things don't pan out I don't lose any sleep - unless of course I've invested a bit of my heart into it, which I've only done a few times in the past year, with little success.

And herein lies what I'm trying to figure out - what is the distance between hopes and dreams in the game of love? Are either easier to let go of or recover from when they fail to evolve as we wish? How much of my romantic energy is being spent on hopes vs. dreams? And should it be directed towards one over the other? If I had to identify the differences I'd say hopes are more basic and short term - bits and pieces of an image we have. But dreams run deep, dreams are born of the fibers of your being - in love they represent the image that may have started with the men you love the most in your life - your father, your brothers, uncles etc. They grew with your first exposure to men in a romantic sense (when they were still boys) and you started to understand the significance of chemical attraction and reaction. They grew further when you first fell in love, and with each subsequent relationship where you learned what you could and couldn't live with, and what at your core makes your heart feel most at home. And at that moment where you let your dreams take over, you start to let your heart get involved, and when things don't pan out - it's much harder to shake off.

I think right now I'm still focused mostly on hopes with love. I haven't built up the same resilience that I have in the rest of life that's letting me take bold steps forward to pursue my dreams. In love I am still dabbling in the hope that I'll understand the significance of my dreams and who I want my partner to be. In the meantime, I suppose my focus is best served figuring out who I am and will be for whoever may be in store for me, and may be pondering these very same things on his own...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My pops is on Blogger

My dad has been added to my blogroll. You can find him here. While he doesn't have the best of eyes and types exclusively with his index fingers (the result being a LOT of typos) he's got great ideas about the state of our country and politics today. I admire his passion and his willingness to participate in democracy - he's a die-hard letter writer, volunteers on campaigns and is always willing to engage in political dialogue. Check him out!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Taking a chance on time

I've been more aware of the "growing-up" process this year than any other I can remember. I don't think it's because I've become any more adult-like this year as compared to others, rather I think a lot of growth that was cultivated in the past is simply coming to fruition, making it easier to recognize. A prime example of this is my take on investing and spending money - but the things I've learned are applicable in regards to investing on a broader level - be it with money, time, energy, creativity or even dreams.

For some reason, I've always struggled with spending money. In a lot of ways you could use my financial portfolio as an analogy of how I've lived my life. I try to diversify, take reasonable risks but until very recently have seen money as something to be held onto as much as possible, that it shouldn't be wasted - it should be guarded for whatever it might be useful for in next steps and future experiences. So while I had no problem buying paltry things - a $20 shirt here, some $6 dollar earrings there, any major purchases were to be obsessed over, ascribed a fixed amount of mandatory guilt and required at least three justifiable excuses as to why the purchase was worth it. Simply wanting something, or knowing it would enhance my life (be it yoga classes, or a digital camera) weren't enough to override the guilt of wanting stuff. Then, almost two years ago, I took a financial leap. I decided that saving prudently wasn't enough - I needed to be willing to take a risk. And so I bought a house (in a market I could afford, which means another state where I can rent it out and more or less cover my costs). That started a change in my financial outlook, which if I can get through this post will hopefully be instrumental in reflecting a change in my overall outlook.

Suddenly money wasn't something that needed to be controlled for fear of life blowing up in my face, or the idea that the unknown experiences in my future would somehow benefit from blindly saving to support them. Without being willing to invest in my now, how would I ever be able to get to that future, be it grad school, moving abroad or buying a house that I could actually live in? So I started to loosen the purse strings, started to pursue activities that would enrich my life. I started to realize that there is immense worth in valuing time, energy, creativity and activities as much as I do the security of a solid savings account.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post, and a thought that struck me as I was driving from my parents house to the Bay Area today to fly back home. As I prepare to make some major changes in the new year - to leave my job at the end of January, to take some time off, to go to Africa - I realized that while the money will more or less be flying out the door for a number of months - I am making an investment in time. I am taking a chance that the weeks and months of space to breathe, research, dream and travel will provide a solid return on investment. That somehow when I come out the other side and step into that future that I've spent the last four years hanging so many decisions on, that it will have been worth it. It's not a decision I think I could have made if I hadn't been forced to reassess my somewhat back-assed views of money and what purpose it serves over the last few years. And I have no illusion that money won't play a role - that the decisions I come to about my work and the path I hope to pursue won't somehow take money into account. But the significant thing to me is that time is now the guiding force - not dollars and cents. Time and a little, or perhaps a lot, of faith.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

the tradgedy of a lost post

I am on my dad's computer, which is formatted to be in large print which throws off a large amount of standard blogger formatting. His computer also posesses a sort of kinetic energy that frequently results in random program closure, directives gone wrong and any number of unexplainable phenomena that make me wish typewriters had not been ascribed to the museums of yester year.

Perhaps the disappearance of my last post did you all a favor - it did wander a fair bit. I'll try and revisit the thoughts when I'm not so frustrated with this machine! Urgh.

Reading: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (truly food for a love-lorn blogger's thoughts)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

This headline is too good to not share

el Día de Acción de Gracias

I have only spent one Thanksgiving in my life away from my family. It was 2002, and I was spending the fall after I graduated in Costa Rica studying Spanish and "interning" with a few non-profits (I say "interning" as I mostly just hung out with some incredible people and did what I could to help them out - my Spanish was still developing so I couldn't be all that effective!). I love the Spanish translation of Thanksgiving, "el Dia de Accion de Gracias" - or literally translated, "The day of giving thanks." In Costa Rica, instead of sitting down to a standard turkey meal, playing the world's best version of charades (as we do every year after dinner - it's called "God" and involves teams) and spending the next morning playing in our annual "Turkey Tournament" (the one time a year I play tennis), I went to a Chinese karaoke bar with friends and sang quite possibly the worst rendition of "More than words" ever heard in Latin America. Still, as I stood outside the bar and talked to my family back home and heard the laughter and joy in their voices before rejoining my new friends who had taken me in as one of their own in Costa Rica, I had a lot to be thankful for, and the holiday was not lost on me.

This year is no different. I will be traveling home and spending the holiday as I do every year - but my thankfulness meter is on high alert. It's been an incredible year, full of blessings and growth I could not expect.

The short list of things for which I am thankful:

1) My family - which has grown this year with the addition of Dexter, and which continues to be the number one blessing in my life. I cannot imagine having come from any other place into this world - they have formed who I am and they are still my most comfortable fit in this world.

2) My friends - for those who have come back into my life after years of being out of touch, for those who have been consistently by my side, for those that have shared incredible periods of their own growth with me and set an example I can only hope to emulate, for those who have given me better insight into who I am and strive to be, for those who have showed me that life is meant to be enjoyed, for those that remind me just how simple friendship can be. For those I have not even met in person but who grace me daily with their writing.

3) Surfing - you've heard it all before but I had no idea how great this could be! From the overcoming a fear factor, to the contact it provides with nature, to the way it makes my body feel afterwards, to the fun it provides by meeting up with a friend to take in a day at the beach.

4) Growth - I feel like I can barely count the ways with which I have grown this year - some as a result of heartache, some as a result of opportunity, some as a result of the patient prodding of those around me, some as a result of finally casting off doubts and insecurities, some as a result of the world being so much greater than I can understand and my sense that ultimately, God's in charge and I'm just along for the ride. Growing up is not so scary as it was - it's kind of exciting, and I know I am lucky to be doing so within the time and space that I am, and that there's a reason for it all...

5) Dreams - I feel like this list is simply repeating things I've been saying a lot lately - but I cannot understate the significance of learning to dream again. Not that I've ever stopped dreaming - but to be able to do so without immediately cutting myself off and coming up with a reason why said dream is not reasonable or is too impractical, greedy or no good. The world and the life experience feels so big right now in the best of ways.

So with that I'm off to head north. I wish you all a wonderful holiday (though all you Canadians have already celebrated yours I know). One last thing - my links have been updated to reflect the lovelies who visit daily and comment often - thank you all for your insights and thoughts, and for sharing even more on your own blogs. And - best news of all - Dan, formerly of The Daily Dump is back with a new blog. Aside from Jason Mulgrew and Dooce he's one of the only bloggers that can take credit for me laughing maniacally by myself in my office on any number of occasions.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Reminiscing: Part III

I started to cry immediately. I felt set up. I felt like the heart strings I'd been patiently mending and caring for had suddenly been torn. I was reminded how vulnerable I was. The weight of love lost and hopes for a different kind of love pressed down on me. I made up some excuse for why I was crying - something that made sense in the greater context of our conversation but allowed me to pretend that it wasn't his actions that had hurt me. It was some sort of an analogy for what would become my greatest fear in facing life on my own: that the person I would fall in love with someday would not fall in love with me because I just didn't have all the pieces that they did. It's a confidence issue to the core - worrying that because I haven't read the right books, or learned to play more than a few chords on the guitar, or lived extensively abroad or created something artistically significant and tangible - that I won't be good enough. And yet this is just stuff. I don't evaluate people based on these things - I just tend to be drawn to a certain type of spirit and some of those things come along with it - and I worry that somehow my spirit won't match up. How awful to be attracted to something you feel you cannot match? I am working on this.

Anyway - our conversation closed with me supporting him - I knew it was a huge step for him to make a commitment to someone - I knew this was not a situation he could have possibly foreseen. I knew he was handling it the best way possible by being honest. I didn't doubt that he thought he had feelings for me when he shared them with me - I just think this other person came into his life and swept him off his feet as all the things he was looking for in the back of his head were suddenly in front of him. It was something he couldn't walk away from. And I totally got that.

So though I was disappointed, I wrote him the most honest email I could. I told him I was hurt - our friendship had been built on honesty, it was not a hard thing to do. But I also told him that I understood - that I got how significant this was to him - this was not just a guy blowing off a girl, this was a guy that had suddenly been presented with a reality of something I think he didn't really think existed by finding someone with such a similar background, faith, life view etc. And I left it at that. I thought that by being honest, but also being supportive, we could maintain the friendship that beyond all romantic feelings I'd let seep in, had become really important to me in a continually vulnerable time. I was wrong.

While he was in Israel I got maybe three emails (over the course of 4 months). They were for the most part fairly superficial - and this is when I really grieved. Because I felt like I'd been robbed of something I hadn't asked for in the first place. I let this person in, I confided in him, I shared my life with him - and I supported him even when he had more or less led me on, because the friendship was worth it to me. And suddenly he was just gone. This was a much bigger blow to me than his relationship with the Mennonite.

A couple of months before he came home (he ended up leaving his program and moving back to Arizona last January) I received a mass email he sent to his closest friends letting everyone know that he and the Mennonite were no longer together. It hadn't worked out - they wanted different things and he wanted to let everyone know. I didn't really think anything of this at that point - I had more or less come to terms with his absence in my life and I did my best to squelch any sense of pride or satisfaction. I still really just missed my friend, but I'd long sense come to terms with my own path and why it was best that things happened as they did for my own growth and well being.

Fast forward to this spring. A is back in the U.S. and starts to get back in touch. I am uncomfortable at first - I'm a naturally forgiving person and because I treasure the opportunity to open up with someone and A was always someone I could simply spew my take on the world or my life with, I wanted to jump back in. And yet I'd been wronged. I still felt like I'd been seriously dissed - and the stronger pieces of me that have gradually been building up and taking control over the weaker pieces held me back. "Don't be stupid, don't get yourself back into something where you're going to be let down." So I kept it at arms length. We've talked every once in awhile for months - sent messages but until recently it hadn't felt the same. I have become closer with his best friend who lives by me and we discussed it once - the first time it had come up since it all happened. He told me he'd felt bad about how everything had gone down, and asked me what my experience had been. It was nice for him to acknowledge it - it validated that I didn't make the whole thing up. He encouraged me to talk to A - and I wanted to, but I didn't want to be vulnerable and a comment A had made to a friend made me think his take on the whole things was so off that I didn't want to risk getting misinterpreted again.

Fast forward to last Monday night and the start of this epic post (which if you can't tell has been highly therapeutic, if not brief or well written). A and I had set up a phone date after he left me one of his famous singing messages on Saturday night. It was the first time since he's been back where I somehow felt totally comfortable again - like finally I had the friendship back that I'd lost. Enough time had gone by, I've had a whole host of other experiences - and he was making an effort again. I was ready to let the friendship back in to be what it was - a joyful person in my life who was willing to share some of his struggles, and hear mine. It felt good.

And then, out of the blue, he apologized. After an hour long conversation he said he wanted to talk about what happened 13 months ago. He said he felt stupid for having been unable to follow his heart and keep me in his life at the same time. He said he regretted missing out on my life in the past 13 months, and having the opportunity to have shared his with mine. And then he let me share my experience, and he accepted it with honesty and with humbleness. And while I no longer needed that from him, it makes me feel immensely better to have had it. To have been able to express that however he interpreted my tears over a year ago, I did, in fact, understand. That yes, I was hurt. That yes, I felt led on. But that I let it go immediately because I trusted he was following his heart. That it wasn't because of me that our friendship was suspended - I would have carried it on if it had been an option - without guilt. The friendship that had so blessed me by falling in my lap last year was back. The honesty, the joy, the openness was back.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Does this ever happen to you?

I'm sitting at my desk, listening to The Weepies and perusing a link via DOOCE (neither activities remotely qualifying as work) when I come across this picture:

And just as I click on it I hear these lyrics, "You're the moon, I'm the water, you're a mars calling up neptune's daughter." I always think it's funny when such coincidences occur. I could go days without ever coming across the word "moon" - and in a moment it's suddenly part of multiple senses. This happens to me with much more obscure words as well from time to time and always gives me pause.

Aside from this random thought, my favorite line in the song (Painting By Chagall) is "sometimes rain that's needed falls." How profound.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The power of water

This is where I surf.

This morning I twisted my own arm and got up at 6:45 to go surfing. I am learning that the payoff of a longer day with which to do whatever I want is worth overlooking the desire to stay in a cozy bed (plus I know I've mentioned the awesomeness of the obligatory post-surf nap).

We got to the water just around eight and the day was simply glorious. Say what you will about Southern California - but when it's late November and the skies are clear and the water is 65 degrees, well, there aint much to complain about. I've only been surfing a couple times in the last month and a half and I've been struggling to regain the momentum I was maintaining for awhile. Today was the first day where I felt like I started to feel the waves again, where I wasn't making futile attempts over and over to meet the wave and let it carry me. I also started to get over my fear of other surfers and whether I'm in their way or not. I had a thought go through my head this morning, "how can I be worried about being in someone's way when we're all in the body of water that covers the entire earth?" It's damn big - and I'm pretty small comparatively, so I decided to lay the hell off my own back. This has made things much more fun.

Tonight I watched "An Inconvenient Truth" with friends and while it's terrifying to realize just how dire the global warming situation is, it somehow made me absolutely marvel at the fact that I'd started my day swimming in the very ocean that could someday rise high enough to overtake every house I've ever lived in. And that someday could be much sooner than "someday" sounds. I'm not sure what to make of that. In the face of a film that serves as a wake up call to all that we are doing wrong to protect our earth, I am realizing just how much I treasure it. Spending a couple hours a week in the ocean, wondering on the creatures around and below me - it takes away the separation between myself and the rest of the natural world that I often ignore as a so-called "evolved" species. When I am in the water I am truly a part of the earth - at the whim of the waves, the mercy of any animals that might be bigger than me, or the bacterias I can't even see.

As I sit here and try to process this I find myself hoping that I can have the same sense of inclusion in the natural world when I'm on dry land - and that this will in turn help me to be a part of the solution to the waste, the apathy and the politics that get in the way of protecting our earth for future generations. Surfing has been but one blip on the radar of my life, but it continues to raise my awareness on so many different levels. I'm so glad I got over the fear that kept me out of the water for so long.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Reminiscing: Part II

A and I had been friends for a couple of months. Though we'd only met in person once, he'd become a daily presence in my life, and my outlook was better for it. I didn't realize quite how out of sorts I was at the time - I think I expected that because my relationship had been ending for awhile before the ultimate end (with a breakup for a number of months, then reconciliation for as many, then the final breakup) I thought that after a summer on my own, I was starting to get an emotional grip. During that fall I took an 8 week prep course for the GMAT - and for 8 weeks test prep consumed me. But throughout this time I had this new person in my life bringing a bit of sunshine in each day, and it made the algebraic equations I dreaded somehow a bit more bearable. (side note: I ended up bombing the test - while I scored quite well on the verbal section my math score suggests I might be mentally handicapped. My sister-in-law made me realize that timing was everything with that test - I was still a mess and didn't have anywhere near the focus to pull together the bits and pieces of algebra I may have acquired over the years and achieve a decent score).

But A was getting ready for his grad program overseas - so any thoughts I had of being "attracted" to him were more or less pushed aside as I knew if anything like that were to ever develop - it would be a few years down the road. In a way I think that made the whole thing feel safe - I couldn't mess it up or worry about doing the right thing because our whole interaction was in the framework of a bigger picture I had no control over.

About a week and a half before he left his brother had a going away party for him, and I drove out with my friend whose girlfriend (though they were technically broken up at the time) had introduced me to A. It was a bit awkward at first as I was meeting a whole group of people with much more history with A - I was this random girl from California who decided to make a trip out to help send him off. In an effort to simply join the fun but not monopolize his time simply because I was there from out of town, I made my rounds with the group, drank a number of rum and cokes (to absolutely no effect - that's how you know I was nervous!) and generally had a good time (we all went dancing as it's one of A's favorite things to do). Over the course of the night A got a little flirty, and the tone of our interactions started to change a bit - we danced and I started to let in a little bit of optimism that maybe he did like me regardless of how platonic I was trying to keep it. After my friend and I drove home I got numerous text messages from A saying how much fun he had dancing with me, how glad he was I was here, etc. etc. - all with a definite aura of flirtation.

So at this point I started to let my wall down. I started to think about just how good he made me feel - just how happy I was each time we talked, the general boost of energy I got in our conversations - that feeling you can't quite put a finger on but you only get with a certain type of person. I went to sleep with a big smile on my face.

The next morning I met him at his church, sat with him and his family - was introduced to family and friends and everyone seemed to have this twinkle in their eye - like they knew I wasn't just a friend coming to visit. That may be supposing a lot - but I'm not daft, the feeling was in the air. After church we went to his parents house where his parents, grandparents and sister and her family were all having lunch. I felt so at home - they are a truly warm family and at this point my girl-drive is going overboard as I'm imagining getting to know them and potentially joining their family someday (hey, I'm a GIRL). I had somehow really started to think that this could be the real deal - not because it was even remotely close to it, but because I was seeing all these factors that I look for in a situation that had fallen into my lap and I had done almost nothing to perpetuate. While in the past I had sought things out, held the reins, gone after what I wanted - here was the potential for everything I looked for and it was coming to me, not the other way around.

After lunch my friend and I had to drive home - and throughout our 4 hour drive I got numerous text messages from A about how happy he was I was there, how excited he was. When I got home that night we talked for over an hour and he told me he'd had a long conversation with his parents about me and while he knew he was moving to Israel he trusted that something was happening with us and knew that if it was meant to be somehow it would. This was the first real, tangible evidence I had that this wasn't just a friendship - that this could really be the foundation of something much more. Like I said, I'd been playing it safe, I might have my daydreams but I hadn't communicated anything to him other than in my affirmative responses to his encouragement to attend his party, meet his family etc. After that conversation I was on cloud nine. I bounded into my roommate's room and flopped on her bed and told her all about it. "I'm excited!" Of course the conversation didn't translate to anything - we weren't dating, we weren't a couple - it was just out there that there was an attraction and after two months of constant communication and indication that under the right circumstances - something may come to be. It gave me something to hope on. He left for Israel in a week.

We talked throughout the week and he mentioned he'd met some new people through one of his friends, one of whom was a Mennonite - a religion very similar to that of the Quakers, of which his own church finds its roots. The focus in their faith is on peace - and A was all about peace. So meeting a girl who was a Mennonite was really neat for him as both sects are not very big and are definitely not mainstream evangelical Christian (they tend to be a lot more salt of the earth, love they neighbor vs. I'm more righteous than you). He told me about her and plans they'd made to go hiking and dancing with a group of friends. I didn't think anything of it.

The weekend came, and we hadn't talked. I knew he was crazy busy with preparations for moving overseas, but it was completely unusual to not be getting my regular morning calls and silly messages, at the very least. My friends said not to worry - he's busy, you'll talk before he goes. But I knew, in my gut, that wasn't the case - because that simply wasn't like him. He has friends spread out around the country and he makes time to talk to them all - and he'd been making me a priority to talk to for two months - so why would that change this last weekend?

We finally talked on Monday night. He told me he'd spent the weekend with the Mennonite. He told me they had fallen for each other. He told me they'd decided to date exclusively. This coming from a guy who had never dated, had made a resolution not to date, and two days before he leaves the country makes a firm commitment to a girl he's just met. Talk about knocking the wind out of you.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

music seeps back in

I saw an amazing show last night. As I watched a group of musicians I adore (some of whom I just learned of) join together to celebrate the end of a tour that stood for everything I stand for (namely harmony and finding a solution to the Aids crisis in Africa) I wondered, why the heck am I not up there with them? And I don't mean them specifically, but why after a lifetime of singing am I suddenly without any venue with which to share my voice? Just because I know it's not a great one? Because music is frequently more than the rub of vocal chords - it's the process, the community, the navigating of life through words and notes and melody. And I think since I realized I couldn't quite get my voice to coordinate with my hands and that my voice wasn't strong enough to make its way on its own, I gave up. And like so many insights I've had this year I'm starting to see this decision for what it was - cowardice, laziness - a let down to myself and how I was made. So add finding my way back into a world of notes to my increasing list of things to do in my upcoming time off and exploration.

In the meantime - if you haven't heard of these artists - check them out.

Schuyler Fisk
Josh Radin
Sara Bareilles
Jim Bianco

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In honor of a girl who knows her heart

One of my absolute dearest friends is in the midst of what may be the end of her first real relationship in quite sometime. It had a lovely start, two people coming together with similar senses of humor, interests and mutual attraction. I watched from afar (we live in different cities) and did a little happy dance as one of the people I treasure most in this world was rewarded with meeting someone who fell for the amazingly unique gal that I already know and love. Were relationships or the male/female dynamic easy, things would have ended there and they would have marched lovingly into the sunset. However - as we're all brought back to reality at times, things haven't quite panned out that way. And while my first reaction is to be sad for my friend, and chalk this up as to yet another example of how damn hard relationships are - I've started to realize that this is yet another experience she's had in which I can look at it as a whole and say, "you did this right - and you'll be o.k." Let me explain.

Though she professes to have little experience with serious relationships, this is a person who is consistently introspective and curious about who she is and why she experiences life the way she does (read: self-actualization - a favorite term brought back into my neo-cortex by a comment from Sadia). I have long admired this friend for this trait - and for her willingness to take certain steps to push her limits, try new things, meet new people. She is simply "doing life" the way I think it should be done. And this relationship is no different. She started dating when she moved to the city, met up with a variety of guys and took her time getting serious with one of them. She was cautious with laying her cards on the table, but not overly so. She was honest about her experience (or lack thereof in a relationship sense) and she was open to his honesty in turn. And each step of the way she's been realistic about what she's looking for, what she's comfortable with. And this is what is ultimately drawing this relationship to a close (we think). And for this I am very proud of her. Because while many people have certain needs that they are willing to set aside for the sake of being with someone, of having other needs met - basic unmet needs often contribute to discordance in relationships and building resentments that can turn lovey-dovey into a roller coaster ride. She has identified some basic needs that aren't getting met, and while she also recognizes the things she has found in this relationship and shares with this person, she's not pushing the basics aside for the sake of holding onto these things as solitary relationship gems. I am so immensely proud of her for this...and she is of course totally hurt and sad. Still, as I watch her experience this and do my best to comfort her, I know this is exactly why dating is so important in the first place. I know this experience will one day shed incredible light on an even bigger decision she makes to move forward with someone else and open her heart even further.

So stay strong girl - you're on the right track, and you are uber-loved.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reminiscing in three parts

A little over a year ago, I opened my heart up to someone romantically for the first time since my relationship had ended. A close friend's girlfriend and I had been getting to know each other, and she wanted to introduce me to two of her best friends from home because she knew we'd hit it off. She invited me to dinner with the guys, one of whom lived in L.A. while the other still lived in their hometown of Phoenix, AZ. After dinner we played a silly game of tennis and rounded off the evening with a round of cranium at a local coffee shop. At that point it had been about three months since my break up and I was desperate to meet new people and experience the reawakening that brand new introductions can often inspire in you. It's refreshing to step out of the muck of a failed relationship and trying to figure out who you are on your own, for an interaction with a completely clean slate.

It was a fun night all together, and at the end the guy from Arizona asked my friend if he could have my number. While I suppose this initial step suggested an attraction, as we got to know each other it became clear that for the most part, this was destined to be a friendship. I was doing my best to be single and give myself space and time to recover from my break up, and he had made a commitment to not date, period. His thought process was that at this age (he'd only been out of college for a year at that point), relationships with women were better served on a friendship basis, and this was the time for him to explore opportunities and focus on identifying a life path to lay the foundation for the relationship he hoped to have one day. Or at least that's how I understood it. Still, over the next 4-6 weeks we gradually talked more and more, and I grew to depend on the cheerful phone calls we'd share. I often got a message when I got out of the shower in the morning with him singing some song he'd been listening to and wishing me a happy day. That sounds silly but he's just one of those guys that's really good at bringing a little sunshine into your life. We also spent many hours talking about spirituality, how faith plays a role in our lives and what it means in the modern world. We even attempted a book study. Suffice it to say, over that relatively short period of time he became a somewhat integral part of my life as I opened up to him in ways I was somehow unable to with many friends, and enjoyed the validation of someone wanting to experience all those sides of me that hadn't had an outlet in my relationship.

Throughout this time though we were both aware that he would be leaving the country to start an 18 month graduate program in Israel at the beginning of November.

Monday, November 13, 2006

On the topic of fear

(How funny that even after months of posting, I still have to give myself permission to come to this space with complete honesty.)

I'm not sure my state of being is coming through at all clearly in blogland these days. I think there are hints of it in my sometimes sporadic, sometimes fitful posting habits, but it's hard to know if those that are following are picking up on all that's going on. And the only one responsible for communicating that clearly (if I choose that to be the purpose of this blog I suppose), is me. So here's a very forthright and honest post: I'm SCARED.

I have spent years planning and looking to the future, coming up with all sorts of ideas about what might be ahead, where I wanted to be, what I wanted my life to look like. Along the way I have filled my time with a number of noteworthy projects and done my best to be a good friend and take advantage of opportunities that come my way. And now I'm on the cusp of all this coming to fruition - of taking the step towards the unknown that I've so desperately sought since I graduated with an understanding that the world is out there to be experienced.

At the beginning of September I spent a week in the Bay Area, did some aptitude testing and walked away feeling on top of the world. I came home, maintained the momentum and started to put plans into action, finally having something that could get me past the fear of not being good enough for my dreams in a series of tests that suggested I might be brighter than my current work duties give me credit for. Out of fairness to the people I work with, who are definitely bright as well - the tests showed I am simply suited for a very different type of work. And after sharing my ideas about the things I'm passionate about - my tester affirmed that I should waste no time in pursuing such things, and make the choice to believe in myself that I could make them happen. This was HUGE for me. Somehow I managed to shed this chronic self doubt and a laundry list of excuses that had been holding me back for ages. And the momentum stayed until very, very recently. It even opened some doors into opportunities that could pan out down the road. And it got me to take the major step of giving notice at my job.

Now, however, I have managed to lose the momentum and I'm desperate to get it back. I'm asked on a daily basis, "I hear you're leaving us Megan - where are you going?" "On to something bigger and better?" "Moving up in the world?" The honest answer? Probably not. I am very likely moving down in the world - entering into a professional arena (if I can commit to one) where I'll start at the bottom again. This while many of my friends complete masters and PhD programs, accept increasing responsibilities at work, start families etc. etc. Don't get me wrong - I am making a conscious choice to walk away from this track - but I am terrified that while I know the track I'm on isn't right for me, that maybe there's nothing right for me. What if I can't find a job that gets my wheels turning? What if I take time off and can't make myself go back? How asinine does that sound? I'm not a trust fund baby - I have to go back to work! But these fears start creeping in and suddenly all the progress I've made to chart my own course, to mix risk with good planning, to take a chance on identifying and pursuing my dreams - it all seems petty, selfish and really unlikely to work out. Even the thought of moving, of emptying my beloved apartment, stops me cold. And this is all what I've wanted - to get out there - to see the world! And it's happening and at the moment all I can think is how freaking scary it is, and what if I fail? And then I think of all the people all over the world who have real problems, and I get sick to my stomach that my obsession with figuring out what to do with my work continues to be such a guiding force in my life. And yet I've been given the opportunity to dream and I know this isn't something to take for granted, and I don't want to ruin the opportunity with fear
or pride.

So there it is, the not so pretty truth.

Ladies and Gents

Pete is back.

A Monday Upper

I have a number of things to write about at the moment, but I'll try to spread them throughout the week. However, since last night's post was kind of a downer, I thought I'd try and lighten things up a bit. Shauna did a lovely post today about a dear friend in celebration of his birthday, and suggested others do the same by taking some time to reminisce on a "montage of memories" with friends. This is fitting as one of my friends, the one with whom I've navigated the post breakup and tried to sort out how to maintain our friendship when he wanted something more, sent me a nice message this weekend to let me know he was thinking about all the fun things we've shared in the last couple of years. After all that we've been through, that simple statement was nice to hear. So in his honor, I offer up a montage of my own and take a moment to recognize friendship for all that it is.

Walking with flashlights along the beach near my house to see for ourselves the influx of squid that had been washing up on Orange County shores by the hundreds.

Driving around close to midnight trying our damnedest to find a coffee shop still open (welcome to the OC).

Cutting up copious amounts of watermelon for our friends - with me doing my best to keep him from cutting his fingers off in the process.

Thursday night "bible study" (the bible was never once studied) and the ensuing kitchen theatrics (namely, Costa Rican food).

Two incredible U2 concerts - only one of which I almost ruined by trying my best to please everyone at the same time (and failed, miserably).

Road tripping to Monterey to see Caedmons Call and share one of my most favorite places in the world.

Picking up and inspecting with a professional eye my surfboard (and obsessing over the dings...oh wait that was just me...)

Thousands of emails back and forth ranging from the mundane aspects of daily life to the depths of our souls - getting me through countless boring days, heartache and quite simply, life.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

the sigh syndrome

So far my greatest love affairs of 2006 have been surfing, Dexter and Scrubs. We don't have a t.v. hooked up to anything but confetti Spanish-language stations so I get my t.v. fix online. While I try not to watch too much it's nice to have a little laugh track in the background when I'm cooking dinner or paying bills. And let's face it, Scrubs is brilliant. Lately it's been Scrubs that has been inducing what I'm starting to call "the sigh syndrome." The show's catch is that it's about a host of characters with completely messed up emotional attachments, and yet every episode manages to wrap up with some sort of insight into friendship/love/work/the world. Amidst a bunch of slap stick humor, it never ceases to amaze me that moment at the end where I glimpse a little bit of humanity just the way I like to - through a veil of laughter. And then I sigh.

The sad thing is that somehow lately when I reach that sigh state it's got less to do with a 30-minute sitcom and more to do with the undercurrent of dissatisfaction with my life that I can't manage to rid myself of entirely. It all comes back to work and location and community. In some ways, I'm more content with my life here than I've ever been. Still, I'm in the midst of a downturn before what I can only hope will be an absolute blossoming of life. I've given notice at my job, I've started to make connections in the field I'm interested in, I've got travel on the horizon and places to go and people to see. And yet in these silent and still moments/weeks/months leading up until that time, I sometimes hit on an emptiness that makes me question just how much resolution these journeys may offer in my never-ending desire to figure out what to do with my life.

Of course an even deeper undercurrent (or is it?) is the ebbing and flowing of my heart strings. Tugged every once in awhile, their interest peaked and then forced to subside - they are getting louder and louder in my not-so-very subconscious. A sense of lonely that I've been a stranger to for a year and a half is starting to creep in and make its presence known. And all the other balls I have in the air - all the other dreams I've rediscovered this year and chances I've become willing to take are suddenly overshadowed by the absence of a someone with whom to share them. And isn't that the point? That I've been spending this time to get myself to a point where I'm willing to take a chance on me for the sake of living my life with purpose, and not just take the safe way out? And now I question whether I can or want to do that because I'm lonely? It seems like a damn shame. So I have to think that as I sit and sigh and sigh and sit I'll get over that and move forward anyway. But for the record, the feeling has hit and I suppose just as I've gone through all the other stages of being on my own, this is just another to now weather.

Addendum: As I reread this I worry I'm misrepresenting what I'm feeling. I think what I'm struggling with is not so much loneliness in the moment - but the realization that this could be it. That maybe there's not someone out there for me. So it's kind of a premonitional loneliness (yes I made that up) - that all these things I'm looking forward to aren't all that exciting if at the end of the year/decade/lifetime I'm on my own. I think for now I'm good - I just don't like this pessimism that's starting to creep in and say this time I thought I was taking for myself might not be an elected blip in my life, it could be my life.

Thursday, November 09, 2006



When I was in Montreal I got to record an entry in Allan's 'Book of Dreams.' It's funny how I spend 99.9% of my life day dreaming and yet when confronted with identifying and clarifying what my dreams are, I had a hard time knowing just what to commit to. In the book, I broke it up into "personal dreams," "dreams for the world," and "dreams with my man." I tried to document my core hopes. On a personal basis that means building a career in the field of Corporate Responsibility, on the world level it means seeing us evolve as a human race and continue (or start!) to strive for peace, and on a love level - it means finding someone to journey through life with, laugh a lot, raise amazing children and see the world. Oh, and "make sweet, sweet love," - that was in there too.

But, sitting here whiling away my day, taking far too many ADD breaks, I started a simpler list of things I would love to do or see in this lifetime - not because they represent any major role I hope to play in the world, or the culmination of a master plan (o.k. a few definitely do) - but because they just seem really, really cool. So here's my starter list:

1. Attend an art auction at Christies or Sotheby's.
2. Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
3. Adopt
4. Learn French
5. Sing back-up for a musician I admire (not professionally - just for fun)
6. Buy my mom a sassy car (I've always pictured her in a 70's mercedes convertible)
7. Help produce a film
8. Lobby congress in Washington D.C.
9. Have an opinion piece or op-ed published in a major circular
10. Learn some metalsmithing so I can design/make jewelry

That's my random starter list. What's yours?


O.k., my pleas for help continue (still hoping someone will recognize the song...). After I posted my mondo-post about my Montreal trip, my profile and treasured links are now waaaaaaay down at the bottom of my blog. What did I do? How do I fix? Herp prease.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In honor of yesterday: Peace Day

Natalie said yesterday was Peace Day. And since I was offline for most of the day, I'll post the following news in honor of such a day.

DONALD RUMSFIELD JUST RESIGNED!!!!!!!! If ever I were willing to turn into a crazy cat-lady for the sake of over-utilization of exclamation points, it would be over this news. My brother is worried we might end up with someone scarier. That said, I'm going to focus for the moment on the fact that the American public used the polls to speak yesterday, and the government responded (sure it's a political maneuver, it always is). The tide is hopefully starting to turn. And we're one seat ahead in the Senate! My inner-political geek and idealist lives!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

too. tired. to. type.

...but alas, in the spirit of NaBloPoMo, I'm trying to at least keep up an every other day posting routine. Today I worked as a "coordinator" for the election. It's never been even remotely suggested that I have any coordination as a person at all - my total lack of coordination being largely responsible for never playing any organized sports, deciding not to become a conductor, and for the many bumps and bruises I frequently sport from any variety of 'walking' injuries. Still, the Orange County Registrar of Voters found me suitable for coordinating, and so I dutifully left my house at 6:00 a.m. this morning to start my rounds. Here are some observations on American voting:

1) Though many voters would argue to the death about America's democratic supremacy, these same voters are very likely to complain loudly from the moment they reach the polls, and make such statements as, "it's not rocket science" and "they lose my info every time" to the often elderly poll worker dutifully trying to get them through the voting process

2) Unpleasant voters not withstanding, there are still always very sweet elderly people who proudly don their ROV nametags and spend an entire day reading very small print and setting up heavy voting machines to help their neighbors vote.

It's kind of like the best and worst of America rolled into one. The complainers, and the folks that have been around and know that no matter what, they believe in their country and are still looking for ways to serve it - no matter how much their neighbors disrespect the process.

I will say this - as opposed to the absolute heart falling out of my chest feeling I had on this night two years ago, it was nice to get a little burst of enthusiasm when I heard the Democrats had regained a majority in the House. I'm no longer the political junkie I once was, and as I cast my votes for my state propositions I was reminded once again how important it is to isolate issues for what they are and not allow a two-party system to completely dominate the political landscape - but something's got to give in D.C. and this is a nice start. Now, if the Dems can just get their act together! Seriously. Please? Nancy? Hillary? ANYONE. GET IT TOGETHER.

O.k., political post coming to an end.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

If this is true, I'm headed for crazy cat-lady land for sure!:)!!!:)LOL!!!!

gone with the wind

Another weekend come and gone. Whenever I travel it takes me a good week to get back into the groove of things. And because I travel somewhat frequently (travel ranging from big trips to the much more frequent weekend trips to see my family or visit friends), "regular" life often means either getting ready for or recovering from a trip. This can be good and bad. It means there are lots of experiences to look forward to, and lots to savor when they've passed - but it can throw a wrench in routine - and I've never been very good at having a routine to start with. For the most part, routines bore me, but I'm an adult, I have a small household to look after, a job, a circle of friends - and all these things depend on some sort of regularity of action - be it cleaning or hanging out frequently enough to know what's going on with my nearest and dearest. This was a nice weekend in that even as I recovered from my trip and tried to get back into the swing of things at work and sort stuff out at home, the more pleasant routines made appearances as well. Friday night I came straight home after work intending to curl up in bed as I've been fighting a cold, but found my roommate at home and a girlfriend called and we ended up having a perfect girls night complete with bellini cocktails (my new favorite, the bottle is already empty) and a smorgasbord of dinner cobbled together from a fridge full of odds and ends (note: French bread pizza with sauteed squash, mushroom, onion, olive oil and garlic + mozarella = GOOD). Saturday was spent doing errands and preparing for a southern cooking fest I'd been inspired to hold in lieu of our annual pumpkin party (which my trip to Montreal hijacked). The food turned out great - but a bunch of last minute cancellations mean we had 10 people instead of 17 - and I made enough fried chicken for about 30...oops... We projected Gone with the Wind onto one of our walls (inspired by a party that Lance had) but it wasn't as good of a get together as we usually manage. There was something off - either a funny mix of people, or not enough people, or we were all too tired - I was disappointed. But I suppose after two years of get togethers having this be the first that left me disappointed is not that bad of a track record. And, I am pretty sure I've broken myself of my fried chicken craving after getting up close and personal with more butter and oil than I care to admit in the last 24 hours. The food was damn tasty though!

Today I got back in the water after a month's hiatus from surfing and was pleased to feel completely comfortable (and I'm not even sore!). I didn't really do much surfing, but I swear I had a moment when I felt like I'd metamorphosed into a fish - I realized the way I was guiding my board was completely second nature, it was very zen. I also tried out my snazzy new surf glasses which I could tell the surfers around me found silly but my eyes were happy with and they DID stay on even when I was completely pummeled by the day's biggest wave.

I talked to Allan quite a bit this weekend and we're planning on hanging out in early December. It's been hard to know how to respond when people have asked me about what comes next. His project is a work in progress and nowhere near completion, and as I like to say, he's more or less dating "the world." I feel like the lines of communication are completely open though, and at the very least, I have a very fun and interesting new person in my life. On that note - definitely keep your eye on his site - he's got some crazy adventures coming up!

Here comes Monday...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Are you my wife?

First off - thank you to the Montrealers who gave me great suggestions for things to do/see/eat while in Montreal. While I did not make it to any of Thomas' various bars/clubs (next time!) I did get a great bagel my last morning (thanks F.G.!), walked the entire downtown including the Old Port and St. Catherine's, and have two bottles of Bellini at home (one for me, one for a friend). But for the love of all things good and Canadian - how did none of you tell me about Poutine? That's just gravy goodness right there:

O.k., now to the good stuff (be forewarned, this will not be brief!). I set out for Montreal with a sense of adventure. Making the choice to come was not a difficult one - I love to travel, am always looking for people that excite and inspire me, and wanted to take advantage of finally feeling "strings free" in life and love. When the plane touched down my heart leapt a little - here I was, off to find Allan and become a part of the Are You My Wife (AYMW) experience.

I found him quickly and we spent the first night getting to know each other. I met his parents, both of whom are absolutely delightful, and I had a great time with them throughout my stay. Allan's dad, Derek, is the quintessential British chap - the epitome of a sunny disposition. And spending time with them I could see why Allan would continually site them as an inspiration for this project - they compliment each other well and have built a life based on the things most important to them - family, friends, travel and enjoying the environment around them.

On Thursday, Allan and I explored downtown - and at each step along the way he took the opportunity to tell me stories about his history in Montreal, along with the city itself. It was great to get insight into a place that in superficial ways feels a lot like home, but once the surface is scratched is revealed as such a different and diverse place.

In the afternoon I had my first thoroughly Quebec experience as I watched Allan tape the Quebec version of "The View." It was the first of many experiences that led me to feel like I have joined this project as it's really started to take off. Later we met up with a long-time friend of Allan's at a pub downtown, and then were off to see Kyle and Dom at their Montreal digs, where they stay when they're not at the One Red Paperclip house in Saskatchewan. It was nice to meet the guy who was ultimately responsible for my trip - as it was through ORP that I found AYMW in the first place. Between meeting Kyle and seeing Allan do his T.V. interview and numerous radio interviews, I realized how truly up-ending (in the best sort of way) such projects can be. Kyle has been flying all over the world sharing the success of a 'bigger and better' trade, and Allan has put himself out there as a potential 'partner in crime,' to which women all over the world (myself included) have responded, en masse.

Which brings me to a simple question. Why is it that so many women who may or may not know what they're looking for in a man would email a stranger, send pictures, invite him over, fly to another country to meet him? For me (I can't speak for the others), the answer lies in an overall approach to life. Just as Allan shuns the conventional dinner and a movie approach to dating, I've yet to have any real success with it. I started this blog to chronicle an initial attempt at dating in a classical sense, since I'd been in relationships since I was 16, most of which started from friendships, not traditional dates. And because I knew after my last breakup (a 3 year relationship) that I wanted to wait a good long time before entering another, dating seemed like a nice way to fill the space and try something new. And here's someone challenging the face of dating all together - make it fun, make it memorable. That's dating on a whole other level - and it intrigued me immediately.

On Friday, Allan, his parents and I drove up to the Laurentian region where they have a chalet they spend many of their weekends at. My own family has a cabin that has been in the family for over 50 years in the Stanislaus National Forest - and I could tell immediately that the Wills' family chalet held the same richness of memories and life being lived as my own family's cabin does. Allan and I played with his childhood toys - an excalibur I would have killed for as a kid (it would have complimented the superman cape I refused to take off quite nicely) and walked through the woods where he used to wage his battles.

In anticipation of bad weather that would follow on Saturday, the day was glorious and we were indulged with sun as we visited the local town of St. Sauveur and attempted to blend in with the decorations, and also paid homage to Allan's childhood as we visited the hill where he learned to ski (which has recently been taken down and sold to a developer).

Spending time with Allan with his family was a treat - like he says, I got to see him at his most natural, and that's one of my favorite things about this date. In addition to spending time with his parents, I spent a good amount of time with his brother Simon - who I now realize I have no pictures of! Simon was great though - I think he knows more about American politics than I do (though I'm a bit of a junkie so it was fun to discuss) and between all the Wills men and their different perspectives I definitely left Montreal with a much greater understanding of Canada than I arrived with.

I'll tell you one thing I did not leave Canada with: any ability to understand Tetes-a-claques. Kyle and Dom introduced this to us, but having only two years of French 1 under my belt, I was at a loss to understand the humor. Still, just watching the faces and interactions had me laughing. Allan became completely enamored with the skits and for the rest of the weekend I would find him giggling under his breath, and he'd have to attempt a translation of the silliness.

I'm going to let you check out Allan's post regarding the Fest of Evil because he did a great job of summarizing the craziness of the event. I will tell you this - standing on the side of a hill, in near pitch blackness, wondering at every turn what we were going to confront was an incredible way to get into the Halloween spirit! And the snow - well that was a riot! And Harry, well, the videos say it all. I went to bed and woke up laughing hysterically, thanks to him.

On my last day, Allan and I went to get an authentic Montreal bagel, then headed downtown to do a radio interview. Kim posed some great questions - I think they made both me, as one of many dates, and Allan, think about the significance of AYMW.
Afterwards, we headed to the top of Mount Royal, where a clear day offered a breathtaking view of a city I have totally fallen in love with.

You can see my pictures on Flickr here. Also - make sure to check out Allan's recap of the date - he's got all the videos posted.

This weekend was wonderful first and foremost for the people involved. My host was incredible - from showing me the city, pieces of his childhood, sharing this project and the ways it's evolving with me, and perhaps most importantly, the people who helped him become who he is today - I was blown away. I truly felt at home.

But what I will take away regarding my own journey through life and love is that being with someone more or less non stop for 5 days has shown me that when it's time, I'll be ready for the commitment I've sometimes started to fear while taking this time for myself and having to contend with a love that couldn't be what I wanted it to be. I'm healthy, I'm open, I'm ready. Where AYMW falls in this - there's no way to know just yet. I will say that I think I walked away from the weekend with much more insight into who Allan is than he did of me. For that, there will have to be a second date :)