Thursday, June 28, 2007

fear and loathing at the gym

While life in general can't get much better for me right now, the one challenge I face is having moved home for the first time in at least 5 years - and the reality that of my high school friends, only one remains in the area. I didn't grow up here, I transfered to my high school my sophomore year and it was mostly a boarding school - so many of my friends never lived here in the first place. So, while I have plenty to keep myself busy with, and virtually my whole family is here, my girlfriends are not. The cute shirts I splurged on before I left SoCal in a last ditch tribute to the materialization it fostered in me hang, taunting me with my lack of places to wear them. I think if I were moving here for good I'd have a better sense of how to forge into my local community and make a life here - but given all that's up in the air I'm a bit tentative about venturing out too far.

So, I'm thinking of joining the gym. I'm working at home, so getting out of the house is even more important than it would be if I were just facing the sudden lack of social life (well it's not like my social life was kicking in Nkandla, but I had a bunch of kids to wrangle so there wasn't really any time to dwell!). The trouble is, I hate the gym. I have never been a gym goer. They make me incredibly self-conscious, and not just because of the spandex and the bodies that make what I like to think are the naturally toned arms I got from my mom look like gummy worms - I'm always afraid I'll break something. Or I'll misinterprate a machine and everyone will silently (or not silently!) laugh as I struggle to do leg curls with the tricep machine.

Still, if South Africa taught me anything it's that I better damned well take advantage of the good health I have, and do my best to respect my body and take care of it - simply because I have every resource available to do so. Plus, there's a gym literally across the street from our house, which is small and privately owned with a nice outdoor pool, a steam room and twice daily yoga classes. I think I can make it work.

Aside from joining the gym - I'd love to hear from anyone with ideas about how to meet people in a place where you really shouldn't need to. It's not like moving to a new place for the first time - I'm a bit anxious about meeting people and saying, "ya, I spent high school here but I don't really know anyone or anything about this place." I want to explore, but I can't do so through the dating scene because my heart has already settled in far-off Paris. So ya, any thoughts?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

light bulb

I make no bones about knowing what love is. Sure, if you look at my track record I should have a fair amount of insight - having given my heart fully and completely at one time or another to four separate men. And yet the older I get, the less I realize I know - because no matter how authentic my feelings have been, no matter how deep the love or affection we've shared - it all comes short of the understanding of love's significance that only time can bring. This is not to say that experiences while young do not encapsulate truth, it's just that time enhances this truth, gives you a deeper understanding of why such things have touched you, why you have found joy, or heart break, in the places and people that you have.

The point of this post however is not to wax poetic on the boundaries of love in time and growth, but to recognize just how thrilling it can be when you realize that with each new romance your understanding of this greatest of human emotions grows deeper. I just caught myself looking in the mirror at a certain physical feature of mine that I have long resented. I've never been someone to wallow in despair over my physical makeup - a piece of myself I have the least amount of control over in most ways - but there are definitely aspects of myself I've disliked, greatly. More than that, I've projected my own discomfort with how a certain piece of me came out on those who have given me nothing but affection and the blind desire for me, all of me, that love brings. But it is just now that I am starting to see myself through the eyes of another. Starting to let go of those intangibles I have no control over - starting to focus more on the stuff I do - the inner workings of myself that after all this time still need some tweaking. In this process, this seeing myself through the eyes of someone who loves me, I think my whole perception of love and relationships is changing. I think it comes down to this: I'm starting to believe in love again. Not that I ever gave it up, but I think I tried to fit the wrong kind of love (is there such a thing?) into my overall makeup, and thus I rarely had those moments where I could step outside of myself and see myself through the eyes of someone who was willingly giving me their heart. Whether that was my fault (as I would never blaim it on another, especially someone who I know loved me deeply) or not is neither here nor there. I just want to take this moment, this moment when the possibilities of love seem so present even though the person with whom I'm in it is so very far away, to recognize this simple fact. Love has changed me, has matured me, has broken my heart - but in the end, it is still the best feeling, the best hope, I know.

post script: As I'm sitting here spilling my guts to the blogosphere, my parents are having dinner with a friend and talking about how many people they slept with in Berkeley in the 60's (as if it's a competition). Holy shiz-net. T.f'in M.I.!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

saying goodbye

When everything is going right, when the hopes and dreams you have sent out into the world are starting to form into bits and pieces of true matter - this is when you realize how far behind in the whole process your heart can be. Or perhaps finding a place on a scale of life, what was and what will be, is the wrong way to look at it. Perhaps the so-called pieces of our hearts don't follow any sort of time line at all. Perhaps they cling to a time, to a place, to a person and no matter how much we advance or evolve in other areas they stay among the sediments to mark a moment in time which left to our own devices we might choose to leave behind. But there they are, in the flesh, saying sorry and taking a stand for a time when hopes and dreams were just that - mere images of a life you hoped someday to live.

There's something missing here - some insight I feel at the tip of my fingers but can't find. I guess sometimes you just have to say goodbye, and accept that you'll never really understand how this piece of yourself works at all.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

She has a point

Maria tagged me for this meme by recognizing I might need a break from thoughtful posts given I'm fresh back on the blogging scene but fresh off the "throwing yourself into a whole other world" scene. So, here goes:

INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

A Blog of a Good Time
Classy & Fancy
[Cherry] Ride/5of9er
My so-called love life

Select five people to tag: I make it a policy not to tag people but I'd love to see Peter, Lisa, Heather, Eve and Natalie do this (I guess I'm not very principled in my policy setting).

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I spent the summer before my senior year of high school housesitting and staying with friends in the Bay Area so I could be closer to my boyfriend. I nannyed for a little girl, took ballet and got my first pager. The pager made me feel more or less like a rockstar.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

Starting my blog and stumbling blindly through the dating game which I thought I wanted to be a part of, but most often resulted in me feeling like my heart had been stepped on.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1. vanilla yoghurt and dried blueberries
2. toast with avocado, parmesan and ground pepper
3. bananas
4. banana chips
5. almonds

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to: (I'm the worst person at remembering lyrics EVER)

1. The Gambler
2. Young Love - The Judds
3. Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls
4. Paperweight - Schyler Fisk
5. Most Sara Bareilles songs

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1. Erase any and all debt that I, my parents and my siblings have (GREAT ANSWER MARIA!)
2. Set up a trust or foundation for any number of my philanthropic interests
3. Set up a travel account that would generate enough on a yearly basis to send me wherever I wanted to go (and go to grad school abroad)
4. Open up savings bonds for my nieces and nephews so they won't need to worry about paying for their university education. (ANOTHER GREAT ANSWER I'M STEALING FROM MARIA)
5. Buy a house in Costa Rica

Five bad habits:

1. Procrastinating!!!!!
2. Forever 21
3. Doubt
4. Eating too much
5. Making too many lists instead of one central one

Five things you like doing:

1. Cooking
2. Traveling
3. Going to small music venues
4. Shopping (what can I say? I just do!) - especially abroad
5. Singing with my family

Five things you would never wear again:

1. Double socks
2. uncomfortable underwear
3. too heavy earrings
4. ugly pajamas
5. blond highlights

Five favorite toys:

1. Ipod
2. Surfboard
3. My boyfriend ;) (In a good way, I'm not saying he's just a toy - I mean he's fun to play with)
5. my A4 (also stealing the car answer from Maria)


Friday, June 22, 2007

just part of my makeup

The last two days have been amazing. I answered a craigslist ad to make a couple hundred bucks working a two-day trade show, and ended up getting a job for the summer that I can do from home and actually make some decent money at (to fritter away on a language course at, say, the Sorbonne this fall). I also visited all my old co-workers to share about my trip, and it was nice to be back without the weight of the wrong career hanging over my shoulders! Last night I drank some wine, showed a few friends pictures and listened to my favorite South African music, feeling good about where I'm at and next steps.

So why did I wake up this morning and feel like crying? It's just how I'm made I think. With every high, there's a little low to counteract it, to keep me even keel, maybe keep my head out of the clouds. I used to question it, beat myself up for being a bit down for a day when I have no reason but to be up, up, up. But now I know - this is just how things work for me - and it doesn't make the excitement of new opportunities any less authentic, it just means I need to schedule in a little down time around high-energy times.

And hey, I'm starting to feel better already.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I missed my own blogoversary

It occurred to me a few days ago that it must be somewhere around a year since I started this 'ol blog - and wouldn't you know it, it has been MORE than a year. A year and 16 days to be exact. I won't feel too silly for forgetting this given I was totally blog free until I got back on the 8th, and maybe I shouldn't even celebrate since I've taken the last few months off - but what the heck, a year's a year, right?

I'm excited because as I've said before, this is some of the only writing or journaling (if it can be called either!) that I've stuck to consistently and regularly (the last two months notwithstanding). Each time I write a post it is like a little gift I give myself, taking the space to process whatever thoughts or experience I'm in the midst of. I try not to chastise myself for whatever comes out - I try to give myself space to feel, to question, to puzzle - to lay a few chunks of my life out in the open and acknowledge that they are part of me. It's the gift that keeps on giving because when I'm lucky, these thoughts transcend solitude when they are joined by those of the dear folks who frequent this site.

I haven't quite figured out what my site is all about in blog terms. I was honored by FG's recognition of me as a "Thinking Blogger," (something I promise to follow-through on with my own award once I'm back in the blogging groove) and would like to step up my involvement with Indiebloggers. But aside from that, I don't feel a need to be categorized or fit a blogging niche. I simply love this space, love that it exists because I put it here and continues because I come to it and write. I love that it's found me a group of people I've never met (and perhaps never will) who I admire and whose own writings invite me on a daily basis into a whole spectrum of experiences that I often feel intimately connected to. At other times I'm just a spectator enjoying the variety that comes with the lives of those around you who choose to share it.

In honor of this milestone, I've collected a few of my favorite posts. Enjoy! answer
A slight digression: my boobs made me do it
Tracing my neuroses
In honor of a girl who knows her heart
2006: Black jack - hit me
Contending with contentment


Sunday, June 17, 2007

back to the real world

I fear my post titles are going to be a bit trite for awhile. Today was the first day I've had to breathe and take it all in since I've been back, so naturally I spent most of it catching up on Brothers and Sisters online while attempting to make sense of the suitcase explosion that is my room (or rather, my roomate's room, as this is now her apartment and she moved into my old room). I'm now a bit more "ordered" with a finite to-do list, a stack of bills and mail for which I need to request an address change and a nearly complete pile of laundry to get me through my last week in SoCal. It's as if nothing, and everything, has changed.

I went out last night with some girlfriends and it took me a full two drinks to remotely start to mellow out in the sea of bar hoppers I found myself in. Granted, it's never been my scene, but I've always been able to make it work for the sake of a few laughs, some silly pictures and a night out with the girls. Trouble is, it all seems so damn pointless right now. I don't want to begrudge people the right to a good time, but it's true that once your eyes are opened to certain things, you change in ways you can't always help, and apparently my fun factor has gone down. Pretending like the world's not out there, like life is at its best in the middle of a crowded bar, just isn't an option for me right now.

Today I broke into tears watching a scene on t.v. where a soldier tells another soldier that he's going back to Iraq, and the look on the face of the one who's safely home after three tours of duty said it all - a tragic look of sadness and near hopelessness. The guilt of what's going on in my own country and the lives of people my age who are on the line - I had this sudden ephiphany that it makes as little sense as the chaos I confronted in the lives of the kids I worked with while I was gone. Such different circumstances - one the product of diplomacy and international relations, the other the effects of an ill-managed health crisis and the after effects of colonial expansion. But tangible comparisons can be made, none moreso than the bigger picture connection that this is humanity at its worst. People having to give their lives for all the wrong reasons, and the majority of their peers, countrymen or fellow humans oblivious all the while.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

time marches on

I have hardly had a moment to catch my breath since I've been back stateside. Most of my immediate family is in town to celebrate my parent's 30th wedding anniversary (way to hang in there folks!) and we've been to Disneyland, Legoland, the pool, the beach, thrown back a few bottles of champagne and have our last visit to Mickey today. So the unraveling of my thoughts as I re-enter what should be a more familiar world than the one I left has been interrupted by Jedi knights, Disney princesses, cannonballs (the pool kind) and more alcohol than is polite to imbibe when in the company of nuns.

My point is, this is going to take awhile. And yet I feel a sense of responsibility to be able to package my trip up in a form I can hand to people and say, "here is some nugget of truth about life and humanity - do with it what you will." Or at least something to run with, a way to continue to support the kids I worked with, or the situation in South Africa (and throughout the continent) - the mission I was so drawn to when I got involved with the Africa Project. Maybe I need to grant myself a bit of patience, let everyone who has been back home fund raising carry the torch for a bit while I get my bearings - I just don't want to drop the ball now that I've had the chance to see it all first hand.

And oh the possibilities of next steps! Some require my attention right now, before I've even had a chance to tie up loose strings from this experience. I won't complain about possibilities - because there are many, and that's a freedom I am still getting used to granting myself - but what freedom it is! At the same time - while I've been gone people have gotten pregnant, engaged, married - the lives of those I love the most are evolving in their own ways and if I choose to remove myself from the nearby again I'm sure to miss even more. It's food for thought - figuring out what's necessary, what's selfish, what's the happy medium.

In the meantime - it's nice to be surrounded by family, to have this space once again to process it all and to be enjoying the SoCal sun once again.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007


Oh the posts my brain has contemplated during my absence from blogger. I hope that means that upon re-entry I'll be able to catalog these thoughts - share the insight that three months of re-directed writing (mostly in the form of my trip journals which you can read here, thought the last three aren't up yet) has brought. Let me say - it is good to be back! And, perhaps more exciting, I have a LOT to write about because my so-called love life is not so-so anymore - it's alive and well. Despite all the odds, the distance, the randomness of our meeting, the language barrier and the blank slate that is my future plans at this moment, the Frenchman and I are making it work, and his presence during my trip (at first through emails and phone calls and then in person during the final portion) was a true delight. I have so many thoughts about this to sort out - it's taken me by surprise and thus every new emotion is like a little gem I want to dissect and congratulate myself for having stumbled upon.

More on that soon, and you can also expect a fair amount of life pondering as I try to reconcile the world I just emerged from with the world I find myself back in.


p.s. I've missed you!

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