Friday, October 24, 2008

Good days trump bad days

Wednesday was a bad day. I had anticipated it being a good day, but it turned out to be an awful day. I had an important, exciting interview, and I ended up getting lost downtown for an hour and missing it. I kept my composure for long enough to apologize to my interviewer and turn in my resume and letters of recommendation. I smiled and told her to have a nice day. Then I got back to my car and broke down. I haven't cried that hard in a long time.

Ew, bad day.

So yesterday, I had a really great day. I didn't have classes, so I slept in, which was nice.

I cleaned my room, which was nice, and totally necessary.

I painted my fingernails. And toenails.

I VOTED, which was like a really exciting, really important standardized test. I wish I could have walked into some school or someone's garage and voted and gotten a sticker to brag about how "I VOTED!". But I'm a California girl living in Arizona, so I had to look up the candidates online. It's weird to vote for local candidates when you haven't lived in that county for a few years. If they had ugly websites, I was forced to vote for the candidate with the kindest face. Or the funniest name. That's just how politics work.

I bought new moisturizer. My face is happy. My bank account is not.

I'm going to pause this rundown of my day in order to introduce you to something/somebody amazing. "Taylor the Latte Boy".

I'm trying to stop drinking coffee, so I don't have a Taylor the Latte Boy in my life. However, I am addicted to delicious food and I do cook/bake delicious things when I'm upset, so I have a Whole Foods Checkout Boy in my life. Yesterday, I decided to bake gougeres, so I had to buy some Gruyere and stopped off at Whole Foods on my way home. I bought my cheese (and some hummus) and went to the checkout line. And there was the Whole Foods Checkout Boy in all his mysterious, long-haired glory. I was wearing my Bob Marley shirt (score) and carrying my shoulder bag that I bought in Amsterdam (double score!). I smiled at the Whole Foods Checkout Boy. He asked if I needed a bag for my purchases and I declined. "Awesome," he said. Yes, Whole Foods Checkout Boy, I think you're pretty awesome, too.

My gougeres turned out okay. Obviously not as perfect and delicious as all those I ate in France, but they'll tide me over until my next European vacation (whenever that might be). They were lovely with some Orangina. Plus, a girl's gotta have goals. Current goal: Improve my gougeres.

Also, last night was Grey's Anatomy. Okay, bear with me. I love Grey's Anatomy. Love it. Clear my schedule for it. the first few episodes of this season, it's been kind of lacking. BUT...they brought him back!!! "Him" being the hardcore Army surgeon who ripped an icicle out of Dr. Christina Yang's abdomen!!! This is BIG, people!!! Three exclamation points big!!! He will bring drama and laughs, and let's face it, Christina has been grieving being left at the altar by Dr. Preston Burke for a long time now. She is totally allowed to move on at this point. And really, could the writers have DONE any better? I think not.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The moments that made me want to stay

It's like this:

"Now when I was a little chap, I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look like that) I would put my finger on it and say, When I grow up I will go there." - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

I left because I was searching for moments that felt like magic. These are what I found:

Sitting in his mom's kitchen, drinking tea. His father built this house with his own two hands, but that was years ago. His father lays in a hospital bed, fully incapacitated by a stroke that forced his sons to cancel their 6-month trip to South America. We met two months later, three days after I arrived in France. I scan the living room as he makes coffee for himself. I laugh when I see his school photos because I forgot to realize that he was once a little boy, all knees and elbows, with a different haircut. All I know of him are his stories of traveling the world and his post-university days. It is strange to see the childhood home of a gypsy. The pictures of his mom and brother are familiar, although we have never met; they have his eyes, blue and kind. He sits next to me with a weathered atlas and asks me to show him where I live and where I've been. I tell him about California, Colorado, Arizona. He only knows America from television and movies. I finish my tea and move to the couch. He hands me his brother's guitar. I am an abysmal guitarist, but I play and sing the two songs that I know. When I hand over the guitar, he plays a classical piece that he learned during his time in Australia. I am impressed and embarrassed that he made me play first. He had told me that he wasn't very good. He lied. I wrap myself in his orange comforter and watch as the stormclouds across the Saone move closer to me.

The first spring day at Lac Kir. We hadn't planned on running into anyone we knew, but as soon as Susan saw me, she tackled me to the ground. I shrieked as she tried to kiss me on the cheek. Five twenty-something girls tanning on a picnic blanket. There is a speedwalking competition and we pass the afternoon screaming encouragement at strangers who wave and smile in response. Feeding pasta salad to ducks and chasing boys from la fac from who ran past. Our shoulders and noses were burned by the end of the day. The busses were running late and we waited at the arret for nearly an hour, all giggles and sore feet. We were starving by the time we reached Place Darcy. That was the afternoon we found our favorite resto and met new friends who would nap in the park with us in the afternoons after classes. The owners asked if we'd had a good day at the lake. Grins were our only responses.

Going out to Salsa even though I hadn't slept at all the night before. Eating Pringles and drinking kir at Susan's appartement while she changes three, four, five times. I spill wine on Shannon's new dress and spend the rest of the night apologizing. Eight of us try to silenty maneuver three flights of uneven, narrow, spiral stairs so as not to wake up the neighbors on the premiere etage and the rez-de-chaussee. We walk barefoot because those stairs scare us during the day, in flats. We laugh as we stand in the street, trying to balance on our 3-inch heels and fasten the straps. Susan has grabbed the last bottle of wine and we all share during the walk to Place de la Republique. Sasha is wearing an old pair of slippers and we are leaning on each other, professing our love and declaring how happy we are that the other is there. The broken glass in the dirt shines like stars as one of friends rides by on a bike that she borrowed from a stranger. A passerby shakes a low-hanging branch of a tree in bloom as he and his copine pass underneath it. Pink blossoms rain down on us, and we spin like little girls. When I return home at four the next morning, there will still be flowers in my hair.

Walking along the Irish Sea in a pair of borrowed clothes and I'm soaked to the bone because he threw me in the water, but for some reason I can't stop laughing. We are both barefoot and in summer clothes although it is only a few degrees above freezing. He holds me by the hand and tells me that this is the sunniest weekend Ireland has had in four years. He is holding a tennis ball in his left hand and hurls it into the sea. A blur of golden fur races past him, bobbing out to retrieve it. "You'll have a great story to tell your mom when you get home. Look at you, walking on the beach with a proper Irish bloke." He comes from a long line of storytellers and has spent a quarter of a century perfecting his craft. "Come back next weekend," he says, as if it were the easy, as if it were possible. "We'll do the same thing. We can make a bonfire. And I'll take you to the zoo to see the penguins. I know that you have penguins in your zoo, but the penguins in Dublin are the best in the world." For a moment, I almost let myself pretend that I can miss my flight to Paris and never return to San Francisco. He kisses me and his lips taste of the sea.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Things I Believe In

Okay, let's just get this straight. I'm voting for Obama.

I'm often overly passionate and I'm constantly fighting a desire to be right.

Most mornings, I'm not sure where I am as I'm waking up.

Sometimes I sit around and cook tofu.

I like red wine, not white.

I don't like Nicholas Sparks. Or Jane Austen.

I believe in stilettos heels, not wedges. Booties are the worst thing to happen in the history of fashion.

I've been hearing a lot about ridding your body of toxins. I've heard that processed sugars are a toxin. But I can't bring myself to believe it. Sugar is good for the soul.

I hate yogurt. And cottage cheese.

Here are the things I refuse to incorporate into my life: Minivans. Scrapbooks. Kitchen scissors.

Ordering thai food and watching French films makes me feel glamorous.

I'm horrible with time. I can never find my watch and I can never get anywhere on time. I firmly believe that there will always be another train, another flight, and another chance. And if not, there's always another path.

Stepping off a train in a foreign city is my favorite feeling.

Everything means more if it's written in a letter.

If a mosquito is within a 1-mile radius, she will definitely choose me.

Snowflakes make me giggle.

I leave a part of myself in every country I visit. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

Saying mean things about my ex-boyfriends doesn't make me feel better.

I always cringe when someone misspells, mispronounces, or misuses a word.

Orange blossoms and rain are my favorite smells.

When I'm ninety-five years old, I want people to say, "She's a character."

My mom's cooking will always be better than that of anyone else.

I don't say "see you later" when I mean "goodbye".

Lightning storms scare me.

My favorite part of girls' night outs is stumbling home at 3 am and deciding that we need to run across the street and get pastries.

I only drink coffee when I can convince myself that I'm stressed out enough to need it. Otherwise, it's herbal tea, iced, six packets of sugar.

If I could find a way to make money off of recognizing peoples' voices, I'd be a millionaire.

Trying to find a new church all by myself is terrifying.

The brighter the colors, the better.

Grumpy old men make my day, especially if I can manage to make theirs.

Watching two dancers glide across a room makes me believe that love has the power to conquer all the ugliness in this world.

If I could live at the library, I would. Do librarians live at libraries?

My favorite documentaries are the one that make me cry and convince me that it's my job to make the world a better place.

I am the girl who is always staring out the window, wishing she could play in the grass, daydreaming about what the rest of the day might bring.

"Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." - Gloria Steinem

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Days I Can't Get Through On My Own

I wanted to be sixteen today. I woke up in the dark and I was cold and my eyes were red and my hair was too big because I fell asleep with it wet. I'd been having a dream that I didn't want to remember, so I stumbled out of bed, threw on a hoodie, and took Vegas on a walk.

It was cool outside and that made me smile, but my throat was raw and my stomach was sick. I wanted to throw my comforter around my shoulders, shuffle down the hallway and crawl into my mom's bed. But I'm grown up now and I live in Arizona. I have to take care of myself and I can't afford to miss class.

I was crying by the time I got home. I found myself feeling childish, and decided to make breakfast. There were twenty-five eggs in the fridge. I don't know why we have so many, or when they'll be eaten. I pulled three out and set them on the counter. One rolled to the ground and cracked. That has to be some sort of bad omen.

I made three eggs and two pieces of toast, and put them on a big plate. I usually eat off the small plates, in a transparent, self-destructive attempt to eat less. But today, I made three perfect eggs, slightly burnt, with lots of pepper and lots of hot sauce. I put too much sugar in my tea and only drank half of it.

I put on a pair of sweats. I said ugly things to my reflection. My skin had taken a beating over the weekend because I drank too much and didn't sleep enough.

I wanted to curl up on the couch and watch movies, call my mom, and cry about being sick. But I got in the car and went to school, listened to an old CD and wished that I had someone to sing with.

I went to class but didn't pay attention. Instead, I decided to be Amy Winehouse for Halloween and looked for pictures of her tattoos. I found a wig and made a list of what I needed to buy to finish my costume. I started looking up juice fasts, because I want to be actual Amy Winehouse for Halloween, not Fat Amy Winehouse. I know that Amy Winehouse weighs around a hundred pounds. I will not get to a hundred pounds. Not by Halloween. But I'm okay with losing twelve pounds. I figure that I can lose around that much weight if I go on a juice fast for seven days. I would have to start cutting week. Looking at the logistics of everything, I decide not to do it. I can limit my caloric intake, but I hate cutting out sugars. And after I finish the juice fast, I would have to work my way back up to solid food. And that doesn't sound like fun. I vow to run every day until Halloween and double my ab exercises. I hate Arizona for being so hot, because I can't run when I get home from school.

I went home and put on a skirt and heels and my favorite pair of earrings. It's a bad habit. I always look my best when I feel my worst.

I had a meeting for a group project. We started at Xtreme Bean. I grabbed a delicious blood orange tea and loaded it up with sugar. Six packets, like always. I drove to Audra's house with the windows down, listening to a mix CD that someone who loves me once made. I'm happy.

My group finished our project and I left. I get lost on the way home and I'm angry at myself. I swing by Tempe Marketplace to visit Alicia. I decide to stay, knowing that if I go home, I will lay on the floor and watch movies all afternoon. I wander over to Pier 1 and buy candles because they're on sale. I spend an hour dreaming about how I will decorate my apartment when I live on my own. I imagine that I will cover my walls in prints of Klimt and Magritte.

My stomach is empty and I like the way that feels. I consider skipping lunch. I don't want to eat. I bribe myself with pizza. Even when I hate the way my body looks, I still love pizza. I wander over to World Market and look at the wines. I can buy them now. I can't find a Moroccan wine and I'm mad. I see sangria mix and I laugh, remembering the time when Sasha, Shannon and I bought two giant jugs of sangria at LIDL. And then I'm sad, because I miss them.

I think too much about France. I'm on the verge of deciding not to go back. My focus in going back is fatuous. I'm well aware of that. But I hate closing doors, so I leave this one open for now.

I went to Barnes and Noble. Books have always been my dearest friends. I love everything about bookstores. The hushed reverence. The air conditioning. I spend too much time looking for a book that I will be able to reread. I want a book that will stay with me, burrow into my skin, and affect my worldview. I balance on the balls of my feet, touching every book on the very bottom shelf in the biography section. I pick up a collection of essays by Latino writers.

I call my family, but they are all busy. I feel neglected, forgotten.

I buy a slice of pizza and read my book. Things are good.

When I get home, there is a package from my mom. Pictures of our trip in Europe. I look through them and don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm amazed at the richness of colors in her photos. I haven't seen colors like that in a long time.

Today has been a struggle since my eyes opened. My emotions change more quickly than I expect. I hate anyone who gets too close to me and I hate being alone. The tiny things upset me and I forget to care about the things that I should probably find important.

The only reason I can make it through is because Someone is fighting for me. He knows I'm too weak to fight for myself