I was waiting in a grocery checkout lane yesterday. I was in my own world not really wanting to chat with anyone, but it was fine because nobody seemed that interested in talking to me. On the periphery of my awareness, I heard the guy in front of me say something like, “Well maybe the lady behind me will want my stickers.” And then I realized I was being pulled into a conversation. This often happens to me. The more I disengage with the world, the more people try to suck me in. Anyway, I responded with a smile as I realized that he was offering me the stamps that go on this doohickey thing that SafeLay is doing as a promotional campaign. You get X number of stickers and it allows you to turn in your completed pamphlet for various pots and pans. I’ve earned one large pot so far, and I’m due for another.
Anyway, when I realized what he was up to, I perked up and tried to be social. He was, after all, giving me something for free. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful so I smiled and thanked him profusely (well, it felt like I was overdoing it, but I’d rather overdo then underdo it, ya know?). So he finished paying and left me the stickers on the little counter where (in olden days) people used to write checks. It seemed like he didn’t want to hand it to me. Maybe he thought I had germs? Maybe he was just keeping a polite distance. I don’t know. But there they were, waiting for me.
As I walked over to take his spot, I thanked him again. At this point, I knew I was overdoing it but I couldn’t help it. I felt like I had to fill a void. The void created when one human being makes a generous offer to you and you, as a human/social being, must fill that void with your imaginary hand of connection and solidarity. He was being nice and it was my turn to be nice, too As he walked away, I felt an impulse to go running after him, to thank him all the way to the parking lot, maybe even offer him my phone number. We could become grocery store friends. We could share our differing philosophies on how grocery stores have become warmer or colder over time. Whether it’s better to use the express self-check out lane or be a loyal Luddite and let a person ring up your groceries? Maybe I could buy him coffee and convince him to hang out longer and people watch with me? Maybe I could help him work on his finances since he clearly was clueless in terms of the cost-benefit analysis of saving stickers and getting free kitchenware? I don’t know, but I definitely felt like that transitory moment with a stranger in a checkout lane was incomplete. Thank you, prefrontal cortex, for letting me have closure with this unfinished incident. And thank you, great-gods-of-the-grocery store-checkout lanes-that-determine-our-lot-in-life for offering me this ephemeral insight into the beauty of human connection and (almost) simultaneous dissolution.
Oh god here I go again. I’m back home. I don’t want to be back home. I can’t help it. There is always this nagging feeling I have when I get home that there is a whole world out there that I need to be exploring and I’m fucking sick and tired of looking at this same fucking street and this same fucking house. I want to go somewhere. I want to see new things. I don’t want to fucking walk down the same fucking streets and see the same fucking houses.
But I also don’t want to fucking drive. I hate fucking driving all the time to get some place new. I know. It’s the reality of living on a fucking peninsula. But I’m fucking sick and tired of this shit.
It’s not that I don’t love my life. My house. My family. My job. My friends. I love it all. Don’t get me wrong.
But I also am fucking tired of the same same same same same same same same same same shit.
I WANT A FUCKING CHANGE!!!!!!!!!
I know it’s up to me. ‘School of life’ videos tell me what I believe to be the truth which is…. You can fucking run away from your shit, but it’s just going to show up somewhere else. I know it. You can fucking go on a fucking vacation, but eventually you will still face your fucking self. I know that. I know it’s the truth.
But I still want some fucking new experiences.
I want to fucking drive to Seattle today and see something new, but I don’t want to drive and I don’t want to worry about my dogs. Ok, I could take my dogs. And I should. And maybe I will. Oh god. I just need to see something new. I need to do something new. That is what anger is good for. It forces changes. Pushes it into being. I need a fucking change.
It’s Tuesday. I’ve got several more days in which I could pretty much fucking do whatever the hell I fucking want. I need to fucking do it.
But I don’t want to drive. And I don’t want to spend a ton of money. I can do this. I can do it cheaply.
And I also like to write. And I like to be a hermit sometimes.
Ok the other thing about sitting in a car is that eventually it hurts. It hurts to sit that long for me. I think it’s because I sleep on my right side. A lot. (Ok, yes, AND I’m getting older. But I’m in denial of that right now so let me be in denial.) I have a deviated septum (I know this is fascinating stuff, right?) and so I breathe better at night if I sleep on my right side. But… that means that my right hip gets more pressure all the time which translates into more discomfort in my right hip when I’m sitting too long…. Anywhere! So I fucking hate driving, too. Ugh. Ok I know I could just get out of the car every once in a while. Shit will take longer to get to but I can still do it. I know it. I know I can do this. I should do this. Today I should do this. I should drive to Storm King, the mountain I’ve been on a thousand times and do it again. Can I bring my dogs? Probably not. Well, there’s got to be someplace I can bring my dogs.
NOW my dogs won’t sit still long enough for me to write. They want to go now!!! I want to write now!!!! Ugh ugh ugh. Listen to my dogs or listen to my calling inside. For the love of god!!! Let me finish something I want to do. That is the story of my life. Can I just please finish this thought?
Ok so yes I am feeling very angry and frustrated and pissy at the moment. I’m not all that. I really am grateful for a lot of things, too. I’m grateful that I know what I love to do. Which is writing and venting. And I know why I like to do it and I feel less and less guilty about doing it. And… I know why I don’t spend as much time turning this writing into performance material. Long story short but basically – I adore standup comedians. I think they’re marvelous. I adore actors and acting. I love it. But there is a huge part of me that became a director more of an actor because I’m a teacher and when you teach anywhere in a drama department you are often also the resident director and it’s hard to direct and act at the same time. I don’t care what anyone says… it is. Why, you may ask? Well, (sorry if you’re not asking) number one, it’s kinda presumptuous to cast yourself in your own play. And number two, well there really is no number two other than it’s very hard to find time to memorize things when you’re busy being a mom. If I can ever steal away time for myself, I need to vent things that need to get out before I go berserk and memorizing lines doesn’t give me that kind of venting satisfaction). So there you have it. Not that you wanted it, but there it is. The answers to everything: get outside more, go see something new, take your dogs with you if you can to avoid worrying about them being at home, and do what makes you happy even if you don’t know where the hell it is leading you to (I have no fucking clue what I will ever do with all this blogging bullshit (and I say ‘bullshit’ with love in my heart) but I have to do it. I am called to it for various known and unknown reasons so I’m just going to see where this voice inside leads me. Right now it is leading me to ending this blogging session and getting outside as my own prescription dictates. Asta
There are so many kinds of writing out there but part of me keeps holding myself up to some expectation that I need to be writing a certain kind of novel or play. That I can’t write too much memoir. It’s self indulgent. That I can’t write about certain topics too much. That I can’t do this and I can’t do that. So many fucking can’ts in one’s mind. Pretty soon you can’t go anywhere or do anything. I’m fucking done with it. Sure I appreciate knowing what other people think about my writing but during the act of creation itself you can’t take all those people along for the ride.
That’s the lonely but also the exhilarating part of writing. You are alone with your mind. But the fun part is you get to trust where it will take you. It’s like lucid dreaming. You’re both in control of where you want to go and yet something inside you propels you and gives you ideas about where to go. Which is, of course, like life. We all want to think we know where we are going, but really… what drives and pushes and pulls us? Nobody knows.
I’ll never forget how, when I was in fourth grade, I began to slowly grasp the concept of what writing a letter was all about. Writing a letter was, to me, like talking on the phone. Why would you do it? What’s the point? What are you supposed to say? It baffled me. What is so urgent that I have to put it in a letter and wait for it to get to them? Why can’t I just wait until I see them? It made no sense. I’m still not sure I get it, but… I sorta do. I think writing, like a monologue, is just a way for us to make sense of our world. And when we are lucky, we have some people in our life who are patient and kind and maybe even love us enough to stop and listen and care about what comes out. There is something magical about putting that shit out into the world. Something final and concrete about it. We’re a little less crazy for it. That’s all therapy is, I think. Someone being paid to listen to your babble to help you make sense of it. And that’s a good thing. But you can do it for yourself as well. Or with a friend.
I don’t understand, for instance, why people read my stuff on facebook. I mean, I am super grateful, for one thing. But when people respond and encourage me to write more, I am completely dumbfounded. I don’t get it. I really don’t understand or can hardly accept that people want more of my stuff. It feels so vain and self-indulgent to post things sometimes, but then to actually hear that people want more of it? it makes me feel dirty. Yup, dirty because I am actually relishing in the fact that they’re enjoying it. I know! So weird, but true. Vanity is a weird thing for me. I am always deathly afraid of ever becoming arrogant and vain and yet, I know, I need to somehow accept that what I do brings joy and silliness to people and whatever else people get out of it. But it’s hard to accept (let alone type) it. It feels stupid. But it shouldn’t be that way. Why is sharing who you are a ‘sin?’ There it is. SIN. The word that I grew up with in the ole Catholic schools. God love ‘em those Catholics. I learned a lot but they also infested my mind with some pretty fucked up ideas (sorry friends who are religious). Vanity…is… sinful. Ok, yes it can be. Sure. Anything taken to excess can be a sin. Drinking too much Mountain Dew can be a sin. Watching too much porn. Sitting on your ass too much. Spending too much money when people are poor. All of that can be a sin..[Sin (in my definition) meaning causing harm to somebody, including yourself.] But what is ‘excess?’ is it excessive when you are simply stating what needs to be said and what might bring healing or joy or laughter or stupid fun to somebody else? I think the only time writing is truly excessive is when there is no longer a thought in your head in even the remotest sense that what you are doing is destined to be in anyone else’s hands or mind. When you are truly solipsistic. And even then… it’s ok to write. You just should probably not put it out there until it’s been looked at a few more times and considered with an audience in mind. I think the sad thing about our world is that there is a whole lot of chatter and nonsense every day, but we still so often don’t share what REALLY needs to be said to the people who REALLY matter. We are afraid. Afraid to tell them the truth about how we feel, good or bad. Afraid that what we say might embarrass us, or hurt someone too much and so we hurt ourselves in the process holding it in. But there is another option. Write it down. Fictionalize it if you have to but get it out. Don’t let what you want to say be squashed so deep inside you that you end up in the grave someday never saying the things that are dying to get out. Get them out. They will benefit someone somewhere who might also be inspired not to live a half-awake life either.
The day I decided to leave LA, I was stuck in traffic on the 405 frontage road. I went on the frontage road to get away from the 405 but there I was — stuck — and I could see all the cars above me on the freeway were stuck, too, and I got this overwhelming feeling of dread as I realized that I was locked in a canyon with no way out for god knows how long and I thought, ‘This is fucking ridiculous and I’m not going to keep living here anymore. I’m going to get the hell outta here just as soon as I can.’ And then I went back to sitting in my car for another three hours.
Now I am back here visiting for a week and it’s the same. I don’t know how people do it. The only things different are that the food is more expensive, eyebrows are more pronounced, and everyone is skinnier and more stylish than me but I don’t give a shit.
On the positive side, I will say this. People here are actually way friendlier than I remember. And I mean genuinely friendly. Even the seemingly superficial ladies at the makeup counter at Nordstrom’s seem very caring underneath all of the gobs of makeup. I shit you not.
I still can’t handle people walking up to you as soon as you walk into a store and hounding you nor can I handle the fake ‘Oh you look so wonderful in that sweater’ comments from the sales people who work for a commission, but those are pretty universal experiences. [I should have used the word ‘ubiquitous’ instead of ‘universal’ because ‘ubiquitous’ is a word that hardly gets used enough stage time these days. Fancy words are a dying breed. I say we resurrect them not to be snooty but simply to make sure we don’t start finding words going extinct in the English language.]
But when two frozen yogurts add up to $16 plus dollars at the mall, I go out of my fucking mind and there is no way in hell I am going to leave a tip. Now, at the time, I felt terrible that I didn’t want to rub my finger on the screen and accept the preordained tip that the machine told me to give her. Instead, I picked ‘No tip’ and then hung my head in shame while the LA yogurt lady gave me the stink eye. When she wasn’t looking, I pulled out a $1 from my wallet and then waited for her to turn and watch me insert it into her tip jar but I could tell that, by that point, she had lost all faith in women who definitely are not skinny nor fashionable enough and who are CLEARLY an out-of-towner since I appeared to have no knowledge of proper tipping etiquette.
Still there are certain things I can say with certainty that I enjoy about LA (hard to say ‘love’ but I can say ‘enjoy’ without feeling inauthentic). I love the breezy way you can spend most of the year outdoors with just a sweater at most to keep you warm. There are endless people to watch and study wherever you go. Even the snazziest, best dressed, most put together upscale dude who looks, at first glance, COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY superficial can surprise you by having genuine manners to boot. I was waiting in line at a coffee shop and – surprise surprise – this guy, who could have clearly stepped in front of me, let me go in front of him simply to be polite. I was floored. I probably wasn’t skinny enough or stylish enough for him to ask for my number, but still. At least he had manners! I was impressed.
No, I know. I’m being pretty harsh about this town but still… I do think the sun brings out the best in people here despite the focus on money and glamour that abounds. LA may be mostly about money and fame and working out and eating out at expensive ass restaurants (and I’m the first to admit that I do relish a good ‘eating out’ at a fancy ass bistro…no puns intended), but it also has an openness of heart that I like, and miss. Sunshine opens up people’s chakras in a very nice way indeed. And I miss it.
[Disclaimer: don’t mean to start out so humbug but, yeah, in this blog I do and then I promise it gets more uplifting towards the end.] So yeah, I really dislike all the materialism of Xmas. Not because stuff isn’t fun to give and receive but because people get their feelings hurt when something isn’t big enough, or cost enough money, or unique enough, or if it arrives too late. If things aren’t perfect, people can get butthurt. Plus I’m broke and I’m tired of going through so much money. So I would like to just take a picture of everything I WOULD have bought people if I had enough money to buy it, and give them the picture of that instead. Cheesy I know. But funny, right? At least they would get a laugh and a picture out of it. or at least a picture.
I don’t know how or why I am always so low on cash. I try to say ‘no’ to so many things and save money but I just can’t be one of those extreme penny pinchers. Those people who count everything down to the percentage of tax that they owe on the bill when eating out with a group of friends. There is only one time in my life that I was ever even remotely good at staying within a budget. It was in 1998 when I managed to eke out enough of a living at Target (and live in a cheap enough house – it was only $475 a month) that I could divvy up my money and put it in envelopes. $400 for groceries, $50 for self-care (although that phrase wasn’t even in use back then), $100 for gas, etc., and if you went over in one category, you just borrowed from another envelope but overall you were forced to stay within your means. I would love to do that again but every month I’m just barely able to do this. I need to do this again. Lord god Jesus it’s hard to not be broke.
So maybe I’ll do it again. I’ll scrimp and save and cash my checks until I can put enough money in envelopes to live within my means. Good god can I do this? I’m going to fucking DO IT FUCK YEAH!!!
Meanwhile, in other things, here’s what I really don’t understand. When I write things down, I don’t feel funny but when I talk to people, I feel funny. I don’t get it. For me, writing is like airing all the shit that is in your head. Putting it onto paper or a screen. But for some reason, when I am writing just for myself it doesn’t come out funny. It’s like I HAVE to have an audience there. A facebook audience. Anything. There has to be somebody there.
And then I start to think, well maybe I AM funny but I just don’t think I’m funny because I’m too hard on myself. That could be true, too.
Or maybe I’m really not that funny ever. Or maybe… I just need a bit more vino to be funny when I’m writing. Or maybe coffee. Or maybe I need to pretend like I’m writing to the person who I make laugh the most? Or maybe I need to just do some shrooms? Haha no way. That chapter of my life is OVER!!!!
And then I realize all I really need to do is stop worrying about being funny and just be myself and to hell with having to think I’ve got to be fucking funny all the time. Just be real for fucking chrissakes. And, as they say, people who swear more tend to be more honest so I need to swear a whole fucking lot more because comedy is about truth and if I want to get to the heart of the matter, I better start fucking swearing more. The funniest people I know are also the most fucking honest with themselves and the world. Maybe too honest at times but they’re honest. And, as the ole saying goes, ‘Be honest. It’s funnier.’ Or however it goes. ‘Truth is funny?’ ‘There’s nothing funnier than the truth?’ Whatever it is. It’s basically truth = funny.
And here is what I know I’m good at. NARRATING MY THOUGHT PROCESS AS IT GOES. Ok and maybe I go on a bit too much about it at times, but the truth is: that’s what I’m good at. And maybe I could rein it in at times – yup, I can’t deny it – but I still think: it’s fucking healthy to let shit out. AND, to top it off, I think I’m actually pretty fucking good at modifying what shit comes out of my mouth depending on who I am speaking to. I can rein it in if I REALLY HAVE TO. It’s just that there aren’t really that many people that you REALLY HAVE TO rein it in for. I mean, yes. There is the president of anything – where you work (ahem), the country you live in (actually I’d swear at Trump with not a single iota of regret) – but most of the time, I think, most people appreciate a little extra honesty over too much caution. Now, I know, there are those naysayers out there who say – again, look at Trump – it’s not all that great to be on the receiving end of someone who has zero filter 99.9% of the time. And, ok, yes, I know what you mean. But here is what I’m saying. There is a balancing act. And here is how you can juggle it better:
- Get shit off of your chest.
- If getting shit off of your chest is going to harm the person you’re talking to, then don’t tell them. Tell someone else or tell yourself in your journal or tell your cat but say it SOME FUCKING PLACE.
- It’s important to think about your audience. Yes, it is. In fact, it may even lend itself to greater creativity in the long run because rampant creativity with no structure often leads to chaos but a little bit of boundary making can often bring on creative problem solving (thus thinking about your audience can help). Like… what the folks at google do to promote creative ideas. Stick people in long cafeteria lines so that they are FORCED to chat with each other while waiting to order their lunch. You’re stuck there. You’re bored. You’re hungry. So what do you do? You get creative and break through that cold wall between you and the next person in line. You open your mouth. Ok, maybe you look at your phone for a long time, too, to avoid talking to people but eventually you, or someone else, is going to feel stupid doing that forever and someone will eventually speak. Or at least I would hope so. I have to have some shred of hope for humanity at this point in the technological age.
So take the above three points (balls) and juggle them until your heart’s content. Juggle and jiggle them balls until you and everyone around you is happy and laughing and content again. juggle DEM BALLZ!!!
It’s so weird traveling. I love it and despite it at the same time. I love it because it reminds me that there is a whole world out there beyond my usual four walls. That there are endless possibilities. That there are people with minds and ways of seeing completely foreign to me. Whose voices are voices that I never normally hear. Who have weird senses of humor that I can’t believe they get away with. Like this guy on the airplane sitting behind me who loudly exclaimed that he was glad that this other (slender) guy was sitting next to him because – thank god – he’s not another Jabba the Hutt.’ I mean, come on!!! I could never say that to a total stranger. Who can? It takes a certain kind of person who can say that. Not sure that that’s a good or bad thing, but still. Almost a Trump-like person. Again, not an admirable person to be compared with (IMHO) but I was intrigued. So I kept listening and it turned out that this guy was anything but a Trumpite. He was a Hollywood exec type who liked to do a lot of name dropping. He was a co-producer working for Cameron Crowe and every other comment outta his mouth was ‘Jerry Macguire’ this and ‘Tom Cruise’ that. I was intrigued at first. I wanted to know how the mind of a Hollywood exec sounded. I listened for a long time but then the plane started going through some serious turbulence. So much so that I was gripping my book and saying my prayers (and I’m agnostic unless a serious emergency is at hand – I figure God has enough on his plate and s/he doesn’t have to listen to me unless there is a really bad situation to deal with). Anyway, there I was panic stricken and all this guy did was interrupt the flow of his conversation for half a second by saying ‘Yeah, turbulence is a bitch sometimes’ and then he was back to his nonstop monologue of self-glorification.
When I finally got off the plane and my dad picked me up, we drove along the 405 freeway and I started remembering the good ole days when I first got out of college and started working little jobs on movie sets. There was one job I got that totally turned my stomach in regards to ever wanting to work in Hollywood (stop reading now if you have any genuine dreams of ‘making it’ in Hollywood – I’m not here to crush your dreams. Really, I’m not. I just want to set the record straight and offer a different version of the Hollywood story. Sure, some people are cut out for it and that’s awesome. For me? I felt guilty for years because I wasn’t interested in getting into that ratrace. I thought there was something wrong with me. It turns out: nope. There are just different strokes for different folks and I prefer doing the freestyle.)
So anyway, back to the main point (sorry but I like taking meandering paths at times). I was working as a prop person (I think the term ‘prop mistress’ is demeaning and sexist) on this set. And I found myself doing a lot of standing around waiting for the director and cameraman to take a certain shot. A lot of primping and fluffing and talking and eating from the appetizer table and then more talking and more standing around and more chitchat and more networking and namedropping and then more eating. And then maybe…10 seconds of a scene was shot. And then more talking and standing around…. You get the picture.
I’m sorry but with several identical experiences on movie sets within about six months, I was done. I didn’t get it. I didn’t know how on God’s gradually less green earth that would be remotely interesting to anyone but I’m glad, for some people, it is. And I’m not saying this to be all ‘sour grapes’ and Aesop’s fables-ish about it. I just am honestly glad that I made that decision a long time ago to get the hell outta dodge. No guilt. I do not want to live here. EVER. I love my family but this town? No way no way no fucking way. I love the warmth. I love the sun. I love the open skies. I love even the tinsel town aspect. I love the new eateries that pop up and I love the people watching opportunities. And not because care to sound disdainful. I am genuinely curious about people and I want to know what all kinds of people are like…. With the proviso that I can get faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr away when I need to. Very far away. Writing helps me get away.
P.S. There are sweet and kind and nice people in LA, too. I ran into several already. And I will write about them as well. Next blog.
I compare everything to when I was a little kid.
I’m pretty sure the happiest I ever was… on a consistent basis… was when I was a kid. Maybe like 7 or so. Yup, that was the best time.
It’s not that I’m not happy now. Most of the time I’m pretty happy but the time of my life was when I would go to bed happy and wake up happy. I used to lay in bed and catalogue all of the wonderful things that had happened that day and then in the morning I would wake up very excited about what the day would bring. The sheer fact that I had no clue what it would bring is what made me even more excited. And now?
Hmmm…. Not to be pessimistic, but it’s not quite the same. Still, I have my moments.
Most of the time my time is spent either taking care of students, my kids, my family and friends, and myself. And not in that order necessarily. Taking care. Yup. In fact, I just realized…. That is pretty much how I end every conversation, “Take care!” Oh my god!! I’m so terrible. Maybe that’s some kind of subliminal message. Maybe what I’m really saying is that I’m tired of taking care of other people, so I’m trying to persuade other people to take care of themselves????!!! Aghgghghghhghghg!!!! But when I was a kid, I didn’t have all those responsibilities. It was just me and my imagination and my family and a few friends and my cats and dogs and chickens. That was it. and I wasn’t taking care of them really. Just enjoying them. Not that ‘taking care’ is separate from ‘enjoying’ necessarily…. It’s just…. different. There’s a level of responsibility that comes with ‘taking care.’ Not much time to just…. Be.
But I’m getting better at that. Just being. And I’m realizing that if I don’t take care of me first and finding time to just ‘be,’ then there is less and less enjoyment in all the other things that I do. And yes, I know I’ve said this before but GOD ALMIGHTY IF I DON’T SAY IT A FEW TIMES I TEND TO FORGET AND GO RIGHT BACK TO NOT TAKING GOOD CARE OF MYSELF FIRST.
And here’s the other thing. The little things. I am an obsessive watcher of ‘school of life’ youtube videos. The latest one is about taking pleasure in the ‘little things’ because essentially our lives are frequented more by smaller moments of joy than just huge moments of joy (e.g. promotion, lottery, getting married, having a baby, traveling to exotic countries) and so if you learn to slow down and savor more of the little moments of pleasure hour by hour then the cumulative effect of pleasure/joy is much greater. And so, in keeping with that philosophy, today I have made a change.
I no longer care about finding ‘the one.’ If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then I’m still going to enjoy moment by moment the little things.
I’m not saying this to be heavy and serious. I’m saying this because it’s true. I’m just done. Fucking done. Fuck circumstances. Fuck it. Fuck polyamory. Fuck open relationships. Fuck long distance relationships. Fuck it. Fuck movies that inspire romantic nonsense that you’re only going to be happy if someone is hanging from a ferris wheel and being willing to drop dead if you don’t go out on a date with them. I want to get back to that happy girl I once was who woke up in the morning excited to just be alive. I wasn’t excited because I would find Mr. Prince Charming that day. I was just excited. I wanted life to surprise me and it did. I didn’t have huge fucking expectations. That’s who I want to be again. And if you’ve found someone, that’s fucking awesome! That’s amazing! I don’t mean to take that away from you. I’m just saying…. I’m going to start enjoying my life right now as it is whether or not anyone else ever comes along for the ride.
I like walking down alleyways more than regular streets. It’s either that or I also like walking at night. If only I felt a bit safer than I do. It’s pretty safe in this town, though. Then again there can be the odd meth fiend about.
But anyway, the reason I love alleyways or nighttime walking in the suburbs is because I don’t feel like I’m on parade. If I lived on a country road, I wouldn’t worry about it but in the suburbs I always have this weird feeling that I’m being watched or judged when walking down the sidewalk during the day. Unless it’s a big city. Then everyone is so self-centered that it doesn’t matter what I do or wear or how I look. Nobody cares. [Just kidding about my judgmental attitude towards urbanites. Well, barely.]
No, I like alleys. Today I took my dogs down the alley. The ground was frozen in the shady bits and they were excited by the cold and the smells. On the main street, I found myself holding them back and saying ‘heel’ every 5 seconds, but once I got to the alleyway, I realized….Hey! this can be fun!!!! I’ve got my own dogsled team and the soles of my shoes are so worn down that it’s like ice skating on the asphalt and so…. Suddenly I was a kid again having fun in an alleyway instead of being upright and uptight on a main street.
The beauty of alleyways and nighttime freewheeling living.
Dear blog diary,
So I’ve learned a lot about small towns since moving to the northwest eight years ago. Spoiler alert: I like small towns even though partway with this blog it may sound like I don’t.
- At first glance, many people in smaller towns may seem cold. Almost without expression (if they don’t know you). I have pondered why for a long time. Is it because they’re shy? Is it that colder weather makes people more emotionally cold (not judging that as necessarily a bad thing since being ‘cold’ emotionally could mean you have a better handle on your emotions than those hot headed southern folk – not to stereotype, even though I just did).
- Everyone has their own experience of small town life. I’m not saying my experience is the same as anyone else’s necessarily but it’s what I have to go on. Anyway, what I’ve learned is that this cold exterior is a front. The longer I live here, the more I get to know the people and the more I realize that in pockets of moments sprinkled here and there over the years, those very same people who I thought were emotionally distant ended up being waaaaaaayyy friendly. It’s like a light switch is on or off with them. Most of the day people go through their day in the northwest with their light switch off. And then, if you say the right word or find the right topic that agrees with them to talk about, they open up their heart and suddenly I feel like this person who I had written off as a goner emotionally is actually a very nice human being. I often have way more than I could ever imagine in common with some of these very same people who I had felt looked at me like I was from Transylvania. It’s like…. Looking into a mirror when you are living in the northwest. A still, placid lake that reflects the mountains perfectly above it. If you feel like you’re from Transylvania, people around here won’t necessarily say ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ to your self-perception. They will let you be. So you have to be stronger than that, I believe, in the northwest. You learn to actually love yourself (not in a vain way, a healthy way) because people around here are not necessarily going to do it for you. Again, not a judgement call. Just a fact. Ok, a ‘fact’ in my experience. I’m not laying down the law. Just observing.
- Ok, last thing I’ve noticed. Time is different here. Once you begin to realize that you do have a lot in common with more people than you originally thought in this small northwesterly world, then you may begin to ‘feel’ like time slows down and even stands still occasionally. Again, not in a bad way necessarily although I know it can feel annoying at times, too. What I mean is that momentarily there is the feeling that all of the urgency and bad news and end of the world doom and gloom that is constantly shoved down our throats and which is, inevitably, probably mostly true is gone for a while. And you can actually have pockets of happiness when you feel connected and at peace and even content with the world as it is right now and there is even the feeling that – no matter what – it just doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things whether Trump is in office or whatnot. Ok, OF COURSE that shit matters too but what I’m saying is that without a moment or two or three of actual contentment and connection, it’s almost impossible to face the endless parade of nonsense that does filter in via the internet, etc. Which it is important to face and deal with. But you’ve got to have some moments of peace and contentment and connection and the way you arrive at that here, in the northwest, happens but it never quite happens the way you expect it.