Monday, October 31, 2011
1. Best friends who I can talk to about anything and who are willing to have the same conversation with me 17 times in one day.
2. A school that knows I'm (usually) a very well-behaved person.
3. A peace offering of Starbucks waiting for me this morning.
4. In-uniform pants
5. My green warm senior sweater.
6. XM channel 36
7. The assurance that I can screw up royally and then clean up the mess with maturity and responsibility.
8. Reading "The Wasteland"; "I will show you fear in a hand full of dust."
9. My college application is not due tomorrow.
10. Being short, because when other people hug me I feel protected.
11. Deep conditioning my hair
12. Milo Xyloto
13. Cetaphil tubs of lotion
14. "Miss Representation"
15. The warm Patagonia jacket that once belonged to my father
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Today's quote comes from The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I met Walls a few years back when she came to Utah, and I'm currently reading her memoir for the second time, this time for poverty class. There is this beautiful scene where Walls discusses Joshua trees.
"One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight.
Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "Its the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty." "
What I love about this is that I wholly believe that struggle makes us beautiful and interesting and valuable. My favorite people in the world have all worked through lots of shit. Sometimes, we wish life were easy, but when it comes down to it, I think we're really lucky its not.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
A few weeks ago, we had an assembly at school talking about skirt lengths and how lots of girls wear skirts that are way too short. The motto of the assembly was "we're going for business casual and short skirts are not business casual."I didn't pay a ton of attention because my skirts just aren't too short. I don't like them too short. It makes me self-conscious of my clothes, and the whole reason I love my uniform is that I'm not focused on clothing.
A few days later, we were talking about the assembly in my Feminist lit class. My teacher told me. "think about it. Guys could go to an interview in their uniforms. I mean, khaki pants and a polo might look a little nerdy, but they'd be fine. Girls couldn't do that. The plaid skirt has become such a fetish, it's not business casual it's a sex outfit. The most radical thing you can do here is wear the pants."
I thought about it, realized she was right, and went to J Crew and bought these:
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Today's quote comes out of "A Doll's House", by Henrik Ibsen which I just read for my feminist lit class. In my lovingly sexist culture, a lot of the time I feel like I'm being told that my value lies in my potential to be a wife and mother. This bothers me for many reasons, but most acutely because I know I have so many other worthwhile attributes to cultivate. As my English teacher says, "I am not a life support system for my uterus." I feel like I'm being told to ignore everything else, forget trying to figure out who I am and just focus on getting ready for a husband and children. So I love this quote (it comes right as Nora leaves her husband):
"I must be thrown entirely upon myself if I am to come to any understanding as to what I am and what the things around me are: so I can not stay with you any longer."
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The mountains belong to my father. Not all of them, of course. Just a piece. Twelve acres to be exact. He owns twelve acres of the Uintah Mountains. My father has made his twelve acres a classroom where he can instruct me on everything he finds pertinent. He taught me to hike, fish, do the dishes by hand, play in the mud, ride an ATV, crash an ATV, hitch up a trailer, mend a fence, divert a stream, start a campfire, look at the stars, find wild raspberries, tell a mint plant from stinging nettle, appreciate the beauty of a rare evening Primrose or elegant Columbine, keep my eyes perpetually on the lookout for a deer or moose or badger or fox, but best of all, he taught me to ride a horse.
When I was just a toddler my father would put me in front of him on the saddle so we could go for short rides down the drive way and back. He waited patiently for me to grow up enough to sit on my own horse. Soon enough we were going on “real rides”. He would always ride in front, holding protectively to my horse’s lead rope. His grasp on the lead rope loosened over time and I started to ride the horse on my own, following tentatively behind him. My bravery grew almost as fast as I did and soon I began to ride in front, eventually leaving him behind as my much younger horse, Tinker, outpaced his arthritic one.
I rode on my own for the first time the summer I turned twelve. I promised to wear my helmet, not to gallop and took off for my glorious ten minutes up and down the dirt road. I was acutely aware that my father was watching me out the kitchen window, but I felt invincible and ignored his warning to keep Tinker at a walking pace. My father chided me as I galloped up the driveway. I was stubborn, insisting I was fine to go as fast as I wanted and accused him of being overprotective.
I regretted my stubbornness a week later when I went for my second ride. This time I was going up a different dirt road; a longer one with rocks and hills. I put on my helmet and took off, commencing the gallop as soon as I was out of sight. The first half of my ride went well, but as soon as the house came into sight, Tinker took off. I went toppling off the saddle as we came galloping up the driveway. My father was there, without criticism or I told you so, to help me up and give me a boost back on. He gave me the confidence I needed to go for a third and fourth and fifth ride until riding a horse became second nature to the little girl who sat in front of her dad on the horse.
I loved the freedom that I felt from being able to ride a horse; I’ve always craved the next step towards independence. It meant a lot to me that I was now capable of saying goodbye to my parents, saddling the horse myself, and going into my own world. Hours were spent going up to rockslides and meadows, over peaks, across rivers and traversing the Dimple Dell gully. Often, I’d urge Tinker into a gallop and come falling off when he started to go really fast; race pace. But I always managed to track Tinker down, fix the saddle, summon up what courage I had left (it helped that I had to get home) and get back on. It took me a few tumbles to learn that I was responsible for my own safety, but eventually, I started to think twice before galloping. I learned that independence runs its own risk. As the boundaries were pushed further back, I had to learn how hard I could push them without hurting myself. Though my father once told me when it was safe to gallop, I now had the freedom to decide for myself, and the responsibility to face the consequences if I was wrong.
My father taught me how to feed a horse by hand. He taught me to spread my hand flat, palm up. I had to learn to fight back the instinct to curl my fingers. My father taught me to hold my hand out to the horse, offering the treat but not forcing it upon him, because the horse had to be allowed to choose. I learned that gentleness, though difficult, is a quality more valuable than assertiveness. For if I was gentle, the horse would reach out and softly but quickly eat off my palm using only his lips. My father taught me how a horse’s nuzzle feels like velvet. He taught me how their whiskers tickle. He taught me how comforting the warm puff of air that comes out of their nose can be. He taught me and I, in turn, taught others.
By the time I was thirteen, I had outgrown “the little saddle”. My father and I determined it was time I got my own. We took a trip to A.A. Callister’s where I eyed a barrel-racing saddle with a pink Ostrich skin seat. Knowing it would not be the most comfortable, and being a cowboy too proud to buy a pink saddle, my father pointed out another saddle to me. It wasn’t meant for speed or agility as one raced around barrels or chased down cows; it was built for long trail rides. One could sit in the deeply padded seat for hours, it was light so the horse wouldn’t be too burdened, and the deep mahogany leather was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. This saddle was perfect, and within a few minutes, it was to be mine.
On our way out of the store, I paused to look at the Cowboy hats. A cowboy hat wouldn’t be useful to me; I always wear a helmet. Nevertheless, I wanted to be a grown up, like my father who always wore a hat on the horse. I mentioned that I liked one to my father and got the reply, “nice try kid. We’re buying you a saddle and that’s all you get for your birthday and Christmas for the next four years.”
A few weeks later it was my birthday. My saddle was, of course, wrapped when I came upstairs. I unwrapped it and was quite surprised to see a hat sitting on the saddle horn. My father explained that he had gone back to the store later because he wanted me to have at least one surprise on my birthday. It meant a lot to me because he was willing to buy something for me, though he knew I wouldn’t use it, simply because he knew it would make me happy. He taught me in that moment that I can’t do solely what I think will be best or make the most sense for others. I have to be willing to listen to them and take their voices into account.
My hat was worn to a few rodeos and on a few short rides, but for the most part, it sits in my father’s closet where you can see a large boutique’s worth of slacks and monogrammed dress shirts. There are exactly twelve white shirts and a wall full of leather dress shoes. But if you look past that, you can also spot three cowboy hats lined up in a row. Brim in the air so the “luck doesn’t fall out”. A closer look will reveal the overuse of the first one. Gray and worn, not quite holding it’s shape, “shapeless and bulged because it had served for a while all the various purposes of a cap” (The Grapes of Wrath). This hat belonged to my father’s father, who rode on a silver saddle. The next one is straw. It smells like human and horse sweat. That is my father’s, worn in reining competitions. On the last hat you will notice brown rhinestones. That one is mine. The surprise that meant the world to me. If you are perceptive enough, you’ll notice that it has less luck then the rest. It was put it down brim first by a careless teenage girl who unwittingly spilled her luck out. Her father quickly turned it the correct way. He taught her to save her luck, because there would inevitably come a time when she would need it.
Today, I was sitting on the plane reading God of Small Things. It gets really sad at the end and I was holding it together really well until this really heartbreaking line "but that will be never" (which is a lot more heartbreaking in context). At that point, I started to sob. The guy sitting next to me gave me that look. The one that a man gives a woman when she's crying and he thinks it's because she's irrational and weak and probably hormonal. It pissed me off! How dare he give me that look. In order to prove myself sane and the book sad, I made him listen while I read the whole sad chapter. (Don't worry, it was only two and a half pages). The dumbass didn't have his heartbroken! He gave me that look and said, "yeah, that's really sad" with as little sincerity as he could muster. That made me even angrier so I gave him that other look. The look that a woman gives a man when he has demonstrated that he has the emotional capacity of a cup of greek yogurt. I turned away, continued crying and finished my book. We didn't speak for the rest of the flight.
I hope he goes blind and never gets to read again. But if he ever tries, I hope he gets a billion paper cuts. And I hope no one ever loves him. Ever.
Why are the best books always to horribly tragic?
ps. I sent my English teacher and email about this dumbass, (normally I would call one of my best friends, but they haven't finished the book and I needed someone who would appreciate the tragedy of the line that made me sob). This is the response I got:
I'm going to choose to pity him instead of hate him. I pretend that's moral high ground. (Don't disabuse me of that belief.)
How sick is it that I am most gratified by students who cry over great literature? I mean, there are certainly other ways to express appreciation, but if it makes you cry, I know you "get it" in your brain and your heart and your pores and your toenails....
I dare you to tell me you know a cooler English teacher. Dare you.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Part of the point of the word whore was that it looked wonderful next to the word Sunday. As a compromise between a certain senior citizen and me, it'll now be Iniquitous Quote Sunday. This is my way of saying I will not be posting religious quotes just because it's Sunday. You'll have to hi-jack my blog to get a quote from a general authority on here.
Enter vague irony that today's quote involves God.
Today's quote comes out of Beloved, because it's the part that has followed me for days. It's beautiful quote and I saved it for today.
"She was accustomed to the knowledge that nobody prayed for her."
Now, maybe you're thinking wait a second, that's neither profound nor beautiful. To which I say, you're wrong. When I first read this line, it jumped off the page at me, because I want people to pray for me. I don't want them to tell me they pray for me, because that makes me feel defensive, and want to prove to them that I don't need their prayers. But I want people to care about me enough they would invoke their God on my behalf. Isn't that a wonderful idea? Isn't that the best way to show love? A silent act of selfless giving. Trying to help someone in a way they can't help themselves.
I love it. I hope I can always believe people are praying for me. I hope I always have people in my life who I can believe would pray for me.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Okay, so it's only four essays, but when every single word is the difference between getting accepted and getting rejected, it feels like eight billion essays.
Here's the NYT spreading the joy:
Screw College. I'm going to go live in Ghana.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Yesterday, I finished Beloved by Toni Morrison. Beautiful book. Simply stunning.
Are you ready to have your heart broken a billion times, but in a good way?
" 'Lay em down, Sethe. Sword and Shield. Down. Down. Both of em down. Down by the riverside. Sword and shield. Don't study war no more. Lay all that mess down. Sword and shield.' And under the pressing fingers and the quiet instructive voice, she would. Her heavy knives of defense against misery, regret, gall and hurt, she placed one by one on the bank where clear water rushed on below."
"if we had more to drink we could make tears"
I carried it around school all day yesterday. I have this weird thing with books where I like to be holding them if I'm reading them. They're kinda like my stuffed animals.
Anyway, last night, I finished Beloved and went to bed at 8:30. It was glorious. But I woke up at midnight after having a nightmare that I got attacked and had my throat slit and an instant scar formed and somehow I survived. I've never had a dream about having my throat slit. Beloved got into my head to say the least.
Monday, October 10, 2011
So yesterday, I went up to the cabin all by myself. I built a fire, dragged the big comfy chair in front of it and curled up with a really good book. Need a visual? Ta-da!
[forgive the poor quality of the cell phone picture]
It was glorious to say the least. I spent the evening without phone service, internet and television. It was just me and my book. I brought up homework that needed doing, but I decided that I was going to let that slide and do what I wanted to. It was one of those touchstone moments for me.
My life is busy, so busy that when I don't have something going on I have mini anxiety attacks. Life simply has felt like a pretty ideal that was valuable, but not that important like doing yoga or knitting or reading poetry; good for the soul, but something I can do without. Oh how wrong I was.
Live simply means putting all the things that feel important but aren't necessary aside. It means taking joy in the fundamental things that are too often disregard as common and therefore unimportant. They are actually really important. Live simply means live in the moment - find peace and comfort where you are. Don't life for the future, everything you need can be found where you're at.
The picture above is the new background on my phone as a reminder that living simply is so damn rewarding, and so worth the battle to put everything away.
So I'm getting rid of my facebook account, I'm turning the TV off (except for house and modern family), the internet is only for homework and blogging, and texting is no longer a casual past time.
Wish me luck. I think it'll be worth it.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I told a friend about my topic, and she referred me to Emily Dickinson poem 508:
The name They dropped upon my face
With water, in the country church
Is finished using, now,
And They can put it with my Dolls,
My childhood, and the string of spools,
I've finished threading--too--
Baptized, before, without the choice,
But this time, consciously, of Grace--
Unto supremest name--
Called to my full--The Crescent dropped--
Existence's whole Arc, filled up,
With one small Diadem.
My second Rank--too small the first--
Crowned--Crowing--on my Father's breast--
A half unconscious Queen--
But this time--Adequate--Erect,
With Will to choose, or to reject,
And I choose--just a Crown--
I LOVE this poem. It's written on the mirror in my room right now. I know Emily Dickinson didn't have many friends, but for this poem alone, I would have hung-out with her any day of the week.
So none of the family has moved in, but we wanted to start breaking in the new house. So we moved in. We loaded the box springs, mattress and bedding in the bed of Alex's truck and drove up to the new house. Actually, I drove while Alex froze her ass off making sure the mattress didn't go flying out. It was about 35 degrees outside. I drove under 15 mph the whole time, just to be safe.
So inside the new house, her dad had a group therapy thing going. I call it a cult. Not because it is, actually it's a pretty neat little organization, but Alex gets super defensive when I cal it a cult and I take pleasure in torturing her. As part of the night's cult session, they were all cheering for each other, really really loudly. Also, we weren't supposed to be at the house.
So here is the situation in which I found myself:
Sneaking into an enormous house in the dark. We couldn't turn the lights on because we would disturb the cult. Three of us are carrying a mattress. From downstairs, we hear the mysterious cult cheering loudly. We have to tiptoe so they won't notice us. We wind around through the house, out the porch, all the while trying not to scratch the new walls made with Italian plaster even though our only light is a cellphone.
Needless to say, we pulled it off elegantly.
To break in the new house, we went skinny dipping in the pool after the cult had left.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Today's quote comes from Travels with Charley which is one of the funniest books I've ever read. Steinbeck is such a careful and beautiful writer. You finish the book and just want to be his very best friend. Also, you want a French-speaking poodle named Charley.
"I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory or slobbed for a time in utter lazyness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment."