Monday, August 30, 2004

Safe and Sound

I’ve just gotten back up the hill from my friend Jeff’s beach. He had a full kayaking trip today, so I couldn’t go with. That was actually kind of fine with me. I spent most of the afternoon with a trashy fashion magazine. However, realizing that I had to do SOMETHING, I took his dog Braxton down to the beach to spend a little quiet time with myself, just like the Dalai Lama says we all should.

I’m still in a little bit of recovery mode, which is a statement that my brother Daniel scoffs at. But I am! We left early Thursday morning on schedule and arrived at Jeff’s house on the island at 11:45 on Friday night. In case you’re counting, that’s over 2,000 miles in two days. My brother is awesome: he drove most of the time, kept us on track when I would have dawdled and asked me if I was OK whenever I got too quiet and cried.

We drove through Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Idaho on our way to Washington. We pretty much stayed on I-90 or I-94 the whole way. North Dakota was gorgeous with straw yellow field and cornflower blue skies and big clouds with flat bottoms that looked 3D, rather than the usual painted backdrop. My mother was born in Dickinson (we drove through) and spent happy childhood summers there and I like seeing that it’s beautiful, too. In a beautiful rest-stop in Montana, we saw a fully bowed rainbow behind us. A new covenant.

Yesterday, all three of us drove down to Seattle and spent the day exploring there. We wandered around to find the U-district, which was OK, but ultimately found the Fremont neighborhood, which showed signs of gentrification, but had all sorts of cutey little shops that I wanted to look in but the boys had no interest in. When we walked around the Fremont market, I didn’t give them a choice: I just stopped. :-) It didn’t seem to matter if I told them I was stopping or not, they figured that I wasn’t there eventually. One vintage clothing vendor told Daniel that he would sell the shirt that he was wearing (Guns and Roses concert tee) for $75 if he had it. Glam Dan’s got style and he knows it. :-)

Ultimately, we walked around Pike’s Place market at the end of the day. Lots of the shops in that area are full of overpriced used stuff and buy-and-sell jewelry or trinkets made by child labor in some third-world sweatshop. Ugh. However, just on our way out was a little stand by the flowers of these wonderful little creatures that were only half an inch to 3 inches big. Totally fantastic and completely the product of this artist’s imagination. I love buying things from the actual people that made them! So, I found this little goofer guy with big ears that I’ll hang from the bathroom ceiling when I get an apartment. Overall, a successful trip to the big city before I abandon civilization for awhile.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Packing to leave has caused me to think about at least two distinct social stages in my life when things were crazy busy. Recently, I really did think that I would be able to vacate my house all by myself if I just kept at it. How wrong I was. I would have had to be working every spare moment for the last month to have done it all myself. Needless to say, that did not happen. The 26th just seemed so far away! I did little things, working for an hour at a time before getting distracted by some project of leisure. I would watch whole DVDs of The West Wing and The Gilmore Girls at a time. I was confident that at some point a natural instinct of urgency would take over and banish this overwhelming procrastinating state of avoidance that I was in. I forgot that my whole being is still in recovery mode. It's only been a year and half since my husband left; I had a crazy school year, working 60 hours a week for 5 months of it; I got fired for no real reason and then had to work for 3 more months with that hanging on my shoulders while I struggled to remain professional. I was going to work two part-time jobs this summer before I knew I was moving and my friend Gigi looked at me and said, "Are you going to take ANY time to rest?" I'm glad she said that because I didn't take the internship even though it seemed like good experience.

So, this recovery mode, combined with the cognitive dissonance of wanting to go but not wanting to leave combined with the fact that I've never actually moved myself before (I actually have managed to stay mostly absent while my stuff was packed and moved for me) made me pretty slow moving even when I did get started. So, thank goodness I have fantastic friends. Elena, Susan and Sue have spent a lot of time doing grunt work so that I could focus on sorting things out. I'm sure it doesn't seem like that big a deal to them, but I realize that to get the same amount of work done would take at least twice that amount of time. I don't have twice that amount of time anymore!

Opposite of this experience of lots of friends helping to get a major task done, which requires me to be the anti-micro-manager, I was reminiscing with Camilla about planning my wedding. Within 6 months, I got engaged, graduated college, bought a car, moved out of my mom's house (was moved out of my mom's house), started work in an urban high school and planned a wedding that involved a lot of do-it-myself aspects because I had a budget. My colleagues tease me about making ridiculous phone calls two weeks before the wedding during lunch. "Oh shit! I need an organist!" "Can you tell me if I can order Leonidas roses AND daisies?" I remember being at the reception hall with the caterer at 8:30 at night and saying, "Can I leave you guys to finish this up? I need to go for a dress fitting." Camilla lived over an hour away! So, I wouldn't be home and in bed until like 11:00. Then I would be at school at 6:30 the next morning. I did everything myself and didn't even realize that it was a lot of work until I've looked back on it.

I like that I've experienced both of these styles of intense projects. I'm amazed at how providence seems to cover both of them. All of these people just showed up without my even asking them to help with vacating the house. I didn't even know I needed them. And I was so young when I was planning the wedding that I didn't realize that I should be overwhelmed. Life is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Dug-Out

One of the really cool unintended consequences of leaving for the other end of the country is that I’ve gotten to spend some really enjoyable evenings with old friends. We all get so busy here that it’s easy to go weeks and (ack) even months without spending actual look-into-each-other’s-eyes-and-laugh time together with the people that are important. So, we’re all really motivated to do that before I go and it is really wonderful. We even stay up late like we’re young. :-) Last night, I was at Emily and Joe’s really neat house in Oak Park. They bought an extremely ugly, poorly-taken-care-of house, gutted it with aplomb and promptly painted the dining room red. The parts that are done look phenomenal and Joe continues to be a great cook. We’re all different kinds of teachers, which makes for shared passions and Emily and I went to elementary, junior high, high school and college together, so Joe does a nice job of looking interested when conversation goes that way. Two bottles of wine, some Miller High Life on ice and a few glasses of water finished up a fantastic evening.

Two nights ago, the ninth-hour teacher ladies all went out to dinner, which accomplished similar feats plus beautiful Noah, the giant personable baby.

Three days ago was lunch at the Earwax Café with Mark, when I got to see his stunning wedding pictures (which accurately reflected his moving wedding) and have the high level of intellectual exchanging of ideas that I’ve come to expect when Mark is involved. One of the added bonuses of being friends with Mark is that he has a good science fiction side to him, as well as an ability to process social phenomena. The café had a poster for my brother’s show that’s he’s headlining tonight at the Double Door (call me for tickets if you want them). It’s cool to see that someone besides my family actually knows Daniel is famous.

Last week, I spent an evening at Bill and Ruth’s house, who are the people that I worked for at the Renaissance Faire. They are in their 60’s and 70’s and have this incredible wealth of life experiences and a house full of gorgeous, whimsical art. Camilla and I stayed until 1:00 in the morning and I fully believe that Bill and Ruth could have gone longer. I would like to be them at some point in my life.

Add to all of these experiences all the time that I’ve gotten to spend with Camilla, who is finally home from Penn State and getting her Master’s Degree in Costume Design, for at least a few weeks. Also add the time with Elena, who’s at her own exciting and painful transition point in life, Jimmy John's with Carrie, post-modernism with Dan (blech) (the postmodernism, not Dan), an amazing evening with Steve and Maria, their beautiful daughters and delightful guest with connections to Orcas (why didn't we do this earlier so we could do it more?) and the phone calls that have been coming in. The joke has been made that Rebecca sees all of her friends twice a year, whether she needs to or not. :-) Although I think this is accurate, I’m glad that my friends have realized that right now, I need to, and have put aside their busy daily lives to open themselves to me like we’re college freshmen, discovering all of the ideas of the world for the first time because we don’t have a curfew.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Butt on couch

So, I’m totally paralyzed in the packing process. I had several spurts of productivity over the past few weeks, especially before my house went on the market, which got the closets cleaned out. I also got three shelves of books packed or sorted into piles (books I teach from, books to take, poetry/drama, books I don’t want). Of course, that leaves about 15 shelves and that brings me back to packing paralyzation. I hate packing. I did not actually move myself the last . . . well . . . ever. So, I’ve read two brand new magazines that I bought at the store. I’ve caught up on two of the three subscriptions that I get, I’ve watched A LOT of The West Wing and The Gilmore Girls and generally centered my life around the couch when not completing clerical tasks (arranging to shut off utilities, change of address, etc) or going out for the last time with various friends. Retha, my dog, likes this very much since she pretty much does nothing but sleep when left to her own devices. So, I’m not packing because most of the stuff that I intend to give away on Saturday is on the left hand side of the garage and I seem to need everything else. It’ll get done. I have faith. Really. Plus, Susan and Elena are coming out early on Saturday to help me set up, so I can dash around frantically finishing the process of sorting and getting the books off the bookshelves so that I can give them away. The bookshelves, not the books, although I’ll be giving some of those away too, as aforementioned.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Hello World!

This is my first attempt at anything so hip as blogging. I'm making a major life change and there are lots of people in my life that are excited and/or invested in the adventure. I am moving to Orcas Island to downshift my life a little. With that as my goal, it would seem counterproductive to spend a lot of energy worrying about whether I am keeping the many people that care about me properly apprised of the journey. Enter the blog as a good idea. My only fear is that once I have posted my thoughts on a subject or reported interesting daily events, I will have processed the information and therefore, subconsciously feel like I do not need to share it with others using more conventional forms of long-distance communication such as phone conversations, letters and emails. "What is the problem with that?" you, the hypothetical audience, may ask. Well, I believe the more conventional forms of communication are necessary to maintain friendships. Simply knowing the information about each other's lives does not an emotional connection make. That's why simply exchanging Christmas letters every year is considered a downgrade. So, I will try this for a little while and see how it affects my relationships with the people back home. I have a theory about this modern dynamic and the unreal expectations of long-distance relationships as caused by technology but maybe I'll get into that at a later point.