Friday, September 30, 2005

I have successfully abandoned another home.

I think that at this point, most of us know that I hate moving. (If not, take a look at "My Life In Boxes and Bags".)

However, I have fairly painlessly moved my stuff out of Mindy's house and into Jeff's. Actually, I've mailed quite a bit of stuff home to my parents' house so I don't have to drive it across the country. And, I haven't moved into Jeff's house so much as made a pile of stuff that I didn't get into boxes to send because I ran out of time or boxes. But, every last scrap of paper and lonely sock is out of Mindy's, which is great because I'm saving $225 in rent that can be spent on gas at the end of October.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Reunion Revision

So, as I've talked about my reunion with people around here, I've realized that I have to revise my previous description as simplistic. I must now admit that there were two successes and one realization.

The realization is that the people that I really spent time with during high school, the people that saw me at my best and at my worst, the people that shared classes with me and, more importantly, shared extra-curriculars, were not there. So maybe, it was not just the volume of the bar but also the lack of depth of relationships. Jane, Doug, Dan, Mike, Katie - not there. Their absence affected the chemistry of the group. It did not feel like the high school dynamic that I remember because key chemicals and catalysts were missing.

On to the successes. The first is that I told a guy he was hot. How is this a success, you say. Let me explain. This guy has been the cutest thing on the planet since probably the first grade. When I got to junior high and on the first day of school Sarah B. pointed to Bob M. and told me that he was the cutest boy in school (and most will agree with me that Bob is pretty dang cute), I shook my head vehemently and said, "Oh yeah? You haven't met _____ yet." I was that sure. I never really spent much time with this guy in the 12 years that I was in the same school system as he was. He wasn't in many honors classes and was way too cool for extra-curriculars. My lust for him was purely physical. In fact, all of the elements of a high school crush were completely missing from my interactions with him. I did not doodle our names together on my notebook, I did not speculate about him in my journal, my friends did not tease me. However, every single time I caught even a glimpse of him, my body and brain went into a state of paralysis and the words, "He is so hot," would play in my head and my effort to keep my tongue still was the only sign of life that I could demonstrate. So, after avoiding eye contact with him for the first 45 minutes of the evening, I finally said hello and then jsut said, "You are still hot." What a weight off my shoulders! He laughed this weird, girlish giggle, and since I describe it that way, I guess the disillusionment process has begun. Imagine the possibilities if I could have said this 15 years ago. But, that's the point, isn't it? I was so uncomfortable with myself and innocent of the opposite sex to the point that it just wasn't going to happen. The success of this encounter is that saying the words out loud, finally, indicates that I am comfortable enough with myself and my relationships with the opposite sex to be honest without fear of what might be thought of me. Plus, it was just plain fun: a good thrill.

The second success was in not asking another guy that I'd known since elementary school if he still had that third nipple that he seemed to flaunt when we were young. The downside to the growth of my confidence in myself is that I occassionally err on the side of impishness. Much like my literary hero Alanna who dressed like a boy to become a knight, I've learned that I can make people laugh simply by saying what pops into my head. So, upon seeing this second unnamed fellow, the first thing that popped into my head was an image of him wearing these velour, V-necked shirts. He had three or four of these shirts and it seemed like that was all he wore. I remember thinking that they must have been hand-me-downs from his older brother because just above the V was this third nipple looking thingy. If they weren't hand-me-downs, why would he choose that neckline? But, in this case, I held my tongue. Similar to the first guy, I never really interacted with this kid, except for my morbid fascination with his growth. So, it was absolutely not appropriate for me to ask, because there is absolutely no way that he would know that I was asking in good spirits. I practiced the skill that Hot Guy had helped me learn in childhood of keeping my tongue still.

So, two successes and a revision. One sucess involves speaking when I wouldn't have and the second involved not speaking when I would have. Not bad.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Safely evacuated from the mainland

After 13 hours of traveling, I have indeed gotten back to the island in one piece. However, I forgot to call my parents to tell them that I was safe, and they're to respectful to call and check up on me. Now, it's too late to call because I'll wake them up. So, Dad, I got home OK. Tell Mom that I didn't have to hitchhike.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

It was too loud; I must be too old

So, just to start the post with a little humor, I got increasingly nervous as I got in my dad's car to drive into the city, trying to take big deep breaths and futzing with the radio the whole way. To make matters worse, I had so filled my last half an hour with things to distract myself that I was going to be late and I had already decided that being fashionably late to an event like this was silly. So, I walked into the bar, found the little area where people were and scanned faces in a sort-of detached Terminator way: the names and vital stats registering in my crosshairs, but nothing else in my thoughts or my emotions reacting. None of the faces were people I was comfortable walking up to with a "Hi! How are you?" and a hug. So, finally, I see Ben M. with relief and go talk to him for a little while. However, there were the people standing around him to greet and in the flurry of half-recognition, I hugged the small Slavic waitress with my shaky hands. She was so nice. She just smailed and said, "You don't know me," smiled again and explained that she was, indeed, the waitress and could she get me a drink. I nearly kissed her but settled for ordering a gin and tonic. Things got eaier after that.

So, the final statement on the reunion is that it was a very pleasant way to spend the evening. There were no great epiphanies, no one was killed Gros Pointe Blank style and no one made any sort of fool out of themselves in such a way that a great story would be made. I did compare leg hair with Josh M. (he shaves his to bike faster and I just kinda stopped shaving mine without even really thinking about it until one day after yoga I felt the wind rustle through it) and told Mike A. that I had a dream after I received the invitation that he was still hot and was interested in me. I also told Nicole L. that she and Doug had been in my dream three nights ago, so I wasn't being totally desperate in the Mike A. conversation.

I did not stick to my plan of sitting in the corner and observing because it just wasn't that kind of place. It was actually a pretty bad venue for the event. Very loud music made it hard to do anything other than catch up on the very basic level of where-are-you-what-are-you-doing? That's too bad. I would have like to sat at a table with Kathy S. or Nicole or Josh or Tiffanie L. and really had a conversation. Even if they were nostalgic conversations, they would have made the evening just a little bit more worthwhile, given it a little more depth. As it stands, it was fun to immerse myself in the faces that I grew up with. It felt good to tell people that I live on Orcas Island after they told me they were loan officers. (Is that little of me?) I made a couple of connections with people to see them more once I moved back. (Dave said he'd be my friend, if I wanted a high-maintenance friend. Woohoo! I do.)

My mom just asked me if I think I "wow-ed" them. I don't know that I did. I don't know that I didn't. It wasn't really that kind of evening. Everybody looked good. Everyone sounded happy with their lives. I guess people were putting on a good show, but we didn't talk about each other in that way that sometimes happens (Oh, look how big she is or wow, he looks better than he ever did). At least, I didn't. I like that energy. So, it was a very pleasant way to spend an evening.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I do not believe the extent to which my stomach is filling up with nervous fluttering. I'm sure there are some yoga exercises that would help but I'm too jittery to think of anything but downward dog and I just don't think that would help. My dad's only comfort that he could offer me is to say, "I think it's just the nature of events like this to make you nervous." As we all know, I'm very comfortable with my participation in this ten-year reunion. Still, though, as I aimlessly surf blogs, my shoulders keep creeping toward my ears.

My hair, however, looks fabulous, even in this damp, it-could-rain-at-any-moment weather.

It is this last half an hour before I can legitimately start getting ready. All I have to do is change my shirt and make sure my jewelry is right. Actually, I might not even change the shirt; in which case, all I have to do is take the shirt off, wash out my armpits (natural deodorant), apply more deodorant, and go. Oh, and put the shirt back on. So, I pretty much have to keep myself busy up to the last minute.

Ack. OK, it's time.
So, I just got an email from Lorinda, my best friend from high school. She says that there were 100-150 people at the local gathering here in Glen Ellyn last night and that many of them were planning to go to the downtown Chicago gathering tonight. Whoa. I guess I shouldn't have been nervous that no one would be there. Now, I'm going to be fresh meat since the others will be old hat to each other. (What does that phrase "old hat" really mean?) On a positive note, my friend Emily - who I have a history of asking her what she's wearing to events and has actually dressed me in her clothes on at least one occasion - asked me what I was wearing. So, my agonizing was actually useful to someone else! The research I did on what kind of venue this was taking place in was validated! Take that, Type B people of the world!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Home Again

Well, I made it to Glen Ellyn all right. I knew you were worried. All sorts of crazy people were part of the parade of public transportation that I participated in today. People that make you really wonder what their backstory is. I had quite a bit of fun creating their backstories, actually. I wrote it all down and maybe when I'm not so tired (my day started at 7:00 this morning when the ferry left the island), I transpose some of them here. I am getting more excited about the reunion but also just a little bit nervous because there are only 35 names left on the email list that get sent out with updates. What if I made all this effort and no one came worth seeing?

I broke down and went shopping for a new outfit. I know that I said that I owed it to myself to go wearing an outfit that I would wear here, but I began telling people, "This is the outfit I'm thinking of for my high school reunion," and they would make these faces. I tried to explain that I don't want to be the odd-girl-from-high-school-that-shows-up-for-the-reunion-looking-totally-hot. That lacks subtlety. Plus, I still can't compete on that level and most people would only come away from the reunion with an image of me as mediocre since I would just blend in with everyone else. I want to be the odd-girl-from-high-school-who-shows-up-to-the-reunion-finally-comfortable-with-herself. Isn't that the ultimate measure of success?

I mean, I know that fussing this much about it indicates that I'm not fully comfortable with myself. However, I'm on the right path.

I actually went shopping because I was looking for something to do with my friend Hannah before both she and I leave the island. So, after going to the one place that had a niche on the island selling clothes that would normally be sold in any fashion store in the city, (Laura did not make any effort to understand the image I was trying to create and was actually pretty derisive about my style) we landed at a place tucked back in our only strip mall (it's a cute building with only architectural similarity to suburban strip malls) called Far and Away. We found almost exactly my pink linen shirt, but with some fancy touches, like some tasteful, funky beadwork at the sleeves and hem. The hem is actually hotter than my other pink shirt because it falls just exactly about the belt that I wear with my hot jeans, so the hottest part of the hot jeans can be seen clearly. Hot.

I did spend $40 on this shirt, which is more than I ever paid for anything when I was a recreational shopper. However, it really is perfect and that $40 is actually 30% off the regular price.

I left my pink shoes at Jeff's house and I wasn't go to go all the way for them with a 6:00 start necessary, so I packed my hiking boots. I think they will offset the beadwork nicely.

My dog recognized me when I got home.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I've had this weird series of days where I haven't had any access to the computers that I use to post. I'm in the middle of packing up all of my stuff. I'm mailing home as much as I can because I figure I'll let the USPS pick up the cost of extra gas, rather than loading up my car full of heavy stuff.

Let me tell you about Sunday, though. First of all, Sukima was going to be substitute teaching yoga, so I had this big open space in the morning. Earlier in the week, I had gone out to Rhonda's farm to help Faith with the harvest since Rhonda was gone kayaking on the Snake River. It was a neat full-circle kind of thing for me because I've grown out of my initial smitten-ness with Rhonda. I've realized that she's charismatic and strong and uses these skills mostly for her own glory. I mean, the work that she does is good work: sustainable, local, farming is the way that we will save this world from consuming itself. Also, she does it well. Her CSA is more professional by far than the CSA that Jeff gets. However, she likes the attention that she gets for being the underdog and I've noticed that she doesn't like sharing that credit. It's a funny phenomenon that I see all over the place in leaders; I guess it's a necessary evil that in order to lead and break the rules that need to be broken in order to do good things, one must have confidence in oneself and it is very easy for that to become slightly megalomaniacal. Still, it's also been proven over and over that if leaders don't share credit with their helpers, the peasants get revolting.

So, the nice full-circle applies because I've gotten to know Faith better and better over the last several months and am really moved by her quiet confidence in herself, her great patience with others, her spirituality and her overall beauty. Faith makes baskets and has just begun a garlic farm at the Coffelts farm. She'll grow something like 30 varieties of garlic organically and sell them down in Seattle. (On the side, the Coffelts are fantastic people here on the island and it seems like as they age, they're trying to rent out their land to small farmers of various sorts in order to create a growing community around them as they retire. Then they can still pay for the taxes and upkeep of the farm as they age and have people around them to take over the tasks that they must give up as they age. That's what I call a retirement plan.) Faith interacts with me authentically, without a mask of strength, so harvesting this garden that I've worked in periodically felt very, very right. The fruits of my labors and all of that. While we were working, Faith spoke about the Circle of the Spirit. I've been hearing about Circle probably since I started going out to lunch after my literature class. However, I've been hesitant to ask if I could come. It seemed more appropriate to wait for an invitation. Faith offered it and since I wasn't going to yoga and I could still make it to my own church service (I have missed a couple weeks and I didn't want my old ladies to worry too much about me), I picked up her and her friend Heather, who is living in the other yurt at her place and drove out to Deer Harbor.

The Circle of the Spirit is, I guess, a worship service. It is a chance for people to center themselves in community by sitting in quiet and spending some guided time focusing on their breathing, which causes all of the mundane concerns of life (which are everything but breathing, the first requirement of life) to leave out conscious brains for a little while. A man named Francis, who also runs the hospice center on the island, leads the Circle. In all ways, the Circle functions like church. It is a small group of about 15 people, mostly older people. Contrary to my expectations, they did not look like hippy-dippies, with lots of beads and feathers. They dressed nicely and many of them would not look out of place at my grandma's church. They bring food to the Deer Harbor Community Center, which is a historical little meeting hall with a beautiful wood stove to keep it toasty. Gretchen was there, as well, and she did offer during the announcements portion that if anyone wanted to hold either of the two crystals that she had placed on the table in the center of the circle of chairs, they could. Interestingly, no one did. It was like they were patient with her, but didn't necessarily share her beliefs. Or, maybe they did and this week, they just didn't feel the push. So, we started by centering, then had some announcements, actually quite a few announcements. They had a little microphone for the two women who were hard of hearing. Then, Francis asked if there were any issues that needed to be discussed. I don't remember what his exact words were. One woman who had been in my literature class, Jessica, said that she's like to talk about processing conflict as it happens. You could tell she was generalizing a specific event. In fact, she said, "Do I need to explain further or can I just leave it at that?" Francis said it would be better if she left it. A young man, Noah, who had recently moved back to the island after severing his Achilles tendon in a dance rehearsal, asked to talk about integrating or big world beliefs with the mundane actions of getting the mail and doing the laundry. I didn't know where this was leading, but it turned out that Francis gave an impromptu sermon on these two things. The message always came back to, "Who you are and the struggles you face at this moment are enough. Do not stress about being more or better than you are right now. It is enough." He did this eloquently and I could tell by the way he spoke that he is obviously well-read, although he did not cite fancy sources obsequiously. He seemed to be very humbly offering up wisdom of the elders that he had incorporated into his own belief. I don't often encounter people that can do that so effectively. Francis reminded me a little of my grandfather, who I've always thought was a little gnomish, with laugh lines on his forehead and eyes. He had tufty white hair on his mostly bald head and a funny little goatee. A couple of teeth stuck out a little funny and this simply lent the gnomish look greater authenticity. He wore a turtleneck, sweater and nice pants with sturdy suede outdoor shoes. I trusted him immediately, but I've also heard honest and good things about him. No one calls him a guru, but they come close without crossing over the line of demigoguery, which would make me suspect. After the homily, if it can be called that, the congregation was given the opportunity to contribute. It was interesting to see so many very normal-looking elderly men (without ponytails and beards) display such sensitivity. It is so uncharacteristic of men of their generation but their commitment to the philosophy and poetry that they shared had greater impact because of it's unexpected nature. Gretchen sang a song she wrote; it's hard for me to get a good read on the quality of it because she is so weird whenever I walk into a room that I find it hard to think of her as anything other than little and ineffectual. That's the way I read all people that take a simple disagreement and hold a big grudge out of it. After that, we chanted "om" three times and rather than the "om" that I chant in yoga, it was a little song that I just listened to, even though it repeated itself and I could have joined in. I actually did join in towards the end and the difference in the way my consciousness resonanted when the sound was coming from my own body and joining the collective song was astounding. I've had similar experiences in the women's group that I went to and when I would sing with my high school youth group. As much as I love the old hymns, it doesn't compare. After what would be the equivalent of a benediction, we sang the old refrain of "A-a-men, a-a-men, a-a-men, a-men, a-men," just like my dad made us sing after reciting each pool rule at camp. So I joined right in with that and even provided some harmony. The whole time was worship.

I spent some time after the service with Kevin, whom I occasionally clash with. However, Jeff likes him and he's close to Jane and I wanted his advice as to how I was going to get this money that she owed me for working for her. The concern that he showed for my predicament and the type of advice that he offered me really expanded my respect for him. Where as I probably would have put him in the camp of socially malfunctioning middle-aged men that live on this island, I now would consider him mostly thoughtful and good-hearted with only slight social deformity. In fact, he's aware that he doesn't always interact well and that almost makes him completely normal. :-)

So, then I joined the Lutherans, whose service was already in progress, but they were all happy to see me and the pastor asked me specifically to speak with the young woman who was sitting at the front.

After church, I went and confronted Jane, after some stalling. She had told me to remind her in the middle of September that I was moving. I had stopped by her store Saturday after the Farmer's Market, but she was in the middle of a "Friends of Pyewacket" meeting, so I thought it would be bad form to barge in on this group of people that were meeting to brainstorm ways to keep the bookstore open in the midst of all sorts of trauma that Jane mostly brings on herself. That made me mad because here I was respecting her by not making a sccene when I had the perfect opportunity and she didn't even have the slightest consideration for the stress she was causing me by making me hound her for money that I did not loan her but that she owed me. That anger and bitterness was why I had spoken with Kevin. He told me that she had been pledged $500 at the meeting and that she had talked about a $400 scanner as if she could easily afford it. So, on Sunday, I was ready to demand some sort of promise in writing and a chunk of money right then or at least a payment plan in writing because it really did feel to me that she had no intent to pay me if she didn't have to (notice these next key words here) just like my ex-husband. So, I asked for all of these things and I got them with only a little pushing on my part. That took huge weights off my heart.

So, from there, I stopped at home, then went out to the ferry to join the usual Sauna Night crowd to go bowling, of all things! Jeff couldn't go because his kayaking day-trip got back after the ferry left, so I just went by myself. 9 of us showed us showed up and the festive atmosphere was exactly what I needed after a day of meditation, contemplation and confrontation. Joy is the most appropriate resolution for those things. The boat ride to Friday Harbor felt a little like the train feels on the way to Chicago for Blues Fest or the Jazz Festival. Bowling was great, although the place was brightly lit, mostly sanitary and not at all smoky, so it felt a little like walking around with your shirt buttoned but off a button. I was amazed at how many of the group had never been bowling or had rarely bowled. I was a relative expert and I realized that I actually went bowling quite a bit as a kid and in high school. I was also the most entertaining bowler. They all told me so. I've known this about myself for awhile. It started in high school. I didn't care about form and it was physically satisfying to whip the ball with as much force as possible down the lanes, without much aim. This apparently causes my body to flail in all sorts of funny ways. I don't do it intentionally, but I have also never really made an effort to normlize my bowling style because I like making people laugh. That's a pretty good microcosm to explain my sense of humor overall, I guess. I like being entertaining and it comes fairly naturally just by being myself, but know that if I try too hard, it'll flop. Just enough beer and pizza were consumed at the bowling alley to create a nice little buzz and the night air was warm as we walked back to the ferry that would take us to Lopez, where we would catch the ferry that would take us home. I know I talked a lot and told a lot of stories that were generally well-received and although I worried a little that I was being too over-bearing, it didn't feel like I was. It was a good, easy-going time.

A perfect island Sunday, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sarah and Elaine

I have met and begun interacting with two women in the last several months who fascinate and delight me. As I was gushing over Sarah to Harreld, I said, "Sarah is just like me but older and perfect." I would say this applies to Elaine as well.

Sarah is my yoga instructor. She is in her early 40's, has a tiny yoga-instructor body, long silver hair and piercing blue eyes. I don't use that phrase because it is an easy description of light blue eyes. Looking at Sarah's eyes is a little like looking into a faerie's eyes, you know the cool angular fae court of Celtic mythology? I do not normally notice people's eyes. It's an intellectual exercise to keep that info in my head about the people I love; instead of pulling up an image when I try to remember, I see the word "blue" or "hazel," like a driver's license. Sarah's eyes are such an icy light blue, with a circle of such dark blue around the edge that they have pierced my normally verbal memory with an unforgettable image. Sarah teaches Iyengar (eye-an-gar) yoga, which, to the practitioners of this particular style, is the most pure of the yoga styles. They say this because it emphasizes alignment of the body to a rediculous degree and poses are held for long periods of time once practitioners are indeed in alignment. This kicks my ass every time. However, Iyengar also uses lots of "props" (blocks, straps, folded blankets) to help people get into poses, even when they aren't super-yogis. So, if you're in a stretch and you can't get your hand all the way to your foot, you can use a strap to hold the stretch anyway. If you are trying to fold in half while standing and can't quite touch the floor, a block will bring the floor to you. It's fantastic. I think Sarah's personality melds with the Iyengar practice perfectly. And that makes sense, after all, since the practice of yoga (the bringing together of body and mind) is just practice for living the rest of life. She's not shy about pushing students to go farther but she is also really careful that everyone is safe. She doesn't expect a student to achieve some randomly chosen standard, she allows them to be who they are right now and expects them to achieve from that station.

Aside from her teaching personality, she is the aforementioned "like me but older and perfect." She can be a little abrasive at times, but you always know where you stand with her. Straight-forward. ("I said move your ankle back; those are your toes. Ankle, ankle. There you go.") She laughs often and well. She's confident but looks internally a lot to open the door to the room for improvement. (Since I'm her only regular student - the rest are tourists - she'll ask me about how class went.) The perfect part about her is that she seems to have blended all of these elements of her personality in some magical alchemy that makes her delightful rather than off-putting. I think I can get there, but feel like I'm off-putting more of the time than I'd like to be. I'm hoping it's my age. Brashness seems to be much more acceptable in older women than young women. My mom pulls it off, too.

I tutor Sarah's daughter, Makala. Apparently, when Makala was homeschooled last year, they just never got around to math. Now that she's going back into school for the seventh grade, she needs a little tutoring to get her up to skill level. So, I've been tutoring her. Makala is the kind of kid that I would love to have. She's always smiling, loves interacting with adults (living on their farm, with interns living there every summer, she would be good at it, at least), she's open enough to ask questions when she doesn't know things and to laugh at herself when she makes classic adolescent boners. You can absolutely tell that she's a grumoy teen sometimes, but it's not a way of life for her. She's also very bright, so she's a delight to teach. Math isn't hard for her; she just hasn't done it in awhile. She asks questions and I can tell that she's thinking deeper about math than just the problems I put in front of her because she asks such good questions. Not just "how," but also "why." Also, she doesn't wait for me to tell her she's wrong. She calls my attention to what she's doing as soon as it doesn't feel right. We end up doing a lot of theory, which makes me work. I know that Sarah and Makala fight a lot, in the way my dad and I used to fight. Sarah likes things a certain way. Makala is figuring out which way she likes things. Clash, clash, clash. But lots of love. It's cool to watch the different moods in which they arrive for tutoring sessions. It's also good for me to be teaching. It makes the sum total of my actions here on the island seem a little more vibrant and full to have that element among them.

So, Sarah and her husband have one of the organic farms on the island: Taproot Farm. Another point on the "but perfect" scale. I've already revealed in this space that one of my little fantasies since adolescence was to go back to the land. Sarah lives in a house that she and Thomas built with the help of the community. It is made from straw bales and plaster and it's absolutely gorgeous. Jeff actually helped while they were building. How cool is that? She found a partner that was willing to make the plunge with her and made her life work sustainable and good for the world. Just what I want.

Elaine is one of the old ladies at my church. When I first started attending, she wasn't there as much as Dora, Argene and Gladys, so I didn't know her as well. Also, she didn't fawn over me as the other three did, so I didn't pay much attention to her. She had an oxygen tank with her that clicked distractingly and occasionally yelled at the pastor to speak louder. Once, she interrupted the announcements to complain that she was handed her communion bread from a common plate with all of its germs that it must have accumulated from the other communicants. Pastor John patiently explained that he had transposed the old tradition of purification before administering the sacraments by using waterless hand sanitizer as he was preparing the elements. He explained that if she reached for her own bread, it might infect the rest for everyone else. Since his hands were the cleanest, he wanted to continue handing out the bread. She went back and forth with him and I noticed that he let her take her own bread at communion, then winked at me when he saw that I had noticed. Another time, Mindy was at church with me for the first time and when the time came for communion, she was the first in line. It's always tricky taking communion at a new church. I usually sit near the back so I can watch how everyone else does it. Mindy had no such chance. She walked up to the front and waited at the bottom of the steps up to the alter since that was the only instruction that she had been given. Before I could step in and help, I heard someone in line behind me say, "Somebody push her." I'm fairly certain that was Elaine. She's usually running out of air by the time communion comes around.

So, I think the most appropriate word to describe Elaine is "irrascible." I began loving her around the time John let take her own bread from the plate. Two months ago, as we were praying for each other, John told us that Elaine had some sort of episode and had been in the hospital. The pain-killing drugs that she was now on made her very anxious and generally fragile. (He also said that she was very polite and said good-bye to him on the phone, which was surprising. I think that Pastor John has been a little intimidated by Elaine since he moved to this parish.) He said she would benefit from anyone going by her house, especially in the morning, which would ease her anxiety. God pushed me then. I don't know any other way to describe it. I felt Him push me. I asked after church about how to get to her house and got weird directions and was told just to call and she'd get me there. My humanness then overtook my fledgling godliness and I didn't follow up. After all, I didn't really know her all that well anyway. I thought about her a lot, stuck there in her house. I thought about my own grandma and how so many people visit her, even though she's still active. I thought about how God tells us when we are kind to our widows and children, we are actually being kind to Him. I thought about how awful it is when I'm freaking out and how it is so much easier to calm down when someone talks me through it.

So, when John and I had lunch again, I said that I like to go with him to Elaine's house so that I would know where it was. As I sat and talked with her, I discovered that Elaine is just like me, just older and perfect. Maybe not so perfect as Sarah. She is intimidating in her straight-forwardness. But even in that lack of compromise, she is perfect. She has been herself - and therefore formidable - for 80 years. It's the other direction one can go with our personality than the route Sarah has taken. But she still laughs often and well. And she cries. Since we are both so straight-forward, when she tells me that she was lonesome today (lonesome, always lonesome because she's talking about her state of being; lonely is an adverb and can only describe verbs and other adverbs: her grammar is always accurate) when she tells me that she has been lonesome, I ask her what she does when she's lonesome. She just looks at me and tells me she cries. I don't make cooing noises and I don't rush to hug her. I let her regain herself and tell her that I'm sorry and that sucks. (My syntax is not so correct, even though I wish it was.) When she tells me she has nothing to live for, I don't automatic assure her that it's not true. She knows what's true and what's not. Later, I'll ask about her grandkids, but she's right. Her husband is dead, none of her children live on the island and I would bet she did not make a lot of close friends after she moved here 25 years ago. She seems to be a lot more of a building-family-type, rather than a building-community-type. It must be terrible to spend the entire day trapped in the house, knowing that you probably won't see anyone all day. Of course she feels like she has nothing to live for.

So, now I go and visit Elaine about once a week and it's wonderful. Any time I have an hour or so where I don't really have to be anywhere, I drive up the hill to her house. Usually God has to push me, but I'm starting to schedule her in because it's fun. She makes me laugh. She reads books and talks about them with the same delight that I have for them. She's feisty when we talk politics and mourns for the kids in Iraq. She tells me stories about her Ray (they only knew each other for 3 days before they got married; she knew everything she needed to know: he was a good Lutheran, he was cute and he was going to be a pharmacist, so they would be comfortable) and intrerrupts me even when she tells me to talk while she catches her breath.

It is good to see women that I can be like as I age who aren't my mother. My mother is too close to me for me to aspire to be just like her. I know too much about her: specific foibles and talents, the story of her childhood and her life before I came along. She fascinates me but because I have elements of my father (really just about half; it's uncanny), I will not be just like her. I'll be (and am) a mix them both. However, because of the randomness of the universe, the experiences and foibles of both Sarah and Elaine combine to make them kindred to me on the surface. Like when two species evolve from two totally different roots on two totally different continents but end up with the same adaptations because similar environmental conditions exist, like having a barrel shape to retain heat or water or having large ears to create surface area to shed heat. The three of us have started from different places and had totally different experiences, but our personalities have adapted to those different experiences in the same way. Since I haven't reached their stages, by looking ahead on my path and seeing them beckoning to me, I can actually keep my own evolution from mutating in a way that with get me selected against.

Now this is art!

Please take a moment to go see the Ex-Boyfriend Project. It is a collection of photographs of ex-boyfriends taken in front of momuments. Each is accompanied by a short, simple paragraph of description that rather poignantly documents the small, simple emotions of a relationship that are so easy to forget unless they are attached to a bigger event like traveling. Many of these photos are submitted by just regular people. I wonder if ex-husbands count? I'll look when I'm home for the reunion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

4 egg cake

It's nice to be totally, inarguably successful sometimes. Most succeses have bittersweet elements to them because of the sacrifices that it took to get there or because someone else lost in order for one to win. Also, lots of succeses are considered successful only from one point of view. Winners writing history and all of that. We've so glorified the underdog story and been exposed to so many after-school specials that it's an almost knee-jerk response that when someone loses the game, we still find success in how hard they worked. None of that's bad. I love ambiguity. However, I also love pure, unadulturated glory.

Yesterday, I brought dessert to the going-away party for Gabe that was perfect. And everyone said so. And they said it with their mouths full of cake and ecstasy in their eyes.

My mom's 4 egg cake is a family favorite. It epitomizes the word, "tasty." 4 eggs, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon (I always use more) of vanilla. Add a cup of heated milk that a quarter stick of butter has been melted into and you have one fine cake after it's been cooked.

Actually, the obstacle in the rising action of baking was that I was going to bake the cake at the hostess's house but after we put it in the warm oven, it did nothing. Every time I checked the cake, the oven actually seemed cooler. To our dismay, we were out of propane: both tanks were empty. However, Fabrice jiggled some wires, shook some tanks and saved the day. Like all plot complications, this one seemed to add to the perfection of the ultimate climax because the extended time just sitting in a slightly warm over seemed to eliminate the usually somewhat sticky section in the center of the cake that usually doesn't get quite done normally.

But, lest you think I simply put some ingredients together and trusted fate to make them perfect, I must add that there were strawberries involved. Looking like they were posing for a cooking magazine, these were strawberries that I myself picked at Rhonda's farm while I was helping Faith with the harvest. I took them home and sliced them. Then, I poured about a half of a cup of sugar over them and let those little garnet gems macerate because, as the Murphys say, "God didn't make a fruit that a little sugar couldn't improve." I bought a quart of organic half-and-half to simply pour on top of the cake and the strawberries and their syrup. Who needs to whip it when the cake just soaks it in like a sponge? It was perfect.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Only Boring People are Bored.

My Grandma says that. I gues today, people would be rolling their eyes and making excuses rather than continue talking to me because I"m BORED.

It's an interesting sensation. I haven't been bored in a long time. My quiet moments were so taken up with grieving and healing that I never noticed when I had nothing to do.

This is my third day in a row at Shearwater by myself. Everyone else has up and gone to the Sea Kayak Symposium in Port Townsend for the weekend. So this job that is normally very social because the owners are usually in and out and very busy because of tourists is very dead since the season is close to over. So, I'm bored.

It's the kind of boredom that seems to feed upon itself. Because there is nothing to do, I don't want to do anything. I don't want to catch up on email. I don't want to put together the address list for my Welcome Home party. I don't want to surf blogs. I definitely don't want to clean or organize.

Of course, just as I wrote that, four people came into the store and it was a big party. But before that, I was BORED. And for a long time. I guess tomorrow, I might write a post about how bored I am so people will come visit me again. Be prepared. Cause and effect. I love it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Zacharya, Jorgen and the other guy

Yesterday, a man walked into Shearwater asking about a part to modify his roof rack for his kayak. I referred him to the place we usually refer people to for roof racks, which is in Mt. Vernon, the next town over from Anacortes on the mainland. (Anacortes is where the ferry docks.) He indicated that he needed something on-island, so I recommended that he talk to one of the local blacksmiths. Let me repeat, I recommended that he talk to one of the local blacksmiths. We have at least three blacksmiths on the island. How cool is that? At least one of them has his master's degree in blacksmithing.

I just thought that in the middle of sharing my internal dialogues about my self-identity, I'd share a little local flavor, which is the stated intent of this blog. Blacksmiths.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I'm pretty good at finding jobs. I tend to be at the right place at the right time, with an energetic countenance. I learned all the right lessons about finding a job. My first two jobs were retail summer jobs and both were handed to me by friends. However, after both stores closed (not my fault), I was up in the air and had to go asking door to door in downtown Glen Ellyn. I was offered a job at the third place I stopped, without even filling out an application. That has been the pattern that all of my job-hunting has followed, even my searches for teaching jobs. Either a friend sets me up or I've walked in to the employer's life before he even knew that he needed help but then realized that I was everything he'd dreamed about. Oh, I've been turned down for jobs I wanted. Often mysteriously and sometimes it felt like the hand of God putting itself in my path because the reasons why were so unlikely. However, as I look back on the path of my life, it's highly possible that God was trying to steer me away from certain commitments. I do the hard work of sending out my resumes, setting up appointments, asking around and writing thank-you notes. But, all that hard work tends to resolve itself as simply busy work that keeps me distracted so I don't get in Fate's way while she makes some connections for me.

This has been, of course, doubly true here on the island. I've had 6 different jobs over the past year and every single one was acquired through word-of-mouth. Jeff primed the pump at the bookstore and gave me a job at the Exchange. Jane at the bookstore set me up with Bill at the Island Flavor. When there were no winter hours at the Flava, the folks at church started talking and Harold hired me for various landscaping gigs. As summer rolled in, Jeff ppointed me towards the Shearwater office and his roommate Harreld, who works the front desk at Doe Bay, talked me up to the Head Chef. It's an island. That's how it works.

So, I'm starting to freak out a little bit about what I'm going to do for work when I get back to Chicago, where I know almost no one. That's not true. I know lots of people. But none of the people I know have connections in the type of job I want. What type of job do you want, Rebecca? Good question. I'm glad you asked. I want a job that will pay me around $10 an hour to show up, do what I'm told to do in a friendly atmostphere (with very little internal drama) and then allow me to go home and think about something else. I don't want to be a self-starter and I don't want to work 9-5. I want a schedule that will allow me to wake up leisurely and go out for coffee before work some days and to wake up early other days so that I have the beautiful afternoon off. And, I'm fairly sure that I don't want to wait tables, unless it falls in my lap. A truly ideal situation would allow me to work in a small speciality shop, like a bookstore or bead shop, where, sometimes, if it's slow, I can read my book between customers. Finally, I would like to be able to walk to work, either directly or using the Blue line.

Now, don't make fun of me and start calling me Princess. You asked! I know that the reality is that those kinds of jobs are rare. But I've been lucky enough in my life to be able to land them most of the time. But I'm struggling already to keep from falling into the patterns of my old life when I move back to familiar territory and so I don't know if I can go about this in the same way. Am I really willing to leave it until I actually arrive in Chicago until looking for a job? I'll have to if I truly believe I'll find it through word of mouth. There's no chance in Hell that I want a career-type job, so the busy work that I normally do - searching on the internet and making phone calls - doesn't need to be done. But not having anything set up creates this itchy feeling between my shoulder blades.

So, today, I decided to search the internet a little. Goodness, am I depressed. I want to just read my book for the next few days. My type of jobs just aren't there anywhere. See for yourself. Notice the prevalence of the word, "energetic"? Also, the word "hip" scares me a little bit. The word "busy" is also dominant. That one scares me most of all. I mean, I can be energetic. I know that it can usually be translated as "uncomplaining hard worker" but I can be that if I absolutely have to. But, it seems that once we eliminate the food service positions, all of the rest are busy, hip places. That just sounds both exhausting and the antithesis to this whole "finding myself" process. If I spent all this time finding myself, why would I then want to abandon me in the pursuit of being hip, which is just code for "up on the latest trends"?

Interestingly, this thought-process that I've been working through has helped me decide what I want to wear to my high school reunion. I've been having a similar struggle in this area: do I fall back into my old patterns and wear something that I know looks good in that world, thus accomplishing my lifelong desire to fit in? I mean, these are the people that I've wanted to impress since childhood, you know? Do I wear a club uniform of black, sexy top with dressy jeans and nice shoes? Throw a little glitter in my cleavage and some dangly earrings? Maybe dress it up a little more with black boots and a knee-length skirt? Put on that make-up that I finally learned how to wear a couple of years ago?

I would be successful in the image I would create if I dressed that way. However, I have this memory of going to Christmas Eve service at my parents' church (where I grew up) and seeing all of these suburban moms with their small children, pointy stilleto shoes and perfect rhinestone brooches placed in just the right spot to indicate that they are fully aware that the fussy old accessory looks new again. I had been here on the island for three months at that point and I was far enough away from the suburbs (both geographically and metaphysically) for long enough that I saw those women as odd. Furthermore, I saw that I could easily have become them, now that I had developed the fashion/design skills that I had lacked in high school and college. I felt that moment of grace and I think that I actually uttered under my breath, "There but for the grace of God . . ."

So, to go the safe route of dress would be totally untrue to myself, just like getting the non-profit grantwriting job that I'm qualified for would be safe but ultimately stifling. I've decided to wear these jeans that I wear pretty much every day (I've actually ordered 3 pairs of the exact same jeans from ebay. I only meant to buy one pair, though. A case of bidding frenzy. Oops.) and this light pink linen top that I can wear some funky jewelry with and still look low-key and my pink gym shoes. I was going to wear my light blue "dork magnet" T-shirt with my black fleece Patagonia vest, but I determined that slumming for an "event" was not me either.

It's a huge relief to have this decided. And the job search? Jeff calmed my panic by reminding me that there are a ton of Curves out there and that not only do I like that work, but I am also already trained to do it. I mean, even if I found the perfect job, what would I say, "Please hold the position for a month and a half until I get there?" Over the phone? Nice try.

I found this quote today that encapsulates the resolution that I want for the debate that's been raging in my head about moving back to Chicago. I'll leave you with it:

Once you start to see through the myth of status, possessions, and unlimited consumption as a path to happiness, you’ll find that you have all kinds of freedom and time. It’s like a deal you can make with the universe: I’ll give up greed for freedom. Then you can start putting your time to good use.
(David Edwards, “Nothing To Lose But Our Illusions,” The Sun)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Pickle Power!

Today, I am making pickles. The cucumbers are currently soaking in ice and salt with some onions. I've got all of the jars and tubs of water set up and ready to go at 3:00, when they hit the milestone of 3 hours.

Now, I've never made pickles. In fact, I've never canned anything: not jelly, not tomatoes, nothing. However, part of this experience on Orcas Island involves my small fanstasy of homesteading. I have this romantic idea that the best life would be a life lived on a farm that provides just enough for what I would need to live. Then the work that I did would be directly responsible for my life. I like the romanticism of the simplicity involved in that. So, I figure I should at least can something if I want to continue clinging to that fantasy.

So, I've read three different books on the subject, including the Ball Blue Book that Jeff's mom gave me for Christmas. Jeff has at least a semblance of all the right equipment. Also, I have Grandma Murphy's recipe for bread-and-butter pickles, a recipe that my entire extended family goes ga-ga for. It was fun getting the recipe; I got to spend some time catching up with my Aunt Barbara because Grandma wasn't home when I called and then when I called again, she was just walking in the door after picking up my cousin Mary Emma from kindergarten. Mary Emma is actually my cousin's daughter and she goes to the same elementary school that my dad went to. I talked to her a little bit while Grandma looked for the recipe. Oral tradition is a fantastic thing.

However, upon looking at the recipe that Grandma gave me, I totally get why her family likes it: it's got a rediculous amount of sugar! Most recipes for bread-and-butter pickles have anywhere from 2.5 cups of sugar to 4 cups. Grandma puts 5 cups of sugar for 5 pounds of cucumbers. Ack! These should be yummy.

The only thing I'm worried about is that I didn't necessarily have pickling cucumbers. I'm using cucumbers that I've gotten from the local farmers and as gifts. Apparently, if you use salad cucumbers, the skin is too tough. We'll see. I'm not really into conformity anyway. The books' devotion to following the instructions just mean that the books were written by squares, right? Spending the day practicing the motions of canning, while listening to Stevie Wonder's Song From The Key of Life, is enough of a soul experience for me, even if the end product does come out a little funky.

Monday, September 05, 2005

1. I'm not ready to settle down in one place yet.
2. Jeff and I have a better relationship when we're not committed long-term, so we need a natural end-date.
3. Daniel needs a roommate.
4. I've never lived in a city.
5. I think I'm ready to be a student again and I really like the University of Chicago.

These are all valid reasons for why I'm leaving Orcas Island and moving to Chicago. However, I was reminded today of why I am actually moving home: I need to be a part of my family again.

I know, I know. There are all sorts of platitudes to be offered up that say, you'll always be part of your family, no matter where you are and you take your family with you just by being you and unconditional love know no bounds. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's all true, I guess, and comforts those that have no choice but to be separated. But the reality is that my family is a network of relationships and those relationships have continued growing and changing without me since I left. It was true when my dad went away to prison and it was true when David went to Texas and it was true when Paul went to Madison. The rest of us got used to them being gone.

We still loved them, but their absence was accepted as normal after awhile. I don't know if other families are like this, but mine is a group of pragmatists.

This became clear to me today when I talked to my mom for the first time in a couple of weeks. One of the main topics of conversation was the wedding of a woman my age whose family has been close to my family since before both of us were born. Needless to say, I missed the wedding. However, all three of my brothers went, which is a pretty rare and - here's the big deal - two of them brought girlfriends.

Now, I know these girlfriends have existed. But, until this wedding, they had not been introduced to the family at large. Mom had not met them. Now, these girls are officially part of my brothers' lives and, therefore, my family's history and I wasn't there. I'm not part of that chapter of family history. If either one of them breaks up with either of these girls before I get back, I will not have even an image of her in my head to reference when she got brought up at Thanksgiving dinner years hence. I need to go back.

Usually, I miss my family in a generalized way: my life does not feel quite as vibrant or secure without regularly being refreshed by time spent in their company. Today is a much more actively empty day emotionally. Blech.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


You have to see this. I am absolutely organizing a zombie walk once I engage with a community in Chicago.

A description and pictures of the Vancouver Zombie Walk.

Instructions for participation in the Vancouver Zombie Walk. Some extremely funny reminders in here for how to be a good zombie.

By the way, Daniel has found our apartment. It's next door to his current apartment, which is on North California, right next to the Blue Line stop, I think.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Easy Street

Life is very easy here. I've been thinking about how my life will change when I move to Chicago. I've never lived in the city before, so all I have to predict the experience with is the observed experiences of my friends that live in the city and my personal experiences living anywhere other than here on the island.

I forsee spending much more mental energy on appearances. Since there are so many more strangers, the chances of needing to make a good first impression goes way up. Also, in every other place that I lived, I've been pretty particular about my image. "Pretty particular" can actually be translated as "perfectionist." This doesn't mean that I'm the best looking woman in the room. But it does mean that I would have 8-10 pairs of black dress shoes so that I could accomplish whatever image I was going for. I also have a pretty refined sense that different events require different types of outfits. What's appropriate for parent-teacher night is not right for a Sunday afternoon wedding, which is different from a dinner party in the city at a friend's condo.

This is not the case here. Here, I have refined a casual uniform of jeans that fit me perfectly and funky, form-fitting T-shirts. As it cools off, there are layers to add over and under that base outfit. I do have a variety of shoes, but their selection usually has to do with the color of the T-shirt or whther I have to have closed-toed shoes to be in the restaurant rather than the formality of an occasion. I have a couple of "cute" outfits that I wear when I want to look nice but I'm still going for a casual look. These include a couple of short dresses that I wear over jeans and overalls. That's about it for day to day life. And, honestly, there aren't a lot of dress-up occasions. It's been part of the relief of living here that I don't have to fuss over my outfits. As a result, it's fun to get dressed in the morning rather than just another thing to do right and tick off the list of my morning tasks.

However, when I had to read in a wedding a few weeks ago, I was a bit at a loss. I didn't have anything. Also, I had to get dressed at Jeff's house and I keep very little stuff there, so I didn't even have the last vestiges of my suburban clothes to draw from. So, I ended up pulling a top out of the bag that we had just brought home from The Exchange and tying over a dress that I don't wear anymore because it reveals just a little too much of the curve of my tummy. There's no way that would have happened anywhere other than the island. For starters, I did not look the way I like to look in terms of complementing my body shape. When I lost 40 pounds after my divorce, people looked at me in disbelief that I had ever weighed 180 pounds because I dressed it well and complemented and disguised through carefully wardrobe choices. This outfit gives away to my eye the Freshman 15 that I've gained here. Also, I had no shoes that were even close to being appropriate either in color, shape or formality. Finally, the silk top for The Exchange was completely wrinkled and even a little torn on a seam and I had no time to repair or iron it, even if I had an ironing board. Anywhere else, I would have stayed home rather than go out in something wrinkled. I know that when you scroll down to the picture, you'll scoff and declare that it's not actually that bad. And you're probably right. However, technically, in comparison to my standards, the outfit is a disaster.

Image hosted by

Look at the shoes! I'm wearing sport sandals to a Sunday afternoon wedding! I walked up to the front of the church and read scripture at an open podium (not a closed pulpit) in Chacos!

Do you know what? I did not tense one muscle or freak out one emotion. It's Orcas Island. (You've got to shrug a little as you say that, as if it explains everything.) I found it funny because I knew that in other situations, I would be freaking out and probably cry while brushing my hair because it just won't work! (I haven't even talked about how simple my hair was.) And, nobody noticed. Well, Mindy did, but that's only becuase she knows me and we've talked extensively about the transformation that this island is working on me. (Interestingly, she's lived here almost 10 years and still hasn't experienced some of the liberating things I have, so it's a little vicarious on her part to go through these things with me.) She said, "Well, hello, Island Hippy Girl." She knew. But, she also thought it was great. On the island, if you have put on clothing that is characterized as formal (dress, slacks, button-down shirts), then people see you as dressed up, regardless of how unstylish or wrinkled you may be.

I'm really hoping that I can take this attitude with me to the city. Sometimes, I like fashion as a social phenomenon and as an artistic expression of aesthetically pleasing images. However, I also really like simply getting dressed and feeling that not much of the quality of my interactions with other people will be based on the preconceptions that often come with certain images. I mean, there are two reasons that fashionable people impress us. One is that they have successfully achieved a pleasing visual aesthetic and we're genetically programmed to respond well to people who look good. However, the other reason that fashion impresses is that we make a connection in our minds that if a person can be receptive to the new ideas that are fashion trends and understand that one specific way in which the world changes, then they also probably understand other new ideas in all sorts of fields, which means that they probably know as much or even more than we ourselves do. We tend to respect people that subtly demonstrate higher intelligence.

Can you blame me for not wanting to jump back into those expectations?

Friday, September 02, 2005


Sometimes, I'm into current events. When I began commuting during my student teaching, I fell in love with NPR on my car radio and never looked back. I'll admit that my listening dropped off some when Bush was elected because his pronunciation of the word, "America," particularly grated on my nerves. However, I held on and kept myself abreast of the news somewhat for my own sake, and somewhat for the sake of my students, especially my speech kids. However, my consumption of current events is entirely audial. Although I watched the television the morning of September 11, I did not turn it on again after that, so my memories and experiences are a little different from most Americans in that the iconic images are not etched into my brain. I can picture one or two terrible images that struck me so hard when I first saw them that I will never forget them, but the filter that chose those images for my memory was the random one of "breaking news." I know, though, that it is momumentally important that I do have those images in my head. That kind of destruction is literally impossible to imagine without visual aid. It is just like how I believe that it is essential to shows students pictures of the piles of possessions that Jews brought with them to the concentration camps to help them really ken, grok, personalize and empathize with the vastness of that atrocity.

However, since moving to Orcas, I have lived very insulated from the goings-on of the rest of the world. The mind-set that is a result of living detached from the world geographically very easily allows one to detache emotionally as well. Also, I came here to focus inward on my own healing. Another major cause of my hobbitting is that my car radio broke almost simultaneous to my arrival. Since watching TV news and reading the newspaper are totally outside of my preferences for experiences, I do not have a medium for the information to enter my sphere of attention. Big news, like the re-election of Bush or the New Year's day tsunami or the hurricane in New Orleans and some of it's aftermath filter through to me, though. And, on Wednesday night, I did watch some TV footage of the devastation in New Orleans because I was watching TV with Harreld, who grew up there and whose family is still there.

I have to admit, though, that as huge as the devastation is, I'm still not ready to personalize and empathize with the people who feel like their lives are ruined because of it. I'm not sure why that is, but I do know that the same feeling occurred with the tsunami. Every time new numbers of a death total were announced, I couldn't help but think that 24,000 people die of hunger every day, so more people will die every week of hunger than died in one disaster that captured our collective imagination and gave us the heebie-jeebies because no amount of being a good person or even a finacially successful person would keep us from being among that total if we were in the wrong place and the wrong time.

So, I guess I'm still detached. Some of that is a choice. I do spend much of my energy making choices and creating habits that contribute to the effort to make the world a better place, especially on a small, personal, community scale. If we believe, as Mother Theresa does, that "we can do no great things, only small things with great love," then I am not a monster for not grieving for New Orleans. Bad things happen to good people. I've come to terms with God on that account. He tells me to let Him deal with that unfairness and that I should focus on me not doing bad things to any people.

I did read a really well-written and insightful blog on the subject and I recommend taking a look at it. I'm not quite sure how to take you there directly to the entry but this will get you close. It is entitled "NO" and was written today, September 2, 2005.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Retro cool

I'm feeling a little empty today. I can't give you a specific reason why. Some days are just harder than others. Tuesday, I was not feeling empty; in fact, I felt quite good and when it occurred to me that the two-year anniversary of my divorce had come and gone without my noticing it and without any subconscious distress manifesting itself as general crabbiness, I simply needed to give that milestone a quiet smile. Yesterday was fine and normal. But today, I miss my husband. So goes it.

So, although I have blog topics lining up, the emptiness makes it difficult to write much that's insightful.

However, this morning I had a meeting with local T-shirt magnate, Andrew Y. and finalized both the design and the amount to make a run of T-shirts for The Exchange. I'm pleased with this, because I came up with the design. Some of you know that I struggle with viewing myself as an artist because I'm a terrible draw-er. I did, in fact, draw a design that was approved by committee. However, my priority in design was to make a T-shirt with a logo that hipsters in Chicago and Seattle would wear even if they had no idea what The Exchange was. I also wanted to incorporate the letters on the side of the main building that identify The Exchange. My hand-drawn image looked to childish in my head to be cool. So, I discarded it and started looking for retro images in the books that come in by the truckload to find something that was appropriate, since images from the Golden Age of American Marketing are so appealing right now. I had tinkered with Hawaiian imagery but got booed down for that. And voila! In a Golden Book of Knowledge from 1962 on energy, I found the perfect images of the classic things that come into The Exchange. The only thing missing is clothing but we don't like to play that up; it just leads to more boxes of garbage clothes, you know, drowned in cat piss, moth eaten, baby spit-up-upon if people think we're desperate for an object. As it is, there has been concern expressed that there is a picture of a lawn mower, which is a problem item for us. I reassure them that the community won't take the T-shirt for hard and fast policy. Sometimes a design is just a design.

So, this is it, roughly. I'm not sure why this version has a green background and we decided to do the image in white, with the letters of The Exchange and the box around Orcas Island done in red. We tried it on a variety of backgrounds and it looks good.

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