Love counts for a lot.

ma·te·ri·al·ist [muh-teer-ee-uh-list] 
a person who is markedly more concerned with material things than with spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
an adherent of philosophical materialism.
concerned with material things; materialistic.
of or pertaining to philosophical materialism or its adherents.

On the one hand, I don’t believe myself to be “more concerned with material things” than I am with non-material values. On the other hand, I frequently do find myself concerned with material things.

So I’m not *a* materialist, but I have materialist tendencies?

It’s something I’ve been mulling over. For the last year or more, I’ve kept William Morris’ words in my head, especially when I go through “spring cleaning” modes– “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” (The Beauty of Life)– and Noah’s going through this extreme minimalism phase where he attempts to own as close to nothing as possible… but I still hold on to things that are neither useful nor beautiful.

Sometimes, it’s just laziness. Like the cup full of pens that I have moved seven times since 2004, even though said pens dried up around 2005. 

But most times, it’s sentimentality. Like the ‘30s- and ‘40s-era watches my grandmother used to own. They aren’t particularly beautiful (except for one) and the wrist straps are worn and frayed (and a little too big), and while all of them still wind up, none of them keep time accurately. I’ve made the excuse that one day, I’ll go to a watchmaker and get them all fixed, but I know in my heart that I’m not holding on to them because of the plan to eventually make them useful again. They could be completely beyond repair, and still I’d take them everywhere with me. 

I love them simply because once upon a time, they used to belong to someone I loved, someone who loved me. I like to make up little stories about them– maybe she was wearing this watch when she met my grandfather, or when they went on their first date, or when they had their first kiss, or when she realized she was in love with him, or when he asked her to marry him. Maybe she used to wear that watch while she prepared dinner– did she check it to see how much longer it would be before my grandfather would return home?– or when my mom was a little girl and they walked hand in hand while crossing the street.

It doesn’t matter if the stories are true, or even close to true. They aren’t really the point, which is– all the watches in the world, and my grandmother chose to own and wear these ones. And I can’t ever remember her wearing them while I was growing up, so she also chose to hold on them– long after they’d stopped working, surely– and keep them safely stowed away. She must have cared about them. And that’s why I keep them near me. Not because they are beautiful, not because they are (or have potential to be) useful, but because they are hers and because she is gone and because I can’t be near her anymore.

Anyway. I’ve lately found more ease in applying the Viridian Design Movement to my life, which recommends one have in one’s life only:

  1. Beautiful things.
  2. Emotionally important things.
  3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.

Which is basically just a modification of Morris’ wisdom so as to read: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful, or feel to be emotionally important.”

But what this all really boils down to is: I wonder, years and years down the road, will there be someone who loves me enough to cling stubbornly to some small and random trinket just because it was mine?

(I really hope it’s not a pen cup.)

Heirlooms. They don’t always exist because they’re worth a lot of money. 


Clarification on Item No. 1

1. I'm living in San Francisco

It took about ten minutes of typing and backspacing and typing and highlight-deleting to get that line out. At first, I put off writing about this in any form because I figured my family would like to know that I was moving away from Las Vegas first, but then that obstacle was hurdled, and still nothing. Nothing here, nothing documented. Before this most recent ten-minute fight to write a five-word list item, I’d written no fewer than three posts about the move, and I deleted all of them.

Even now. Even now, 90% of what gets typed, gets cut. I’d honestly rather this post not exist at all, as though by not stating that I live in SF, it isn’t really a fact. And, yes: People move all the time! What’s the big deal? I don’t know, exactly, but strangely enough, it is a big deal for me and I’ve been having trouble swallowing the fact that this is where I live, now. Now, not forever; the truth in that is a small consolation.

I’m not unhappy here, the allergic reaction to the apartment aside. There are Friends and Places to Visit and Things to See and Do! up here, and that’s exciting and fun and interesting. We live by the parks so we’re close– really close– to the museums and the buffalo and a big Dutch windmill and a public track and even the coast; the first day I got in, three of us biked from the apartment to the beach and it was such a quick, easy ride. There are buses that go straight from our street to the Mission and downtown and basically just all over the City, which is convenient. (There are also lots and lots of things that are not exciting or fun or interesting or convenient, but I’ve been trying to stay upbeat about the move, so there’ll be none of that in this post.)

I’m not unhappy. I’m not. But I’m not happy, either– not yet, at least. I feel like I’m living in an extended vacation rental and am thus reluctant to put my clothes away or develop any real attachments, to either the apartment or the surrounding neighborhood. I feel uprooted and untethered– and a bit detached, as though I’m reading a book about a girl who’s just moved to the City, and I’m turning the pages waiting for significant plot development but instead she’s just turning into a ho-hum drab filler character.

It’s my own doing, of course; Noah didn’t ask me– he gave up hope some time ago that I would ever move here. Clearly I chose to do this because *some* part of me wanted it, but now that I have it, I’m panicking. This isn’t home! None of this feels like home. And not-home is fine and dandy for visiting because at some point you always get to return home, but when you’re in the middle of not-home and the only place to return is more not-home? It leaves one at a loss, when one is me. It leaves one wondering why this was so desirable in the first place and what prompted a willing departure from the home it took so long to find in the first place.

After all, home is more than just the place you hang your hat. I’ve been to a lot of cities, even stayed in a number of them for a good period of time– but as much as I enjoyed them, they were never a “home” because home was simply the place where I ultimately looked forward to returning. But people can be homes, too, and so what’s happened is that I’ve moved away from my place-home to be with my person-home. Because that’s how Noah is for me. As much as I enjoy other people’s company, as much as I enjoy the occasions when I’m on my own– when the socializing and solitude have come to an end… with Noah is where I want to be.

And for now, that’s enough.

You can teach this dog new tricks, but damned if I can unlearn the old ones

I was (half-) joking with someone a few months ago about how I have a chameleon lifestyle, in that when I’m around normal people, I adopt normal-people living habits, mainly in terms of eating and sleeping. I eat meals, actual meals, at their respective socially-acceptable times, and I fall asleep and wake at (relatively) normal hours, and I do it like I’ve been doing it my whole life without pause and I’ve known no other way of existence.

I did this every time I went to D.C. (with the exception of eating breakfast; I think I might have skipped breakfast most days) and Austin, but then as soon as I came back home, left to my own devices, I immediately fell back into abnormal existence, where the literal breakfast (literal as in, the breaking of a fast, or the first meal of the day) wasn’t until 10-14 hours after having woken up, and probably god couldn’t even tell when that was going to be because there wasn’t a whole lot of waking up going on, mostly because there wasn’t a whole lot of falling asleep going on, what with the whole habit of not-sleeping or not-going-to-bed-until-dawn and so on.

But since mid-November, with the exception of eleven days (which constituted study and finals weeks, so even the normal people weren’t living normal hours), I’ve been co-habitating with a normal person, either here in Vegas or up in the Bay. That’s two-and-a-half months of normal living. Dude. That’s a really long time. To the point where earlier this week, the fact that we’d stayed up until 1 or 2 a.m. the night before was commented upon and I was asked if I keep those kinds of hours when I’m in Las Vegas, and I blinked and said, no, actually, it’s usually later when I’m at home, and I’ve been getting the most sleep I’ve had in a long time while I’ve been in Oakland. And as the words were leaving my mouth, my brain was thinking, is this right? are you sure you’re not exaggerating? because this feels like a lie.

Except, I got home tonight, right? No, that’s wrong, I’m sorry, it was yesterday because now it’s already Saturday and it’s been Saturday, technically, for well over five hours already; but since having arrived home, I’ve been unpacking and cleaning and organizing and cleaning more and fixing this and that and making list after list of Things That Need to Get Done and efficiently checking items off those lists, and yes, I’m still wired. Wired. For no reason other than– or so it would seem– I’ve reverted to solo mode. Two-and-a-half months of a sane, normal life, and my first day alone and I’m back to manic insomnia, and so easily, so fluidly, like I’ve been doing it my whole life without pause and I’ve known no other way of existence.

I can’t even sigh over this, I’m so accustomed to it– but there’s some reassurance in knowing I can still shrug over it. Nothing like a hearty shrug of good-natured exasperation. And anyway, at least I don’t work at a machine shop.

As soon as I turn out the lights, though, the facade will be ruined.

I have this theory, that if I’m asleep before the sun rises, it doesn’t count.

I don’t know what that means, either. I just know that’s the theory. It doesn’t count. Even if I fall asleep ten minutes before the sunrise and wake up ten minutes after the sky is fully lit. Doesn’t count! Or if I fall asleep at a less indecent time and wake up before the sunrise and am thus awake to watch the sun rise– that, too, doesn’t count. But if I haven’t gone to sleep yet and the sun starts to rise, then I lose. I lose and my day is sort of ruined (though it can often be salvaged if I just keep on not-sleeping until the following evening).

Last week was a difficult week and it’s been a packed and vaguely difficult (though for the most part, enjoyable) weekend and I have two midterms on Monday, so I’d really prefer to not have a crap Sunday today. But the fact of the matter is, it’s past 6 a.m. already and– no sleep. I have the blinds and curtains drawn and I’m trying to avoid making eye contact with my east-facing bedroom windows in stubborn defiance of the fact that dawn broke over that line of mountains about half-an-hour ago. And the only thought guiding me right now is that I would marry Kai Ryssdal’s voice. And/or his name. Plus, this is the time of day I love NPR the best: BBC World Service as it carries over to Morning (or Weekend) Edition.

Yeah, I’m pretty screwed.

Broken hearts can only end in irrational self-imposed ultimatums

I won’t go into the details because 1) I’m writing this on a phone and as nice as qwerty keypads are, I still don’t enjoy writing lengthy missives from them, and 2) I can’t handle the details right now, anymore. I’ve spent the entire morning– we’re talking the last seven hours, what with time zones– in tears. For once I’m grateful for the existence of Starbucks because I’ve been taking stashes upon stashes  of napkins from their kiosks.

But the short version is, these past two months, I’ve been struggling with the idea of giving up dance, and the thought alone of walking away from this absolutely breaks my heart. Last weekend, I came so close to closing that door and locking it for good that I spent an hour at SFO sobbing either in solitary corners at the gates or in the bathrooms. The reasons I have for giving it up are both valid and not-quite-valid, but either way, they are reasons and they are mine and their mere existence hurts me more than I can put into words.

Very closely related to, or even tied to, this is my recently developed relationship with Washington D.C. I’ve written a little, or maybe a lot depending on what you’ve been reading, about how in love with D.C. I’ve been since the first moment I ever landed at Reagan National back in August. About how conflicted I’ve been over the sense of home that D.C. provides me when I already have a home, a happy home with a thriving home life, back in Vegas.

Again, I won’t detail pages of backstory, but the culmination is: I can’t get home today. And it could very well be an isolated crisis– I’ve gotten home with no issues all the other times– but as of this very moment, I’m stranded in Chicago thanks to weathers and mechanicals and canceled flights that have created a sudden and enormous flux of people trying to go west. I can’t even get to a city in my own time zone. It’s far from ideal, not being home today, possibly not being able to get home tomorrow (there are literally multiple hundreds of other stranded people also trying to get west on flights that are oversold to begin with), but it’s survivable– but this isn’t something I can chance happening again. So on top of being heartbroken this morning over leaving D.C. and probably not being able to go back there until November, if even then, now I’m suddenly facing the question of whether this is worth it, worth the consequences of not being home in time should I get stuck on the other side of the country again.

I love D.C. I never meant to, didn’t expect to; but what’s maybe even more surprising is that D.C. loves me back. I feel it every minute I’m there. It’s not a perfect city, but I’m not a perfect person, and I’ve said all along that I love Las Vegas for *its* imperfections anyway. Vegas loves me, too, but Vegas was a home that gradually and inconspicuously grew to be such for me, whereas with D.C., the recognition was startling and instantaneous. But the point is, there’s love and a sense of home in D.C. And the reason I’m making this point is because I want to clarify what it is I would be losing if I decided to stop making trips out there.

I’m attached enough as it is, and it’s only been three weekends total. On Saturday, I was thinking about all the parts of D.C. I still want to see and explore, all the surrounding areas I still want to visit, and the number of weekends it would take to do all those things is soberingly– not impossible, but certainly impractical. The more time I spend in D.C., the deeper my attachments to it grow, and the more I hate having to leave. And I just keep thinking, love isn’t supposed to be this hard. Yes, love is about work and compromise and sacrifice, but it shouldn’t be *this* hard. And I don’t believe in the idea of "one" love, one real and true and great love, so it’s not like I can make that excuse to myself, that I’m meant to be in D.C., that I will never find another place that appeals to and embraces me the way D.C. does. On top of which, if I’m going to go the "meant to be" route and throw in flighty ideas of fate and predestination, wouldn’t there be an argument to be made along the lines of, if it’s meant to be, in two years when I’m done with my civil program, D.C. will still be around, will still welcome me with open arms? Or in two years, the dance scene will still be going strong and I’ll fall back into it like I never left. If it’s meant to be.

Except even then. Even in two years. I can’t leave Vegas. How can I leave? My life is there. I wanted a career there. I wanted to fix it, to save it. How could I abandon that desert, that place that has forgiven me time and time again all my failures and flaws and infidelities? I don’t enjoy not being there. Despite the happiness and fulfillment bracketed within the various destinations for which I’ve left Vegas weekend after weekend these past two months, I don’t enjoy leaving home.

I don’t know what I’ll end up deciding. I have four weeks to really think about things, to think about what I’m willing to sacrifice and to make charts and graphs detailing cost-benefit equations. Four weeks to think about the possible directions my life will go after my birthday passes at the end of December. Though of course all I really want is to make a decision now and be done with it– only, I know I would choose to give up. No more, I don’t want to go through this struggle anymore, I don’t want to feel this ache of missing and wanting anymore. I’d rather have nothing, have a peaceful life of calm neutrality. I spent ten years of my life– if not more– stuck on the roller coaster ride of following and living with wild and unmetered passion, experiencing the most thrilling of summits only to be hanging on for dear life through the plunges that inevitably followed. I’ve had more or less three years of peace since having lost that kind of passion, and admittedly, I’ve missed the euphoric moments, but my god, I’ve not missed the price at which they came one bit.

It all boils down to, is it worth the fight? And more importantly: do I even have the strength to keep fighting for it?

It’s also ridiculous how a pair of heels would have made me feel so much more elegant right now.

I’ve retreated insanely far into myself, which means my brain is freaking out. I booked it to the gate even though I was early and there was absolutely no need to do so, which means I was a bit breathless and flushed and hot for 20 minutes after I sat down, which made me feel ridiculous. I’m wearing a semi-casual dress but with ballet flats instead of heels, which means I feel dowdy and frumpy.

And I know that things will be okay this weekend and will start looking up once I land at SFO and that everything I’m worried about will turn out to be irrelevant, but as of right now, I’m still at McCarran and am steeling myself to follow through, to not give in to this weird knot of anticipation and anxiety that’s formed in my stomach and to not throw in the towel right now and just go home.

Commit. Commit commit commit.

[Edit @ 4:30 p.m.: So Worry #1 actually happened and I won’t make it out of Las Vegas now until 6 p.m. And I’m still alive and the world didn’t implode and did I mention I’m still alive? Miracles, man. I’m recharging the laptop at the little Verizon-sponsored Recharge! Zone, or whatever this is called, and I just finished my online PoliSci quiz. AND I remembered I had lotion in my suitcase, so I’m no longer ashy. Still feeling a little frumpy from the no-heels thing, but whatever. (Also: not only are these new ballet flats, which means they haven’t been broken in, but they’re ballet flats bought specifically for the purpose of dancing, which means they’re currently a half-size too small. Because all the shoes I wear for dance get stretched out a half-size by the time they’re broken in, and loose ballet flats + Charleston = flying shoe missles. Point being, there is much metatarsal discontent right now.) Things are okay. It’s going to be a grand weekend, a gorgefest of dance in one of my favorite cities of all time. Yes.]

This post is The Wife™ authorized and sponsored

My roommate’s been having a dilemma, and we’ve been talking about it at length tonight: How do you tell someone that the friendship is over, that the friendship, to be gut-wrenchingly honest, had in fact dissolved some time ago? We debated that silence should be enough; she hasn’t written back to the first e-mail, and she has no plans on responding to the second. She thinks that should be a pretty clear-cut message, but someone else voiced the opinion that she should at least write back for closure, write back and say, look, I know we used to be close and I’m grateful for all the good times we shared, but that closeness is long gone, I’m done, I don’t want to play this game anymore, if you ever find yourself desperately needing my help in something important then don’t hesitate in calling me, but otherwise please don’t contact me from here on out.

We decided there should be some sort of official, issuable notice that she could send out. Like:

**** NOTICE ****

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of   [name here]  (here on referred to as "the Party"), this is a final notice to inform you that your services of friendship, or any similiar guise thereof, are no longer required or requested. From this point forward, please refrain from initiating or maintaining any form of communication with the Party, including attempts to request explanations as to why or how the previously established friendship with the Party came to a dissolution. While the Party’s silence may have been misinterpreted by you thus far as failure on the Party’s behalf to receive your calls, e-mails, texts, et cetera, in no way is this the case. It is in the quiet and sincere hope of the Party that you accept this termination of acquantainceship without question. Please be aware that any further endeavors by you to reach the Party will result in an issuance of a Cease and Desist order.

Best regards,

Co. & Co.

Yes, we can both be passive, non-confrontational pansies. But we also strive to avoid drama at all costs. There are worse faults we could have. And besides, our kitchen skills more than make up for this.

A post to inspire me to post more frequently just to get this one off the front page, no doubt

It’s coming on three years, soon, since I started to get better. That’s not what this post is about, though, me being sick or unwell or anything like that. I only mentioned it because I just looked at my wall calendar and realized what time of year it was. And also because it’s a little bit related.

I’ve had a ridiculous amount of luck in my life. That’s all it can be called, really: luck. It’s nothing I earned or deserved, unless you believe in karma and reincarnation, in which case I must have been a mind-blowingly wonderful person the last time around. Regardless, I’ve– I’ve had a lucky life. In all situations: social, professional, personal, academic. There have been times– too many for me to count– where things have been headed toward something really ugly or unpleasant (or, god forbid, hard), and I’ve managed to cut out early. Pull a Felix-the-cat, conjuring up magic holes that provided me an escape route. I’ve fallen, but not crashed (with the exception of instances related to the first paragraph).

But this time, for the first time that I can consciously recall, I’m headed for sudden impact. Engines ablaze, trails of smoke, no parachute– that whole deal. Except the analogy’s slightly wrong, it’s too fast-paced and noisy and obvious: more like a ship sinking in the middle of the ocean in winter, then. That slow, quiet, subdued descent toward confirmed doom. There will be no magical escape, no deus ex machina, no savior ship miraculously passing by just in the nick of time. It’s not "sink or swim"; sinking is not an option. There will be sinking, and, oh, that water’s going to be cold and it’ll hurt like a motherfucker. But there is, at least, hope. It’s possible for it to be "sink then swim". It just depends on whether I’m still able to swim, after. Whether I’ll remember how, amidst all the chaos and unhappiness. I’m strong, I know, or at least stronger than you might think. I’ve pulled myself through and steeled myself against quite a lot. By December, this will be nothing but a whisper of a memory. I’ll get by.

It was a good night, that.

It was just three of us in the car, impulsively driving north and farther north, away from the neon streets and the bright city lights. Driving through darkness with no finite destination, and then "Dreamgirl" started to play. I’d never heard the song before, but she turned around from the front seat and performed an inconspicuous duet with Dave Matthews for me. I watched her and smiled, cozy and curled up in the back, my heart still full of that silly and wonderful love, that love so pure and harmless a person can’t really be faulted for wanting to keep it for always and ever.

I heard the song again tonight, the first time since. So much has changed now, but without missing a beat I remembered. I remembered that night, I remembered that drive, I remembered that joy. How could I have known, then? How could I have anticipated I would be where I am, who I am today? And sometimes, it feels like just that: driving through darkness, trying to escape the chaos. Truth be told, we had a vague idea of where we wanted to end up and an even vaguer idea of how to get there, but we made a lot of wrong turns and detours and did a lot of second-guessing along the way. All the same: we eventually got to exactly where we wanted to be, and it was everything I’d hoped for and more. And I might not be the passenger this time, but I have hopes for a repeat success. If nothing else, I still have a heart full of love.

Night shifts give you a lot of time to feel bad about yourself

I can’t fix the global food crisis.

I can’t make this country’s economy stop making it so hard for so many of its citizens to even just get through the day.

I can’t change the constantly rising price of fuel, which affects so much more than a person’s daily commute.

But after I woke up this afternoon, I went out on the balcony and saw that a couple of the neighbors’ recycling bins had blown all the way down into an empty corner lot, so I went outside and rescued them all from the wind and rain, stacked them neatly somewhere visible where they couldn’t topple over and get scattered again– and for a few seconds, I felt like an okay human being.

Still. *Still*.