A: Season 1 of Golden Girls was only $13 at Target!

K: aaand this is why God put us together.

A: That and scrabble.

August 10, 2009

San Francisco, California
In a coffee shop at Irving and 7th, 11:30 a.m.

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“I awoke to city sounds — gardeners cutting plants next door, the N-Train halting and moving on, people calling to one another across the street, cars honking, sirens. I thought I was living in L.A. again for a few seconds, until I realized I was lying on a green sueded couch, and the sun shone through the old-fashioned windows. Leah had already left for work. I heard her heels against the long, wood hallway, softening out the door and down the steps in my half-sleep earlier that morning. It felt so good to roll over and bury my feet deeper in the pocket I’d created at the bottom of the blanket. Upon waking two hours later, I was tempted to check my work email. I felt OK about checking it last night because it was still the weekend — not officially my vacation time. Upon looking at the eagle stamp icon at the bottom of my Macbook, I felt a tightness inside. I closed the top of the laptop. Perhaps I was right — perhaps this vacation is much more necessary than I previously thought. So, I wasted some time on Facebook. I texted with some friends and accepted road trip music advice from the most qualified expert I know — my roommate Kat. I showered. I called a friend and gave him the advice he’d solicited while I put on my makeup, sitting on a large pillow in front of Leah’s mirrored closet door. I packed a purse, locked the door, and two blocks later got my feet newly pedicured. Now there’s an iced coffee and a cranberry scone sitting before me, gradually disappearing. My handwriting is messy, the breeze through the open door moves my feather earrings against my face.

“A second ago the man next to me looked as if he would say something. He had a book entitled The Infinite Jest in front of him. He caught me eavesdropping with my eyes. When he stood up, I wanted to say, “You’re going to leave without even saying hello?” but I didn’t and just watched his muscular calves walk out the door. The girl outside the window saw me watching, and she smiled at me. I smiled back. I liked having this joke with her. I am thinking about how life is a series of decisions. I am thinking about doorways and windows and how that man was probably watching what I wrote. He glanced up when I turned the page. I was aware of his eyes — eavesdropping, as mine would, later.

“I love it when I put too much cream in my iced coffee. It is a bitter, smooth milkshake.

“I am thinking about how Leah wouldn’t be in my life without having gone to college. I am thinking about my other friend who may move to Southern California — a friend I’ve had most of my life and how I’m afraid to think too much about her moving here because I will cry from happiness. She’s almost family to me. It would be so good to have that familiarity — so good to show her my world.

Outside the DeYoung Museum, 2:15 p.m.

“A lady walked by and told me, ‘There’s some panthers in the bushes.’ She’s pointing at a tiny rhubarb-ish colony of bushes in the middle of a concrete pond. All I see are lily pads, fish, and water lilies.

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“It is a day for sitting and listening, a day for noticing shapes and textures, a day for examining face and expressions, and for finding new ones. I am tempted to go see the King Tut exhibit — a re-visitation of legacy and things passed away, indeed, something to behold. I was tempted to face a fear and go to the natural science museum, to gaze into the faces of dead things on display, their fur preserved for the speculation of the viewer. But today is a day for being here, for capturing moments as they happen, for absorbing the present instead of inquiring about the past.

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“A baby strapped in a carrier against her dad’s chest moves by and points at me. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. She wears a pink dress, and her feet just hang there, over the safety straps. She says something which cannot be translated, a noise of wanting without articulation. She knows what she means, and we don’t. Maybe she sees those panthers in the bushes. ”

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July 31: On Family Reunions

Twelve years ago we went to the same place, in our small family camper, laden with snacks and beach towels and Alan and me in the back, sprawled among books and card games and his guitar. I can’t remember if we brought the dogs? I don’t believe we brought the dogs — I don’t remember the smell of their breath or them jumping up on the seat to poke holes in my papers with their claws. I wonder what my parents thought of me then, two blue eyes hidden behind glasses, the oversized Christian band T-shirts, the face covered by an open book, or the wordless mouth as she silently scraped a pen across paper. It’s funny the things I remember from childhood… I don’t remember that exact trip per se, but I do remember a series of trips, a mashing of all those summer road trips in the back of that camper, at least ten years’ worth of that humid, enclosed smell, the sand ground between the yarns of the brown carpeting, the hollow click of those cupboards locking shut, or how the side camper door always popped open two blocks into the drive.

August 4, 2009: On My Brother

Last week my brother texted me for the first time in the history of The Order of the Clipperton Siblinghood. “Is your guitar in St. James?” he wrote, which may seem unremarkable, but this is not the first guitar under my possession after which my brother has innocently inquired and quietly stolen. The last was my bass guitar, which is now rumored to be “doing church work among the needy.” I told him, “My guitar is in California, WITH ME,” and then I told him he’d have to come get it. He lives in South Dakota. Sometimes I am perplexed why we find one another so funny. For example, on Sunday, excited at this new prospect of my older brother finally setting aside his cravat and knickers and stepping those wooden shoes into the 21st Century (a few weeks ago he got a Facebook, A FACEBOOK! And now he’s painstakingly typing out text messages — TEXT MESSAGES — with his sadly uncoordinated thumbs), I sent him a text mentioning the man I have chosen as my future husband, a man I have spoken to a minuscule amount of times, but love telling my brother about because it’s funny to play with his protectiveness. I texted my brother, in all the glorious and silly ridiculousness, and I will not say what I said, except that my brother replied, “I will throw a hot dog at him.” I do not know what possessed my brother to make this promise. I do not know why he thought it was so funny. I do not know why I laughed so heartily, where I lay poolside, startling the lady next to me out of her magazine. He will throw a hot dog at the object of my Google searches, and oh yeah, the object of my undying affection, yeah, that too… Once my brother bought me a Hootie and the Blowfish CD at a pawn shop for no reason. And when I was, like, 12, he sold me a Michael W. Smith CD for 50-cents. Then in high school, one night when we were driving home from youth group, he told me I was good-looking. We were in a band together, a little coffee shop ensemble, and we thought we were very important. People came to drink coffee and hear our songs, mostly out of support, no doubt. But what was really important about all of it was all that time we spent together, melodizing, writing those lyrics, making lists and singing the same songs over and over again, fighting over when to hold practices, him pushing me to learn the bass, all that. Without ever saying it, he taught me that I deserved to be heard. I deserved to find someone who considered me in pertinent decisions, who made me laugh, and listened to me stumble over notes and chords. And who would patiently endure a hot dog ambush.

August 5, 2009: On Communion

I am thinking about the sweetness of the grape juice, and that moment after the pastor had blessed the sacrament, and all the people reached over to put the cups in the little circle holders on the back of the pew. The plastic made a clickety sound in waves throughout the sanctuary, after all the reverence was over.

This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but right now I’m having a hard time with the idea of being away from work next week while I’m on vacation. I mean, I’m so excited about the vacation, but there’s this part of me that wants to be in the office, so I can be in on all the exciting things that are happening, and so I can, you know, WORK.

What?

The thing about it is, I know this vacation is necessary. I know that the pace at which I’ve been working isn’t healthy, even though achieving things gives me such a high that I will never have to fear a drug addiction. Forcing myself to get away for a while will only recharge my batteries, batteries which are probably dying without my even noticing, because I’ve been, well, working. Because I love my job. This past week, my co-worker and friend LR and I have been talking about burn-out and what that looks like for people who work in the nonprofit industry. It probably creeps up on people pretty quickly. Nonprofit employees are typically understaffed, overworked, and so passionate about their cause, so focused on it, that they just keep pushing through the brain’s red flags. Two evenings this week I have come home and taken 2-hour naps. I just fell asleep, right there, no warning, boom. “I don’t know why I’ve been so tired lately,” I told LR yesterday. “It’s because you’ve been working like a crazy person,” she said. I think that’s my body telling me it’s time… YOU NEED A BREAK. The tasks at hand will wait until you get back. Just go. Just go.

The other thing is that I’m sad to miss the Wednesday night group I’ve been attending. I’m not sure what to call it… it’s like a Christian support group where we get together and talk and grow in community and worship and study the Bible and pray and stuff. I love the people here. It’s such an eclectic group. It’s been such a blessing to be part of it. I’m also sad about missing church. I am sad about leaving my roommates for a while and putting my growing friendships on hold. I know it’s only a week, but I’m just really loving life right now. I want to bask in it while it lasts. And I am sad about not being able to work on my tan much this weekend. Yeah, you heard me: TAN. Who knew it was even possible for this Minnesota girl to get a tan?

At the same time, I get to see Best Friend L tomorrow and the fam soon after. It will be awesome: A welcome break. I won’t entirely be able to put work and Southern California behind me, though, until I get on that plane to San Francisco tomorrow.