Sunday, Monday, Cranky Days?

I hate the title of this post. It reminds me of the NY Times Sunday crossword when they put a question mark next to a clue, as if the puzzle master doesn’t know the answer to the clue he’s written.(I say he because I know the puzzle master at the NY Times is in fact, a he. I wouldn’t generalize that way). I mean come on, if you wrote the puzzle, please come up with a reasonable clue.

Anyway, I’ve decided it’s ok to be cranky. Sometimes. Well, at least today. I spend so much of my time obsessed with being happy that I forget to be myself; and in the constant search for happiness, it remains elusive. Within reason, I will allow myself to just feel–to just be–less than perfect. I know there is no particular reason for me to be cranky. I have a warm home, a sweet little family, a job I love, and access to most everything. When I’m hungry, I eat; and not just whatever, but whatever I feel like eating. When I’m sad, I have friends to call and a husband to hug. When I’m tired, a fluffy bed to fall into.

But things and comforts don’t always equal happy. They probably shouldn’t. SO many things equal happy, and most of all, I think, it’s just a decision. Sometimes I make the right decision, and sometimes I don’t. For now, I’ll be sitting here, drinking my coffee with a scowl.

Throwback…Monday

I’m drawn to those Throwback Thursday posts people put on Facebook, but I’m certainly not organized enough to have a photo ready to post from three weeks ago, let alone three years–so I never participate.  As far as writing is concerned, though, I have a small catalogue of pieces that are easily located, and today I thought I’d dig one  up. I’m not going to wait until Thursday to post it though, so, Throwback Monday it is:

July 3, 2012

I don’t think I love anything more than sticky, sweet, summer rain. (Hyperbole alert: there are clearly things I love more than summer rain, my family, my husband, the cat, etc.) But is there anything so sudden or transformative as a summer shower? I got stuck in an instant downpour this morning. Walking home from my morning at the coffee house, the sky went from drizzle to drench in a nanosecond. As I struggled to open my flimsy umbrella, I worried I would get cold, miserable, and sick before it would properly protect me from the deluge. But how easily did I forget!? A summer storm is nothing but wet—harmless. It’s a beautiful thing though, isn’t it? Rain changes my hair from wavy to instant curl, and the tomato plants from shriveled to strong. The grass and trees seem to breathe more easily as drops make them greener, and the earth is peaceful when you hear a newly created “creek” flowing through a gutter or below the curb. The thing about summer rain is, as quickly as it’s there, it’s gone; But the spongy, peaceful feeling it creates lasts long enough for one to realize you were in the middle of something both mundane and miraculous.

Lipstick

Wear lipstick

to bed
while drinking coffee
because you have it with you

because it’s firehouse red
or tangerine gleam
because your lips are chapped

because you want to feel beautiful
because you are beautiful
…just, because.

Snow Day

20140121_130835-SNOW

There is almost nothing that makes us STOP. We are always working, cleaning, exercising, grocery shopping, meeting with friends, and the list goes on and on. Life never stops. Except sometimes, when there’s snow. Cold, white, flaky, glorious. Snow.

On the one hand, snow days seem ridiculous. How, in 2014, do we stop for something so small? How have we not found a way to control this? Unwieldy, unpredictable, icy, wet. Snow.

On the other, I think it’s because we have to stop. There must be something to make us slow down and stay home–to try to conceive of a day without limits. After all, that’s what a snow day is. Snow days are a possibility. We relax, we see family, we wear our pajamas, we take a walk with no destination. We write, we read, we catch up.

Snow is as good a reason as any to stop, to reflect, to be who you want to be. Right in the middle of life. I’m taking it as a sign, to make my days what I want them to be, whether or not there’s snow. Clean, quiet, limitless, marvelous. Snow.

Ode to a Run

Inspiration for this post came to me last week…during a run, of course. I hemmed and hawed about whether to impose some sort of form or style on my poetry. Instead, I’ll call it free verse. (Though a quick scour of Wikipedia reveals that free verse is not meant to be entirely free–it’s complicated, look it up yourself).

Here’s my Ode to a Run–officially, but unofficially, I just mean it to be an Ode to a (Choose Your own Adventure). I think the language makes it flexible:

Ode to a Run

Running might just be the love of my life-next to my husband, that is.
An oft-neglected love, but a love nevertheless
Each time I return to it, I am welcome
We are familiar with one another
Comfortable, in a way that doesn’t suggest complacency
instead, companionship.

Running and I, we are not exclusive
It is a space where all step in, and are accepted
A run does not require particulars,
You do not belong to it, except as it sustains you

Run without shoes
Run without direction
Run without clothes!
Run without fear
Run, and it will be.

Write, Little Bird

Whimsy

I read somewhere that in order to write, often, you have to seek your own inspiration. It’s not enough to wait around for it. I’m the kind of person who is either overwhelmed with passion and the motivation to act, or sits in one place-in a kind of mental paralysis-dreaming, but doing nothing. This blog is sort of my effort to act, to seek inspiration, and to flourish.

You might be guessing that this has a sort of New-Year’s-resolution-feel to it. You guessed right. I never used to make New Year’s resolutions. I prefer to dream and be happy with the dreams that come true instead of beating myself up for all of the things I didn’t get to. This year, however, I’ve decided that dreaming isn’t enough. How does success come, except through concerted effort? (This is an argument that can be parsed, on many levels, and is one that I don’t always agree with myself, but go with me here). I’m going to set goals, and then take steps to get there. Why not? The worst that can happen is nothing-and really, nothing is already happening.

To act, seek, pursue, chase after something-that’s what I want to do. What is the point of floating through life, going through motions without intention or purpose? How long will we sit around and just be happy with what comes our way–what presents itself to us? If you want something, go for it.

One day, I want to be a real writer. Whew, there it is, I said it, to someone else (well, at least I’m saying it to the vast expanse we call the internet). I don’t want to just be the writer I am when I occasionally type out a story, or pontificate on a napkin…

I’ve gotten really good at feeling, at dreaming.  Enough of that. Today, I DO.

 

Los Angeles

Nick and I went to Los Angeles for the weekend in the middle of June. We really loved it. There’s something really magical about the place, actually. It’s wide open. The climate is truly “mediterranean” as Wikipedia will tell you. The palm trees, the mountains, and the heat coupled with a steady but light breeze make it the perfect place for happiness. Really, I don’t know how you could be unhappy in such a place. I wasn’t unhappy for a single minute, actually. That’s unusual for me.

If you look in the galleries, you’ll find the photos from our trip.

We arrived in LA on Saturday morning around lunch time. After picking up our rental car we were off to Santa Monica beach. Just a note on the rental car: the Alamo guy was SO nice. He asked if we wanted something “a little nicer than a compact,” we said no. He then proceeded to take $10 off of our total–not sure why? I guess he knew we normally drive a 10 year old, beat-up Toyota Corolla. EVERTYHING is an upgrade for us. Let me tell you-the 2012 Toyota Camry we drove all weekend was pure luxury. Seriously. No leather seats, nothing particularly spectacular, but automated locks and a sunroof were enough to make the Cordells feel like we were on the up and up.

So we drove our luxury vehicle down to the beach-me, reciting the directions to Nick. I tried to refer to the highway as “ the 10, ” like a real Californian would. We walked along the beach, saw the pier, and then went up to the Promenade filled with shops and restaurants and street-performers.

We crashed at the hotel that night, scarfing In-and-Out burgers for dinner before crawling into bed.

Sunday we saw the walk of fame and attempted to take photos of the Hollywood sign (fail on my part-I guess that’s what I get for trying to get a good shot in a moving vehicle). We at brunch at a lovely place called Amandine, and took a winery tour in Santa Clarita. Really, if I could have stayed forever, I think I would have.

Contradictions

Today I'm wearing neon pink sandals. My toenails are not painted, which I feel is a strange juxtaposition to the loud statement my sandals are making, which is: "I'm you're feet, and yes, I'm here." But I've decided to embrace it.  As a person, I'm a contradiction–my feet may as well represent that.

It's been a while since I've written. I think I say that in every post, but I want to be back. I need the creative outlet. Too much has happened since September to update you, so I won't. Like a good friend, we'll pick up where we left off as if no time has passed.

I tagged this post Lupe Fiasco because I've been obsessed with his music lately. I guess I'm way behind the times, but I love the poetry of his rap. There's something about his concept, approach, beats, collaborators, I just feel inspired by it.

Usually, if I'm inspired, it's related to good music, or witnessing (rare) expression of the human spirit. Do you know what I mean by that? It's like on the train, when you see someone sitting alone–maybe listening to music, maybe not, and they smile? You know there is something they're smiling about. Maybe they're thinking of someone they love, maybe it's the memory of something hilarious or happy that happened recently, maybe the music inspires them. I guess there are other examples of how people express what's inside of them inadvertently-but that is just my favorite one. 

One more contradiction, so this post actually lives up to it's title. Last night we went to the White Sox game, which is kind of a contradiction in itself, since generally, yuppies from the North side of Chicago (i.e. Nick & I) frequent Cubs games. But I made myself stand out even more by drinking red wine–not beer–and having ice cream–not a polish hot dog. Oh well, like I said last night in response to being made fun of: I refuse to apologize for my preferences (or, contradictions!).

Sepa Island

 I haven't written about Sepa Island yet, although you may have seen the gallery pictures.

We traveled to Sepa on my birthday, Saturday the 17th. We arrived at the trash and oil-filled Jakarta port at about 7:15am. We took a two hour boat trip to the Thousand Islands (kind of North and East of the main Island of Java). We flew past wooden fishing boats and huge oil tankers to open sea, in no view of land. I of course, strategized about how to save Nick and myself (at least) if we went down–memorizing the locations of passed boats or strips of land. Very Chuck Norris of me, I know. Also my control-freak side pretending like I could do anything about that little boat sinking in the open Indian Ocean.

Sepa is sort of like an Island camp-ground. Like Jan said, it makes  you feel like you're at summer camp. There are little dank cabins all around the front end, facing the beach. In the middle of the cabins is a little shop, and the hut where food is served. We did nothing on Sepa–well, except the three main things I have concluded you do on an Asian Island (clearly my biased opinion):

1. Lay on Beach

2. Snorkel in the most beautiful clear water you've ever seen, with stunning coral reefs just yards from shore

3. Listen to a beautiful but tone deaf Indonesian woman (no older than 20 and no more than 80 pounds) sing the wrong words to American pop songs. Also throw in the occaisonal Japanese tourist (preferably a 60 year old scuba diver) doing the same.

In the evening we toasted my birth and Nick gave me a beautiful red robe-made out of silk-that he snuck off and bought in Bali. I love robes, fyi.

The next morning we laid (or is it lay?) on the beach for a while longer, and took our 2-hour boat trip back to the city. It was a wonderful time.

Jakarta, Revisited

Most likely, it's about 8pm your time on Sunday night. I am writing at 8am Monday morning…but I'll take you back to last Thursday and Friday, to tell you how we spent our down time in the city. Jakarta is big and loud and polluted. You can see the smog. No exaggeration. Intermittently throughout the day you hear the call to prayer, where mosques all over the city  pray over loudspeakers. In the evening, sitting on the balcony for a little wine and end-of-day chat, you don't do much chatting because the call to prayer is so loud! The outdoor pictures you see in the new Jakarta gallery are views from there. 

Thursday morning Nick, Jan, and I traveled to a large open air market a few miles away to look for a zipper and some buttons. I found this beautiful fabric in Bali and roped Jan into helping me make a dress over these past few days, so we had to go searching for the extras. As you may have guessed, there are no "Jo-Ann's" here.  

For the most part, Thursday was a stay in and relax kind of day.

Friday morning we headed out to the Social House for brunch. All of the beautiful places to eat here are located in these massive malls–with escalators everywhere–Chanel, Gucci, whatever you can think of related to high-end shopping they've got it. We spent a while walking around the mall and then headed home for some exercise. Nick has been playing tennis with the pro here. He's a little Indonesian guy, it seems like he's three feet shorter than Nick, but MAN is he talented. 

We decided to celebrate my birthday Friday because Saturday we were scheduled to visit Sepa Island–where there's not much more than a beach. Nick surprised me with flowers, and the housekeeper made a beautiful chocolate cake! We didn't have any candles, so we used a pillar candle. It worked well, since the cake was baked in a bundt pan.

We ended the evening with Thai food at Faces, one of Rodney's favorite spots. We shared mussles, green curry, shrimp pad thai, and lots more! Spicy and delicious.

Stay tuned for a post on our time at Sepa Island. Nick and I are off for some brunch, shopping, and a tour of the local sites.