Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Love Letter to Dusk

Dear dusk,

I have been writing this post for over a year now. How does this go? How do I do this correctly?

Let's begin again.

Dear dusk,

You are, without a doubt, the best part of the day. I've always loved the dawn, but only after being awake all night. When there are stipulations to your love, it's not real love. Is that true? That might be true. We could argue about this from dawn to dusk, regarding love and its limitations and confirmation, but until then, let us pretend this to be true: love requires no limits, no exceptions, and only inclusive annoyances.

Dusk is the time to shine in the darkening world, beginning the exact the moment of the day when it becomes impossible to read the words in a book without a headlamp.

That's a real thing. You can google it. Fucking google.

Technically, it's the moment when terrestrial objects can no longer be clearly distinguished by natural light, but the reading thing sounds more romantic.

A common mistake among laymen, humans, everyone, really, is making dusk synonymous with the sunset, which is wrong. Dusk is just after that. Just. It doesn't last very long before evening officially begins. The world darkens and fades, a shadow of what it was during the day. Distinct forms melt and merge into silhouettes, creating new, peculiar shapes. If you're in a city, it's that time of the day when everyone collectively sighs and turns on the lights. At least I do, and I'm like, fucking dusk, you know? I can see in your window, do you look into mine? Sometimes I think dusk is superior simply from the perspective of voyeurism. Then I remember that voyeurism is not something I love, necessarily, just something that I find interesting sometimes, maybe once every three months or so. Which is enough.

When I was a kid, dusk was when I would leave for home, wherever I was. No one ever measures time like that anymore. Be home before dark. We'd hop on our bikes and ride home like our very freedom depended on it. Technically, that was true. Once it was too dark outside for my parents to distinguish terrestrial objects by natural light--after that, they began to worry.

So for them, dusk was the exact last part of the day when their children were safe from the inevitable night.

The mystery of dusk is that bridges the light of day and the dark of night, like traveling between realms, shaded in grays and blues. Shadows have grown old throughout the day, and by dusk they're experienced. They've learned their task at this point, which is, of course, to grow into things that are menacing, ancient, and enormous. Shadows are children of the light - so says that one guy. You know, the one with the books and the TV show. He says that. He's not wrong. By dusk, they've matured into things that aren't merely warnings of the waning sun, but representations of it.

Of course there's the golden hour, or the magic hour, which is nice and all if you're a photographer or a filmmaker. Dusk is better. Not necessarily for pictures, but It's eerie. Peaceful. Aware.

Dusk feels like activity, it feels like you're gearing up for something. The change in light brings on a change in you. It's deer-thirty, which is the worst, but that just makes everything a little bit more terrifying and a little bit more exciting. Driving at sunset is hard, specifically when you're facing west after the rain and the road is all brilliant and bright. But driving at dusk is like a dream, especially in the country. There are low lights ahead, a hazy shimmer. At first, you think it's a town, or the remains of the setting sun. But the closer you get the farther away it glows, because it's not an existing thing that occupies three-dimensional space, it's just the look of dusk.

The mythology surrounding dusk is boring, and almost always intertwined with the dawn and lumped in with twilight, and as we all know: fuck fucking twilight. The only godlike thing that mythologies tend to agree on regarding dusk is this: wind happens.

Once I heard a myth about a Russian burning bird called something, which I've been googling and coming up goose eggs. But it's a burning bird who swallows the dwarf  who steals its eggs, like the evening aurora swallows the sun. There are fantastic myths about sunset. Shalim is the Canaanite deistic depiction dusk, and his appetite is as large as his mouth that swallows the heavens: one lip to the earth and the other to the sky. He was a god of completion and peace.

Well done, myths.

Basically I love it. But the question of the day is this: what happens in the meadow at dusk?

Is it nothing?

Or everything?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Love Letter to Blurt

Dear blurt,

A quick one before we begin: I AM DETERMINED TO FINISH THIS. The 52 love letters, that is. For me. I have to finish this for me.

Maybe it's not necessarily pervasive, but conversational subtlety is generally a lost art, and because of this I have no way to gauge my skills in the matter. Even though there's a sneaky comfort in conversational code-breaking, it's stressful just to think about it. When the words someone chooses to use have as much weight as the words omitted, it forces us to think about things. Motivation.

Not to sound too theater-y, especially since I am far from a theater person, but motivation is the key to everything.

Motivation is not an excuse. It's a reason. It establishes causality without begging, and excuses are all about begging - begging for belief, forgiveness, or empathy or whatever. Excuses shirk responsibility, reasons establish it. I mean, your motives can be pure that the result can be disastrous, but that's not an excuse. It's a reason.

So the reason for impulsive blurting instead of prudence is either (a) ADD/ADHD, which is a whole other hulking thought process that I am not going to touch with any part of me, or (b) to mitigate discomfort. People don't blurt things out because they're calm and collected, they blurt to relieve pressure, and like zit-popping or itching mosquito bites, the results can be super fucking ugly and uncomfortable.

Still. There's a reason.

Sometimes it's simple: blurting could happen to lessen the stress of keeping a secret or to interrupt a stretch of silence or to assert your relevance when you feel dismissed. It's about excitement and impatience, it's rash and reactive. It's a compulsion, a betrayal, an admission, a scramble, a flood. It hinders and helps. Blurting is selfish and shortsighted and only serves the intentions of a very few for a short while, because blurting never sees the big picture. Blurting is the honest truth or the fattest lie - rarely is blurting tiny and inconsequential.

From Arrested Westeros
It is not thoughtful, unless you're a manipulator and you're blurting on purpose, in which case...damn. That's some evil, Littlefinger shit. Then again, a thoughtful blurt is probably more accurately described as an interruption. See, you guys, conversation is hard.

I guess I just usually prefer a well-honored blurt instead of a deliberate response. No, that's not right. I don't prefer the blurt. It's just much more fun. Just say it. Say it and let it linger.

Then again, why is it fun? Does this mean I find glee in the discomfort of others, having established that a well-wrought blurt stems from there?

No. I find glee in the relief. I'm glad that you were able to blurt, because it feels good. It might not be the best thing to do in the long run, but hey, no one is perfect.

Blurting reassures me. People are human, and humans can sometimes be selfish. We err, we lose control, we say things without thinking. And that's okay. It's the action of blurting, not the words that are used. I love the reason.

I love talking to people that just blurt shit out. Stupid nonsense or brilliant insight, I really don't care. And of course, definitely, I also love conversations where people who think about their words, people who speak with heft. But I have a soft spot for those folks that just have to get it out. Words with reckless urgency, artless and regardless. Sometimes it's just more fucking interesting.

Oh, PS: I also love this:

A Belfast Slang Word For A Wee Girls Vagina!
I booted her in the blurt

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Love Letter to South Dakota

Dear South Dakota,

I fear this will be brief, since so many others have raved about your majesty before me.


Great things about South Dakota:
  • The Badlands
  • Mount Rushmore (well, just coast past the thing)
  • Peter Norbeck Highway
  • Wild Bill Hickock/Calamity Jane graves
  • Deadwood
  • Corn Palace
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder shit
  • Beauvais Heritage Museum (in all honesty I've never been there, but I've been to Beauvais in France and it was possibly the worst place in the world, so the fact that there's one in SD is gigglesome)
  • Wild Horse Sanctuary 
  • General Lee (the only surviving General Lee car from Dukes of Hazard!)
  • Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo (see above)
  • Wall Drug HOLY CRAPs
  • Porter Sculpture Park
  • Black Hills (I named places in the Black Hills above, but it's one of the most beautiful places I've been)
  • Seriously. The Black Hills.
  • random roadside sculptures 
  • probably like a gazillion other rad things

That's not my picture, there. I found it online. I've driven past that sculpture twice and both times it was sunset and I had no way of stopping. But I WILL GO THERE.

When you're in South Dakota, you're still a stranger. They won't let you forget it. It's not the overbold welcome you can find in Midwest. It's not the indifference of New England or the general wariness in Appalachia or the confusion of the Rockies. No, South Dakota tells you you're an outsider, dangles prizes five feet away from your face and dares you to jump for them with maniacal glee. It has an unabashed approval of and tolerance for tourists while still blatantly making them feel like outsiders, but in a good way.

That's a mark of greatness, to me. South Dakota is a place of worth, a place of history, beauty, art, and tourist traps.

There's something to be said for a place that treats you exactly as you are instead of, for example:

a) what they assume you should be
b) what they wish you were
c) what they hope you are not

I love Chicago with my very soul, but we're a surly and defensively sociable people, and that dichotomy is off-putting. Chicago hates you for visiting and hates you for ignoring them.

New York waves its shit in front of your face like a child with a really big leaf he found in the backyard that he insists he discovered, and then when you're not impressed he scoffs and says, "It's a New York thing." Shut up, New York. You're fucking relevant, okay?

California is a pretty name with a pretty face, and it knows. It's definitely a flirt. Sometimes it's a tease. And sometimes it's a rapist. California is all, "You like that? Do I feel good, baby? Huh? Does this feel good? Huh? Stop crying, you whore! This cock is always seventy degrees and you fucking want it." And it's like whoa, hey, California. Calm the fuck down. Stop forcing yourself on me, okay? No means no. You're pretty, okay? Dude, you're being a real dick about this.

Denver is a mash up of people who think they're better than you because mountains. Fuck off Denver, you're not better than me. Go back to REI. Besides, stop bragging about your damn mountains. Salt Lake City has waaaay closer ones. Speaking of is very nice (fin). Portland is so smugly focused on being different that it just sounds boring. Boston and Philadelphia survive on sheer will and historical relevance, Texas works on being Texas and Austin works on being as Texas as possible while simultaneously being not Texas. Atlanta plainly does not give a fuck about you unless you married into them or took a midnight train. No one belongs to Vegas because it's about lingering where you shouldn't stay and no one belongs to Florida because it's about escaping to a place you shouldn't want to be (gaters, yo). Oklahoma is just the worst. Oh, and don't even get me started on NORTH Dakota. Fuck off, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Fuckin fracking.

There are others, and if I didn't include your hometown or your favorite US location, I apologize. As of right now my familiarity with your area is sub-par, or at least undistinguished enough that I don't want to make generalizations off the top of my head. And even my generalizations are probably wrong from your perspective, but as far as I'm concerned the greatest places in this country are South Dakota and New Orleans.

I think it's just...a celebration of differences is more appealing to me than a celebration of pre-approved differences. Almost everyone wants you to recognize the greatness within them, however beautiful, humble, or terrible, and they want you to react accordingly.

Maybe the distinction is that South Dakota is like, "you be you, I'll be me, but it's good to see you, and thanks for stopping by. Whatever. Cool." Then again, I'm a straight white girl who smiles at strangers, so that could be part of the reason why I felt so welcome. And pleasantly solo.

South Dakota invites you to relish the sheer ridiculousness of things, and it does so without irony or shame. It takes your notions and your hatred and your love and accepts them and discards them, because it knows it can only be South Dakota and nothing else.

Have you set foot in South Dakota? Did you hate it there? Did you love it? Were you apathetic? My view is from the perception of a tourist ambling along I-90, and when I say I love it there, someone responds with, "you fucking would" and then goes on about their business.

Maybe it's because other places are focused on living up to the expectations of their name, while my expectations of South Dakota were so low that the state could only surpass it.

I love you, South Dakota.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

there is a thing and it's called growing up

Dear  Peter Pan,

I had no intention of loving you as much as I did, and I had slash HAVe no intention of turning this into a love letter because half of my criticism is complaints,  but fuck off, I've had a few bottels of wine and this shit is happening

I cannot, first of all, that believe that I believe that they took away the thing that made the Mary Martin Peter Pan a big fucking deal in my life which IS. You guys. It's so sad.

(scroll to the bottom if you're all like what's the point, TL:DR)

And sad things are good?L ARe they good? I always thought that the acceptance of sad things was good. Not everything can be happypants sing song time and Peter Pan is one of those things, because in the end Peter and Wendy totally fight and get all you grew up fuck off and wendy is all you didn't because you're a silly bloody boy and that means something.

So here to me is the thing: Peter Pan. PETER. PAN. It's about being a child, yeah, whatever. You're a child and you have no comprehendible (WORd?) sense of danger, so you're all pannish and then Wendy is a grtown as person who understands life, so when pan comes back into her window and shit she's supposed to be all I AM A GROWN ASS LADY WHO KNOWS ABOUT YOUR LIFE AS A DANGER PUPPY and then she schools his ass on adulthood. But instead,  in this fucking live teleplay of magic and wonder and crocodiles that function as time-telling devices, the passage of time, of adulthood and the goddamn beauty of JM Barrie, who is not a pedophile because pedophiles actively seek out sex with fucking children and technically he didn't do that, even though his work suggests a macabre fascination which is creepy as all get=out (dude, you named your hero after a little dick). Just because you find children attractive doesn't mean you're all pedo, HOWEVER finding children sexually attractive is FUCKED and I shouldn't even have to mention this but I just did because honestly? It's a thing, and although we don't have any proof and although we don't know if his life involved abuse I guess what I'm saying is inaction? I don't know. I feel like areally, really terrible Bible.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but there are scertain stories that I read or watched or listened to or paid attention to as a child that affected me particularly because they were sad. You don't nneed to go around telling your children about the Holocaust, but maybe you should? Is ten old enough for Holocaust tales? That's not a thing. I don't mean that. But I kind of do.

Maybe it's because I had parents that gave me very honest, historical answers for questions I had, and if I had questions they couldn't answer, they literally told me to go to the library, so I did. Eventually I would ride my bike there...starting in 5th grade? Yes? But I would ride my bike to the library then, and I would sit in the aisles and read about things.  Read about everything.

And I know, from experience, that my questions and ideas made/ MAKE people uncomfortable.

In retrospect I think this is a good thing, but who knows? Some people believe that they grew into their current personalities because when they were younger they were adventurous with authority or substances and that makes them more worldly or knowledgeable - I think I feel the same way about that in some ways, because let's be honest, I would seek out histories and logic like a sponge. But other people sought out different experiences...actual ones? They followed a path that led towards a different kind of risk. Let's be honest: Dude, I was so super straight edge. Until I was eighteen I was basically at the library or work, and work was a video store. My entire existence was founded on my ability to relate one idea to another, however disjointed. Still is, pretty much, but now I'm not nearly as ashamed of myself as I was before.

It didn't matter how much I idealized rebellion, or how much I was drawn to the idea of a Neverland. The parts that struck me most about those stories was the part where reality sets in, where we have to accept that our lives are not a fairy tale, because wanting is different than experience. Wendy grows up and she realizes the dangers of Neverland, but she doesn't regret going. However.


HOW. EVER. As an adult: half the point of the wonder of Neverland is choosing to go there even though you're not supposed to. When your mom is all like, okay, 11 year old daughter, you can leave the house with a man-child, but be back before autumn, to you I say fuck off.

Supposed to is more combustible than oil.  I've written about that before, and never eloquently.

Supposed to involves adhering to principles that you did not define for yourself, and I think THAT is the key. I was never rebellious as a child, in the general assumption that rebellion involves the wrong crowd or the wrong substance, but I was rebellious because I know that whatever I thought I was supposed to do was avoided. You guys, I am so drunk right now. I was rebellious because someone would say, "but we're supposed to behave this way" whether "that way" was following the rules of Christianity or the rules of rebellion where you dye your hair and wear altnernative clothes and act like a dick to peoplel and take a bunch of ecstacy and pretend your expierience ius realer than someone else's.

At least I know, always always always, that I did what I thought was true. Not RIGht, but True.

Peter Pan IS SO SAD. IT'S SO SAD. It's sad because Peter kidnaps Wendy since she didn't know any better, and then she grows up and he comes back and then kidnaps HER DAUGHTER. I understood that as a child. I did book reports on that shit.

The Last Unicorn is sad because...well, because it's about loving someone who is incapable of reciprocating. Where the Red Fern Grows is sad because it's about separation. The Giving Tree is sad because it's about surrender. The Velveteen Rabbit is sad because it's about helplessness. Stone Fox is about the compassion of strangers, The Devil's Arithmetic is about sacrifice, 

Obviously other books and stories are sad, but these are all the stories I mentioned are for children. Children wonder why, but the greatest thing about reading these things when you're a child is the fact that you ASK WHY.

And when you ask an adult that has a modest bit of understanding, that is how you learn.

Peter Pan is sad because it's about adrenaline and the different ways people respond to it. Just because it's withing the guise of children, and racism and sexism, doesn't change the fact that its strongest suit is the fantasy rooted realism, perception changes, nothing is absolute, and hence the absolute ridiculousness of Peter Pan. In case you don't get it: Growing up and understanding that your actions have consequences is NOT A BAD THING.

So: Do what needs to be done, and accept the consequences. It's not about being fair, or right. It's about accepting the fact that your actions affect people. Always. And you probably can never predict why or how, but know that they exist, and your job as a human is to deal with that. That is the point of Peter Pan: there are repercussions and reactions that are beyond your control. And by stealing those lines away, by turning the story of Peter Pan into a fantasy where you can do whatever and not worry about what happens to the people that surround you, you're cheapening the story.

Make a decision, and deal with the consequences. You can hope for the best, but no amount of fairy dust is going to surpass the events of your life.

It is soooooooo a good thing. I mean, don't be shitty. Stop being shitty. I've told my share of lies. No  one is perfect, and super duper definitely one hunderd thousand definitely not me. get it. There's no need for further explanation. All I'm saying is that right now I think I'm laying some serious truth, but not like bricks to build a wall and more like a beat. Stop talking, Rassles.

You guys, seriously. I have had so much wine. I can't believe I was able to type all of this.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Love Letter to Yonder

Dear yonder,

Anticipating the goings on at the hill beyond yond hill is usually better than being there. Yonder. Yonder yonder yonder yonder. Good word, yonder.

In case you didn't know, I quit my job back in July and then drove around the country for a month. I spent a lot of time studying state maps, memorizing the major highways and then avoiding them as much as possible, fanning off in every direction with a loose plan and no schedule.

I ministered the marriage of two of my friends on a mountain in Colorado. Hit up a rodeo. Then I hit a deer in Utah and was stranded while I waited for shiny new bumper. I finished a case of High Life on a motel porch with a couple of sixty year old Hells Angels in Greybull, Wyoming. I worked at a sheep farm in Montana for board and I camped alone for the first time. Many times. Camping alone is relaxing. I drank wine at Hemingway's grave, hiked a few miles of the Oregon trail, took way too many pictures on the Enchanted Highway, gambled poorly in Deadwood and tailgated the sunset every night I could. 

Good country, this.

On a trip like that, there's always something over yonder. Nothing here? How 'bout over yonder? Yep, sure enough, something's yonder. But then once I got to one yonder, THERE WAS ANOTHER THING OVER YONDER.

And I couldn't fucking wait. I wanted all of it. Couldn't wait til I crossed yonder mountain, hiked yonder trail, wandered the town over yonder. Everything looked like this:

All yonder. Distant, but within sight. Possible.Yonder yonder yonder.

I do not miss my job. It was an amazing nonprofit with wonderful humans, but I had a shit job with shit responsibilities. Daily dread. Eventually I started showing up at 11am, daring them to fire me. I just started doing shit without asking. Because fuck off, that's why.

Honestly, they treated me well. Over seven years there were two promotions and seven significant pay raises. But my responsibilities never really changed. Every year the higher ups learned more about my workload, but they never had a clear picture until I left. They split parts of my job between two existing coworkers, hired two people to replace me for day-to-day stuff and then outsourced my event and fundraising responsibilities. If they had doubled my salary I still would have left.

Working in a job absent of variation, growth, and advancement can really murder your outlook on the future. My imagination couldn't take me far. I basically decided that I had to keep earning money so I could survive, sustain, and take care of my parents eventually.

A lot of wanting is involved in that. A lot of self-reflection and inaction, a lot of realizations that zero in on one thing, like the point of a dagger: if I follow this road, there isn't anything over yonder. I had to quit.

Right now I'm scrambling around looking for writing gigs. It's hard. I'm not making much money and I'm burning through savings. I'm inspired, hopeful, worried, restless, daunted, eager, and fucking terrified. IT IS WONDERFUL. There are so many things over yonder, just littering up and down my timeline, and none of it is dreadful. I could move to Ireland! I could get married! I could die alone! I could publish a book! I could start a business! I could fail goddamn miserably! I could get a dog! I could declare bankruptcy! Isn't that brilliant?

Everything over yonder, some of it's good, and some of it is not so good. But all of it is vivid and possible. Distant, but within sight. It's not a stiletto. It's a feather. Yonder yonder yonder yonder.



Monday, November 17, 2014

A Love Letter to Words

Dear words,

In the summer of 2012, blogger Ted McCagg created tournament brackets for words beginning with every letter of the alphabet and let them duke it out on his site to determine the best word ever. The winner was diphthong, which is a grand old word, but it's no hobgoblin. The whole thing was just fucking thrilling, and while I agree with several of the words on the list (like rapscallion and juggernaut), there are words that I love so much more than his top eight. The sound of a word is so personal that it's hard to completely agree.

It is probably totally pointless to explain why I like words. They are words. I like to use them for writing and speaking. I would write a love letter to just general literacy, but that's kind of like saying, "I love the concept of currency" or "I love the distribution of resources" or something, and thar be monsters and repercussions. So instead, here is a list of words that I really, really, really love, and not because of their meaning, but because of how they sound.

Some of these words sound the same, like dusk, lullaby, and bungalow. They got that "uh" sound. (Typing out "that 'uh' sound" looks ridiculous. I don't like it. Phonetically that "uh" sound gets a symbol that looks like an upside-down v, but I can't be all like, "you know, the phonetic symbol that looks like an upside-down v sound" because that is a silly thing to say, and it would confuse people.) All I'm saying is that I love the soft u. Shuttlecock. 

Who's with me? Don't you all have favorite words too? Words that pilfer, ripple, and thrum? According to the google machine, a common favorite word is serendipity. Not my jam. It sounds like saccharine smarm. But that's one thing that makes a word great: my saccharine smarm could be your blessing and truth. Another that seems to pop up all the time is loquacious, and that reminds me of a racist joke so fuck that word. Ephemeral is popular too, but it's a little too melancholy for me.

Pandiculation is a word I discovered like an hour ago:

A stretching and stiffening of the trunk and extremities, as when fatigued and drowsy or on waking, often accompanied by yawning.

I pandiculate pretty much every time I stand. I like it. It's like a scientific surprise. There are other words like that on the list. Cahoots sneaks up on you, because it sounds like a cartoon rabbit instead of a sneaky alliance.

Sometimes a word is almost too well-tailored. Glutton is brutish. It catches your throat and forces you to stop breathing, just for the tiniest of spans. Magnanimous sounds all ancient and grand, and it stretches out like an extended hand. Or a hero, standing akimbo. Ah! Akimbo! Great word.

I suspect I've always been better at words than nearly everything else. Or more accurately, I've always felt more confident in my words than nearly everything else. Words are about sharing something personal and valuable, and about believing your rhetoric is impressive enough to be shared at all.

Words are an antidote to loneliness. They're bridges. Words are about pride. They're paranoid and lovely and full of brass and balls. Brass! Balls! Also excellent words.

Each word has a specific function, and words chosen are just as significant as words that aren't. At the moment of use a single word is the most important part of a person's vocabulary. Even if a word isn't carefully and consciously selected, word choice is so damn particular. It's mesmerizing. I love listening to a well-crafted sentence. The rhythm of a phrase is salient. Cadence is captivating.

Words are just plain dreamy. Yes you are. Yes you are.