Friends & Pens & Here We Go

Monday, August 17, 2015

** T H A T  T I M E  O F  Y E A R **

It's that time of year again.

The time where I spend 20 minutes in the school supplies section of Target, picking out new notebooks and fresh pens in seven different colors, and then going home to reorganize my school bag like a dork.

It may seem like such a small thing. But academically speaking, I think it's kept me going. Which is good, because although fall is typically the most invigorating time of year for me as a college student, I'm feeling particularly annoyed at the thought of being knocked once again out of the eb-and-flow of my established daily grind. You know, the one where I wake up early only if I want to spend extra time working out or sipping my coffee; where I read something I want to read on my break; and where I come home from work and decide how I'd like to spend my evening.

Leisure. Recreation. Options. Concepts that I must temporarily re-train my brain to forget.

But I'll continue to find joy in the little things of college life. In my friends. In my pens. In the insane amount of tea and coffee drained in the name of burning the midnight study oil. I know I'll miss it once its gone. So here's to seven different colors of ink, and an attitude that says all eight of us will be just fine.

** Q U O T E S  R E M E M B E R E D  **

My family cracks me up. To the point that I've actually devoted pages in my Notes app to documenting the ridiculous things they do and say. I stumbled across one of these pages the other day, and well, I had to share.

THE TIME: This summer
THE PLACE: Family vacation in the Smokies

To another car while driving down the interstate---
"What are you, Johnny Cash? PICK A LANE."

While navigating an unfamiliar town---
"No, it's this way. I know this town like the back of my hand. ... Except not now. Because it got stung by a bee... and I don't even recognize it."

In response to me saying the Spanish phrase, "no te preocupis"---
"What did you just say about cookies?"

At the onset of a hike on a beautiful day---
"Let's go to the mall."

**  C A N ' T  S T O P  L I S T E N I N G **

"Grand Design," by Jill Phillips

Oh, I could start running in anger, but then what's the point of a Savior?

** ( P A R T I C U L A R L Y )  G R A T E F U L **
It's been brought to my attention more than ever lately how blessed all of us Venturans are to live where we do.

California's a beautiful place. But I wouldn't live in most of it unless you paid me very well to do so. San Diego is hot, crowded, and expensive. San Francisco is frigid cold, crowded, and ridiculously expensive. Ah, Los Angeles... keep your distance. And anything east of any of those cities is too hot for how much cheaper the living expenses are not.

But my beautiful Ventura! Cool. Small. And beachy, in the most Californian way. Downtown is home to a darling coffee shop that offers a mean Lavendar mocha; healthy cafes; Thai restaurants, thrift stores, and used bookshops; and, last but not definitely least, plenty of free parking. It lies sandwiched between the enchanting Santa Barbara and the famous beaches of Malibu and Santa Monica. And although it's true I'm not a fan of LA, it goes without saying that there's a lot there, if you're up for the notoriously temperamental traffic. And don't get me started about the charm of nearby Ojai. Rumor has it that Ventura was even recently named best city to live in, and though some people my age complain that it's "too quiet," I gratefully understand that to mean "actually not crowded."

It wouldn't seem that settling down here is in my plan. But for now, the realization of this wonderful place grows my gratitude, which grows my appreciation, which grows my realization... and repeat.

Monday Meaninglessness

Monday, August 10, 2015

**  H A P P E N I N G  **
    A Prius left me in its dust on the freeway yesterday and in some ways I'm still trying to make sense of what just happened.

    Everyone hates getting stuck behind a Prius; to this rule, there is little exception. Except, that is, maybe another Prius. I used to judge Prius' (plural = Prii? I've often wondered) until I borrowed a friend's for a couple of days and instantly went from being a Prius-hater to a Prius-driver who fulfilled every stereotype about Prius-drivers. Take it from someone who gets bored if she's going under 65 MPH -- the things really just don't move. It's not in their Prius DNA. And compared to my Honda Civic coupe, they feel top-heavy, too. Thus the "I know I'm only going 28 MPH, but my max speed is something like 40 and if I take this bend any faster than 14, I just might roll"  effect.
As a friend puts it, "it's called the struggle, and it is real."

**  O T H E R  R E A L I Z A T I O N S ** 
    Tube roses are beautiful. Particularly before they've bloomed.

Though that kind of seems like the equivalent to saying "You're pretty... well, especially before you hit puberty."
**  N E W  B E L O V E D  M U S I C  **
Mindy Smith
Rivers & Robots
Sarah Jarosz

**  O B S E R V A T I O N  **
    A lot more people use Starbucks strictly as a bookless library that allows drinks other than water, without experiencing any real obligation to actually purchase something than I ever realized.

    A bench against the wall with three tables. Me with my laptop, books, and Venti iced coffee. A girl next to me with her skateboard, backpack, and phone call. A man next to her with his laptop... and nada else. Across from us? Two UCLA students with energy drinks I know aren't sold in the refrigerated section next to the Pellegrino. Across the room, somewhere between the chatter, dramatic lighting, and concentration, is a person with a kindle and a Grande drip... And perhaps in a city busier than Camarillo there exists a Starbucks where such blatant loitering isn't tolerated. And judging by the real-life scenario I just presented you with, that branch is keeping the whole company afloat.

    But this arguably epitomizes the fact that Starbucks' days as a novelty are over. Dead. Way back there. Everyone goes to Starbucks, and now evidently, everyone abuses Starbucks. The only other establishment this abused is Walmart. Like the person who removed a pregnancy test from the box, assumably peed on in it right there in the aisle, and replaced to the shelf, where someone on social media documented the item that was never paid for. (For those of you who are curious, it was positive.) Who does that? I don't know; who walks into a business establishment that strives to maintain a certain atmosphere, only to be used be people who bask in its AC, use its outlets, and violate its silence without ever contributing a dime?

    Sbux = Wally World.

    (I don't really judge anyone who "abuses" Starbucks. Because actually, I don't really care. I'm just not crazy about Starbucks. And the title of this post is "Monday Meaninglessness.")

**  A C C O M P L I S H M E N T  **
    Bre and I made our first gluten-free pizza crust today! It was... "chalky," as Bre put it, politely. Little did she know I've eaten the consequences of far less tolerable pizza crust jobs in the past than I care to admit, except that to add insult to injury they were glutenful, too. The funny part? I'd been looking forward to sinking my teeth into some daiya (soy-free "cheese") since Wednesday, but when the rubber met the road, neither of us were willing to shell out the $5 for the 6 ounce bag. And then we entirely forgot the yeast. Fortunately, people with limited diets are easy to please (and can still drink wine and carry on long conversations). Thus, "accomplishment" status nevertheless.

**  N E W  W O R D  **

**  M O R A L  O F  T H I S  S T O R Y  **
Let me know the plural word for Prius;
be a paying customer, acknowledging that there is no other kind;
hope that I make Monday Meaninglessness' a regular thing.

Explain Less

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“I feel there are two people inside me -- me and my intuition. If I go against her, she'll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.” 
- Kim Besinger 


The aroma of incense wafted through the air from the caldron-like pit of ashes in the temple courtyard behind us. Above us loomed the temple itself; majestic, its bright red commanding you to acknowledge the statement it made as it contrasted with accents of white and jade green. Dark tiles swept the roof above our heads. Lanterns many times my size adorned the gateway, with statues of animated-looking gods displayed on either side.  

As we climbed the steps, we slowly took it all in. After all, a Japanese temple is nothing like most Americans have ever seen. The smells, the layout, the grandiosity---all new. A nearby area where some locals were standing caught our attention. 

Before long, we realized it was a fortune telling station. For a donation of 100 yen, you were given an enscripted stick at random from a cylindrical container, and could match its enscription to a drawer in a wall containing your fortune.   

Kerrigan didn’t hesitate. 

The fortune said wonderful things. 
She dropped 100 yen into the box. 
There was no problem. 

I reached for the cylinder. The sticks clamored against the tin and each other as I placed my finger over the opening and began to turn it upside down. I felt a stick rest on the tip of my finger and lowered my hand to ease the rest of it out. I wrapped my finger tips around the knob of the fortune-containing drawer --

and pulled it away. 

“Nah. I don’t want to.” 

I couldn't articulate it to you any better now from the cafĂ© where I sit in Santa Monica. I just didn't want to. 
Identifying what I want and feel has never been the issue. 
Fear of caring too much about what others think, or of coming across as a kill-joy isn't really an issue. 

Feeling the need to explain myself. Not honoring the part of me that knows what I know without always knowing why -- the part that has only ever steered me right when I pay attention to it. That’s when things get tangled. That’s the issue.  

I then painstakingly began rambling off reasons that not only weren’t really reasons, they weren’t mine. Words were stammered as they came to mind. Kerrigan, who was initially accepting of my “nah,” was starting to look at me like I was crazy -- and I started to feel like it.  My reason didn't have a form. But it's lack of form wasn't the problem. The problem was that I insisted on giving it one.  

Maybe the fortune would have been foreboding, and the overthinking meaning-finder in me would have taken it to heart. Maybe I would have ended up running out of cash and needing that last 100 yen. Maybe the jetlag was making me crazy. But had a discomfort I couldn't explain... and that should have been enough 

I don't like that what we can't articulate into quickly formulated, easily relatable terms is relegated to the "hooey" pile. Everyone within earshot---including ourselves---begins to discredit something that is important enough for us to badly want others to understand. I'm realizing that we can do ourselves a big favor by being selective about when we decide they need to. Because even intuition's more explicable cousin, the thought process, is like the artistic expression of paintings: Subjective. Varying in detail, as well as in invested time. I think I most definitely have some Monet’s adorning the hallways of my mind. And I don’t think I’m special; I think we all do. But when we try to force things we can’t explain without appreciating that we shouldn’t need to, what frequently comes out looks more like poorly forged Picasso’s. 

wouldn't have blamed anyone for treating me like I was crazy that day in the temple; I practically extended a written invitation to make me feel judged and misunderstood. Granted, I trusted a feeling enough to follow it. But what I wish for myself, and for anyone reading this, is that we'd respect them enough to see them through. 

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