29 Mar 2009, 10:04pm
1 comment

unboredom

it takes seemingly endless iterations for epiphanies to stick. do we ever learn?

.

i have always been very good at following directions. as a kid i did very well in school and scored well on standardized tests and all that. ’cause really the biggest key to that stuff is reading, understanding and interpreting directions correctly. piece of cake. i am pretty sure i could cook or bake anything given clear enough directions. i am good at reading maps and i relish the challenge of figuring out public transit in foreign cities (for example). i am a whiz at flatpack furniture assembly. blah blah blah…

anyway, i realized recently that i get anxious when i don’t have directions to follow. when i’m riding a new bike route, i write out all the turns i need to take on a little piece of paper and tape it to my handlebars. i am pretty incapable of cooking without a recipe, and i once actually got into a fight with an ex because he wanted to make a certain kind of soup without a recipe and i insisted that if he didn’t use a recipe it was sure to turn out horrible and tasteless and, i dunno, burn the house down. (if you read this, g., i’m sorry. i was totally in the wrong.)

this is not something i really like about myself. which is good ’cause i’m gonna have a lot of chances in my life to not follow directions, to try to create a happy life out of a bunch of pretty diverse interests and priorities and blah blah blah. life sure would be simpler if i wanted to go into academia. or computer science or something. oh i am so lucky. oh my first world problems. i am not bored.

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last night i went to a party at some friends’ house near mount tabor. i’ve biked there a few times with my nice little pre-planned route taped to my handlebar. which takes me over part of mount tabor and back down again. last night i thought, hm, i bet i can avoid all those hills. i have lived here for five and a half years, i know southeast portland, i know more or less where the grid is inconsistent… so i pedaled off into the relatively warm and dry night (weather’s been variable lately), only had to backtrack once or twice, and found my way to the party, directionless and happy. changed into my ridiculous pink goodwill prom dress and danced my ass off with my amazing friends.

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i keep thinking, “well, at least i’m not bored.” because i am awash with petty drama, most of it in my head. i think, oh my gosh! look at all these amazing people in my life! do they know how amazing they are? do they know how important they are? how do i let them know how important they are? how do i keep them in my life? maybe if i tie them up in my petty personal drama somehow, they won’t leave me. and at the same time, i am thinking, maybe i should leave. maybe i should go back to hawaii, or bike down the california coast, or bike across the southwest, or go live in the south of england with my cousin vicki and walk in the new forest every day with her collie jessie and the cows and the horses.

and FOR GOODNESS SAKE. this is not what to do. oh this is fun, all this petty nonexistent imaginary drama. it’s fun as hell, in its way. but it’s not happiness… and it’s totally useless. it accomplishes nothing. the way to keep my friends near and let them know how important they are is to be totally awesome and support them in their passions.

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there is something to be said for boredom. i don’t know… maybe not boredom. i think life’s challenges have a sort of fractal nature. there’s the big obvious shapes/challenges(problems/decisions/whatever), and then you move past them, and you find other challenges, and so on and so forth, an infinite regression/progression. when you’re dealing with the big ones, self-created or not, the smaller ones are irrelevant. but when the big things are solved, or when you decide to be content with the way they are arranged, i don’t think you have be bored. you can always learn to garden, or to rockclimb, or to communicate better with your loved ones, or you can follow politics or mentor at-risk youth or write a play or build a teepee, i dunno. you don’t have to decide to shake everything up just because everything’s threatening to get good and boring.

is there value in a well-placed shake-up? probably. but i don’t know what life is like without a good (or bad) shake-up every now and then… might be worth it to find the challenge in that.

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a couple months after i graduated from college (in 2007), i wrote a list, titled, “things to maybe do in the next couple of years, or, i have no excuse to ever be bored (a work in progress).” it looked like this:

–take acrobatics classes
–learn a martial art (kung fu??)
–take psych and women’s studies classes
–learn to ballroom dance
–learn to do handstands
–learn to play my guitar
–write songs
–learn to sing again
–get my wings tattooed
–get a puppy
–bike across the country
–go to india and nepal
–go to kyoto and hiroshima again
–fold 1000 paper cranes, with intention
–commute to work by bike
–think about selling my car
–see spiral jetty
–write plays
–produce and direct plays
–write stories and novels and poems, terrible or not
–try busking/street theatre
–paint
–plant an herb garden
–learn about medicinal herbs
–cultivate academic obsessions
–read
–go wwoofing in hawaii
–go to an “ecstatic dance” class
–go to a rave
–cook
–throw elaborate dinner parties
–learn to make homemade pasta
–climb trees
–camp on the beach
–canoe (whitewater??)
–learn to sew my own clothes
–knit fingerless gloves from the pink cashmere my mom bought me
–create elaborate treasure hunts in public libraries, etc
–throw parties
–make limoncello
–revise my thesis play
–educate myself about feminism and environmentalism
–go to concerts
–go see theatre
–go on dates
–have sex
–learn about obscure theories of the universe/physics/time
–go hiking
–plant rosebushes and learn how to tend them
–grow blueberries too
–write letters (penpals??)
–learn bookbinding
–make my website awesome (learn css? flash?)
–work on that career thing (keep doing theatre)
–bake cookies
–bake croissants
–take pictures
–play in the snow and get totally soaked through
–dance in the rain and get totally soaked through
–trip
–go skiing
–roll down sand dunes (again)
–memorize beautiful poems
–work on some monologues
–learn to meditate (vipassana?)
–…

sometimes it feels like everything in the world has changed since i graduated. but i look at this list and i recognize myself so very clearly and strongly in the person who wrote it. and i have done a lot of the things on this list, without even really trying, because i am that person and that person is me and these are the things i feel passionate about,

and It Was Good.

what’s next?

26 Mar 2009, 3:36pm
3 comments

small things

yeah i haven’t been doing so well with the daily photo thing lately, but yesterday i went for a walk around my neighborhood and took these photos of blossoming trees.

my ex-uke:

21 Mar 2009, 12:04am
2 comments

baggage

it’s late and past my bedtime and i’m falling asleep sitting up, but i want to write a little bit. anyway, today was my last 6:30am wake-up for awhile. i mean, for a week and a half. then i’m going to meditate silently for ten days and wake up at some completely ridiculous hour every morning, like 4:30am. it should be interesting. before i go (with a.) my mom thinks i should read my stroke of insight and a. thinks i should read the doors of perception. hah. i will try to read both.

anyway, fuck, what a day. the very first thing i did this morning was stumble across the room towards my alarm clock and step on the neck of my ukulele. snapping it in two. it is an ex-ukulele. ooooh, i was soooo mad at myself. all my shit strewn across my floor, even the shit i care about, because i have too much shit that i don’t care about. a., who bought it for me for my birthday last summer, says, well, it didn’t have great intonation anyway. i think i am going to sell my guitar-i-never-play (it was an 11th birthday present and i still only know a couple chords–it has steel strings and high action and is freakin’ hard to play ok?) and maybe some other stuff for a replace-my-uke fund. and, goddamnit, i am going to get rid of some stuff. seriously.

took some deep breaths, ate some breakfast, thought about getting rid of stuff, and left on my bike for the theatre. lovely and warm these days. hardly mind the drizzle. an hour after sunrise and i’ve got my lights on just in case, riding down clinton street around 36th or so, taking the lane ’cause there’s no traffic. clinton street is a bike boulevard, so there’s mini traffic circles to (theoretically) keep speeding traffic off of it, but few stop signs. just ahead of me, a huge semi-truck on a perpendicular street pulls up a stop sign at an intersection with clinton, on the right. it slows, almost to a stop… i have the right of way so i continue… the truck speeds up again and pulls into the intersection. i brake, swerve, scream bloody murder. he sees me and brakes, too. i pedal past him, really shaken up, halfway to sobbing, pull up at the sidewalk and dismount. he’s yelling out the window, “i didn’t see you!”

and i’m sobbing and swearing left and right at him: “you’re driving a fucking huge ass fucking truck! you have to fucking watch where the fuck you’re going! there was a fucking stop sign!”

“i’m sorry,” he says, “i didn’t see you!”

“you asshole!” i yell, and he drives on.

yeah, way to engage drivers in productive conversation, stacia. i dunno. i wonder when i will stop feeling this way after every close call. i rode the bus the rest of the way downtown. i sat on the bus and stared out the window and i thought, i know how i am going to die. (in that moment i was pretty sure.) and then i thought, i guess there are two ways to react to that knowledge. one, i can stop biking or leave the city. two, i can work to make biking safer and drivers more aware. one of these is obviously the healthy, productive answer. but it’s easier said than done, and sometimes i just feel so overwhelmed by anger, frustration, and FEAR FEAR FEAR.

then there was some minor chaos at work, but it was kind of welcome–nice to have some problems to solve. better than dwelling. yeah, the day got better. this evening i went to a jason webley show in reed’s chapel. i have been to other jason webley shows in the chapel. i have been to other people’s shows in the chapel, i have meditated in the chapel, i have performed in the chapel, i have stayed up all night writing inane plays in the chapel, i have cried in the chapel, i have given cookies to crushes in the chapel, i have wildly applauded my friends in the chapel, i have probably fallen asleep in the chapel. tonight it was nice to be in that space and feel all of those memories around me. (i do not need sentimental knicknacks or physical emotional baggage to prove these things. these memories are powerful all on their own.)

here is a video of jason webley singing one of my favorite songs of his, “dance while the sky crashes down” (which he sang tonight)–

and here are some lyrics from another song of his that i love, “last song”–

and we say that the world isn’t dying.
and we pray that the world isn’t dying.
and just maybe the world isn’t dying…
maybe she’s heavy with child.

19 Mar 2009, 5:30pm
1 comment

oh my

(life)

okay, so i spoke too soon about the nice weather and the Spring Glorious Spring and all that. well, spring in the pnw is like a box of chocolates… but, hey, generally sweet. today was sorta nice, weather-wise, anyway.

yesterday was Not My Day but it ended up all right. ended well, in fact, with delicious home-cooked food and good people and plum wine. it took a lot of stupid little things all piled up on top of each other before the day really got to me and i was swearing and stamping my feet, etc. it was all shit i couldn’t do anything about just then, except accept it, work around it, move on… and i KNEW that, but it still took awhile for that frustration to slip away. it fuckin’ sticks to ya.

i’ve been meaning to write for days and days. feeling busy all the time. not really busy all the time. just stuff. and more stuff. yeah, i think it’s the clutter.

(theatre)

it’s the time of year when (i gather) i should be looking for gigs for next (theatre) season, or even a full-season job, but… i’m not feelin’ it. i wonder what it’s like to know at any given moment what the future really holds? i mean, to be sure about it? i guess i’ve signed a year lease two years in a row. i guess that’s a kind of self-sabotage. good or bad. right now i have no surety at all. feels good and bad.

finishing up with this gig in just a few more days. i’ve been stage managing a show for a children’s theatre, which i’m not gonna link to here ’cause i swear on this blog. the actors in the show are mostly adults (and one sixteen-year-old), but most of the performances (of which there are twelve each week… maybe i am kind of busy) are on weekday mornings, for school groups, usually elementary school kids. way more of them in the audience than there are adults. and oh my gosh, i love them. they are the greatest audiences ever. so engaged, so eager to make noise and respond, gasp, cheer, sing, whatever. they react so genuinely and seem to realize so quickly and naturally that they are in the same space as the stage, sharing it with real people–that it’s not a movie or whatever (though sometimes i here them referring to it as such in the preshow chatter).

you can tell when the kids have gotten some kind of lecture from their teachers about theatre etiquette before the show, ’cause they’re so much more quiet and boring, and i nod off over my prompt book as a result (not really. i am a responsible, alert sm. no, really). i felt a little funny about it when i realized that, because i have definitely gone off about the importance of theatre etiquette in the past… but the people i was talking about then were people who were so horribly disengaged from the show that they would get up and walk in front of the audience, turn around and take cell phone photos of me in the booth, whatever, etc etc. the problem is not too much engagement. the problem is disengagement. we want engaged audiences! would that all audiences were like these children!

(love)

i have been wanting to write (in appropriately vague terms) about the past month since the end of that particular Waiting Time. the not-cryptic story, by the way, is (in a couple long run-on sentences) that my boyfriend and i both got hit by cars last summer (four weeks apart), it sucked, we were both kind of traumatized and anxious and not exactly communicating well, we fought a lot, we broke up, he went to india and nepal for five months, i was supposed to join him for two months but i cancelled my ticket and went to hawaii instead. the day & night before he left, we met for lunch and had one of those bittersweet movie ending kind of times. so we kept talking while he was gone, which meant we kept fighting, which meant we kept talking, and talking and talking and talking, and eventually we started forgiving. and then, five months later, he came home. and everything is easier said than done.

want to write: about raising my voice in a coffeeshop to declare “but i’m not a buddhist!”, about lots of other things that aren’t as easily succinctly and amusingly described, about identifying the good versus bad kinds of self-sabotage, about fantasy versus reality, about craving solitude…

from a journal entry written a week or so ago:
“it is fear… if i can keep real human companionship and communication in the realm of fantasy, it’s something that doesn’t require any work or commitment or messy mundanity.”

there’s a lot of good stuff, too. and the more we do it, the more the working through stuff is the good stuff, too.

i keep saying “we’ll see.” about this, about everything. not sure if it’s a healthy way of accepting an uncertain future, or an unhealthy indication of passivity and inaction. well… we’ll see?

13 Mar 2009, 7:04pm
1 comment

i would while away the hours, conversing with the flowers

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damn, friends, it is wonderful outside today. got on my bike this morning and thought to myself, if the weather were like this all the time, i would be a happy camper. of course, if the weather were like this all the time, all the beautiful green trees and lavender bushes and the cherry trees about to pop would be dead and yellow. so then i thought about puna, and how everything is green and warm there, and damn is that nice. while i was there, i had a couple conversations that went like this:

“how long have you been here?”
“oh, about three weeks” (or whatever)
“oh, i’m sorry the weather’s been so bad for you.”
“what?”
“all the rain!”
“oh, listen, i’m from portland. we have rain in portland. this? this is not rain. this is ambrosia, falling from the heavens. this is the nectar of life. this is rainbow mix, just-add-sun. I MEAN REALLY.”

(ok, maybe i didn’t say that last part. maybe i just laughed and said, i’m from the pnw, it rains a lot there, too. but that’s what i was thinking.)

puna has mosquitoes, though. did you know mosquitoes were a gift of colonialism? just like coqui frogs and rats and mongooses to eat the rats. i am pretty sure.

but really my point is that spring has come to the great pnw and spring here is TRANSCENDENT. because the dreary winter is over, and we’ve made it to spring. there is something about the way spring makes me feel–about to burst with possibility, or something like that–that seems so fundamental and inevitable and natural, and i am glad for the seasons. even winter, now that it’s spring.

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not that you’d guess from these photos i took in my backyard just a few days ago:

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but here’s where i’m at tonight. in this amazing clip from the muppet show, i am pretty sure that the puppeteers are showing off at around 1:08 and 1:30. they turn the puppet around horizontally and then vertically. so i want to know: how do they do that?? ’cause where i’m at tonight is: i wanna be a puppeteer.

i have a puppeteer friend, in fact. in fact he is a traveling puppeteer. he drives a van around idaho and places like that with his touring partner and they bring joy to whole elementary school gyms full of small children. he is kind of like a superhero.

also regarding puppets: click this link. you will not regret it. i would embed it if i could. from leigh stein, whose poems are really fantastic (unless you are like my traveling puppeteer friend, who does not generally like contemporary poetry).

there is something about puppets that improves even that which you thought could not be improved. and nothing is mundane when a puppet is saying it. or dancing it. i mean, that first clip? simply beautiful. emphasis on simply. except for the bit where they turn the puppet around. damn.

to recap: tonight, in my brain: puppets! but tomorrow is, as they say, another day.

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i applied for this thing and i am really excited about the possibility of it and about being excited about theatre again and about the summer and and and.

10 Mar 2009, 3:00pm
3 comments

in the spaces between things

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trying to live life without FEAR as a motivator.

been thinking about priorities, what matters to me, where and what and who i want to be in ten years (the arbitrary “future”), all that.

i think that my urge to travel is at least somewhat rooted in fear. traveling creates a kind of personal stasis… “i can get my act together when i get home. i can make my life the way i want it to be when i get home. i can take responsibility for making the world a better place when i get home. but for now, i’m traveling, so i don’t have to worry about it.”

oh and i still fantasize about this sort of thing (i mean just look at that!) but my family, friends and community are here in portland, and those are the beautiful abstract nouns that show up most frequently on those mental lists i mentioned above. so.

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there’s this little neighborhood cat i call small cat who greets me in the mornings when i take the bus. i’m biking more as the weather improves (and i know biking improves my mental weather if you know what i mean), but i like taking the bus sometimes because of the patience it forces (good practice) and because of small cat’s morning greeting. s/he meows, rubs against my hand as i crouch beside him/her, rolls onto his/her back. runs back and forth just in front of my feet for a couple blocks and then waits at the curb as i cross the street before trotting off.


(i’ve posted a couple other photos of small cat here before)

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(tiny flower found in the pages of a library copy of karen finley’s a different kind of intimacy)

3 Mar 2009, 11:19pm
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peace

some things i’ve been thinking about recently, presented as vague abstractions, to be maybe discussed in greater detail sometime when it’s not past my bedtime (i feel pretty busy these days):

* commitment (to people/ideas/places/etc)
* my past
* my future
* home
* choices and priorities
* love of the unknown/fear of the unknown
* acceptance (of self and others and the present)
* improvisation (see above)
* liminality

and, of course, some photos: