JOURNALS!

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THE MUSICAL!

Just kidding.

David Sedaris has a new book out which I devoured in two days. I’m happy to have it at the beginning of my summer so I have some time to bask in the glow I get when I read him. His collection of diary entries came out right at the end of last summer and I got caught up in the school year before my basking was fully basked.

The thing that makes him my favorite is what happens to my inner monologue right after I read something by him. I start to notice incredibly entertaining things about everyone around me- imagining how he might describe them. His voice in my head makes me more observant, more snarky, more smart… side effects include more arrogance and negativity… but the thinking! Oh, the thoughts….

He’s coming to sign books in Pasadena on June 28th which I’ll be out of town for. Still, I was thinking about what I’d ask him in the 30 seconds of his attention I might be able to snag… and I was thinking I’d ask him about his diaries. Not what’s written in them- since some of that’s been published now- but the physical things. Are they spiral notebooks? Composition books? Leather-bound? Black Moleskin books filled with graph paper? A collection of random blank books self-chosen and gifted- some overfilled and some half-empty and abandoned?

Because I’ve wanted to start keeping diaries again pretty much only because David Sedaris recommends it. And maybe writing in something he preferred would help me keep it up… help me imagine him sitting on my shoulder like the proverbial miniature angels/devils of the 90’s. He could be both. Maybe he could recommend a pen too.

Turns out he makes his diaries and there’s a “visual compendium” of them which was published last October. I was shocked to have not heard about this- and shocked again when I was able to pick it up at the library immediately. He types the pages and has them bound every solstice and equinox- so four times a year. He includes ephemera from his life and litter… like he actually goes through trash sometimes looking for things to include- much to Hugh’s chagrin.

So- I discovered this about my favorite author- along with this video about “keeping a diary in the age of oversharing” and it reignited my own journaling practice.

“Journaling” used to be a part of my identity. (It’s “journaling,” btw, because “diarying” sounds too much like “diarrhea.”) It might have been part of every Christian-college-attending girl’s identity in the 90s-00s… pre-Instagram. I decided to put all the journals I could find in my apartment together in one place and just like Marie Kondo would predict, I was shocked by how many I actually had and how many were actually full.

Most of them are from my last year of high school to 3 years or so after I graduated from college. They taper off after I lost my faith. Was it just that? I think it may have been the internet also. And real life. My job was no longer to be a reflective humanities major anymore. I have picked up and abandoned tons of Moleskin notebooks since then. I wanted them to work. I think they were too non-committal. I remember, in my journaling heyday, going to Barnes & Noble and waiting for one of their pretty books to call me (or for a higher power to call me to one- as I would have thought back then). I loved finishing journals. Loved it. I found meaning in myself selecting a lined or unlined book… The journal I bought in Spain was blank. I started it “La vida sin lĂ­neas.” I started the next lined journal with a sonnet about how structure allows one more freedom to create. Ah, college. I thought I was really deep.

My favorite one was the collage-scrapbook cover one:

Part of me thinks this was so cool because I was going cool places…

But I don’t know… I get cool scraps of paper in my life now and either feel bad throwing them out or anxious stowing them somewhere for some future scrapbooking session I’ll have time for when/if I retire or when I’m dead.

But what is the point of doing anything creative if it’s not going to go up on the internet? And perhaps that’s my largest creative barrier right now.

Because I won’t post Teen Girl Squad fan fic:

Or unnamed girl comics:

Or free association verse:

(Boys in hats. Hamlet bats. Poison hats.) I was very deep.

So I picked up a journal I’d gotten as a promotional item from ASHA and figured out I could peel off the hokey cover to reveal a blank black canvas. I’ve been taping things to it and writing in it whenever I feel inclined. Here are some shots of things from the month so far:

And then there’s the writing- which is better than my artwork (not saying much). I haven’t shared any of it and that’s how it might be for a bit. I’ve felt a need to write blog posts- I’ve always had an itch… for a long time… Writing in a diary has quieted the need to share everything. And I feel like I have less chatter in my head. And like I’m getting my brilliant ideas out. And realizing they weren’t so brilliant. And that’s okay for now. I’m less anxious about all the great things I could be doing if only I had More Time or whatever… There is a religious aspect to it again I guess… I’m reaching for a Thich Nhat Hanh book instead of a bible this time around. And I’m doing something like what David Sedaris does- which who can say that’s not something worth doing? WWDSD? Be the David Sedaris you want to see in the world.

So yeah… I’m back into journaling. Or diarying. Non-web logging. Logging. Keeping a log. Being a log lady. My log has something to tell you. ‘Cept it doesn’t Bc it’s mostly just for me.

LOGS! The opposite of a musical … or other published work!

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Carpinteria

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I got to share a chunk of Mother’s Day with my sweet boy in Carpinteria which is this sleepy little beach town between Ventura and Santa Barbara- not a carpet store. Or carpenter store… We walked along a short but gorgeous boardwalk and ate lunch at an oceanfront picnic table. This was our view. And hummus:

It was a bit cloudy and the beach was covered in charred sticks for some reason. Rocco made what he called a “stick house” which was basically a collection of sticks stuck up in the sand. My apologies to anyone who stepped on it.

Here is a picture of swirly driftwood:

The weather and the driftwood really reminded me of trips to the Oregon coast.

We stopped at a cool park a block away with dolphin and seal statues for kids to play on.

Then we went for ice cream down the street. On the way back to the car, we stopped to take pictures of a poppy patch in a vacant lot that happened to be there. Sigh.

I made that picture above square-shaped, thinking I might go back on Instagram some day… The wildflowers along the highways here have been gorgeous but it’s hard to appreciate them while operating a moving vehicle. Believe it or not but for all the daily traffic jams (yes that’s plural) I sit in, they never seem to be next to wildflower patches. Although, due to a wreck on the 405 recently, Waze rerouted me down PCH so I got a traffic jam with an ocean view at least:

It’s still probably wasn’t safe enough to take this picture…

Anyways, back to my intentional beach trip. I decided to take the “Seacliff” exit off the 101 coming back and happened upon a gorgeous stretch of highway. There were lots of RVs parked on the side of the road with lots of other people enjoying the glorious beach day- but not so many people since I was able to easily pull over and observe this flock of sandpipers:

I showed them to Rocco and then we got back in the car and he promptly fell sleep.

“Flock of Sandpipers” is my new band, btw.

OMG KITES

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MORE KITES: I finally got up the nerve to attempt assembling and flying my new birthday kite unassisted while watching a 4-year-old. I am a brave woman. This kite was friggin strong and the heavy-duty reel I got for it is really hard to lock with only 2 hands. And at one point my son dropped his kite string and I had to run and step on it. His kite came down and this guy on the beach picked it up and threw it back into the sky before I could tell him not to. So I was flying my huge monster kite with my hands and my son’s kite with my foot. I loved it. Whatever. It was fun. Here’s a video:

April 20th, 1999

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In Spring of 1999, the Franklin choir had been preparing a program of songs to perform in an upcoming competition which included the DuruflĂ© arrangement of a Gregorian melody called “Ubi caritas.” The lyrics are as follows:

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Amen.

Which means (according to this website) the following:

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other
with a sincere heart. Amen.

I remember our choir director telling us about how she wanted us to pronounce these words- with a fullness or heaviness… I don’t remember exactly what it was but she emphasized the “ubi” and I became obsessed with this word. I wrote a story in Spanish class called about a nice Sesame-Street-like monster- an “ubi”- named Trudy who had a swirling tail on her head, most likely inspired by the Teletubbies which I was also obsessed with (you should watch this clip). It was called “Trudy la Ubi.”

“Ubi Caritas” was something that could be sung by two-to-six people any time, without accompaniment. Quite a few times that spring, we’d bust it out for no reason. Jen made a cake for someone’s birthday (maybe hers? or anyone else’s…. our birthdays are all in April) and we sang “Ubi Caritas” while the cake was cut and the pieces were passed out- as if we were participating in a solemn communion ritual.

April 20th, 1999 was a beautiful spring day in Portland. The weather was nice enough to eat outside and we felt compelled to sing. We joined hands in a circle as we sang and danced around, thinking we were quite hilarious.

We were greeted by a substitute teacher when we came back to our next period class. She had tears in her eyes and her voice shook as she told us what had happened at Columbine High School. It was the third school shooting that had occurred within a short period of time- there was the one in Little Rock, AR and another in Springfield, OR- each which had “only” resulted in 4-5 dead. 13 people died as a result of the Columbine shooting and this substitute teacher was telling us how horrible it was that we were now measuring tragedy in the number dead… as if “only” 4 would not have been tragic. I have carried that sentiment with me ever since and I think of it every time I hear about another shooting. Every one of them is tragic.

She said she had been listening to the news in her car, crying. When she got out to make her way to the classroom, she noticed a small group of students who had joined hands and… were singing. And how beautiful that was.

And we thought that was hysterical.

We laughed at her.

And I’m writing this as a 35 year old woman who works at a high school who identifies so much more now with the substitute teacher in this story than myself. We had no idea what was coming- what kind of change had started and was spreading. We didn’t see the danger or the contrast of our own innocence in the face of that danger. We didn’t have the kind of anger these students today have. I watch these students who have lived with active shooter drills for their entire academic careers. These students who are reaching voting age. I am so proud of them for leading the movement to stop this snowballing pattern.

But I am still heartbroken- that their very innocent lives are threatened- because this country can’t get around a very old constitutional amendment. And I’m horrified because it is going to happen again before these students can vote enough to make things change. It might happen to me. Or you.

By law, states are obligated to provide children with a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. We provide students with accommodations and services to help them access the curriculum. We pay for their placement in private institutions if our public facilities cannot meet their needs. But we can’t adequately protect them from bullets. There is no logic in that.

I eagerly await the day that high school students can go back to worrying about their identity and their homework and their maintaining accurate pitch in an a capella song.

Three things I’d like to share this Sunday

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1. A family of mourning doves has decided to hang out on our balcony. The two babies sit all cuddled up together while their mom and dad go off and get food and/or do whatever birds do. So we’re not their home- we’re more like daycare. We’re waiting for their check. I don’t know where their nest is- but they fly away when the sun goes down. I’m posting this picture because their faces are so cute but so much gross poop right? We’ll have to replace the chairs once they grow up…

Because of our new charges, I’ve gotten to learn all about pigeon milk and figured out that owl-hooting sound I kept hearing was just more mourning doves…. that’s the sound that’s supposed to sound mournful.

2. In case you were wondering, here’s what it looks like when you buy 10 vitamin waters:

My husband and I go through bouts of vitamin-water obsession. Our favorite is the red “Power-C” which tastes like gummy bears. I also like the yellow “Energy” one and the “Focus” strawberry-kiwi flavor. The absolute best flavor ever is “Refresh” which is supposed to taste like “tropical mango.” But they only sell that in rando gas stations and (insider tip) at the Ralph’s in Malibu.

3. Yesterday was the Otis College of Design Kite Festival at the Santa Monica Pier. The wind was high right when we got there so we got to see a huge octopus kite and play with this big parachute like contraption:

The wind died down for a bit so there weren’t any kites up for a while. My son and I attempted to ride the Ferris wheel but holy god it would have cost us $20. He opted for the coin-op kiddie rides instead which still cost three quarters each. Sigh. Rides on the ocean cost more like everything else on the ocean I guess. We ate a cookie (purchased elsewhere since it would have been like a $5 cookie we’d have to wait in a half-hour line for) at a picnic table and were going to go home. We noticed, however, that the wind had picked up and so we went back to the beach and whipped out our octopus kite. And a few minutes later, there were people with their own Amazon-purchased regular people kites all over the beach. We were a quiet, peaceful community. It was glorious.

I honestly think kite-flying is good for helping anxiety and this event was like a group meditation session. Let’s solve some problems with kites, please.

I will listen to any podcast you recommend

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Tomorrow is my 35th birthday and my first day back at work after a lovely 2-week spring break. I spend about 10 hours a week commuting so I listen to a LOT of podcasts. For my birthday, I would like you to please recommend your favorites to me. I will listen to at least one episode of every new-to-me show you recommend- promise.

Here are my top 5 favorites:

This American Life

Reply All

By the Book

Every Little Thing

Heavyweight

And here’s a list of others I listen to/ have listened to in no particular order:

The Moth

Unfictional

Welcome to Nightvale

S-Town

Serial- Seasons 1 & 2

My Favorite Murder

Oh No Ross and Carrie

Family Ghosts

Strangers

Good One- A Podcast About Jokes

Unladylike

Affirmations Pod

Straight and Curly

Let it Be

Slow Home Podcast

Dear John

Missing Richard Simmons

The Guilty Feminist

Invisibilia

The Hidden Brain

Laurie’s Lemonade Stand

Off-Book

I find I like podcasts that tell really good stories, podcasts that are inspiring/ life-hacking and I really love listening to two women banter and curse a lot.

What do you like? What should I listen to?

Easter is confusing

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Because nothing says April Fools like a crucifix made out of chocolate.

Speaking of trick crucifixes- I am reading a biography by Steven Hackell of Junipero Serra- the guy who is credited with opening the missions of California. The book mentioned that in his day, the church forbade the use of things like “crucifixes with attachments and hinges that allowed the padre to make Christ’s eyes open and close and his arms and legs move” because they were afraid people would think they “had witnessed a miracle.” (Hackell, p 119) And I’m like WHAAAT? Because I want to see a padre pull off that trick with the limited technology of the 1700s. I googled this and all I can find are recent videos of religious statues opening their eyes and people being all like WAS THAT A MIRACLE? And for serious HOW ARE WE STILL FALLING FOR THIS, PADRE?

Anyway, I was disappointed by my google search. I wanted to find out that there’s an ancient surviving trick crucifix in a museum or an antique store or on eBay. A girl can dream.

But back to my title- the Easter bunny is the Santa Claus of Easter- obviously. But you don’t see reindeer and stockings coupled with manger imagery. But you DO see crosses and eggs together:

Seriously…

#confused

And if you want a free Easter egg hunt, you can go straight to your local Christian-ish-etc church! #mixedmessages (p.s. Why can’t you visit Santa at church? Get some birds killed w the one stone… p.p.s. why are you killing birds with stones? p.p.p.s. I just went down a massive rabbit hole trying to work out the origins of “kill two birds with one stone” …which brings us back to rabbits… Onward!)

I remember an activity we did in our girls group at church in middle school that consisted of us trying to make connections between egg imagery and Jesus’s death and resurrection. All I can remember is something about “new life” and another trinity analogy (the shell, the egg white and the yolk, amen). It was hard… because eggs (and bunnies) and Jesus are unrelated. You know that right? Right? With the pagans and the equinox and the fertility symbols…

And it’s always on different days and it’s never been on my birthday in my lifetime and won’t be until I’m 40.

And eggs are the worst. They ruin everything. Gross.

This post is devolving quickly so I’ll just say- Easter is confusing. And keep the Christ in Creaster… Jesus in the Jeaster… He is Reastersen… and let’s hope he doesn’t see his shadow this year, amirite?

Obligers, Unite.

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I’ll preface this by saying I’m not qualified to take on Gretchen Rubin. I just do not have the credentials or background or correct personality type. But I do feel like I need to say something.

I read The Happiness Project and I remember thinking that it was an excellent, well-researched collection of things you can do to make you happier, but I also remember thinking it was entirely unreasonable to keep all those things going at the same time. A great many people whose opinions I respect hold up her Four Tendencies book as the new Myers-Briggs and are comfortable explaining their entire identities using her framework. Gretchen Rubin says the book is about how you respond to expectations- and that all people fall within one of the four tendencies she lays out. I took her quiz back in the fall and found out that, according to her, I’m an “Obliger.” This means that I will always do what someone else expects me to do, but I will easily break my own expectations of myself (goals, projects, breaking bad habits, etc.). I also learned that the majority of people she polled were also Obligers.

She’s an Upholder and sorry, but if you read her book, it’s pretty easy to see that she thinks that’s the best tendency. If you look at her diagram- she puts Upholder at the top, even though Obligers are more common. Upholders get the first profile in her book. Upholders are motivated by external expectations and internal expectations equally. These are the people who regularly set goals and achieve them. They’re the “self-starters” that all the employers want and the employees who climb the ladder and have a “tendency” to end up in leadership positions. They don’t need to be micromanaged in order to be productive since they have their own expectations of greatness…… or whatever.

Oh god I’m really trying not to be snarky. But since the snark is out a bit- can I just say that her subtitle “The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (And Other People’s Lives Better, Too)” is SO ARROGANT! Indispensable according to who???? The person SELLING THE BOOK?

So fine, yes. I’m an Obliger- I am highly motivated by what others think about me. I am crushed to smithereens by criticism and I am kept awake at night replaying my conversations with people in my head- not only when they went wrong but also when they went right. I am addicted to Facebook- not just because it was intentionally programmed to be addicting, but because it’s an electronic external validation machine and that is all I want all the time. (GRADE ME!) I used to avoid interaction as much as possible because I was terrified I’d make a mistake which would set me reeling for months. It has kept me from getting raises I deserve and it has kept me from making and keeping friendships. I was afraid to ask for help- even when it was entirely reasonable. I did not prioritize taking care of myself. It took years- YEARS- of therapy to break out of this. And I’m not cured- I’m not the Upholder personality that we all strive to be- but I am different. I have improved. Therapy taught me to give more weight to my inner expectations/wants/drives/needs etc. And I continue to work on it. Every day.

Because, GROWTH MINDSET, people. Please. YOU CAN CHANGE. What rubbed me so wrong about this book was this sense that I just needed to roll over and accept that I’m an Obliger and the only way I’ll ever get anything done is if I create a social obligation to make it happen. And I just say a big fat NO to that! INCORRECT! Maybe if it’s something like joining a book club to make you read books (like I did) or something- but if you are struggling with taking care of yourself on a basic level like I was… I mean exercising, eating healthy, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, paying your bills on time, getting oil changes, going to the dentist- just STOP! Go talk to a therapist. Make yourself a priority.

And just think about this- someone who is motivated by social obligation is going to change themselves by constructing their own social obligations- but who is obligating them to set up those social obligations? They are! The Obligers! And we’ve all been told that we don’t uphold our own obligations! So how is that going to work out for us?? How are we ever going to be motivated to set up social obligations for ALL THE THINGS we need to do to live healthy, productive, meaningful lives. GAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! That’s an Upholder telling an Obliger what to do in the most Upholdery-Upholder way EVER. JUST STOP! STOP. IT.

So again- I have no credentials and nothing to throw at Gretchen Rubin besides my anger…. and years of therapy… But I think she’s written a book about sorting people into four categories and has described them all through the lens of her own Upholder perspective which she thinks is indispensable.

UGH she has so many good things to say. But people like me could be very hurt by this book. So take it with a grain of salt. Then make a dentist appointment.

 

stop everything and make these cookies

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I just made my second batch of these cookies from Joy the Baker in a week and they’re lovely. Totally simple- like so simple that I actually made them on a weeknight! That’s crazy. Also might be attributed to the yearly boost of energy I get from restarting some form of exercise the week after daylight saving time… but still. So easy. Do it now.