Random

Season Sting

Today I ache for summer, for an open road with only one lane on each side, that weaves and winds and turns and stretches and couldn’t hold onto me if it tried. For time outside of coffee shops, for time with the stack of books beside my bed labeled “To Read When…” For a scratched CD scribbled “Summer 2010″ playing Sublime or Marvin Gaye or anything that sings to me from summers past through the warm wind that tangles my curls and reminds me that the glorious sun can heal everything, but stings a little. And I’ll take the sunburn and the Texas heat if it means I get to race to the lake after work on Friday and bury my toes under murky sandmud and stay up late playing music and eating snow cones because that’s what it means to me to be young and terrified of everything, especially growing up.

And I’m still young and terrified of everything, most certainly growing up, but everything else has changed.

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Random

A List of Stereotypically Texan Things That (Some) Texans Actually Do

For many months now, I’ve been keeping a list of painfully Texan things I’ve actually come across in my day to day life growing up and living in Texas. This is by no means meant to capture everyone who has ever or currently lives in Texas. It’s merely a set of large generalizations based on actual observations.

I have a pretty strange relationship with the Lone Star State. I don’t have any family beyond my parents or sister living here or anywhere near here, and besides my sister, I don’t have any family from Texas. But I have spent the majority of my life here, in Denton, TX to be specific, and by all means should consider myself a Texan. And more and more, I’m warming up to the idea. Or maybe I’m realizing how this quirky, albeit occasionally embarrassing, culture has shaped who I am.

There are many misconceptions non-Texans hold about this state. Those of us who have lived here since we were kiddos grew up trading stories of the ridiculous things our out-of-state cousins would ask us about Texas, firmly believing we rode horses to school. Occasionally though, Texans don’t disappoint. So here’s a list of:

Stereotypically Texan Things That (Some) Texans Actually Do

1. Take photographs in fields of bluebonnets (the State flower, y’all) during springtime
2. Listen to country music
3. Participate in 4H as a kid
4. Talk about Chuck Norris
5. Know someone that knows someone who knows Chuck Norris (I’m guilty of this one, guys)
6. Expect iced tea to be sweetened
7. Own Wranglers
8. Go line dancing at bars named Rockin’ Rodeo (the name of a bar literally a few blocks from my apartment)
9. Drive massive pick-up trucks with Don’t Mess with Texas bumper stickers
10. Think “Don’t Mess with Texas” is the truest thing ever said
11. Eat Pecan Pie (pronounced pee-can paai)
12. Hate immigrants
13. Actually care about the UT/OU football rivalry even if they didn’t go there, live there, or even really like football
14. Buy beer in drive-thru beer-selling establishments aptly named Beer Barn, which actually resemble barns
15. Have racist grandparents
16. Be completely unaware that certain customs are uniquely Texan and aren’t done anywhere else. My friends and I were shocked last week after discovering Homecoming mums and garters are only made and worn in Texas.
17. Make campaign ads like this one:

18. ACTUALLY elect Senator (Big Bad) John Cornyn

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Rainy, Reflection

When the truth is, I’m just getting started.

The potential for a Texas snow day when I was a kiddo was a sacred thing. Everyone knew about even the slightest possibility of wintry weather the night before, and I went to sleep with my fingers crossed, hoping my parents would wake me in the morning and tell me school was cancelled. And when morning inevitably came, I ate my cereal staring at the scrolling list of school closures, willing mine to appear in true Matilda mind-control form. I remember watching every name of the entire list multiple times, just to be sure I didn’t blink for a moment too long. And once or twice a year, the roads would freeze just enough to scare all of us into staying in for the day, or at least until ten when it would warm up enough to melt the ice, but leave the sloshy, frozen mess for us to have snowy/dirt-ball fights and build, let’s be honest, some very, very pathetic snowmen. But to me, those days were perfection.

My freshman year of college, we had an entire week cancelled due to what we melodramatically referred to as Snowpocalypse, a winter storm that covered the roads with ice and didn’t unfreeze for the entire week. I was living in the dorms at the time and we all spent the week watching day-long movie marathons and eating Ramen noodles. My roommate and I made a treacherous afternoon hike across the icy roads and sidewalks to a grocery store nearby, and I learned how to make snow ice-cream with condensed milk and vanilla extract.

I’m particularly clumsy in the rain, let alone the frozen kind. So when I pushed my front door open this morning, fumbling to balance my bicycle and the backpack full of books falling off my shoulder, and saw that my little stoop was covered with a thin layer of snow, I turned around and thought nah, better not. I traded my barely-warm-enough-to-be-considered-gloves for the real deal and spent an extra twenty minutes walking to work, breathing in the quiet morning.

As you may have learned from my post last week, winter and I aren’t exactly closely acquainted. I would happily live in parts of the world where winter is a season that passes  quickly and shows little sign of its presence. Wintertime in Texas means the formerly green and living world blends to a dull beige, which is a lot like summer, but everything feels a little heavier. Like Oskar and his heavy boots. And I feel a little lonelier, which I hate to talk about but maybe you feel the same.  And I say this because we only speak of loneliness when we’re laughing about our Netflix-watching habits, ice cream over-consumption, and late-night cigarettes. But winter is a little lonelier, and maybe Spring is like “the end of missing someone,” or if nothing else, a little more alive.

In any case, we’re not friends, winter and I. And while it was far earlier than I wanted to be awake and out of my cosy (and warm) sanctuary, the beautiful morning felt like a personal peace offering from Mr. Winter himself to this grumpy cold-weather-hating twenty-one-year-old. It felt like my own, however selfish and frivolous, and the snowy morning mostly melted away early before most of this little town was awake.

It was beautiful, and maybe even a bit magical, cliché and all. I was thankful to be reminded that while my love of winter is more of a one-morning stand with snow, it’s something that makes the tiny speck of life I get to call my own feel a little less heavy.

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Rainy, Reflection

Has time driven our season away? Cause that’s the way it seems.

I think this is the longest blogging break I’ve taken in quite some time. It was certainly not a planned hiatus. I suppose I’ve been recovering from all the writing I did for the end of the semester and the first wave of grad school applications (wave two unfortunately comes in a few days). I have a handful of beginnings of posts I jotted down in my notes when I didn’t have time to write during finals week. I’ll sift through those and hopefully find some substantial things to say here soon. We’ll see, I suppose. For the first time in a very long time, I haven’t been writing at all. I have been doing lots of other lovely things though.

I woke up Christmas morning to loud thunder of an early storm. The dreary morning was met by a crazy cold wind that blew in mid day and turned the heavy rain to snow and we had the afternoon to enjoy a beautiful white Christmas, an extremely rare thing in Denton, TX. And because of how rarely it snows, of course, we’re not exactly prepared to drive in it. I made a treacherous trip as the leftover puddles from the morning and the newly fallen snow began sticking to the roads to go take care of a couple pupsters I’m babysitting right now. I was moderately terrified. I mean, when in the five years I’ve been old enough to drive would I have had any practice driving in snow/on ice? The answer is never. Luckily, I survived and took a few pictures along the way. I hope you and your families/friends have enjoyed and continue to enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate! Life is pretty grand, guys.

This is as good a time as any to mention the links on the right. If you like seeing little bits of my life including a few of the hand-lettered doodles I spend far too much of my time making, you should check out le instagram. It’s fun and sometimes I take pictures of pretty things like making Christmas cookies or sweet animals. I almost never tweet, but my sister and I took a bus to Houston last week and I live-tweeted things I overheard on the bus. So if any of that sounds mildly fascinating to you, the options are yours!

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Rainy, Reflection

Summer Storms

Some of my favorite things I’ve ever written were the result of late storms and my inability to sleep through the rumbles of thunder and the lightning flashing through my closed eyelids. I’ve spent many hours trying to be poetic, to find eloquent ways to describe moments just like this one. I try to make sense of the things that scare me, the things that make me anxious in the absence of understanding. I think about the things that make me sad, the memories that I hold onto as tightly as I can without actually having to feel them, without having to see faces and replay conversations, and without having to remember what never happened, the apologies and hugs and honest words that were never spoken, without having to confront regret. I can hide from all of these things most nights when sleep comes, but the rumbles and the lightning and the inability to rest tired eyes render me defenseless.
Well, not completely. I come here. People often ask me why I write, what the goal is each time I sit down to put pen to page (or hands to the keyboard), and I have a difficult time explaining how it’s the only way I know how to even begin making sense of a life full of things that don’t make sense. I don’t want to run away from the things that scare me, I want to understand. Or at the very least, I want to understand that I can’t understand. That’s why I come here. And if I can’t do so myself, maybe you’ll show me something essential about this incredibly messy and brilliantly precious life. You can accept that as a challenge.

If you’re a writer or a maker or a human being of any kind, how do you make sense of things that don’t make sense?

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Relevant

Happy Campers

Two photo-heavy posts in one day. I apologize. I had a lot of catching up to do!
Early last week I was reminded that the Perseid meteor shower occurs this time of year. Six years ago I caught the Perseids when I was in Florida with the fam blam. My friend Hannah was there with me, and by sheer luck we were on the beach for the peak of the shower. It was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen. In hopes of catching it this year, we decided to get out of town and go camping for the night, my first camping experience, actually. Sunday morning when I checked the weather, they were calling for thunderstorms, which, if you know anything about Texas in August, is kind of a joke. The chances of it actually raining were pretty slim, so we kept our plans. And of course, because the weather has a sense of humor, we had crazy storms all evening. It wasn’t light rain or anything. It was the real deal crazy wind, lightning, thunder, the whole shebang. So we cancelled our plans, went to dinner, rented a movie, grabbed coffee and I conceded that camping and I were never going to be friends. But as we sat outside on the square and watched the clouds clear as the sun started to disappear, we decided to go for it after all, despite the weather forecast that called for thunderstorms all night and everyone’s negativity (which I guess was really concern for our safety) about our decision. That’s right, I finally had my very first camping experience. Victoria, Julia, and I packed up the car and made it to the lake just in time to snag a campsite for the night. The thunder and lighting over the lake continued as we spent an hour pitching the tent in the dark. But eventually the clouds cleared and we had a perfect night playing ukulele, eating marshmallows, and watching the meteor shower. My inability to sleep even a little amidst all the little critter noises prompted an early sunrise photo adventure which is what you see here. Pretty great. I hope those of you still livin’ the sweet summertime lifestyle that comes between semesters as I am are enjoying the little bit we have left. Can’t say I’m ready for it to end (but I can’t wait for fall weather!).

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Rainy

Not sleeping, but writing.

My room is transformed. Outside my window a strobe light flashes slightly out of sync with a booming bass. Sound surrounds me with quick rhythms, a tap-dance party at two a.m. with thousands of little feet tapping on my roof (shu-ffle, shu-ffle, shu-ffle, ball, change). No sleep for tired eyes, so I dance along in dreams of dreaming dreams I won’t recall when the alarm clock wakes me a little too early for these tired eyes to want to see the morning sun after a night of summer storms. I remember how terrifying nights like these were when I was a kiddo. I’d work myself into a frenzy counting the seconds between the lightning and the sound of thunder that trailed behind as the space between the two became smaller and smaller until I was sure the next one was going to fly through the roof, through the attic, through the ceiling, to my little fingertips holding my covers over my eyelids. One-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi. I remember the first time I decided not to be afraid of lightning. I was twelve at a birthday party in May. There was a trampoline and summer thunderstorm and a little girl who felt perfectly safe in the world, in her world. I don’t remember when everything changed.

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