debt owed: facing debt

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today in my mailbox I got a little gift--the total loan amount I owe, for these past four years in school.

These numbers are all abstract, but they have been carried on my shoulders for a long time. Now I feel like they're finally sinking into me and rising up to the surface, and I am actually looking at them.

I've been thinking about what it means to be an adult. And obviously it doesn't mean turning 18, or 21, or 25, or 30. And maybe it doesn't even mean being able to pay the rent on time, and buy the groceries. I'm sure my definition of adulthood will change and shift with every passing year. For now, at this cusp of my life, at 21, I have a few ideas.

Maybe adulthood means being able to face your problems head on. Maybe it means understanding why you make the mistakes you make, and wanting to fix them. Maybe it means, understanding where you come from and how that's affected you, and learning to overcome the things holding you back. Maybe it means living the life you want to live, and not living scared, and not putting your heart in a jar.

Let me tell you--I have been very guarded with my heart and dreams. I'm not quite sure where it comes from. Just somehow being financially afloat was always something I was striving towards, and always feeling unable to get to. My mom and dad didn't ever say that I couldn't be who I wanted. There was never that. In fact, I'm sure they told me I could do whatever I wanted. But words aren't the only things influencing you when you're growing, and maybe their actions spoke louder.

Money was always a big thing when I was growing up. We didn't have much, but we had a lot more than some. I think what was said to me, in words, was that money wasn't important, that happiness was. But what was taught to me, in actions, was that money bought happiness. That money bought treats. That we should treat ourselves, that that was a happiness. This is something I see in me today. It is slightly shameful, but still, true.

Anyways, the result is that money has always been something I worried about. And dreams, they ignore money. Truly I have not even let myself build up dreams because I always assumed they would be unattainable, financially.

This is a hard statement to come to terms with. I haven't let myself build dreams. I haven't let myself dream. I talk down to myself in my head. I am pessimistic. I assume I won't be able to stay afloat.

This is not the way to think. This is not the way to think to be successful. This is not the way to think to  live the life I want to live.

So I want to face this head on. I want to fight anxiety with determination. I want to accept the panic that will inevitably wash over me. And let it do just that--wash over me. But to never let it sink into me. I want to learn to let go of my fear. I don't have a plan. I don't know what I'm going to do. I have a long way to go. To learn how to dream, how to not scoff at my own dreams, how to plan, how to take action.


*This post was written many months ago, when I was still in the midst of thesis and didn't have the time or energy to commit to a series about something so large and daunting. I have waited patiently until the right time to post it, the right time to begin this journey. And I've been avoiding it. Because positing this means that I'm facing it. So, read this and understand that I wrote this a while ago and while reading it fortifies me in some way, I still have many posts to go that will be filled with doubt and anxiety. This series is not a perfect view of how to deal with your student loans. It's my documentation of my own experience with it. 

story from today

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Driving a car makes me feel a kind of kin-ship with other car drivers. I've been driving Ali's Jeep and whenever I see another Jeep I just kind of feel like saying, "Yeah, I know you." Also, convertibles. The Jeep has no doors and no roof, which is problematic for rain but makes you feel awesome. So whenever I see another convertible I feel like, "Yeah, I also know you."

Today I walked out of Albertsons, whereupon I had picked up some dinner ingredients. (And might have employed that trick where you pick up an heirloom tomato, then go to self-checkout and weigh it as a standard, non-organic, plain tomato and it costs you less? I'm unsure if I should feel ashamed or proud.)

So, I walked outside and parked right next to me was woman with a silver pixie cut sitting in a silver convertible Mercedes. We were one and the same. I hopped up into my jeep and she pointed to my hair and said she liked it. I nodded and turned the car on and put it in reverse. Feeling awesome. And made my way to the front of the parking lot, and looked to my left, and decided to go in front of a guy who was going slow, and turned, and


My heart is in my chest and my cheeks get red and I look, at last, to the right, where there is mildly annoyed man in a black car who has just honked at me.

The whole thing takes less than five seconds and it wasn't even a close call, but I'm left to drive away wondering why it is that sometimes when something like that happens, even though you're totally caught off guard, it seems like your body knew a split second in advance what was going to happen.

europe: summer adventure no. 2: film

Friday, August 23, 2013

Here is the second (and possibly last, it's almost fall? question mark?) summer adventure film. To be honest, I don't know what this is. I mean, it's Europe. There is a lot of Steele, and reflections, and movement. And water, because, water is the most beautiful moving thing. 

I did have some thoughts, while making this. Mostly about how at the end of a trip, your memories start to condense down into little blips, and you try to put everything back in your head, to stay there, perfect and untouched by time and sadness and regret and real life. To remember all of these moments with the clarity you lived them. But, of course, that's impossible. 

But I made this. And even though there are a million un-filmed moments, a million things that went undocumented, it still somehow represents this trip. In some small way. Or some big way. Or just some way, in the middle, some way at all. 

Now I'm just talking rubbish. I have more things to say about trains, I swear.


view summer adventure no. 1 here

rhye --- 'open'

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recently I've been feeling like I understand what it is to own a song. How hearing it can fold time in on itself over and over until all the versions of yourself that ever listened to it are layered on top of each other. And you feel like you know yourself better for it.

I've posted about Rhye on this blog before, a little side note about a precise moment their song, Open was playing in my ears. It was the second day of setting up for my orals and I was laying on the gallery floor looking up at the sky. It filled me up. And then, another version of me was listening to it on the bus going over the river, and another version of me was listening to it driving in Steele's car on the way back to Colorado. And still another version of me was sitting in a theater while the band played onstage and I was sitting in the dark, listening to this amazing show, just waiting to hear this song that had played in my ears while I was so many people.

Ali took me to their show as a late birthday present, an experience for us both. They played Open second to last, and when the opening notes started I felt like I might cry. I felt like I had gone back in time and stretched out on the gallery floor and looked at myself from a few months ago and pressed my own palm against my own chest. I am myself I am myself I am myself I am myself I am myself. It was like a mantra running through me. How is it that a song had ended up my marker in time? As long as I was listening to this song, as long as I am listening to this song, I feel like I'll know something about myself that runs deep.

Ali introduced me to this song. I'm on of those tag-a-long music friends, who you introduce to something and suddenly that's all they listen to. But somehow, for once, that doesn't negate the sensation of it belonging to me. I think that's why I've always been timid in this feeling of owning a song. But something about this one just snuck in and attached itself to me despite.

Since the show I've bought the whole album and I know it's going to be something that brings me back myself again and again, if that makes sense.

They're both worth more than a listen. Listen to them. Let them belong to you too. 

europe: places

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It was like.... 

Denver > Chicago > London > Kings Lynn > London > Dover > Calais > Paris > Lyon > Geneva > Milan > Genova > Marseille > Cassis > Marseille > Madrid > Lisbon > Newark > Denver > Portland

Not to get to intense, or anything. 

I will not be sharing something from every place we went, because, that would be crazy and also ruin the magic of things I think. However, if you want to see a little bit from every bit, I highly recommend checking out my VSCO grid: 

Most of the edited (edited with the VSCO app) photos live on the grid. If you use the little magnifying glass you can search by tag, and there is a tag for every place we spent significant time at. (Though even significant time equates to only a few hours in some places.) 

I also shot film while in Europe. In fact, I shot only 35mm film and iPhone photos. So, right now I'm working with the phone photos, but I will be getting my film processed and scanned in the coming weeks, and will then have some new things to post. 

Mostly, I don't want this blog to be an endless sea of images with no meaning. Everything blurs together and things are already leaving me, and I want to use this blog to capture some memories and keep them. And you can't capture everything. My memories and brain are scattered and so posts about Europe will be scattered. There are things I know I want to write about and things I know I could never do justice by writing about and things I don't yet know I'll remember and things I've already forgotten. 

So for now have this feeble map and use your imagination while I sort through my memories. 

europe: shades of water

I'll begin with the smallest thing, and the biggest thing. Water. We could start by exploring what it means to see water, apart from this trip to Europe. We could start by saying that to set your eyes on water is to have some sort of release. To feel, even just by looking at it, weightless. We could say that being next to water lowers the temperature by a few degrees, even just in your imagination.

We could start in Dover, where the water is opaque and grey-green. The beach was made of egg sized rocks and the waves coming in pulled at them and made the most absorbing sound.

And the wind whipped across it, from the land which isn't so far away, although when you're standing on one end of the English Channel the water still seems endless like it always does. 

The sky in Dover was grey and overcast and still, I never saw such a beautiful combination of colors. Until Switzerland, where we visited very briefly the edge of the country, which holds a lake named after the city of Geneva. The lake holds the purest water. So clear you could see all the pebbles on the bottom. It was a hot day and I never wanted anything so much as I wanted to dive into that lake. 

I would be surrounded by solid sea glass, water so clear I would easily see the sky even under the surface. Water which on such a sunny and clear day, reflected back up the brightest turquoise color. So rich you wouldn't think it could exist in the world. Water does that. It becomes colors you didn't imagine possible. 

Then in Marseille we took a boat ride to visit the Calanques on the southern coast of France. It was a big tourist boat and it cut through the surf even with the wind pushing the water up into steep little peaks. The Mediterranean coast of France is a trio of three colors. The pure blue water, the dry white rocks, and the bright blue sky above it all. 

On our way back to the city, the boat made its way across the water, and the cloud rolled in, a summer storm. Steele and I stood on the rocking boat and watched the water change before our eyes. Once the clouds covered the sky, the water deepened to the darkest navy, a color that reflected no light. The formal color of the sea. 

A few days later we made our way to the small town of Cassis, where you can hike to the Calanques instead of taking a boat. We hiked 45 minutes and were rewarded with the scene of the water cutting its way through the rocks. They're like small skinny bays, little inlets that the sea has made over years and years. We scrambled up the dry rocks and gnarled trees, stopping at times to perch over this bowl of water. 

The water in the Calanques is warm Mediterranean sea water. Blue-green, but more green than blue. And always reflecting back the pale rocks. Clear enough to see the dark mossy shapes below. (Clear enough to make your heart beat faster with the thought of how much open space is beneath you while you float on the surface.)

This is the water I swam in. 

ghost life

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You are coming home to a ghost town. It’s a place you used to live. You can drive on your streets and walk the aisles of your grocery store, and stand on a porch you've stood on a hundred times. And all the places are filled with your ghosts. 

You begin to vanish yourself. Everything you’ve built starts to crumble—you’re living a half-life—a ghost life. You would float away if you weren’t so heavily saturated with your ghostly memories. 

Sometimes the ghosts seem so solid. 

Is there anything more simultaneously familiar and foreign as a ghost life? For a second you stand on the porch looking down into the overgrown grass and up into the sky and you feel like you could just walk right into a ghost and curl up and live there. It’s not that you want your old life back, no—it’s that you want to live with that heavy knowledge of the future.

When you think back to what it was like to wake up in your old bed, with the pale dawn light crawling into the window, it was as if your future self was already there inside you. As if you were weighted down by those ghost memories already. Maybe that's why you moved around the bedroom every morning in the half-light, getting ready for school with such a heavy weight on your chest. It's hard to have a ghost inside you. You want to escape and you want to remember. You want to forget and you want to stay.

But no matter how good it feels to imagine you always knew, you can't pretend for long that you weren't just as shocked as anyone to come home to an empty town full of the past.

Ghost towns crumble forever and ever but they never change. They are perfectly the same every time you visit them. It only hurts so much because you are so different. Your skin isn't the same temperature anymore and every time you step foot in your ghost town all of your exposed skin shrinks and covers in goose bumps and revolts against the pure fact that here you are: your hometown.

It's only when you leave, on a plane or a car speeding away, forward motion into the real world, that you realize the ghost town isn't a real place at all. It's a bubble you hold within yourself. Your chest contracts as if it's suddenly aware of the entire crumbling mess inside of you. You realize, the speedometer climbing to eighty, that instead of inhabiting the ghosts, they have inhabited you. They've climbed inside, somewhere in your chest cavity, and they intend to stay there. 


I promise I will share more about the trip soon. Right now I am faced with being in my hometown which, maybe some of you can relate to, spurs some feelings. Also I'm still unsure of how to tackle a month of Europe into blog posts. So. Soon, dear loyal blog readers. Until now enjoy this seemingly nonsensical prose stuff. 

Let us start at the end

Friday, August 2, 2013

Yesterday I flew from Lisbon to Newark and from Newark to Denver. It was a sunny day and clouds were sparse, and so, because most of the first plane ride was spent over the atlantic ocean, most of the plane ride was spent in a blue sphere. Where you could look down and see the ocean, with the odd fluff cloud over it, and easily convince yourself that you were looking at the sky. Flying over the sky with the ocean above you.

I spent almost seven hours in this blue sphere.

A blue sphere in which you are allowed to move forward and stand still. 

A sphere in which you can always be moving towards home but never reaching it. Time doesn't exist. You could be home in an hour, or a year, or ten years. It will always be waiting for you, but you'll never arrive. In the blue sphere you'll always be almost home. And what a place to be, almost home. When you're almost home, home is a place where you know who you are and you'll know what to do. When you're almost home, home is that place of hot summered childhood memories, where your feet smack the ground over and over, and you let the screen door slam on your way out of the house. When you're almost home, home makes your throat tight and thick with hometears. And in the blue sphere, you're always almost home.