from above

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two images from a hike few weeks ago. Big and small.

personal landmarks

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I've been in Colorado for the past few days. Which means I'm all aflutter with feelings about going 'home'. Tonight I was driving back up into the mountains, on 285 South about to head into the canyon. In the mountains of the canyon, there is a huge lit up cross. I've been thinking a lot about personal landmarks lately, and so I got my camera ready to take a new picture of the cross. But it wasn't lit up. The mountains were dark. I wondered aloud why it was off and my brother said, "Why? Are you going to write a blog post about it? Like how home isn't home anymore. I can feel the bullshit coming. . . er, I can feel the 'meaningful words' coming." 

But it's true. The cross was always was a symbol of home for me as a kid. When I saw it as we drove towards home at night, I would know that we were almost there. This place hasn't been home for a few years, and every time I return I feel farther and farther away from it, my memories feel more diluted.

Still, even coming back to this house, with my fading memories, and the shell of my old lives, the cross has always been a comfort. I hope that it's not off for good, and that I can return to Colorado and see it in the dark, and know that I'm almost home. It will remain a personal landmark, the same way that a few other places in Portland have become. 

My Portland landmarks are mundane places and scenes I've been stuck looking at, day in and day out. At first they're quite ordinary, but over a while I realize how familiar and comforting these scenes have been. The few that come to mind are as follows:

The Ross Island Bridge sign from outside the apartment I shared with Molly on Grover St. I photographed it repeatedly, over the course of the two years I lived there, and only towards the end consciously realized that it was a personal landmark for me. 

The telephone wires on view at the 23rd and Burnside bus stop for the 20 going up to school. My last year at school was spent waiting at this bus stop, so I'll always feel a fondness for this particular telephone pole. (It's also just so strange and beautiful.)

And lastly, these three wires strung up outside mine and Steele's current apartment. By the time we moved into this place, I felt like I was collecting all of these landmarks. And I knew that there would be one from this place, as there always is. I just didn't know what it would be. I recently developed a few rolls of black and white film, and one of the frame is of these wires. I do find them quite beautiful,  have also photographed them repeatedly and just like the lighted cross in Colorado, they mean that I am home. 

real life self vs. blog self

Monday, August 18, 2014

Feeling a bit weird tonight. Not sure where this (this blog) is going, and so I clicked on a random post from September of two years ago. And it was pretty applicable to my night, go figure. 

Okay, here's the thing. 

This blog doesn't work very well unless I just go for it. 

Tonight I had a strange experience in which I discovered a blog written by someone I know in real life. I could tell right away that even if I didn't know the author I would like the blog. That I would feel a kinship with it, and feel like I could be friends with the person writing it. That part's not strange. That's something I feel with most of the blogs I read. (And to be honest, the reason I keep reading blogs.) The strange part was that this person and I are not really friends in real life. We're not not friends. But we're not really friends. It feels weird to read something online that I can relate to, but not get the same vibe in person. (On a side note, I kind of hate the word "vibe" but, you know.) It caught me off guard and just twisted my perception. 

I mean, it's a blog. Duh. And blogs aren't real life. Another duh. And blogs don't show even half of a persons real life. As validated by the random blog post from two years ago. I already knew this. Why did it catch me off guard? And why is it making me feel weird about my own blog?

If I knew I probably wouldn't be writing about it at 12 AM. But here I am. 

For better or for worse, this blog (my blog) is a personal blog. It has no traction as a business, it has no crafty DIY tutorials, it has no recipes, or home tours, or review for products. This blog is a journal. It's not a journal for everything. It's not my whole life. But it is a lot of my life. This is me. 

So I guess what I'm feeling weird about is the separation between my real life self vs. my blog self. I don't really want there to be too big a gap. I don't want people to meet me and feel like I'm a lot different that I read, or read this blog and feel like I read a lot different than I act. Obviously, for this blog that I found tonight, they do have a separation between blog self and real self. And that's okay. I don't want every blog to be a personal blog. Then I would have nowhere to read DIY craft tutorials. But seeing that separation first hand made me wonder if I come off a lot different in real life.

Now I will ask for comments on my personal blog: For those of you who know me in real life, what do you think? And for those of you who don't, what do you think? 

debt owed: IBR

Friday, August 8, 2014

IBR stands for Income Based Repayment. You submit your most recent tax return and "they" (your loan carriers) determine the appropriate monthly payment for your student loans. For me, that is $0 a month. When I held my steady customer service job, I was able to pay my monthly payment. Yes, it meant I had little left over and that only a fraction could be saved, but I paid it. Now that I have left that job, it's not feasible.

I finally got my tax return submitted, and to anyone out there who is wondering if they should apply for IBR, know this at least: it's really easy. You complete the process through and they submit the documents to your loan provider. 

I'm fortunate enough to have secured a part-time job (as you know from the last life update post.) Even with this, I will need to stay on IBR or completely drain my savings, as I'll be making just enough to cover rent & cost of living. (Bills & groceries!)

A part of me feels like this is giving up. I struggle with the choir between trying to pay them off as quickly as possible (savings and quality of life be dammed) or paying just enough to not claim forbearance. I hate the idea of having this debt hanging over me to for the rest of my life, but t makes me equally panicky to think of having no savings, no safety net. I'm not sure there's a right answer or what to go about it. I will, for now, continue to push my way through. 


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.

what light can do

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The other evening I was going out to dinner in a part of town I'm not normally in. We parked a block or so away and as we were walking up to the restaurant, I noticed this door window papered up from the inside with 8.5x11 printer paper. For some reason the scene struck me, this window gridded up, completely white with an ordinary material. But the sun was setting, and it glared harshly on the window. Because my mind is trained to think in light, I immediately wished it was cloudy so I could have a pure flat white light. Or, I continued to think, the light at dusk would be perfect. Not cloudy, but the harsh sun gone, the world plunged into the blue hour. I snapped a photograph with my phone anyways, knowing it would be dark when we came out of the restaurant. I knew I would miss the blue hour. 

This was a fleeting moment. I lagged behind the group for a second taking this picture, ran to catch up with Steele, who had waited for me, and told him about the papered door window, and we walked into the restaurant. I forgot about the photograph, and the door, until we finished eating and left. It was dark outside, so I knew I wouldn't be able to take a better photograph, but I still turned my head as we passed the door. 

What I saw was pure magic, and I lagged behind the group again, my body reacting before I had time to think, pulling out my phone so I could take another picture. The light inside the building was on, and that 8.5x11 paper was back lit. This was much better than the flat light my mind had wished for earlier. What drew me to the scene, the overlapping rectangles of this everyday material, was completely transformed with this light. I was so happy to have turned my head at that door. Happy to have noticed something completely average. Happy to have captured it. And thankful, as always, for what light can do. 

a love letter to my life

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My twenty-third birthday was six days ago. 23 doesn't sound so old and I know it's not a milestone birthday, but it somehow feels different. I don't feel older, and I definitely don't feel wiser, but I do feel more full of love.

Let me just diverge for a second and talk about when I went back to Colorado over mothers day. I sorted through a bunch of my stuff, and inside of that stuff were lots and lots of journals. Reading some of them I was shocked by how forcefully my hate runs through them. Hate for myself, for my life. It's the fierce heat of a flame, burning through everything and leaving nothing but embers and charcoal and no real memories of those years. It sounds harsh to say it, and though I know they were the teenage years; I also know that I felt those things deeply. It comes across on the page, to say the least.

So it seems somewhat subversive to my former self to write a love letter to my life. It's the kind of love letter that is tender and bruised. The kind that's not perfect. That recognizes there are soft spots always, places where that anger leaks through. There are insecurities here, doubts, fears that run deep--that are fed from that fire of hatred. There are moments where I am incredibly selfish and petty, guilty and jealous and spiteful.

But this is the deepest kind of love letter. The kind that says, this is real. It's also full of sweetness and light. It's full of the cool sheets I woke up tangled in my birthday morning. (Somehow I always manage to tangle them.) And the blueberry flecked smoothie Steele made me for breakfast. It's full of the slap of two sets of feet against pavement, of being in synch with someone in the city. Having your person. It's a love letter to the wide blue sky, and grasses and fields as you drive by.

This is a love letter about the small details: the order in which people show up to my pizza party. The way hair gets pressed into your mouth when you hug them. How each person feels so familiar. Then they're all there and all the dots are connected, strings are strung out between each person. A web. It's a love letter dedicated to the action of spreading out my old alpaca blanket on the sun burnt grass, and sitting on it in a ring of people.

It's a love letter to the past week, which involved swimming in a river with Melina and Karoline, twisting around and diving under again and again to capture a little grey-blue rock. This is a love letter to my river-reflection, my shadow self that is mirrored back at me and breaks up with the ripples. It's a love letter to the re-reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, to the sharp IUD cramps that rack through me, to the nervous pattering of my heart as I sit through yet another interview. This is love letter to my new gym membership. (A gym membership! How mature! How grown up! How normal!) 

It's also a love letter to my birthday cake: orange olive oil cake lit with candles, held by Steele, blown out by me. (And to noticing Zach in the background taking pictures. Zach, give me those pictures.) This is a love letter to the wish that darted through my mind as I blew those candles out: Not a thing, nothing specific. Just to feel whole. To be happy & content. Not to banish nervousness and insecurities and doubt and bitterness, but to let them absorb into my life. Another book on the shelf. Another word in the sentence. Another ingredient in the bread. Another metaphor on this blog, duh.