Archive for January, 2008

In Spanish, the terms ‘to hope’ and ‘to wait’ are embodied by the same word: esperar. Distinction can only be made through context clues, and often, there is no distinction at all, much to the chagrin of many a Spanish student.

I’m a stickler for linguistic precision, and this little quirk has always irritated me. To me, ‘hope’ implies ‘desire’ as in, “I want this to happen; it may or may not”and ‘wait’ implies ‘expectation’, as in, “This has not happened, but I’m quite sure it will in the near future”. So this vague, imprecise term ‘esperar’ sends me into a geek-tastic mini-meltdown:
“Gaaah!!! They’re two completely different concepts!!!! Dammit!!!” *grumblegrumble*

But now, all semantic issues aside, I’m beginning to realize that maybe those loco Spaniards are on to something. I think my very life is the embodiment of the term ‘esperar’.

At some point in my life, I woke up in the morning , looked out my window, and realized that everything would turn out okay. And I think that the same thing happened the next day. Maybe the day after that too. Or perhaps it skipped a day; one morning, I woke up with an intense hatred of everyone and everything and an intense craving for a Dove Dark Chocolate Bar. Mmm.

The point is, this has been my modus operandi for some time. I’m so ridiculously optimistic, sometimes I make myself sick. Maybe examples are needed, for clarity’s sake. In my mind:

* funerals = opportunities to share memories with those loved ones that are still living

* cold, shitty weather = opportunities to engage in warmth-creating activities such as wearing cute and cozy winter coats/scarves/mittens, drinking hot cocoa (with marshmallows, please and thank you!), and snuggling with your boo under the covers

* lost/stolen property = one less material possession to worry about keeping track of and/or an opportunity to get something better

* failing at something, anything! = opportunity to learn and grow and perhaps try again later, if Life allows you the privilege to do so.

The list goes on and on. And this isn’t some new-age psychobabble, this is really how I think most of the time. No joke. Pretty gross, I know. This is not to say, however, that my life is not without its fair share of anxiety and pain. Waiting can make the heart grow weary. I get impatient. Sometimes I fall into a fatalistic funk (again, hating everyone and everything, still craving chocolate). Sometimes it lasts for a few minutes, sometimes a few weeks. But it only takes something small — a random song, a funny joke, a warm hug, a random smile from a stranger, an aptly timed word of encouragement from a friend– to remind me (or delude me!) again.

This strange hope that I have, it’s not some vague, abstract belief, it’s not some passive, pie-in-the-sky wish; it’s what I know, and I live my life accordingly. I’m not just wistfully hoping that things turn out okay, I’m simply waiting for all the complex folds in the tapestry of my life to unfurl and display themselves beautifully.

Of course, the one fatal flaw in this manner of thinking is that it can lead to complacency. Too often I’ve found myself falling into the mind-trap of, “If I’ve already won the war, why should I fight anything or anyone?”, instead of, “If I’ve already won the war, why should I fear anything or anyone?” Why should I try vs. why shouldn’t I try.

Maybe I am making sense to you. Maybe I sound like a hokey motivational speaker.

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Chasing Windmills

All I want to do is sleep.

I’ve gone without a good night’s sleep for…almost a month now.

It takes me forever to fall asleep. My mind won’t turn off. My thoughts keep racing in my head. I feel dizzy and nauseous, out of control. I lie awake at night, breathing deep breaths, counting backwards in every language I know, even begging a distant God to let me sleep. All I want is sleep, not because I’m tired, but because I’m foolish enough to believe that sleep will bring some respite from the thoughts that plague my mind. The truth is, when/if I do manage to fall asleep, it’s a restless sleep. I wake up every hour or so, look at the clock, and am forced to repeat the same process again: Breathe in……breathe out….cien, noventa y nueve, noventa y ocho….God, please…Oh God, just let me sleep….

Even my dreams taunt me. They all have the same themes: rejection, betrayal, anger, bitterness, hopelessness.

I’m an emotional wreck, but I’m too proud to admit why, and too chickenshit to do anything about it.

I’m one of the most optimistic people I know, but after a while, the disappointment starts to wear me down. I’m tired of hoping, tired of putting my heart out there, tired of trying to convince myself that everything will turn out okay.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I pray for peace of mind, but I don’t think it will ever come to me again.

It’s 3:30 in the morning. Why the hell am I still awake?

I know this blog is supposed to be about the list of awesome things I’m doing, but I don’t care about the list now. I’m sorry to disappoint. Apparently, it’s the only thing I’m any good at…well, one of two things. If that’s the only way that people see me, then I don’t want to be seen at all.

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FOCUS!

These are my main concrete goals in life, in no particular order:

*Get my PhD in linguistics, with a focus in sociolinguistics, language acquisition or phonology/dialectics, teach at a university

* Become a semi-successful singer/songwriter, perform in the community and beyond, release a CD under my own label

* Get out of debt, stay that way
* Buy my dad a condo in Chicago when he retires

* Fall in love, get married, have a kid or two, have a grandkid or seven

* Travel to a Spanish-speaking country, kick it for a few years

I’m writing these down because I lack focus in my life, which is why I’m at a standstill. I have a very laid-back approach to life, you know “life is about the journey, not the destination”, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”, and all that bullshit. I don’t take it seriously. I never have, and I tend to look down on those that do.  For some reason, I equate “having concrete, attainable career/life goals” with “becoming boring yuppie scum”, so all of my goals are really abstract, like “learn to love myself”, “bring joy into the lives of others”, “make the world a better place”, and all that hippy-dippy crap.

There is a happy medium between living in a cookie-cutter suburbanite cardboard box and living in an actual cardboad box.  I’m determined to find it.

Goals are not bad, aspirations are not bad, working in Corporate America or even *gasp* for El Gobierno is not so bad.

Okay.  Reality check is over.  I’m going to go bake cookies!

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I have writer’s block. I’ve been trying to write this blog entry eloquently for the past 15 minutes, but I can’t even get past the first sentence. So please forgive my heavy-handed prose, I’m just here to state the facts.

One of my main “questionable character traits” (I prefer this term in lieu of “flaws”) is my lack of focus. Some people say this makes me unreliable. I say it keeps me alert. This week, I’m supposed to be working on #29 on my list (exploring), but I ended up working on #18 (spreading musical goodness to the masses) instead. Just by accident, I swear.

Wednesday night, after I found out that my beloved keyboard was no more, I went to my friend Gage’s house. He and his roomies have a potluck/jam session every Wednesday and there is always an interesting assortment of musicians: drummers, saxophonists, banjo players, guitarists, tromboners, washboardists, and on and on.

I’ve been a semi-frequent participant this semester, and when I go, I rock out on keys with a bit of vocals on the side. As far as singing goes, I think I’m not too shabby, but I’ll be the first to tell you that my piano skills are absolute shyte. As a result, I’m quite insecure, so I’m prone to sort of fade in the background and let the other guys take the lead (I’m usually the only girl that participates in the jam sessions, and I think that sometimes affects the dynamics of the group as well).

This week, however, there were more new musicians in the mix, and fewer people in general, so I had an opportunity to let loose a little bit more than normal. I’ll spare you the details. In summation: woot! Good fun! Definitely helped me get over my keyboard-separation anxiety.

The next night, I ended up in front of yet another keyboard, playing and singing to whomever cared to listen. Thursday nights = Karaoke night @ Eastside Tavern. It’s kind of a hipster haven, but it has a comfortable feel to it. There’s always an interesting assortment of people. Anyway. Thursday night. Eastside. Karaoke. That was the plan, but when I showed up, it hadn’t quite started yet and I didn’t see any familiar faces, except my friend that is in charge of the Mighty Karaoke Operation, so I decided to go exploring(!!!) and wander the mean streets of downtown Columbia for a while to waste some time.

I ended up at Sapphire Lounge. I knew (and still know) absolutely nothing about the place, save the fact that a guy named Todd runs Open Mic Nights there on Thursday nights. He’s invited me to play a few times, but I’d never taken him up on his offer, until last night. When I wandered in, the place was almost empty and no one was playing. There was a beautiful keyboard set up on stage, so, after telling Todd the sad plight of my keyboard, he let me fiddle around with that one. It was pretty damn sweet, if I do say so. I think I was intimidated just being around it, at least, that’s what I’ll tell myself to excuse my pathetic piano skills. I decided to play ‘Let it Be’, easiest song EVER! and I still screwed it up. Oh well. Something good came of it all, because Todd invited me to sing with his band in the near future. Fantastic! We’ll see what happens with that.

I made my way back to Eastside, which, in retrospect, might have been a mistake. Usually when I go on Karaoke Night, I run into at least one person that I know. In fact, no matter where I go in Columbia, I’m bound to run into at least a semi-casual acquaintance. But this night? I had got no one, except Meredith, who was bartending, and Skip, who was busy working his magic as the karaoke DJ. I should’ve left, but I’d been looking forward to this all week and I’d promised Skip that I’d be there. We always sing Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds” together. It’s tradition, you know. So I stuck through it, tried to initiate some awkward conversation, and when that didn’t work, started drinking.

Blerg. I’m a little disappointed that I turned to alcohol so easily. Number one, I am super-broke right now; even a few cans of cheap-ass PBR are a luxury that stretches my poor little budget. Number two, I hate using alcohol as a social crutch. I didn’t start drinking until well after I turned 21, which means that I made it through three years of collegiate social situations completely sober…and I still survived! Imagine that. Not that it matters anyway. Alcohol doesn’t really affect my behavior in terms of social inhibitions (those are already naturally lowered or non-existent); it just gives me an excuse for my behavior, I suppose. Awkward conversations are slightly less awkward if you have a Bud Light in my hand, regardless if that bottle is empty or full, because people will write off your behavior as a result of your (apparent) intoxication. And you know, that’s really quite sad.

Anyway! Eastside! Karaoke! After a while, I decided to stop being a self-conscious little Nancy and just started enjoying the various performances without worrying about my status as a solo dork. And the performances were really great! A crowd sing-a-long of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”? Great! Channing Kennedy singing “My Sacrifice” sans various articles of clothing? Also great! (I’ve decided that he is magic. Pure magic.)

Again, details, bla bla bla. I sang Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (P.S. Love Crowded House! Love their newest CD! Yay!), Skip and I rocked out to “Suspicious Minds”, and a splendid was had by all.

So I did more music-ing than exploring this week, but I’m sure it’ll all even itself out in the end.

It all seems very strange though: the same week that I lose my keyboard forever is the same week that I’m uber-active in the musical realm.   When I first discovered that it had been stolen, I wondered if this was God’s way of telling me that it was time to let go of my silly dreams and start pursuing something other than music.

Now I’m starting to think that maybe it was a wakeup call to help me realize how much music really means to me.

Strange.

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De Profundis Fiat Lux

Winter is not a good time for exploring.

I found a few things: a man in a wheelchair who was missing a leg; a chocolate store that sells Orange Blossom Honey chocolates, which are absolutely divine.

But mostly nothing.

I’d go out tomorrow, but all of my exploring endeavors have been put on hold indefinitely.  Someone broke into my trunk this week and stole my keyboard (piano, not computer), so I am in mourning  I’ve had that thing since I was 14 years old, and now it’s probably…well, who knows.  I feel like a piece of my soul is gone.

On the bright side, whoever broke into my car also managed to unjam my CD player, so that’s a plus.   I’m so damn optimistic, sometimes it makes me sick.

I’m a very “glass-half-full” kind of person, even if there’s only a drop left in the cup.  I don’t know why.  I wish I knew where this hope came from; I’d bottle it up and sell it on late-night infomercials.    There’s no reason to have such hope.  This world is a terrible place, filled with terrible people, and yet, I still believe that, no matter what happens, despite the wars and diseases and tyranny that surround us, everything will turn out okay.

I am either painfully naive or hopelessly delusional.  Either way, it helps me get from day to day, so it can’t be all that bad.

Speaking of naivety, I found this great side-comment from Metafilter:

** Refusing to grow up by maintaining your sense of wonder and following your dreams is ok with me. Refusing to grow up by pretending that your adult responsibilities and commitments don’t exist is annoying. There are more nuances that I don’t have words for, but please don’t think I’m dismissing all potential meanings of “refusing to grow up” as bad. **

I’ll let it speak for itself.

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Get Lost

Go exploring! Drive one day, then bike, then use the bus, then walk…Just wander around and see what you find (or what finds you).
I find this week’s challenge to be quite fitting. I feel very lost right now. Ridiculous mood swings, thoughts of hopelessness, you know, all that general existential angst that we 20-somethings go through. Nothing special.
Right now, I don’t know who I am. Or, to be more precise, I’m beginning to figure out that who I am is not who I want to be. These days, I just sit at the computer and browse randomly or play banal games. That’s what’s probably rotting my brain.
Well, today I’m going exploring. I’m back home in Kansas right now and the weather’s not so bad, so I think I’ll head out downtown tonight and do some wandering. If gas prices weren’t so high, I’d jump in my car and drive across the state to Mt. Sunflower, at the Colorado border. It is my Mecca of sorts. I plan to go there before I leave the country, if I ever do.
Do you know what I realized today? I hate Spanish. I’ve been learning it since I was 8, and I’ve planned my entire life around it. It’s a nice language, but do I really want to spend the next two years in South America? Do I? I’m a lazy mofo sometimes.
Anyway, I’m off to shower and wander. I’m expecting wonderful things.

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