Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bless You for Following This Bunny Trail

"But the people on the street,
Out on buses or on feet,
We all got the same blood flow."

I'm doing so many things that I never thought I'd do. I don't mean stuff like, "I never thought that I'd actually do X,Y, or Z." What I mean is that I have never ever considered most of the things I've been doing lately. Granted, I'm also doing a lot of things that I have imagined myself doing. I don't know if it's a usual thing to think about but I remember being in college and laying on my bed in the daytime and fantasizing about going grocery shopping and picking up things like half-gallons of milk and toilet bowl cleaner and filling prescriptions and stopping at the liquor store for a bottle of white wine and bringing it all home and putting these things into their places in my home. And I'll probably be coming down from the idea of having my own home to myself for a really long time--but those are the things that I used to think about. I used to think about sending in stories to publishers and getting rejection letters in the mail. And those things are happening and I'm thrilled to see things that I always saw myself doing coming into fruition. Even if they are simple, basic desires. They're still what I want and what I'm doing and it's so... does it sound overly dramatic or trite to use the phrase "infinitely human?" Because that's what it feels like. I like feeling human. I like feeling ordinary and like my body is just one of millions and how it works and operates and what it requires in order to complete basic tasks is miraculous and by the exact same token, completely hum-drum.

I can't wait until I stop being amazed by the fact that I'm one of millions and start being amazed by the fact that I'm one of millions. The way I'm wrapped up in it right now feels pretty self-involved. I can be so in love with myself, I think you should know. It's one of those things about humanity that you have to accept and you have to ignore at the same time. Aside from our mass collection and the way our bodies work--that's fascinating, sure, but then there are things that you have to pile on like feelings and attitudes and perspective and personalities. It's amazing that any two people can stand to be in the same room with one another. I mean, doesn't it just blow your mind? That even two people on the planet could be considered compatible--and on top of that, there are legions. Even people who don't have any friends have someone who loves them even if it's their moms (and sometimes, honestly, that's the most surprising of all).

I suppose that's how life goes, though. No one imagines the real-life stuff the way that it actually turns out. For example, earlier this week I walked into some random church basement and sat and watched very old men play banjos and fiddles like they were teenagers, calling each other out and making the very old ladies holler. Everyone in that place was seventeen. Only when you're seventeen, you're concerned with visible panty line. When you're in your eighties, let me tell you, you're not concerned about your visible diaper pudge (of which there is plenty to go around). And it's great. When would I have ever encountered this scene on my own? Even if I had ever wondered about it--I assure you, I have never, I couldn't have imagined it the way that it actually manifested itself. Oh the things you learn just by living life in the most basic ways.
Every day I do something that I didn't see myself doing, the day before. Even if it's routine, when I was younger I never imagined my most boring days. Some days are indeed, quite boring but you never think about that when you're imagining pouring wine for your classy friends. Maybe one day I'll have actual wine glasses. But for now I'm quite--inexpressibly happy with what I have.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Welcome Home

I certainly did not expect to be faced with the question of where I want to spend the next year of my life--not today anyway. Today was a day of fun and productivity. I have a load of laundry started and I'm three pages in on a story that I'm certain could turn into a novel if I allow it to do so. And then I checked my mail and what do I see but a letter from my landlord.

So, I'm holding in my hands a lease extension agreement and I can't really help but think of what was the original plan. McPherson was a temporary solution to a temporary problem and a pit-stop on my journey toward Colorado to live with my friends. I was going to spend just a little time getting to know Miss Niece and Mr. Nephew so that they would know who I was and then I'd be off and start my real life.

But then some other things happened in the course of only a year. A year does not take very long and in a year a lot of things can change. Also, in other ways, nothing has changed at all. But today, July 24, 2010 is so very different than July 24, 2009 was. Nothing is different but everything has changed. For example, I have five and a half more family members than I did a year ago.

I didn't try very hard to organize my house the way that I wanted it. I have, honestly, never cleaned my bedroom. Everything was so temporary and I didn't want to put in too much effort. It took me a long time to even try to make any friends. I didn't want to get all invested and then leave. But, whether you want to or not, people come around and some people are interesting and some people are more interesting than you'd originally anticipated and other people like you and, well, you just go with it. So I'm going with it. Not only that, but I have a job that I actually like and I don't want to leave that just because of Plan A.

I guess what I'm saying is that I've had a lot of temporary stops in life and I've officially been here for longer than I've ever been anywhere and it feels really, really good. It feels like home and I'm going to renew that lease and paint the trim in the livingroom.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Coffee Mug

I have many cups in which to contain my beverages and I have my favorites. When I'm drinking milk, I like to go for the olive green on, I like the contrast in color. When I'm drinking tea, it's almost always the navy blue one for reasons I have yet to invent. When it's coffee, I like to use that new squatty, blue and white striped one that I actually paid full price for at The Cook's Nook. I have a huge, glass tumbler that makes ice water a thousand times more refreshing than any other vessel.

When it comes to a to-go option, though, I really don't like anything in my cupboard. I have three in my collection, so I can't really justify buying a new one (but for the record, I'd really like a this So since I have three from which to choose, I go through them and list the qualities.

There's the Einstein Brother's mug that has a broken seal and never fits in a cup holder. I should chuck it but I just can't yet.
Then, there's the other Einstein one that doesn't hold as much as it would seem, and also it was obviously created for right-handed drinkers. It frustrates me and I end up spilling it every time.
So, there's no other choice. I have to go with this coffee mug. This coffee mug is perfect in nearly every way. It keeps my beverage of choice piping hot for quite a long time. The internal capacity far surpasses that of the others. All of the seals are in tact and it's lack of handle makes it easy to grip and ambidextrous. So what's wrong with this seemingly perfect chalice? Memories. Let me tell you about how I acquired this coffee mug.

In my last few weeks at MidAmerica, I was beginning to feel pretty nostalgic. I'd fostered and expertly honed a strong sense of cynicism during my tenure but when the end was in sight, I allowed it to fall away a little--always keeping it in my back pocket. I'd walk through the mall with my shoes off and feel the silky grass that can only be found on that specific spot on campus and think of all the good times. Oh, it was breezy and light and loverly. A good time for everyone.
I'd decided that maybe I did learn life-lessons that they were trying to teach me. Maybe I was being too hard on them* and maybe they weren't as conservative, sexist, offensive (etc...) as I'd always been quick to assume them* to be.
*I don't know who "them" are and I didn't at the time. I suffered from misdirected angst.

And so I walked into the practice for graduation. Everyone had their assigned seats and I was stuck between someone I'd never met and an RA that I had, ironically, very recently met half-passed out at a bar in one of the pool-playing-establishments in town. I didn't know or like these people but who could possibly care? I was flying. I was in love but not with a person. I had a life ahead of me and as soon as these minor details were taken care of, then we could have a party and then move along. So I'm sitting there at graduation practice whoever it was that read the names was practicing reading all of the names. And that was getting a little boring but what can you do? Then we prayed a lot and sang some hymns and I was starting to get a smidge testy, bored, anxious. And then just as my wits were just about to their fraying points the guy in charge says, "Alright I think that's about it--oh, wait. No. Not yet." So-and-so (who is, oddly enough, only one person) from the alumni association wanted to present us with a gift.

She stood up there for what seemed like days talking about these travel coffee mugs. They are a lovely shade of brown, they hold some ounces of liquid, and they are a metaphor for your life. You see because sometimes people refer to their "lot in life" as their "cup". See how that works out? See how that metaphor was obviously an afterthought? Yeah. So my patience is already running thin when she says something to the effect of, "this cup will come in so handy, fellows, when you're running off to the office or, ladies, when you're driving the kids to their doctor appointments or whathave you."
Internal dialog: Oh, yeah, because men are the only ones who have real jobs and women just exist to produce and cart around children. Libby, cool it. Sometimes in life, men will go to an office and women will drive children to places. Just calm down.
Alumni Lady: Or, girls, sometimes after a long afternoon you just want a treat. So you can make yourself a cup of coffee and then vacuum the floor.
Somewhat-Internal dialog: Vacuum the floor? Vacuum the floor?! "Oh, Jesus Christ!"

So, I decided that I was finished listening to the glories of a travel coffee mug, and I stood up and collected my things. Humiliation? Check. Cynicism still there? In full force. A sliver of dignity? We'll see, I mean I did just use the lord's name in vain right before the closing prayer. And I dismissed myself. On the way out, I grabbed a coffee mug because, hey, I didn't have a coffee mug.

All that to say that every time that I use this coffee mug, I think of how I don't own a vacuum.