Monday, May 9, 2011

Mess Makin'...

Sadly burlesque didn’t end up happening as something came up for Haley. I enjoyed a lil collage project action, dinner and some much needed sleep. Work the following day was pleasant as was the rest of the evening. Today I woke up to the birds chirping outside my window and the sun rising. I…have no plans. No where to be and nothing to do. Well… a few minor things but still, it’s a lovely and somewhat scary feeling. I’m trying to go with it and not question it.
On my walk home from coffee and writing at the Knockbox I was daydreaming about writing simply to write. No agendas, no topics or themes, just writing for the sake of it. I used to attempt this when I was in high school. I’d try to concoct stories to send in the Seventeen magazine, never finishing them, forever beginning and allowing them to trail off. I could write in a journal all day but write something you might read? Not so much on that. I would become (and still become) paralyzed with fear, suddenly stopping or allowing myself to become distracted, forgetting about the piece.
My thoughts meander still to thinking about my dad’s mom telling us every now and then how when he finished eating, he’d make sure all the crumbs were cleaned up never leaving a mess. My dad is in his fifties and still to this day, crumbs do not exist.
I am this way in certain aspects of my life. Especially at work. I don’t like clutter and everything has it’s place. When I’m working on my jewelry I don’t like everything to be everywhere, although it most certainly looks that way. When I cook or bake I clean as I go, putting away ingredients as I use them. If writing happens it happens because I have something in mind that I feel needs to be expressed or accomplished rarely for the sheer joy of writing.
I’d like to say that I’m not into making a mess but judging from my room on most days chaos seems to be where I’m most comfortable. Lately, I’m trying to change this along with allowing myself to make a mess as I go in other areas. This may mean taking over the living room with my sparkly-making, or blowing up the kitchen one afternoon during a muffin baking extravaganza. It also may include, I hope, writing for the sake of writing. Telling a story simply because it enters my mind and I want to write it out to see what I might discover.
At Lovely this afternoon, I attempt this. It takes two paragraphs, like it sometimes take two miles to really get into a run before I begin enjoying it. I write and write and write until, I stop. The story ended on it’s own without my help. It sit back for a moment, digesting the experience before closing my notebook. What was that and can I have more of it please? Time seemed to not exist for a little while. The weird music wasn’t so piercing and the voices around me sounded like white noise.
What would life look like if I didn’t try to contain and compartmentalize it all the time? What if I left the crumbs every now and then? Let go of perfectionism? Got a lil messy? Then enjoyed it…

Saturday, May 7, 2011

As If...

I’m awake at 6:30am, feeling slightly disappointed I didn’t sleep later but excited to be awake. I feel I have plenty of time to write before heading downtown for a matinee. One of my favorite girly books “Something Borrowed” by Emily Giffin is now a movie and it opened yesterday. I hate going to the movies at night when it overly loud and crowded. I have today off and am so thrilled at the idea of a movie in the morning after some coffee.
Once out the door I’m watching the sky. It’s sunny. Kind of. Off to the east the sun is bright and shining. To the west it’s dark and gray. I am prepared to stay inside today and it feels like a vacation. I’m honestly not sure if that’s going to happen though. I order an Americano at the Knockbox but don’t finish it. I’m trying to calm down a bit with the caffeine. I used to consume about 24 oz of caffeinated beverages a day and I’m currently down to 6 oz. I’m not sure I can quit entirely. I certainly don’t want to but I do want to see if the dermatitis on my left hand will want to feel like calming down with less caffeine. I’m also curious as to what my mind will feel like when it’s not jolted first thing in the morning and running at 100 mph.
I write Jeff an email before pulling out my journal. This email I construct is novel length relaying the details of my work day yesterday and the events of last night which involved a very dear client of mine, veggie nachos, beer and some live music. It was so great to be out. I usually go straight home after work, exhausted and bitchy but I’m thinking, only thinking about trying some different things. Starting last night. My client and I talked and talked. I adore this woman. We have the same birthday, born on the same year and the same quirky weirdness like a serious lack of a sense of direction and the same desire to be asleep by 9:30pm to get up and going in the morning. Both of us were yawning and giggling about it by 10:30pm despite thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We had dinner at the Heartland Café and went to see some friends of hers play some fabulous music at The Red Line Tap next door. I got sucked in thirty seconds into the first song, and fell in love with the singer’s beautiful voice. Listening to her made me feel at times during different songs like I was in Atlanta with a group of friends in a dive bar on a hot August night listening to a friend perform. My mind bounces from that to some image I’ve dreamed up of being barefoot in someone’s backyard watching the lightening bugs light up among giant oak trees.
An hour later, I drop off my computer at home and head out again to catch the bus. After crossing over Michigan ave I realize I should be on the Grand bus and not the Chicago one. I get off and haul ass through the swarms of people toward the theater. I can’t believe how many people are out and about this early on a Saturday. I know it’s almost ten, but the stores don’t open until then. Right? Who knows…
I am captivated by the giant tulips that line the street, kicking myself for not bringing along my camera. The city does such a beautiful job every year with the flowers on Michigan Ave and Millennium Park.
I make it to the theater in time for the previews. Again, it’s packed and I’m amazed. I remain captivated throughout the movie, laughing out loud at several parts, feeling simply delighted by the plot, the setting, and falling in love with the characters. My thirteen year old self is having a blast.
When the movie ends and I’m outside discovering that it’s not raining some part of me is begging to go to Betsey Johnson at Water Tower Place. I remind this part of what day it is. Nightmare shopping day. The tourists have already been swarming these past few days. Even on the quietest days, Michigan Ave isn’t always the most pleasant place to be. Still this part argues back, not caring so off I go to discover what it is I may find.
What I find is my imagination. I am turned on to all the stunningly beautiful fabrics, the sequins, purses and the shoes…oh my, the shoes and all their sparkly goodness. Folks, where is my trust fund? The images take me hostage and I feel I must touch every garment. There is a floor length strapless black ruffle dress, a cream colored lace and chiffon one. I see pink ones with sliver bows, lavender cream puff corset numbers, short magenta ones that look like giant fluffy cupcakes. A voice whispers to me to try one on. This isn’t the first time I’ve played dress up here, concocting some story to the women that work there about going to a wedding, a Christmas party, a work event etc… today though when the spunky platinum blonde woman asks if I’m searching for something in particular I say no, that I haven’t been in in a while and wanted to look around.
“Let me know if you need any help!” she beams.
I thank her and keep moving. I could talk to these girls all day. It’s the only store where I don’t dodge the sales people because they seem so genuine and they give plenty of space. I roam around, meander, and try not to drool. Before I know it I’ve pick up a blue, white and yellow swimsuit. This may be a horrible idea. The last time I had a swim suit on was September of 09 in Hawaii. I’m not sure I’m ready to see the effects this winter has had on my body. I don’t let go of it though and before I know it the blonde has taken it off my hands placing it into a fitting room. “Might as well try on a dress.” I tell myself and pull a blue and pink ruffly one off the rack feeling giddy.
“You want shoes with that?” the blonde smiles mischievously.
“I do!” I exclaim.
“What size?”
She grabs another dress for me. A pink and black one saying she thinks it will look good with my hair.
I put the swimsuit on first and fall in love. Ok so the winter was bad but…maybe not so bad…I am amused by the dresses in all their fancy, ruffly glory when I slip into them. Oh if I could manage to blow stupid amounts of money I’d have a closet full of these dresses. Let’s not forget about the shoes now. They are three inch heels with a sparkly rhinestone bow residing over my toes.
I’ve been in dressing room far too long it seems fantasizing about where I could wear these things to, talking myself into and out of buying something before putting on my regular clothes and stepping out of princess mode, entering the real world again.
“How’d you do?” the blonde asks.
“I love everything, but sadly I have to give them back.” I hand over the lovelies while watching her face fall and turn to something that resembled irritation. I walk out of the store feeling a lil bit guilty but then quickly reminding myself that her job is to deal with clothing and customers. End of story.
Once outside again, I pass a nice looking man holding a sign saying “Free Hugs” I’ve seen these people standing there before and part of me regrets not stopping for a free hug. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I stop by Trader Joes for some groceries and head home. While on the bus, I get the idea suddenly out of the blue that in order for me to stop giving myself such hard time about my writing, doing it and or not doing it and letting go. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’ve been wanting to record this feeling I have. I can’t even explain it but I want to attempt to write it out but that feels scary as usual and I avoid it. Is it avoidance, or is it me letting it incubate, and mature before attempting to define it and touch it with words? I don’t know yet.
Other thoughts enter my mind about writing as if I am already published, as if I’m already out there in the world and known. I put so much pressure on myself to “write well”, to “write perfectly” but really, what does that mean? If I let go and act as if I’m already being assigned a project, I’ll have nothing to worry about right? I should just write right? Noticing this is the most freeing feeling I’ve had in a while. Now the question is, where do I start and with what project? Being patient and letting the writing happen instead of controlling it is excruciatingly difficult.
I see today that playing around in pretty things, artist dates, getting out of my comfort zone allows these realizations to happen. Again, it’s the letting go that feels super hard. I want it all to happen my way when I know good and well someone much bigger than me has an even better idea, something I didn’t even think of.
Once home I see that Dana is out and our place is silent save for Noodle’s occasional meow. I pull off my rain boots and push my feet into my running shoes. I go for about three miles before suddenly stopping, wanting to walk and day dream for a bit, concocting something I may want to write a story about despite feeling silly about it. We’ll see.
I make a late lunch, read and drink some hot chocolate before heading over to the Knockbox to get online and find this theater I’ll be heading to tonight with my friend Haley. We’re going to see a burlesque show late this evening. I went to one in Atlanta that left me feeling weird so I’m curious as to how this one will be. I’m also happy to see my friend. I better sneak a nap in or I won’t make it too far tonight...

Sunshine and Flowers...

Jeff’s alarm had us up at an hour even I find to be ungodly. While he finished last minute packing I laid there half dreaming, half watching him before getting myself up. A few minutes later we were out the door, kissing goodbye on a street corner and he was off to O’Hare He is flying this morning up to Alaska to visit his family for a week. I am headed home for a moment.
After a short bus ride I’m carefully opening the door to our apartment, noticing Dana is still asleep and Noodle is greeting me with his giant blue-green eyes.
“Hi!” I whisper to him and he runs away from me to jump on the chair in the corner of our living room to continue to stare at me with those giant eyes. I walk by him scratching his head.
I eat some fruit, watching some birds fly around the power lines outside. The sky is gray and I wonder if it’s going to rain. Minutes later I’m up and getting my things together to catch the Grand bus to a new-to-me coffee shop called Sip. My former roommate Kaci told me about it when we lived together but we never went. I passed it a few days ago when heading downtown on the bus to meet a friend for lunch.
Out the door again and walking down my street I notice the park stretched out to my left. My attention then turns to the tiny yellow wildflowers scattered among the grass that is finally green despite my still needing a light jacket and scarf in May. Two squirrels chase each other up a tree making me smile before I cross the street to the bus stop.
Waiting for the Grand bus is like watching paint dry. It doesn’t seem to run as often as the Chicago bus but today I waited for only four minutes. Being that I never ride it my eyes seemed to be opened as wide as they’ll go to take in the scenery around me not wanting to miss one detail, one shop, one restaurant that I may want to visit on some future date.
I almost missed my stop being the bus became crowded and honestly, I wasn’t sure where to get off. I backtracked a little until I was standing at the door and stepping through it. The noise of the espresso machine greeted my ears upon entering. I immediately become overwhelmed with the giant menus hanging on the wall in front of me and all the cute signage surrounding those. Not to mention the cookies, bars, croissants, tarts, and cakes laid out before me.
I ordered my usual Americano and chose a mug with a bird on it to house said drink. I can’t stop looking at every little detail of this place. There seems to be so much to take in. The woman behind me is not as enthralled as I am. I feel at any moment, even though my drink isn’t quite ready yet she might push me out of the way. Dressed in yoga gear and ordering a jasmine tea you think she’d posses a little more patience.
“Thank you.” I say to the woman who made and placed the hot deliciousness in front of me.
“You’re welcome.” she smiles.
I take the drink and head to the back of the place following a narrow hallway, passed a comfy looking couch to an open room full of tables, mismatched chairs and another couch. French doors open up to a gorgeous patio that would be delightful to sit in once warm weather comes our way.
There is a giant cream colored chair at a small table that is calling my name. Immediately I set my things down, take off my jacket and sweater still not believing I’m wearing these garments in May and plop down into the chair as if walking into a hug.
I’ve been reading another book by Julia Cameron called “The Right to Write” and have been so in love with her gentle advice on getting started, and making it happen. I still peck away at the novel I will inevitably write but I feel directionless, confused and unorganized. I think I need to know that I work in a haphazard kind of way and go from there. I write random stories and eventually put them together to make something bigger. I don’t like knowing this is how it is. I’m wanting something more linear but forcing myself into that feels boring and excruciating.
At the end of each chapter there is a writing prompt and a few days ago I came across one that said to write out fifty accomplishments (big and small) and re-read this list over the next week. I got to work and as I wrote, I found myself enjoying going back in my mind thinking about being in school and the various things that were accomplished then like getting straight A’s in third grade, choosing to take A.P English my senior year of high school, running track, being a cheerleader and helping to hold human beings on my hands when stunting at football games and pep rallies. Also scattered among school stuff was moving to Chicago, writing my book of short stories, passing my GA State Board exam, completing two training programs to better my work performance, saying no, saying yes, and doing my best to take care of myself when things got crazy or overwhelming.
I was surprised that this didn’t seem to take very long. I thought I would be thinking longer about it but was pleased with what I came up with. When I looked up from the page I saw that the sun had come out. Suddenly I was dying to be outside deciding to walk back towards home. I have to see Beth later this afternoon.
Walking was wonderful. I enjoyed glancing into all the antique stores. I eventually caught a bus though. Once home again I did some dishes, ate some toast and left to visit the Knockbox to try and work on my novel. I did more staring out the window than writing. I’m doing my absolute best to simply write, to get it down and keep going knowing I can edit it later. Still, I am easily distracted listening to this “Big Important Man” talk on his “Big Important Cell Phone” about “Big Important Things.” Mind you we’re the only two people occupying space in the small shop so there isn’t any need to yell.
After an hour I’m over it and decide to walk all the way to Ashland to catch the bus up to Beth. This takes about forty minutes but I enjoy every one of those minutes. I look up at the tree sprouting tiny white flowers to peer at the sky showing in between the blooms. I hear and see the kids playing at the playground to my left as the birds fly over head and feel more gratitude for spring than I’ve felt before. I took it for granted in Atlanta that the air quickly warmed after winter, that icy temperatures didn’t last long and flowers were blooming everywhere leaving my car covered in yellow dust. Here in Chicago winter simply refuses to die.
On my walk I ask God to help with my overactive critic that seems to have taken a front seat in my mind. It analyzes and shreds anything I put down on paper. It does not however do this when I’m dreaming something up, only when I try to execute it. I try to simply breathe and keep walking. Shortly after I finish my talk with God I see Ashland up ahead and am happy to be stopping soon for a moment. Something on the ground catches my eyes and I see stenciled in purple paint the words “let go” painted on the sidewalk. I smile to myself. “God…I would if I could… tell me how…”
In Beth’s office I relay details of some work stuff I’m anxious about among many other scattered thoughts that I desperately try to reign in so this session will be effective. When I leave I feel refreshed and capable once again to take care of any crazy that might come my way.
I take the Ashland bus south to Webster an begin walking towards Lincoln Park. There is a beautiful café, Flouriole that I fell in love with when my friend Kate and I stumbled upon it one afternoon. I walk in and feel immediately like I’m Europe. The décor is stark and minimal but beautiful. I order some olive oil granola, and a lemon tea. It is served to me in a white bowl, a small white mug resting on a giant white serving tray. I watch the life pass by outside while feeling the breeze float by. It’s all open air today as if the glass walls have been pushed aside somewhere. Dogs and their owners trot by, immaculately dresses children squeal to their foreign nannies, and emaciated well dressed woman push their fancy strollers by. Occasionally a man in a suit will pass by but at this hour, 3pm, it’s mostly women and kids.
I carefully eat the granola, enjoying every single last bite. I could swim in this tea is tastes so good. It kind of resembles a lemon drop. Once I’m done eating, I pull out my journal and write while half listening to these older woman next to me talk with their British accents and I feel myself sink further into the idea that I could be in a café in London or Paris.
After an hour I need a break. A cupcake break for sure. A beautiful little shop is just two doors down. The last time I had cupcakes from there I was still an assistant and a stylist was having a birthday and management ordered two dozen of them.
I walk into Sweet Mandy B’s and take a moment to let my eyes process all the beautiful confections. Cookies, Whoopie Pies, mini cup cakes, larger ones, and giant caramel apples are all calling to me. I decide on an orange creamsicle cupcake being reminded of the ice cream stand in my elementary school cafeteria.
It is perfection in the form of food. The taste of it resembles a Fruit Loop. The texture isn’t too dense but light and fluffy. I sigh finishing the last bite of icing before grabbing my things and heading out.
The sun is still sparkling through the trees and I decide to explore just a little before more before heading back. I pass a small park, some fancy stores, two of which I briefly peek into before turning around and going back to the bus. I cross the bridge I came to earlier, watching the glittering water. Whenever I’m on a bridge, looking down at the water I imagine what it would feel like to dive in.
Bus again. Home again. Dana and I chat a little bit before I decide I’m going to yoga tonight and get changed. I take my time getting there, taking off my shoes, socks, and rolling out a mat on to the dark hardwood floors. I would love to make yoga a regular thing but my excuses get in the way most days. Not tonight though, I’m excited to be here, filled with some kind of uncanny energy despite it being 7:30pm and we’re getting started.
My body follows the instructor, Emily’s voice. It stretches and moves along with my expanding and contracting lungs. I attempt a handstand with her help and accomplish it, giggling before she lets me go. I feel truly grateful for my body when the class is over.
When I walk outside I see that I am missing a bus. I make the decision to walk home and enjoy every minute. When I get to my place I take a shower, make some tea, and read a little before my eyes won’t stay open anymore wondering why every day can’t be this exquisite.