Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Set Up

Since I started work, I've been wanting to participate in an apartment set up, but unfortunately, until today, I hadn't been given the opportunity.

In a nutshell, our organization receives clients throughout the week. When a new arrival is slated to come, it's our responsibility to set up an apartment for them the day before their arrival with furniture, food and other basic necessities so when they stumble into their new home, exhausted from travel and the unknown, they're covered for a few days to get their bearings as best they can.

Today, I learned just how basic those necessities are.

Three of us went to Walmart and went shopping off of a list which included things like "female deodorant" and "laundry soap." Total, the apartment I set up cost $194 (not counting furniture). That's it. $194 covered everything from dish soap to a shower curtain to pots and pans and sheets and utensils and towels and dishes and toiletries.

In one way, $194 went a long way. I mean, we got a significant amount of stuff for that apartment. But simultaneously, I kept thinking how much excess there is in this world and in my life. I don't go around dropping $200 on stuff every weekend, but it was a bit of a sobering thought that the money I spend on miscellaneous and inconsequential things in a few weeks could put together an apartment for a family of 3.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Today, I walked around for a good portion of the day with my zipper down.

No one told me.

I hope the reason no one told me is because no one noticed my bright green panties peaking through my fly.

When embarrassing things happen (skirt caught up in tights, toilet paper on shoe, zipper down), I always wonder why people don't point out the obvious. Fear of embarrassment? I'll be honest. I'd much rather have a moment of slight embarrassment with one individual than a massive moment of embarrassment alone when I realize I've been walking around all day grinning at people with a big piece of lettuce in my front teeth.

Or flashing my green panties at all my clients as I sat on their floors playing with their babies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Honesty Honestly

Perhaps one of the greatest things about getting older is insight about honesty in one's own life. (Now, I realize that "getting older" means closer to 30 in my case, but you know, bear with me.)

This weekend, I had a my weekly 2-hour phone call with my Law Librarian Jen. I can't even remember what sparked the conversation, but LLJ pointed out that one great thing about maturing is being honest with yourself and subsequently making decisions based on what you enjoy as opposed to what you think you should enjoy. It's not about faking enjoyment for something that you hate, but more showing enthusiasm for something you feel apathy for.

I will never forget when I was about 20 my mother confided to me that she, in fact and contrary to what I had thought for the last 15 years, didn't actually care for shrimp. It sounds rather ridiculous for something so seemingly mundane to make a lasting impression in my adult mind, but after an entire life of summers spent at the beach, peeling and deveining freshly caught shrimp to boil for my entire family, I felt rather taken aback. Why on earth, if she didn't really care for shrimp did I have to stick my fingers in shrimp guts for hours on? She, like I, was taught that shrimp were a treat and something special saved for the summer (which it is in my opinion), but if she was honest with herself, shrimp would never be her choice of a treat or special meal. It isn't that she hates shrimp--just that if given the choice of a summer seafood meal, she'd rather enjoy something else instead; she simply tired of pretending that she thought shrimp was something special and was completely unapologetic about it. She said, "Life is too short for other people's shoulds."

She's right. LLJ is right. As I get older, and I'm sure LLJ and I are not alone in this, I find myself becoming more secure in myself and the small choices I make. Who I surround myself with, the parenting choices I make, the food I eat, the movies I watch, the music I listen to and the books I read. And frankly, no one cares that I'd rather read a modern British mystery novel than the searing political commentary of our time.


Friday, April 16, 2010

A Farewell to Pride

During 8th grade, one of the required readings for my literature class was The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. I hated it. I dreaded reading it, writing about it and (to be completely honest) am not entire sure I even finished the book. If you know me and know anything about my literature consumption habits, you know that refusing to finish a book is a rare thing indeed.

Since that 8th grade misfortune, I've refused to have anything to do with Hemingway. Flat out refused to read any of his novels or show any real interest in his life as a historical figure. In fact, I'd go so far to say that I purposely have been openly critical and hateful toward Hemingway and his writings (all based on one novel read when I was 14).

Weirdly, my life has paralleled his in many ways--at least in travel experiences. I've been to Havana (and am sure I insulted many a Cubano by telling them I was not interested in "Papa," and no, I didn't care about his damn six-toed cats), I've lived abroad in Spain (but refused to watch a bullfight), I've traveled to Kilimanjaro (though I failed to take home any big game animal heads).

Yet, the entire time, I adamantly maintained that Hemingway was an author I'd never read again.

And then a coworker and I started a conversation about books. His preferences tend more toward what I think of as *man-lit*--a combination of nonfiction and novels that appeal to men. But he mentioned Hemingway as one of his favorite authors. I laughed and told him I'd never touch a Hemingway book thanks to my 8th grade experience The Old Man and the Sea.

What a smug person I am. A day or two later, I found myself wandering the fiction section of the library again. I routinely do this--go to the library needing something to read but with no concrete ideas of actual books to take home. And then the idea occurred to me. I *could* check out a Hemingway novel.

After browsing the new releases but not finding anything inspiring, I settled for The Sun Also Rises. Short. Not too intimidating. I checked it out with low expectations.

I am a jerk. Clearly. I am willing to admit this publicly and openly.

All these years of my life, I've spent hating Hemingway, publicly denouncing my dislike for his writing and one novel, one short novel of his that took all of two days to read, felled me like a tree. I loved the story. Loved it.

I don't know if I was too young to appreciate his writing style, too immature to understand such adult themes in literature or maybe I've been a jerk my whole life. Who knows (although, I suspect the latter)? His descriptions of Spain's countryside had me reminiscing about riding through the countryside. The aimlessness of the characters floating through life abroad, the lost innocence, the effects of war on an entire generation, the drinking to suppress feeling the emasculation just resonated with me in a way I didn't expect.

All I know is this: I have given Hemingway another chance and I suspect it's a relationship that will last a lifetime.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


This city of shimmering heat is starting to grow on me. So much so, we're actually debating buying a home in the next year. Committing. To one of the hottest metropolitan places in the world. Forever. (Or at least a good 10+ years.)

I never thought I could make PHX my home. Too hot. Too crowded. Too sprawling. I would grow weary of the commuting, the distance, the sheer volume of people in my space.

Or so I thought. And then, I started to notice the culture, the arts, the community (yes, community) in this improbable city in the middle of the desert.

Maybe this isn't so bad, after all. Maybe, just maybe, I ended up in the right place.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Forgot

This year, I forgot.

Five years.

The days slipped past me without conscious thought and before I knew it, the moment had passed and I had forgotten.

I thought somehow this year would be momentous. Five years is not to be taken lightly. But miraculous that five years has passed and the day slipped by and I forgot.

For the moment of my life I thought I would be scarred forever and yet, here I am.

So for one more year, one more moment. Even if a bit late.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings