Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sarah and the Art of Sense and Sensibility

I finished Sense and Sensibility last week.  It took me way too long- I started it at the beginning of the semester and hardly had time or the energy to read a chapter a night.  This one wasn't my favorites, probably because it took so long to get through.  There's not much to the story itself- it's heavily driven by dialogue. The characters really drive the book.  To me, they are the point of the whole thing and are the only reason I finished it.  I felt like I owed it to them to see them through to their somewhat happy ending. 

Here's the basics: It's a story about two sisters, slighted by their half brother and his jerk of a wife who inherit of their father's postmortem wealth and promise to take care of the girls (including their mother, and younger sister)... but only sort of.  Their lack of wealth drastically dwindles their marrying prospects (of which no one can think of anything else) and launches the reader into Austen's point: which will prevail and land you a man-  passion or reason?  

Marianne, the younger Miss Dashwood (the middle daughter actually), is the former.  She was my girl.  She loves the arts and she's kind of got that arm over the forehead, "oh woe is me" thing going on.  Elinor Dashwood, the eldest, is the stuffy, responsible one who choses to silently bear the burdens of her family and acquaintances without asking for help and without making a big deal out of anything.  As I started the novel, it was Elinor I pitied and almost couldn't stand.  I wanted her to feel something or at least admit that she upset or happy or in love dammit!  But she didn't.  She remained tight lipped and calm through the whole thing.  

Let's start with Marianne, the girl after my own heart.  She's creative and passionate, always wearing her heart on her dainty little lace-trimmed sleeve.  This kind of emotional showboating eventually comes back to bite her in the bonnet.  She falls for this guy Willoughby.  He's tall, he's got dark hair, stormy eyes and he saves her after she's fallen down a hill and twisted her ankle... in the rain, on his horse.  She was hosed from the start.  Did I mention he's rich?  Or at least will be when his aunt kicks the bucket and he gets her estate.  Marianne swoons, she obsesses, she flirts, and she certainly doesn't use discretion.  The poor, optimistic thing eventually feels the pain of putting way more into a relationship than you ought to and imagining it's something that it's not.  It cuts her deep. 

Eventually Willoughby leaves her, jetting off to London with no explanation and no letters in his absence.  Marianne writes and writes to him, even going to London herself with the hope of reuniting.  There she learns the truth- he's engaged to a woman of higher social standing and wealth than herself.  Willoughby then returns her lock of hair and all the despearte, pleading and passionate letters she sent to him over the months.  After the jerk marries that rich little git, Marianne really loses it. She cries all the time, hardly eats, and wanders around in the rain so much so she almost dies.  She almost DIED because she allowed herself to love someone and feel something so deeply.  

Wait a minute.  Wait a minute, Jane Austen.  Are you saying you're not a fan of this emotional forthcoming thing?  You almost killed off a main character because she was too passionate?  I thought you and I were soul sisters, but now I'm just... confused.  

{Insert pause to reconsider past life choices-especially romantic ones}

Okay, after deep reflection, this is what I've decided.  I give you all permission to present me with a Darwin Award if I die over a guy that never loved me in the first place.  I was Marianne, once upon a time (and not so very long ago).  In fact, I've spent the majority of my "boy crazy" years like her with very little success- okay NO success.  You get into Jr High, realize that these creature with the Y chromosome are not so bad, and you want so much to have that slow motion kiss in the rain while "happily ever after" is spelled out in shooting stars behind you.  Let's be honest, that just doesn't happen (I'm sorry if you're a tween and I've just prematurely jaded you).  I think it took longer for me to realize that than other girls, which could explain my shoddy dating record.  Let's chalk it up to my overactive imagination and unrelenting optimism of love.  Here's a small, albeit epically embarrassing, sample of the shenanigans I used to pull: concocting ways to trick them into couples skate at America On Wheels, asking them to school dances (over and over and over again), trying to make them jealous at Lakeside with fake boyfriends (actually I was trying to get the enlisted "fake boyfriend" to realize how awesome it would be to actually have me as a girlfriend in real life- double agent style).  I won't go on- especially not to more recent escapades, which are less epic and contrived, but still shameful.

It didn't take one epic love affair to get me to change the way I look at dating.  It probably took about 19 years of rejection and being passed over for the girls with blue eyes, prettier hair, and less neurotic tendencies.  I remember thinking once, probably over a juice box and reading my American Girl Magazine, that I would rather be hurt a million times than not be optimistic about love.  You can all groan, it's okay.  I am.  

I'm sure I'm not the only girl to pull those kinds of shenanigans and make epic declarations about the power of love.  Maybe it's a right of passage thing- you have to go crazy before you can be sane.  The passionate ones have to learn first hand, the rational ones learn from watching the passionate ones wander around in the rain reciting Shakespeare's Sonnets.  I think, after these 19 years of running around crazy, I'm finally ready to be sane, and maybe give Elinor's perspective a chance.

Like I said, Elinor is ruled by sense and regulation.  She is the mistress of herself and only shows the emotion she deems necessary for the situation.  Even SHE is burned by love when we find out the guy she's in love with, Edward, has been engaged since he was 16 (he basically says he doesn't love the other woman and only proposed because he was bored).  He still loves Elinor, though.  I think he loves her quiet and peace- the fact that she doesn't run around hollering about her affections for him (ehem, Marianne).  He's kind of an awkward guy, so it works for him.  And in the end, he comes back to Elinor and they live peacefully ever after, with nothing to worry about but having enough pasture for the cows.

I don't think I'll ever completely be an Elinor (I'm still not sure I'd want to be).  And I really don't think that if I start to shut up my emotions and learn to "grin and bear it," Hugh Grant in a cravat will burst into my life and I can finally buy that cow I've had my eye on.  It just seems that Jane Austen is advocating for a bit self discretion here- no, self preservation.  Maybe she's trying to say that creativity is important, and passion is fun, but a woman's own well being and happiness is important enough to be preserved.  I mean, even though Elinor totally gets burned (and yeah, her heart is broken), she doesn't let it consume her, she's able to see the bigger picture to realize that even if Edward doesn't come back, she can still find peace and happiness in other things.  And though Marianne will always be a bit of a nutter, after her brush with death she levels out a bit and realizes that the soft spoken and endearingly tragic, Colonel Brandon ain't so band after all.  Reason prevails. 

So what's my point?  I'm afraid it's not going to be an entirely well-rounded one.  I'm still crazy.  I've still got a run away imagination.  And I've definitely had my fair share of Willoughby's (okay, maybe just one).  But now I'm armed with the knowledge that I'm the mistress of my own self.  I'm able to be quiet and reserved enough to protect the joy and passion and volume with which I live my life.  

I am also now obsessed with cravats and ready to read about Mr Darcy's.  On to Pride and Prejudice! 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Love, just love, Genevieve.

I feel as though I've said this a million times before, but people are what make me tick. I can't explain it, but there's something about the connection of one mind or heart or hand to another. And I must say that within the last few months I've really learned what it means to be intentional with the people in my life. It's been hard. I've had to realize that some relationships are not the same as they used to be, that some will remain constant and some are blossoming. It's a beautiful thing really.

A wiser, older person once told me,

"Some friends come and go, teaching you lessons along the way. 
And then there are those that grow to become family."

I've struggled with this concept in the past... since I have such an emotive connection with people, I've striven to constantly keep everyone in my life, but sometimes it isn't meant to be. Sometimes people come into your life at just the right time to show you a piece of your journey that you would have never seen before. Then they go just as quickly as they came. I used to take it personally, but it becomes exhausting and ultimately a waste of emotion. I'm now learning that the ones who truly care will stay. Their role and capacity may change, but in the end, they'll be there.

And it's truth you know
It's always the issue
And when it starts getting blurry
One's never better than two

There's a place in this world
Where people like me are found by people like you
So find a place as this forever divine

You're the best damn friend that I'll ever have
You'll always smile upon me when the season's bad
You'll always make me feel best even when I'm blue
You'll always smile upon me and I'll smile upon you too 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jackie - Great Expectations

I read once about the economics of happiness. It turns out that the lower someone's expectations, the happier they are in the end... and that also works in reverse. I found that very interesting, and still do. Especially as I had big expectations for this summer. In fact, this week I was planning to post a special list of extra goals to accomplish this summer. I decided that after 4 really hard semesters, I was going to get back on normal eating and exercise schedules and get my life organized. I decided I wanted to be effective person; one of those people who gets done what they say they will, has time to invest in others... someone whose schedule is actually a reflection of their priorities. I'm not saying none of that will happen, but some situations have changed.

Ah, change. I have a love-hate relationship with change. I enjoy all things new and adventurous and I love taking risks. But I have an exceptional case of cognitive conservatism. [I read about that once too, all it really means is -- a resistance to change.] So when change comes, half of me is so excited I can hardly stand it, and the other side is so adverse I can hardly stand it. And in the beginning, the second side usually wins. Then once my brain has time to adjust, I can jump in with both feet.

That formula works great when the change comes in a relatively cut and dry package. The problem this time is that only half of the changes are happening now and I won't even be sure if rest of the changes will be happening until August. Needless to say, I'm a little disappointed about the timing of everything since I had such high expectations for this summer.

This is vague, I realize, but it's complicated. I promise to fill you in as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I have an immediate need: a roommate. Mine is moving out and I'd really like to stay where I'm at if possible. If you know of anyone interested in living in the Congress Park area, please let me know as soon as possible. I need to figure this out by the end of the week! Yikes!

I promise to have worked on some of my goals by next week!

Until then...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's Go Ride A Bike, Genevieve!

I'll admit, this isn't the most ground-breaking entry of my postings to this blog thus far... BUT I finally met a goal of mine and it was fun! I got a bike.

I've been pining and saving away for one for about a year now. The entirety of last summer I yearned just to be a part of Denver cruisers for a night or to breeze through the park on a sunny afternoon and now I can! My friend Shannon and I went to an expo a few weeks back and perused the racks upon racks of shiny new bikes. I rode a few through the parking lot, but knew from the moment I laid my eyes on MY bike that it was the one for me. Ever since then, I've been getting up early on mornings to slice through the fresh air in Cheeseman and am starting to commute to work via bike. Some co-workers and I are even planning to join the Wild, Wild West Denver cruisers night next week and I couldn't be more excited! I've been able to exercise and enjoy the outdoors more within the past two weeks than I have in a long time. I'm grateful to be able to embrace a healthy life style again and have fun doing it. It's been refreshing to say the least.

So here's to fun summer mornings, afternoons and evenings riding my bike! You may also submit applications to join my bike gang in the comment box below ;)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sarah and the Art of Patience

When I approached Jackie with the idea for this blog I thought it was going to be oh so much fun.  I'd be checking off items and feeling so self-actualized in the process.  I wrote out a list of challenging but important goals that would guide my life, and perfect little plan, into a higher plane of being-- it was going to be awesome.

Well, as it turns out, this shit is hard.  It's constant self-reflection and pushing yourself to accomplish something when there's hours and hours of crappy movies on Netflix yet to be watched; and oh how they beckon.  Oh, and apparently life doesn't always follow that perfect little plan you outlined in your journal three months ago; or at least mine didn't.

Just be patient and don't worry.  This has become my mantra.

I'm currently unemployed which may make going to Haiti in December tricky.  I really wanted to spend the whole month there, but that entirely depends upon my future employers.  The current goal is to find a job that can accommodate an extended trip.  I still feel like this is where I'm supposed to be heading so I'm trying to believe that something *perfect* will pop up.

Also, here's a bit of news: I'm not going back to school in the fall.  It's a very long story and I'm sure some of you are shaking your heads right now.  Well, ye of little faith, first of all you look silly shaking your head at a computer screen.  Second of all, I will be going back to school, but I need to find a school and program that I feel will set me up for a successful future.  CU Denver wasn't doing that for me.  If anyone knows anything about creative writing programs around the country–or simply where you think I should direct my life–your input in the comment section is very much appreciated.

Here's a run down of my goals, where they've been and where I'm going with them:

1.  Weight Loss:  Hahahahaha.  I mean... I lost my gym membership so I'm doing the best I can.  Sort of.  That dress will fit in July though, dammit.

2.  Straight A's: So, since I won't be going back to school in August, this goal is the first to fall by the way-side.  But there had to be at least one  I failed at, right?

3.  Incorporate Artist's Dates:  I'm unemployed, every minute of my day is an artist date.

4.  Finish a writing project: This summer, it's on.  You and me, Emily Dickinson.  Prepare to be bffs.

5.  Get something published: Let's work on finishing something first.

6.  Get out of the city, state, country: I'm going to Gunnison tomorrow for a very exciting reason which I may or may not expand on next week.  Stop shaking your head, seriously, you look dumb.

7.  Read through Austen: So close to being done with Sense and Sensibility.  After that I'm taking a short break to read something more modern and then it'll be back to Pride and Prejudice; Mr. Darcy, it's been too long.

8.  Discover 10 new things about Denver: I went to my FIRST first friday a few weeks ago.  I know, I've grown up in Colorado and lived in Denver for three years and I'm just now going; it's a travesty that I'm glad has been rectified.  Any suggestions on what I should do or see this summer?

9.  Make our Apartment our home: Dad, if you're reading this, we have stuff to hang on the walls.  Please bring your muscles and your tools to help.  Thanks.  Also, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I cursed earlier.

10.  Art from Ashes internship: I emailed the group and received an email back saying I should sit tight and hopefully will have more detail soon... whatever that means.

11.  Learn Creole/French: Seriously, where do I begin to do this?  Rosetta Stone?  Do they teach Creole?

12.  Crafts!: Hopefully there will be some brand new, hand made throw pillows down stairs soon.

So there ya go.  Not a whole lot of headway, but my life has been shifting a lot.  Now that I'm a bit more adjusted I'm excited to really start focusing on these goals this summer.  Thanks for sticking with me!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jackie - Spring Shakedown

[Lilac photo in honor of the lilac bushes in our yard that are covered in slushy snow. 
I tried to shake it off, but couldn't reach all the branches.]

The last few weeks [and including the next few days] have been completely filled with trying to end my semester well. All of this work [coupled with my knack for procrastination] make me question [again] the difference between being busy and being productive. I hope I can think about that more over the summer and try to figure out if it's possible to balance school and work in a way that isn't so draining.

Here's my evaluation of where I'm at and where I should go next.

Goal 1:: Teach: Hopefully I'll have more to say on this next week.

Goal 2:: Write songs: I'm excited to try my hand at this. I've been letting my mind mull over some song ideas the past few months and I'm excited about what might come out. I feel like I might actually be good at this, I just don't quite know where to start the whole process. Those of who you are my songwriter friends, don't be surprised if I start asking for advice the next few weeks. [I should also add with this, that I'm terrified of failing. I'm doing my best to dive into this head-first and give it my 100%, but I'm constantly fighting this little voice that says I'll never be good at it.]

Goal 3:: Reconnect: This goal is going well. In March, I [re]connected with a newer friend. In April, I reconnected with my cousin, Kolten. I'm still looking for someone to reconnect with this month and have a few leads.

Goal 4:: Engage globally: I haven't approached this goal yet and I'm still not positive what this is going to look like.

Goal 5:: Take 2 of 4 trips: I'm excited to say, that I just might be able to take all 4! I've been scouring ticket prices and I'm going to try and make it happen. So far, I've gone to Tennessee to see Joe and Leah. I have plans to go to New York City in November. I'm working on getting my sister to pick some dates for us to go to Portland. And I'm hoping to get down to Dallas this summer -- though I should add that Brett and Sarah were here this week which will help hold me over for a few more months.

Goal 6:: Redefine spirituality: I need to get together with Alyssa to get my questions in order and I need to complete my list of people I intend to ask said questions. I hope to get things together by the end of May.

Goal 7:: Define me: See post from 31 March 10.

Goal 8:: Be frugal: I'm down to $2,392.14 in credit card debt! I still owe a $1,000 medical bill and I'm in the process of paying back my Dad for helping me get my brakes fixed a few months ago, but I'm slowly catching up. When I look at the fact that I've paid off over $2,800 in the last few months, it makes all the working extra and saving pennies seem worth it. [Hopefully Lisa is proud that the budget she helped me create is working.]

Goal 9:: Clean my box: This one makes me laugh. Not only do I have a box of junk, but a pile of papers on my dresser and another stack on the floor. It's going to be a process.

Goal 10:: Post photos: I'm excited to get to this one! Hopefully I'll have at least one album to share in the next few weeks.

That's the recap on where I'm headed this summer. I hope it's a fun ride.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jackie: High and Dry and Still Moving

[Trying to get Aaron and Dalley to the airport. We couldn't make it there due to flooded highways and roads.
This was the beginning of watching doppler radars for 3 days straight.]

Well, I am now thanks to Denver's altitude and the fact that it's a desert up here.

The trip to Tennessee was amazing. It was time away from all the things in my life that are overwhelming, a chance to be with some of my dearest friends ... oh, and a little bit of adventure. :) It was also a strange reminder to how life simply continues... but I'll get to that later on.

This was an amazing and much needed getaway. Spending the weekend at Joe and Leah's house felt a little like home. It was warm, welcoming and comfortable. There were no formalities, just 5 people together. The pace is slower in Tennessee, the hospitality warmer and the people friendlier.

To me, life stopped and all that existed was this mini-vacation.

We sat around the firepit on Friday night letting the flicker of flames consume our thoughts when the breezes turned to winds and clouds started covering the stars -- signs the "rainy weekend" was about to begin. That's when we got a startling text message - some friends of ours had lost their baby at 38 weeks. And life jumped back to reality. Back home our friends were dealing with an unimaginable tragedy.

But soon we were back in the reality of Nashville. We were all together, enjoying each other ... while the rain picked up and water started pooling, creeks started overflowing, water was coming in basements and the rain just wouldn't stop. I'm sure you've seen pictures on the news or internet, but they don't do justice to the situation. I saw an indescribable amount of water -- places we were at on Friday were complete submerged on Saturday and the waters were still rising on Sunday. [Note: Joe and Leah's house was fine aside from the inch of water in their basement which translated to a whopping 300 gallons of water we took outside in buckets].

Then vacation ended and on Monday afternoon I was back in classes, back in my normal reality. [Though many Nashvillians won't see normal for quite some time, if ever.]

Tuesday morning I was at the funeral of the little one -- grieving a life no one got to enjoy. Another hour outside my world to step inside the grief of my friends. Grief that has been all consuming for them and grief that won't end any time soon. To them, their world has stopped indefinitely.

My little world this semester has felt constricted and all too self-involved. I've found myself apologizing almost constantly -- for not returning messages, for forgetting things, for complaining too much. I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have stepped inside my world in the midst of my recent insanity, looked past my forgetfulness and accepted that this is the current reality of my life.

And of course, thanks to Joe and Leah for hosting me in their home. I love you guys.

PS... My finals and sophomore voice proficiency are Monday and Tuesday!
PPS... I'll post more pics of my trip soon!

[This used to be a park. The Duck River is actually flowing quite nicely behind that first row of trees. By the time I left, the water had risen up to the roof of the picnic structure behind us.]

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Road is Life

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac

I don't have a lot of money.  I don't have any money, actually.  In fact, I lost my job today.  It's a long story, and one that, if all goes as planned, won't have a tragic ending.  It does, however, make things like "leave the state once a month" and "leave the country once a year" a little tricky.  And to the average responsible reader, I should by all accounts be hunkering down and saving my pennies; but, as it turns out, I'm 22.  And I've been thinking a lot lately about the possibility that  I may not be 22 for long, maybe ever again.

Mark Jenkins said of traveling- “adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

I think we're all born with the desire to travel and to adventure.  We're programmed with wanderlust in our veins and the need to experience things outside of our purview.  Unfortunately, those that realize this deep longing are few; those that realize and actually act on it are even less so.  I feel like an obligation has been placed on my shoulders- that I must go and smell, taste and experience life outside of this square state I was born into.  I have realized this illusive part of human nature and must therefore consider it a responsibility to make it a part of my life.   

But like I said, I'm broke.  I have to start small, so I shall do just that.   I have a list compiled of all of the towns, unknown and known, in Colorado that I'll be frequenting this Summer.  Also, I have excursions planned for the next three months to realize my goal of leaving the state.  First up: Seattle in June to see a very lovely friend who has graciously offered me her couch.  July will find me on a boat on Lake Michigan, celebrating another friend's exodus from higher education.  And August may very well lead me to the charming state of Iowa for my second round with their State Fair.  All trips center around very dear people to me and I'm sure will never feel long enough.  And with that knowledge, I'll be seeing, tasting and experiencing as much as my five senses can take in.  And you can be sure I'll be reporting back on it.

But there's one last bit to the goal: leave the country once a year.  Tricky.  I put a deadline on myself for this one.  I said I'd be contacting Heartline in May to see if they'd have me to stay in December.  If my calculations are correct, today is May 3.  *Gulp.*   Hopefully I'll have some good news on this front in a few weeks.

If I don't make it back to Haiti I must know that something else lies before me, grand on the horizon.  There is much more to be had and I plan to have it all.   It is true what Jack said up there: my way is long, and it probably won't be easy.  But  this road is my life, and I certainly plan to tread the hell out of it.

Here's a song that reminds me of the type of life I'd like to live.