Today starts an annual project I started last year — July Today. One photo taken every day and published in July.
It’s harder than it sounds.
And today, the first day, I should’ve had something prepared. Hell, I should’ve carried my camera around today. On my bike ride to work, I completely witnessed a 101 Dalmations owner/dog situation. Amazing. Then, it was an awesome day at work. I went for a beautiful mid-day bike ride. I met a friend for wine and tapas. Then I met another friend for whisky and burgers. Photo opportunities galore!
But instead, I came home exaustedly happy and a bit flustered.
– Shit, I need to take a photo.
– Wait. Are you doing “July Today” again?
July Today. A photo every day in July. No matter how much of a junkshow. Trying to do it better.
These past days I’ve been focusing on who I think I should be… flossing, running, meditating, making meals, eating healthy meals, not drinking, going to new exercise classes, getting eight hours of sleep, reading myself to bed…
This evening, after a wondrous phone conversation about being on a board of directors [another thing], I listened to a podcast and found myself awful sleepy.
This THIS is the life of the person I think I should be.
I looked at my watch [because I wear one now] and thought that I could go to sleep at 8:30pm. I could start a new book and get a jump-start on tomorrow. The me I’m supposed to be would be all over that.
But the me I am really wanted to watch While We’re Young, because the me I am can’t believe I haven’t watched it yet.
And the me I am really wanted a glass of wine. And the me I am rarely keeps things I want from me.
There’s a scene in While We’re Young towards the beginning where it’s painfully obvious that we are all doing the same things. It’s actually a very gross part of the film. The older couple sits on their phones [separately] watching The Daily Show and listening to Radiolab. The younger couple puts on records and plays Settlers of Catan. Each contrasting back and forth. Trying to be the same kinds of people they’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be.
I poured myself another glass of wine and enjoyed the hell out of the rest of the film.
While We’re Young leaves me officially in love with Noah Baumbach. Oh, who were we kidding. I’ve loved him for a while.
And now I’m here. Doing this still.
There’s who I am. And who I think I should be. And who I really thought I would be long before I would be a wife. [a writer, a flosser, etc.] And now that’s coming and I’m who I am. And I’m partly who I think I should be.
I’m going to find a me in the middle. The me me is very confused about it, but I’m going to keep going to Pure Barre classes. The me I’m supposed to be is disappointed, but I’m going to have another half-glass of wine before turning in.
But the me I want to be is going to write — actually write words on paper — about much of this before climbing into bed and kissing my bearded manfriend hard before playing this song one more time on my phone whilst falling asleep…
[also, I love this video.]
The me I want to be. There it is.
[you don’t know me at all.]
a friend from jackson [and then missoula] visited our new home. we expect her to make the move to bozeman soon. it’s just so comfortable having her around. so familiar.
and then we listened to a new ratatat song and I missed the KHOL days desperately. oh, the morning scramble. I miss it.
how awesome is that video, too? dancing times galore.
it’s just like it. just like it was, but new.
Work has been more awesome than usual lately. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m not in grad school anymore. [hallelujah!] But very recently, it has a lot to do with Freddy — the German journalist who I had the pleasure of showing around Bozeman yesterday. After an insanely delayed flight, Freddy showed up in my office after being awake for more than 30 hours, donning his effortlessly hip European wears, ready to hike. So after a taco at the taco stand [i’m obsessed], we took off up Hyalite Canyon.
I instantly regretted taking my car. The air conditioning is giving it a good ol’ college try, but coming up short and this was one of the hotter days we’ve had. I almost apologized to Freddy, but he didn’t seem to mind at all. He didn’t fuss. He didn’t fidget. He didn’t once stare at his smart phone. He soaked in the scenery through his open window and felt present.
Our conversations were easy and comfortable and slow. Freddy was exhausted and making the switch to speaking English. I was tired and completely fine with the refreshing break of silence or near-ambivalent conversing. For about five minutes we tried to remember the name of the movie “Cliffhanger.”
– The guy, he hitchhikes the plane… not hitchhike… that’s not the word…
– Yes, yes… HIJACKS the plane…
I still didn’t know what movie we were talking about for many more minutes.
Things became simple and beautiful. His observations were comical and heart-warming. Once during the day, he quickly turned around to me and said…
– So do you feel you have a pioneer spirit then?
– From Texas to Wyoming to Montana? Do you feel like a pioneer?
The answer — of course — was fumbling and black and white, back and forth. Yes. No. Yes, because of this. No, because of this.
It was a simple, lovely day and it made me wish that I was like that more. That I wasn’t always so pre-occupied with what was next. That I wasn’t cripplingly concerned if the ones around me were entertained. Being present and simple and curious and fine.
We hiked up to a waterfall in Hyalite Canyon and sat as close as we could. The cool mist was a paradise I didn’t realize I was craving — which is, by the way, the best kind of paradise.
We sat there for almost an hour. We talked about everything, in the most random manner. Or we just sat. It was perfect.
“I’m considering becoming an alcoholic… maybe in one or two years…”
[my favorite quote from the day. freddy langer, ladies and gentlemen.]
It has been two days since my family left after a beautiful time of celebrating my graduation/birthday. Which means that it has been a little over a week since I finished my master’s in media arts. Which means that Evan also finished his semester in Missoula and then made the move to Bozeman. Which means we’re finally living in the same place after our two and a half months of being apart and being engaged. Which means we finally get to exhale and look at each other and smile.
It has been two days. And I feel like it’s been two of the most refreshing days I’ve had in three years.
Do not get me wrong: The last three years of my life have been absolutely incredible. I achieved more than I could have ever dreamed. I found terrifying challenges within me that didn’t know existed… and then conquered them. I made relationships with beautiful souls who made my life brighter and constantly deepened my curiosity and love for this world.
But ho-ly shit has it been exhausting. And now it’s been two days. Two days free. Two days with this old self — who has been in the waits — jumping up and down with comfortable excitement. A self I haven’t known in a while is welcoming me back.
I am discovering all kinds of me again. Miranda July is here. Evan is here. Elliot Smith [via some fresher favorites] [via a favorite radio station] is here.
Even these old comfy pants are here. The ones I bought for a dollar at the Bondi market in 2009. They haven’t been here for so long. Have I showed them to you? They’re here again…
The weird is here:
And affirmation for the weird is here…
“I never knew if the stupider things we did or the more traditional things we did would work. I didn’t know if the stupid stuff would alienate people. I didn’t know if the traditional stuff would be more appealing. And then, when I look back on it now, of course the answer is, you want to do the weird thing.” – David Letterman
Two days of coming home from my wondrously creative job to go for a run on gorgeous trails right out my front door. Two days of running. In a row. [this rarely rarely happened in the last three years.]
Two days of the simple, lovely things. Reading. Being with Evan. Listening to podcasts. Listening to music. Dancing. Making dinner. Making phone calls. Journaling.
And instead of looking at my last journal entry from months ago with disappointment in myself, I find the pages telling me, Hey, welcome back! Isn’t this awesome?? We’re here!
In the last entry [from before I officially accepted this new job, this new life], I found a little message to myself…
“I spent a lot of time in yoga looking at myself. Identifying me. Rachel. Rachel Lauren Marie Stevens. I think I like who I see… but it’s time to get to know her again.”
I hardly remember writing that, but I couldn’t be more on board or more excited.
Here we go.
A new chapter with an old friend.
[let’s do this.]