findings.

There’s a lot of What am I doing here? happening lately in my life. I sit down at my desk at work each morning and it’s one of two types of What am I doing here?

It’s either the, Alright. What am I doing here? where I scramble to figure out how to juggle my workload efficiently and sometimes literally google how to do certain aspects of my job.

Or it’s the bi-monthly, What am I doing here? that is part of the constant existential crisis I have of wanting to be more and do more with my being.

Today, as I sat down next to the only other person in the office today and we both put on our headphones to indulge in our separate screen worlds, it was both kinds.

So I did what I do when I’m overwhelmed with first-world identity problems and I went for a walk to get a latte.

On the walk, I saw a young (age five or six) blonde girl sitting on a bench. Next to her—very closely—was a pretty rough-looking guy with tattoos up and down his arms. I almost didn’t give it a second thought until I heard him say…

– So where are your parents?

I stopped in my tracks and showed up to this scene.

The little girl wouldn’t say a word. And this man kept pushing. I figured out that he was truly trying to help, but he was being kinda scary. He would look to me every so often and say…

– I just found her walking down the sidewalk by herself!

With still no peep from her, I gradually got closer to the girl with each question. I saw a glimpse of trust in her eyes as she looked at me after a while and then I made the executive decision. I reached my hand out to her and said…

– Okay, c’mon. Let’s go to the coffee shop and find your parents together.

She edged up and almost took my hand before looking past me and darting off. She saw her brother down the sidewalk a bit and ran towards him. I then saw the two of them sprint to their parents—who were VERY far away, by the way.

The rough looking man and I kind of shook our heads and smiled to each other before parting.

Waiting for my latte, the little girl’s family came into the same coffee shop. She was a part of a gaggle of children—no wonder they lost one! I watched them trip over each other in line and navigate their worlds at different latitudes—the parents’ eyes on the chalkboard menu, the children’s wandering yet down. The little girl found me looking at her. Quickly embarrassed, she hid behind her father.

We almost had a grand adventure together. We almost had coffee together. We almost sat and solved mysteries together over hot chocolates and muffins. But instead we’re embarrassed of each other now. Almost strangers is always more uncomfortable than strangers.

———

This evening I procrastinated going to the garden until I was challenging daylight. I went out to a pretty muddy plot, since the sprinklers had already gone off. There were still a handful of tomato starts to plant and many weeds to be pulled. So I put in my headphones to listen to a podcast and took a few sips of wine out of my coffee cup and got to gardening.

About a half hour in, a man yells at me from the path. I take out an earbud and express that I didn’t hear him the first time.

– Have you seen a little girl??

– No. No, I don’t think so.

I study this man in these seconds. Oh my god, is this the same dad?? Did he loose her again??

– What does she look like?

His first descriptor knocked the wind out of me. The ones following did not help…

– She’s autistic. She’s probably in just a diaper and a t-shirt.

– No, I haven’t seen her. I’m sorry.

And with that, he sprinted off in his shorts and flip-flops.

Immediately, I regretted my answer that mimicked how you would answer the question, “Have you seen my sweater? I think I left it around here.”

Why didn’t I say, “Oh my god, do you want me to help you find her?”

As he took off, I threw my gloves down and pocketed my headphones all together and took off down a second path he left undiscovered. Running in my muddy sandals, I heard a child of some sort across the way and sprinted towards the sound only to find myself in a neighborhood with children abounding.

I walked along the stream praying I didn’t find her. Not like this. I wandered in circles. Looking. Scared. Confused. Looking. In tall grass. By the stream. Down roads. Down paths.

I didn’t find her. I don’t know if she was found. I went back to my garden and my podcast.

Finally, after a whirlwind search for a girl I’ve never seen, I went back to my garden and my podcast.

———

As I drove home from the garden, so close to dark, dusk holding on by spider web strings, this song came on the radio…

And like out of some indie film I want to make, I saw a neighbor girl run down the street barefoot in her navy pajamas. Her youthfully perfect blonde hair was flowing in the innocence of summer. She ran and looked at something before smiling and yelling back at her dad, back at their door. She turned on a dime and ran back to him, into his arms.

I parked the car and let the Lumineers finish as I cried a couple tears. So many little girls running, lost, found. I couldn’t help but wonder why they all intercepted with me today—found or not found. I couldn’t help but think of the niece who feels so lost from me. I couldn’t help but wonder if she’ll ever be found. I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ll ever find a little lost girl and help her find the world. If she’ll find me.

Would it be easier then to answer to all the What am I doing here?s

[who knows.]

lovely little things.

these days, I have to remind myself to stop and breathe in life. love the little lovely things.

like the awesome card from your bff:
bees_knees
or the valentine from your dear friends and their BABY… their beautiful, wonderful babe:
jack_valentine

or remembering to watch your all-time favorite movie near enough to valentine’s:

I swear I interpret this film differently every time I watch it. I love it.
and I’m determined to drink a blue ruin someday.

or giggling throughout the day at the misfortunes of your partner in crime.
[which might make me horrid.]

or the full-on incredible valentine’s present from your mom:
crystal_and_hef mom_note

the little lovely things.

pinging joy within.

xxo.

I want to be here.

It was a week ago today that I was in the ski accident. The ski accident where I lost control. Couldn’t gain control.

The ski accident where I hit a tree. With my face. Whiplash. Lost consciousness. Blood everywhere.

The ski accident when I broke my nose and cheekbone and bit through my lip.

The ski accident that gave me my first IV. My first CT scan. Two CT scans. The first when they thought there was bleeding in my brain. Where they might have to drill.

The ski accident where I was taken down on toboggan, driven in an ambulance to the hospital in Bozeman, driven in an ambulance to the airport in Bozeman, flown to Missoula, driven in an ambulance to the hospital in Missoula.

Right after the accident, there is a lot I can’t remember. There is also a lot I do not want to be reminded of about that day. That accident. The ski accident.

But there are some moments I don’t want to ever forget.

G E T T I N G   T W E N T Y   S H O T S   I N   M Y   F A C E

The pain of the actual accident was actually surmounted after the fact. After realizing what had happened to me, that it was serious, that I wasn’t going to make happy hour, that I needed to get about 40 stitches in my face; I waited for the plastic surgeon to come sew me up. A man walked in and looked at me. Just stared at me. Turned around.

– Hi, I’m Rachel. Who are you?

– I fix things like this. [stares at me again.] I think I can fix this.

And then he turns around again.

I give Evan the WTF? hands and he just shakes his head in confusion. The doctor prepares the needles and adjusts my bed so that I’m laying down flat.

– I’m going to numb up the area and then I’m going to stitch you up.

– Okay. I’m very scared of needles, but I think I’ll be okay.

I am scared of needles. When they put morphine in my IV, I asked, “Will this make me less scared of needles?” It didn’t. I don’t think it did anything, really. My adrenaline was too high.

This doctor did not care about my fear. He was so cold, he felt heartless.

He started putting the needles in my cheek. I tried to be brave; I really did, but it hurt so bad. And there were just so many needles in my face. So aggressively.

It wasn’t long before I started crying and it wasn’t long after that, when he started putting shots in my nose, that I started bawling.

He stood there silently, relentless, and stuck me over and over. It felt more aggressive with each needle.

By the time he got to my lip, I was begging. I was pleading with him to stop. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt and it felt like an attack.

Blood and tears streamed all over my face and I begged, screamed, as I sobbed, for him to stop. And he wouldn’t. Not for a second.

– Please, No, No, No, Please stop. STOP! PLEASE! NO MORE! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, please, please, no, no, no, no…

As I cry now, remembering it, I try to figure out why, why exactly, I want to remember this. Why do I want to remember?

Do I want to be able to compare every little pain I complain about to it? Remember what real pain feels like?

To realize that it was all worth it? In the end, the doctor did an incredible job stitching me up. His work was beautiful and those shots were ultimately a part of that.

To find faith in compassion? As I begged, he pressed on silently. As I bawled, he didn’t flinch. A hand on the shoulder or a “there, there, I promise it will be okay” would have beamed a bright light into my life. Empathy. Compassion. Something I want to remember.

T H E   S T A R S   I N   B O Z E M A N   T H E   S T A R S   I N   M I S S O U L A

The bathtub keeps bringing me back. I can’t take showers right now, to keep my face dry. So I take baths. To wash my hair, I have to lay my body down, my head horizontal, to dip it in the water. I’m rarely ever that flat, with nowhere to look but straight up. But recently, I was like that for a very long time. And these baths bring me back to the stars.

In Bozeman, they told me that there might be some bleeding in my brain and they were going to fly me to Missoula to get checked out. I cringed as they brought the backboard in. They put a neck-brace on me, they rolled me over onto my side, slid the board under me, rolled me back, and strapped down every part of my body, including [especially] my head.

The ambulance was ready in a parking garage, so it wasn’t that cold, it was nothing to see [upwards, at least].

When we arrived at the Bozeman airport, they opened the ambulance door and the cold took me over. After wheeling me out, I could instantly see the fog of my thick breath. But beyond that were the beautiful stars. So gorgeous in their perfect, comforting placement. It was like they were the only ones really [really] looking at me, understanding. We stared at each other with a pumping vein of tenderness and then I was lifted into the small plane.

The plane ride was almost miserable. I couldn’t move any part of me and every part of me hurt. Claustrophobia set in quick. A man who was flying with me, making sure I got everywhere safe, noticed my tears and rubbed my arm. When I told him my head hurt from the board, he loosened my head-strap and massaged the back of my head. I would have never guessed that the reassuring touch of a stranger would be so comforting, but it saved me.

We landed in Missoula. As they opened the plane door, the cold consumed me again. When they lowered me down and started rolling me to the ambulance, there they were. In the same exact place, the same exact pattern, like they had waited to make sure I arrived safely, the stars were there. And I realized that this was the same sky, these were the same stars, that shine on everything, everyone that I love. Everything can look up at these stars and find the encouragement of love, hope, and beauty.

This huge world filled with so much that I love, so much that I don’t even know yet, can all be united under this gorgeous blanket of stars. As they put me in the ambulance, my third ride of the day, I realized I want to be a part of that world.

Something I’ve never had to worry about wanting before, something I’ve never had to question, something I’ve had the privilege of being a given, suddenly became a question. And I answered with a feverishly adamant, “YES.” I want to be in this world.

I want to be here.

it’s a beautiful junkshow.

Welp, I’m in full-blown grad school now.

I mean, I’m going to school part time and working full time. Which means this might not happen very often anymore… this here blahgging.

Or maybe it will. Maybe I’ll be procrastination [like right now] and blahgging instead of reading, designing, animating, recording, etc.

This has already been one of the more challenging things I’ve been a part of.

Daily I have to look at myself in the mirror and say, out loud, to myself…

– You’re a junkshow, but it’s a beautiful junkshow. You can do this. I promise.

I literally have to affirm myself out loud. And scribbled in my notes are tiny, tiny words… helping me get through…

 “don’t over-think it, don’t freak out.”

Everything’s new. It’s just a hard thing to try. It’s a hard thing to learn. Learning to try. Trying to learn. It’s intimidating as hell. Putting yourself out there. Being exhausted.

Being the older, sweaty, awkward girl in class. [i broke a drawer in front of the whole class already… and the whole time it was happening i was nervously saying, “ohp, yep, it’s really broken… oh, it’s so broken… oh, i broke it… i’m the worst.”]

There is a theme of breaking in life right now. Breaking down. Breaking things. Taking breaks. It’s so nice to have the breaks. The breaks to connect.

Like when my momma called the other day just to tell me a story…

A three year old boy was with his mom walking in the clinic. The boy went for the stairs, to start walking down and his mom said…

– No, honey we’re not gonna take the stairs. Here, I want you to come push the button on the elevator.

He looked at her, and around, with hugely peaked interest and asked…

– What alligator?

I love it. I loved it. Mom said that he didn’t sound scared or confused, just very interested on where the alligator was and which button on it he should push.

And then there are the breaks where I again find myself watching youtube videos of kids on drugs after surgery:

I couldn’t help but laugh/cry at, “Oh, I don’t know how I’m doing, I’m just crying and watching soccer, and mom won’t get me Panda…”

The breaks where I get to go sit in a hot springs with a good friend and talk to some older guys from Boston. There was a shorter, smiley one who lived in Montana now and then his taller, quieter friend who was visiting from Boston. They were both hilarious, with the thickest accents, both drinking rum and cokes at 11am… which I might have then taken part in.

The smiley one says…

– We used to get in major trouble. I used to steal things, lots of things… mainly books.

– Ha, really?

– Yeah, but then I cleaned up and went to college, which was hard cuz I had dropped outta high school, but they let me in cuz I played basketball.

Seems fair enough. He continued…

– Yeah, and then I had this psych professor who was wicked cool, such a great guy and I ended up telling him about the books. And he said, “Well, have you ever thought about taking them back? Giving them back to where you took them from?” I had never thought of that and he thought it was a good idea, so I went and returned every one.

– Wow, that’s awesome.

– Yeah, my psych professor offered to help and drive me around town to return them, but that was before I told him I had around 200 books.

– What?!

– Yep. And we drove around movin’ books all day… from place to place. But, well, I did keep one thing. You ever read Reader’s Digest? Remember the “Word Power”?

– Yeah.

– Well, I tore every single one out and kept ’em. I still have ’em, but I gave back the rest of the magazines.

I loved that. Stealing books. And then years later, giving them back. But keeping pages.

– Yeah, we boys cleaned up. He over there, now he’s the head of the Gang Unit at the Boston Police Department.

– Wait, really? [i look over to his friend and say] I’m pretty sure they make movies about you.

His friend excitedly chimes in…

– Oh, they do! He gets Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon comin’ to him and his boys learning how they talk and how they work. All them boys from The Departed and all those movies.

– That’s amazing! You hung out with Marky Mark and Matt Damon?

– Yeah, I just showed ’em a few things. We ended up drinkin’ beer in a cop car.

Awesome.

It was such a refreshing encounter. So intriguing. A break.

And then it was back to the books. Back to the computer screen. Looking hard.

Listening to this:

Watching/Studying/Analyzing this:

[vimeo 24302498]

Crying at Rule 14: Don’t Give Up. 

Because before, I would never admit it to myself, especially not this early in the game, but it’s there. It’s the deepest, darkest whisper. It’s there. The “just give up” voice. And it hurts the most.

But I won’t.

I can do this. I promise.

where i’ve been for the last week…

Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River was [hands down] one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Words trying to spell out the laughs, scares, beauty, realizations, breathlessness… would fall short.

So, in hopes, here are some photos to explain…

[in almost completely random order…]

[a week for the books.
a time to always remember.
remind myself of.
self-support.
group-support.
the importance of love.
living.
laughing.
dancing.
living.
exploring.
being.
seeing.
loving.
love.]

[photos from the arty and amazing evan smith, finn’s facebook and maybe maybe myself.]

fighting a hard battle.

I am a bitch.

It’s true.  I find myself so quick to judge, so quick to be ugly, so quick to not care…

– Oh, you got a new job?  That’s great, really.  Oh, it’s your dream job AND the first job you’ve ever applied for.  Awesome… for you.

——–

– If that guy doesn’t stop talking so loudly on his phone, I’m going to dunk it in his flamboyant double soy peppermint mocha.

——–

– Girls who put up profile pictures of them posing with their boyfriends after dating for a month have no self-built substance.

——–

See?  I told you.  Bitch.

And then I was standing at the sink today, washing dishes, and I remembered an interaction.  One I had forgotten about.  How do I do that?  Just forget about such powerful things…

When I lived in Australia, I was invisible.  I almost not kidding.

I lived there for six months and a large amount over 99.9% of Australians have no idea I was there.

If you’re one to believe that some higher power puts you through trials to make you stronger, well, this was one of those times for me.  Loneliness tightly book-ended by the Pacific Ocean and the [even deeper] sea of Sydney residents.

And after attempt after attempt to make friends, I just stopped caring.  I would just start talking to people like they knew who I was, or they should know who I was, or [probably the most popular] I was crazy and likely homeless.

– You should watch your kid, she’s about to run in the street.

——–

– I would live at Hogwarts if I had a choice to live anywhere.

——–

– That dress is adorable!

——–

But no one noticed me.  I really might have been invisible.

And the phenomenon that came from this was that people started to just say things to me.  I was the American that obviously did not like it here and was leaving soon and didn’t have any friends to tell anything to anyway.

I became an invisible friend… who you couldn’t make eye contact with because then you would be acknowledging you were talking to someone who didn’t really exist… then who’s the crazy one?

– Sometimes I pocket some of the tip jar for myself just because my boss is such a dick.

——–

– I really do love my girlfriend, but sometimes to seal the deal, I have to picture my ex.  [i apologize for my younger and/or easily offended readers.]

——–

– You wanna get some dinner?

——–

Okay, that last one was not a secret, just an amazingly blinding invitation from a girl I had met once before.  It was a few nights before I left Australia and I was just wandering… wandering around Newtown… an overly hip part of Sydney.  I was thinking about going to see my second movie of the day at a pub theater and drinking my fourth beer of the day.  [it was around 5:30.]

I ran into Chloe* on the street.  She looked very upset.  We had met at a party I attended on a whim.  I had this round-about connection with a friend from America and well, long story short… I went to a party where I knew almost no one… like an idiot… and met Chloe.

Chloe was 20 and H-I-P.  And gorgeous.  And had such a great smile.  When her tiny, tan, blue-eyed self flashed you a gorgeous smile, you just couldn’t help but hate her a little bit.

– Hey, Chloe.

– Oh, hey……..

– Rachel.

– That’s right… sorry.

– No worries.  [i was still trying real hard to keep up with the lingo.]

– How are you getting on?

– Eh, I’ve been better.  Going back home in a couple days.  How ’bout you?  You doin’ alright?

– Eh, not really.

– Oh, I’m sorry.

– You wanna get some dinner?

And in my head, I thought, What?  YES!  A friend?!  Why is this just coming right before I leave?!  But I said.

– Uhh… Yeah, sure.

Chloe was upset.  For sure.  She took me to a Greek hole-in-the-wall restaurant and I had to pretend I knew what to order.

We started to eat.  Okay, I started to eat.  Chloe didn’t eat.  She started crying.

– What’s the matter?

– Oh, just everything.

And it really was one of those “just everything” situations.

I had known that she and her boyfriend had broken up… he was the round-about friend that a friend knew… so, I figured that maybe it was about this boy.  And, well, it kind of was.

Chloe proceeded to tell me how her and Kyle* were having a rough time.  Doing different things.  Growing different ways.  But they had been together for so long, been each other’s first loves, that it was really hard to face the fact that it maybe wasn’t working.  She told me that Kyle decided he wanted to see what else was out there…

– So, we broke up.

– Oh, I’m so sorry, Chloe.

– And then I found out I was pregnant.

My god.  What a horrible thing.  I can’t even begin to imagine finding out that I was carring a human, a life that was from a man that didn’t want to be with me.

I couldn’t believe she was telling me this.  But, then again, I was her invisible dinner companion that would be gone from the country in a few days.

– Kyle wanted me to get an abortion.  I wanted that too, actually… I can’t say that it was just him, but he was just so quick to say it.

She told me about how he helped pay for the procedure and how it was the worst thing she’s ever gone through.  She was crying.  And then she told me about how Kyle stuck around about a week afterwards and now has gone and found himself a new girlfriend… and won’t even return her calls.  And she started crying harder.

– It’s just so lonely.  Everything just crumbled so fast.  And now he won’t even talk to me!

– Oh, Chloe.  Have you told anyone about this?

– No.  You’re the first.  We decided it would be best to not tell anyone.

I couldn’t believe it.  Such pain.  Such raw sharing.  With me… no one.  I told her she HAD to tell someone.  Talk to someone about this.  It’s her life… her pain… she had the right to share it with close, loved ones.

We talked for a lot longer, through a bottle of wine and more cheese.  We even laughed a couple times.  Chloe flashed that gorgeous smile and I didn’t hate her at all… my heart swelled at her loveliness.

We walked out of the restaurant and hugged before parting ways.

– Good luck getting back to the States.

– Thanks.  Hey, good luck with all of this.  You’re strong.  You’re going to be great.

Walking back to the train station, I started to cry a little bit.  And I promised myself that I would NEVER judge a person before knowing their story.  I would never be ugly again, cynical… a bitch.  I would realize that quote that’s on corkboards around the world…

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  ~Plato”

I guess I’ve forgotten.

I’m remembering now.

[*Names changed to protect people I don’t keep in contact with and probably have no clue this here blahg exists.]

good flushers.

A couple nights ago, I helped out at Locavore’s Night Out.  It was an event by local food providers and it was just ah-mazing.  [some of the best food of my life.]

But it was over the hill [in Idaho], which means that all the beautiful parents and their beautiful children come out of the woodwork and you realize there MUST be something in the Idaho water.  I helped with the children’s activities and preciousness just abounded.

I had to take a little potty break for myself and while I was sitting in the stall, I heard a little girl come in and tell her mother…

– Mom, you can wait for me outside, okay?  I only have to go pee-pee.  Okay?  Go outside!

– Okay, I’ll be right outside.

I chuckled to myself at this little girl’s confidence so early in life.  Then I flushed the toilet and heard…

– Oh!  That’s a nice flush!

– Haha… Why, thank you.

Containing my laughter, I washed my hands and then heard her flush her own toilet and say…

– Well, that’s a nice flush, too!  They must just have good flushers here.

I walked out before I caught a glimpse of the little one… but, my goodness, she made my night.

Happy Easter from a woman who likes to hope that somewhere in her is the preciousness of a little girl in wonderment over simple joys, gorgeous friendships, rare beauty and good flushes.

lisa and myself, easter 1987. i don't know how many times i've posted this precious picture... but i'm not sorry.

The Easter morning by myself, admittedly, made me miss my family and my dad’s scavenger egg hunt… but the refreshing aloneness of today is just wonderful.  I had a head of a chocolate Easter bunny for breakfast [left for me, with an easter lily, by a lovely deserting love.] and a cup of tea with a tag that read,

Without realizing who you are, happiness cannot come to you.”

Which I believe is absolutely true.  So this morning, I looked back at so many Easters past and really looked at who I am… trying to do some realizing.

Looking back at Lisa, my family, Easters alone, with friends and Skip-Its, with strangers in Australia, the Easter Sunday I discovered mimosas, the Easter Sunday where dad rhymed “purple” with “maple syurple”… and on and on.

And maybe you think I’m self-consumed to be thinking of myself on a holiday so holy and so blatantly about a savior [either Jesus or the Easter Bunny]… but I decided I’m not sorry.  My love for you comes from my appreciation of life, which usually comes from happiness, which [as my tea bag states] comes from a realization of who I am… which is terrifying.

Go out and own who you are and love others through that on this Easter.  Get your honey-glazed ham on and wear your favorite pastels.  I didn’t have time for a Easter dress vote-off this year: https://rachellaurenmarie.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/choose-my-own-adventure-err-dress/

But I assure you I will wear an Easter dress at some point today… probably yellow.

[LOVE.]