checking the mailbox // a story + playlist.

Tonight, I had my first writing class of a series. We did some free writing. Get a prompt. Write for five minutes. Share.

The third prompt was “I remember…”

For unclear reasons lately, I’ve been thinking about mailboxes. What they mean for homes. What they mean for love. What they mean for communication. And in the instant the of the prompt, I remembered a mailbox. Here’s what I wrote…

I remember the mailbox. The mailbox so empty, every time. My heart so broken. Every time. I had no way of knowing it could feel this bad. I was 17. I was in love. And after two years together, he went off to spend a summer as a camp counselor. I was so sad… but we wrote each other all the time. I had to get my wisdom teeth out that summer. The feeling wasn’t pain. The feeling was life underwater. Slower because of the drugs. My head was light, but my mouth was heavy, full of gauze. He just so happened to be visiting home the day after my procedure. He looked at me. Me with my chipmunk cheeks. And he told me we were over. “Whaaad?” I asked, muffled and swollen and crumbling into the pain now. I don’t remember much after that. I just remember the weeks to come. Checking the mailbox every day. Feeling inside the empty tin. So hot. So empty. I wondered if I could climb in, shut the door, and be in that darkness instead.

I assured my classmates that I am happily married now.

Checking the mailbox. It means something different to me now—thank god. It means something, though. I’ve put together some of the songs—old and new—then and now—full and empty—in a playlist for sharing. I hope you enjoy the tunes.

checking_the_mailbox[click me.]

[hoping the hot tin burns.]

frictioning geometry.

Tonight felt so much like what this used to feel like.

Evan is gone. Backpacking. And this feels alone like I used to be. Alone.

Staying up late, working on projects, drinking wine, listening to this:

This whole album.

And flipping through an old friend of a book, trying to help a commenter who got lost in the mix. Remembering the power of this:

“Because secrets do not increase in value if kept in a gore-ian lockbox, because one’s past is either made useful or else mutates and becomes cancerous. We share things for the obvious reasons: it makes us feel un-alone, it spreads the weight over a larger area, it holds the possibility of making our share lighter. And it can work either way – not simply as a pain-relief device, but, in the case of not bad news but good, as a share-the-happy-things-I’ve-seen/lessons-I’ve-learned vehicle. Or as a tool for simple connectivity for its own sake, a testing of waters, a stab at engagement with a mass of strangers.”

– A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  [Dave Eggers].

It rings so true and affirms decisions to turn harboring weight into art. Use it. Mold it. Be it. Show it.

We all got things to hide.

Lovely.

Sitting in this seat. Working. Staring at a screen. The windows open. Hearing people at the park down the road. Cheering. Laughing. Yelling. And just sitting here. Staring. Listening. More wine, please. Don’t mind if I do.

Photos of myself. Just like it used to be. Just like it used to feel.

likeitusedtobe

It’s just a reflektor.

Making sure I’m still here. Like it used to be. Still in a kitchen.

Is my kitchen messy? Is it messier than most? Every single drawer is open. Every drawer in my life is open at least a little bit… some are spilling; some only hanging on by frictioning geometry.

Do I look older? Shit, I am older. Wait. Am I old? No. Right?

It’s time for the night.

ohmygodthankyouforbeinghere.

rogue deer wandering.

Anna and I have been friends since the days of Alpinist magazine.

We lived in the Swamp House together, with her gorgeous sisters, awesome boyfriend [dan], and random interns…

We’ve been on many an adventure to Yosemite, danced on tables in Vegas, made tons of Valentines for loved ones together, ran together, skied together, laughed together, cried together, moved together, grown together… I couldn’t think of my life without miss Anna Davis… and her ah-mazing pick of a partner, Dan… who has taught me so much as an awesome friend and always played the role of [fun] big brother when needed.  [side note: no one rollerblades faster than dan abraham.]

So, when I found out that Dan and Anna were tying the knot, not only did I insist on making them some sweet Save-the-Dates…


…but I really was gunning to be IN the wedding.  I’ve told Dan and Anna [“danna”] this since the beginning.  I just love them so much!  And I was there when they started living together!

So, when I asked Anna who her officiant would be, she said, “I’m not sure… but Dan is taking applications.”  And I jumped at the opportunity!

I sent the following to Dan…

[note of disclaimer: these documents are filled with inside-jokes and a few things that could maybe maybe be found offensive to certain peoples… but were only said in grasps for humor. enjoy!]

“In Regards to the Open Officiant Position

Dear Mr. Abraham,

How many weddings have you been to?  What?  I can’t hear you.  People who have been to more than fifteen weddings can’t hear when people try to talk about attending under ten weddings.  It’s science.

In attending these 15+ wedding ceremonies (and being in most of them), I’ve become quite the expert at how they are supposed to go.  And, sure, I’ve had my criticisms:

• Too much crying.

• Too much cleavage.

• Wait, are you kidding?  We’re singing?

• Too long.

• Too many children.

• Not enough attractive groomsmen.

• Where are the little cups of wine that are usually passed around?

But I believe that those criticisms have helped me grow as a potential officiant of your wedding.  And although I would love for you to have a ceremony just like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0 , I will cater to your wishes for this very special ceremony… Plus, I know you guys are more of a Lil’ Wayne couple.

Attached, you will find a résumé listing all of my qualifications for this coveted position.  I will give you a call later in the week to follow up with you.  Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Rachel Stevens”



And I thought I was just hi-larious.  I thought I had won… no matter if I got the gig or not.  But then, I was just sitting at work [in MIssoula] and got up to check my office mailbox [which is miles away from Jackson… where Anna and Dan live], when I found the following folded up in my mailbox.  Unbelievable!  How did she do it?!


[note: the highlighting and note were obviously added later… when scanned in and emailed back.]



I really cannot wait to be a part of the ceremony of such good friends declaring that they’re in it for the long haul.


Precious, exciting times ahead!


anna and myself canoeing on string lake, summer 2011, photo courtesy of miss grecious.

where wine comes from!

I am a sucker for free things. 

I’ll take it!  I’ll do that!  Sure, I’ll eat that!

So, I won a two week pass to The Womens Club from a raffle from a 5k Momma and I did whilst she was in town.  I answered the phone call and when they told me I had won this pass, I got excited like I had won a trip to Europe or something.  I was that woman on The Price Is Right that wins a toaster on Plink-o and freaks. out.

Now, I’m determined to squeeze every ounce of worth-ness outta this free-ness… Which means?  Going to every class that I can make.  So, when Zumba was the only class after work and before my radio training, I thought,

Alright, old lady jazzercize-like class… I’ll take you… Let’s do this Zumba.

And it might not be just an older lady thing, but I mean, who’s mom doesn’t do Zumba?  Although, the other day, on the phone with an ex-boyfriend, he reminded me that I’m “not a spring chicken anymore… soon I’ll be a spinster.”  [no clue why that one didn’t work out… shocking.]

So, I wore pigtails to the class to reinforce my youthfulness.

The class started, I stood in the back… a head taller than every single woman in the class, which would’ve been totally helpful if you danced with your head.

I drank a bit of water, looked around.  The music started, the instructor had her Britney Spear’s mic on and started calling out moves… yep, moves… and they all knew them!  I soon, and quite harshly, learned a lot of things.  Let me tell you something about Zumba:  First, it’s not all old ladies, there are a lot of younger ones, too… But listen to me…

THESE LADIES ARE NOT FUCKING AROUND.

Excuse the all-caps and profanity, but my god!  When did all these women have time to go to Step-It-Up Camp 2011?!  I have never been so lost in my entire life.  It was SO hard and complicated!  This one took a close second behind my first hot yoga experience… and second only because I didn’t actually think I was going to die… unless it was of embarrassment…

It was hilarious how bad I was at it!  She would call out things like,

– Grapevine!…  Salsa!…  Shimmy!…  Push it!

And I would try to follow the fourth-row-back-watered-down version of what the instructor was doing, whilst mentally answering her instruction calls in a panicked internal dialog,

– Where wine comes from!… I want some right now!… What I do when I’m imitating a hooker!… Push it real good!

At one point, she literally called out, “The chicken!” and everyone in the class started doing the exact same Mick-Jagger-like dance while I went through every single one of these…

I was so confused by how bad I was at this dancing exercise… mostly because dancing is how I mainly get my exercise

Exhibit A:  my first halloween in jackson… one for the books.

Exhibit B:  fall fest ’09… all the single ladies. danced so hard i stripped down to tank top in front of mostly strangers.

Exhibit C:  allison’s surprise birthday party… makin’ it rain on dan long.

Exhibit D-runk:  rendezvous employee party ’08… you can’t get me to do squats like that without some lil’ wayne. p.s. dabney is winning at life hard at this moment.

Yeah, just click that “Topics of Discussion” drop-down to the left over there and select “sweet dance moves.”  You’ll see.  I like to dance.

But then I realized that it’s just organized dancing that I’m real bad at!  Once I connected those dots in class, I felt a lot better.

Cuz, hell, if we all had a couple cocktails in us, my dancing would look AWESOME… and the rest of the classes’ actually would, too!  Because, let’s be honest, and I’m talking to you, 17-year-old dancing in front of me who keeps adding extra “shimmies” to the routine… You don’t actually look cool!  Yes, you do look slightly cooler than me right now because I look like I’m just doing jumping-jacks wrong… but you just danced like a chicken to Michael Franti in sync with twenty-five other women… don’t try that at the club… or anywhere else than HERE.  [exception: some flash-mob i’ll youtube over and over.]

All in all, I sweat my ass off and I think I’ll probably go back.  Why?  Because the deep down confession is that I don’t find it one bit cheesy for those few steps that I’m actually getting it.   And then right after that Taio Cruz song, we start doing some high-knee-clapping-over-the-head move to a Kelly Clarkson chorus and I couldn’t love it more.  I feel awesome.  And I’m not sorry.

[a little embarrassed, but not sorry.]

i was your clown.

Sometimes I think about my life with desperation.

How can I get happier?

What can I do?

How can I make others happier?

And it feels like always chasing.

I was thinking about this yesterday, and then my Momma called.

And all day, her birthday, I’ve been thinking about her life.  [the parts that i was there for.]

My goodness, I hope she is happy.  She must be, right?  Because without her light, I wouldn’t know happiness.

To me, she is perfect.

How she cries every single time at the end of E.T.

How she dances like no one is looking, but everyone is looking because she is such an unbelievable dancer.

How she laughs.  How she loves to laugh.  How she might be the only one in the world who can laugh at every one of Daddy’s jokes… and then we all laugh, because Momma’s laugh?  It’s contagious.

How she drops everything to sing every word to any Journey song that comes on.

Her love is abounding and infectious to everyone around her.  I hope if she ever wonders how to make others happier, she realizes her presence will do.

Happy Birthday, Momma!

I hope that the 35 years you’ve had on this earth [remember that one next time i need some moola] have been filled with joy and love.

I couldn’t love you more.

Can’t wait ’til the next time we can dance together…

Maybe to this song…

…it came on yesterday whilst driving and I rocked out so hard.

[i lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove you.]

[HAPPY BIRTHDAY!]

the whole damn year.

I’m usually all about celebrating my birthday for a whole week.  Proclaiming that it’s “MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!  We’re gonna BBQ/eat at Trio/go rafting/watch movies/etc. etc… cuz it’s MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!”

But this year, I didn’t really want to.  Didn’t want to make a fuss.  Didn’t want the hoopla.  I’m getting older, it’s okay that there isn’t a rager, a whole week celebrating me.  [yeah, no, i know how self-involved i sound… rest assured.]

So, this weekend, we went to a nice dinner.  [“we” being some ah-mazing friends who i’m so lucky to have.  and, oh, p.s. today is my actual birthday.] And we did what we would just normally do on a weekend in Jackson.  Adventures.

And when we were all laughing to ourselves on an island in the middle of the Snake River, with the Tetons as a backdrop, setting up a sign we found floating down the river, I couldn’t help but smile inside and out.  I realized I’ve been celebrating this life, my life, almost every day.

This was not a special trip rafting for my birthday, to celebrate.  This was an adventure so amazing, yet so common in our glorious lives of general celebration.  I was so proud of my friends, my family, my community, myself… for celebrating relentlessly.

And, yes, I did it.  I lived, breathed and survived another year.  [i will accept many a congratulations for this.]  But the wonderful thing is that I laughed and played and created and danced and loved and toasted and celebrated… the whole damn year.

thankfulness in celebrating.

A great night of friends and laughs and cheese conies and then the news of Osama Bin Laden.  Talking, eating, discussing, laughing, eating more.

Then, driving home, a message from a friend who had left earlier.

– Hey, I was just listening to the news about Bin Laden.  It’s just crazy to remember sitting in Geometry class hearing about the World Trade Center on September 11th… and now it’s kind of a full circle thing.  Just reflecting… thought I’d give you a call.

And then I started reflecting.

Reflecting back to when I was 16.  Hearing about the attack on America.  Sitting in shock.  Asking our teachers questions they couldn’t answer.  Going to the bathroom to call my mom and just make sure she was okay, had heard, was in shock.

Reflecting on the night.  Sitting, eating amazingly delicious [yet horribly bad for you] food with some of the most wonderful people in my life.  Talking about our country.  Proud that we weren’t partying, wearing American flags, chanting and praising death.

Thankful that we feel safe in our world of mountain town life.  Proud of our country and it’s leader and all of those surrounding us that fight for peace and rights and safety.  And “pour me another glass of wine” or “pour me another bourbon” thankfulness in celebrating being and full circles and forward trajectory.

[and this just has nothing to do with bin laden, but much to do with great tunes.]