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.]

it’s okay if your shoes aren’t doing it…

I got a text message yesterday morning, that read:

“You are going to crack up when you see the cover of the daily!”

My first thought was, Oh, no this cannot be good. Especially since there were many pictures of me taken like this…

a totally candid struggle.

And then I opened an email that read:

“I think they really captured the moment for you on today’s daily cover. Nice work in your first ever PPP!”

So, I had even though I wasn’t hungry and didn’t require coffee, I went to the café downstairs, ordered breakfast and picked up a newspaper.

I. could. not. stop. laughing…

it's like a very easy "Where's Waldo?"... only it's "Where's Rachel?"

Yep.  I’m the girl on the left… in the tights… and the tutu… who can’t get her drytop off.  Hilarious.  It just affirms what friends are calling me:  An Endearing Junk Show.  [“shit show” actually… colleen’s words… but we’ll try to keep it PG-13.]

And yes, I love it.  I take no pride in being the clumsiest friend, the biggest mess, but it happens… I’ve come to terms with it.

I trip and fall after traveling states to run one race:  i was from portland.

I fall off skin tracks and into snowbanks:  glorious embarrassment.

Once, while driving around garage sale hunting with a group of friends in college, I smacked my head into the driver’s side window because I got excited and whipped my head around because thought I saw a neon posterboard sign for a sale.  It hurt so bad… and was so embarrassing… I still hear about that.

So it was totally fitting when my friend, Andy, posted this video on my Facebook wall with the caption…

“Rachel Stevens. Age 6.”

I cannot get over it!  So precious.  So perfect.  I feel like that little girl so many times in life… in so many circumstances.

And I’m pretty sure there’s even a video of me somewhere from when I was around this age in ballet class where I just shrugged my shoulders on stage when I was supposed to be dancing.  Mom?  Dad?  Is this true?  Do we have that video?

I love it.

I’m going to go watch that precious video again.

the remnants of the good of the darkness.

The last two nights, I’ve had vivid dreams about moving back to Australia.

My friend, Andrew, says…

– Dreams are like pictures: If I’m not in them and no one’s naked, I don’t care.

Well, some of my good friends were in the dreams, as well as the family I used to work for: The Vincents, but no one got naked.

So, you probably don’t care… but…

Australia was such a hard, dark time.  It was like I couldn’t take a right turn; just became more and more lost.

That’s what my dreams felt like.  With that feeling and saying out loud in my dream…

– I came here to make it right… but I just want to go home.

Woke up and made coffee.  Made it in the percolator Evan gave me… one like I used to drink coffee out of in Australia.

One featured in this: http://en.sevenload.com/videos/NbUcslm-William-Kentridge-Journey-to-the-moon

[only place i could find the video… it’s long, but it’s beautiful.]

Felt scared/refreshed/alive/comforted.

Finally made a good cup of coffee.  Haven’t in so long.

Got to work.

Sat in my bed/desk.  Home.  Felt comforted to not be in Australia.  To be home.  Drinking the remnants of the good of the darkness out of an owl cup.

Worked on designs.

Found an ad in the paper that had designs I recently made for a T-shirt:

Smiled.

Turned on KHOL.

Love my fellow DJs and how much they love good music and their community.

Found new loves of songs:

Remembered old loves:

Worked more.

Wrote reviews:

Dom – Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP
Lo-Fi Noise Rock
RIYL: Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls
“Remixed and Remastered” rereleases only fly if your music is downright wonderful, which Sun Bronzed Greek Gods is. The songs may sound familiar but the magic is still there with every play.  Dominic, the mastermind behind the band who goes by “Dom”, declares, “We want to be the Madonna of garage rock.” They are not far off at all. Dom is garage rock if your garage contains a disco ball, the decor of neon spray paint and a dance-only hopscotch: awesome. The lovechild of Robyn + Menomena = Dom.
PLAY: 2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 6
http://www.myspace.com/dom/

Wye Oak – Civilian
Indie Folk Rock
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Cat Power, Heartless Bastards
If Civilian were a played as a concert, I picture a lot of hip suspenders and/or high-waisted skirt clad people in the crowd swaying along to the beautiful soundtrack to their favorite all-night coffee shop.  Every so often they would nod their heads in a near aggressive manner as Wye Oak steps it up and rocks out a bit; as much as Folk Indie “rocks out”.  The Maryland duo Andy Stack (drums, keyboards, backup vocals) and Jenn Wasner (vocals, guitars) do not disappoint as their third full album release brings spooky, delightful, intimate tunes comparable to those of Sharon Van Etten, Cat Power and Heartless Bastards.
PLAY: 2, 5, 7 [but all are good and dreamy.]
http://www.myspace.com/wyeoak

All in all, a good morning.

[realizations of a photo developing from darkness to a bright, beautiful picture of home.]

 

alone. empowered. beautiful.

[feelings oh, so familiar.]

Last night I went to a TreeFight event [nice logo, eh?] at the Center for the Arts featuring the amazing work of Thais Beltrame.

Walking around, I was instantly moved by her work…

It was like a story, an on-going epic…

Moving…

 

fieldtrip.

 

no jardim das coisas que eu não sei.

 

uma de muitas fantasias escapistas.

 

I could go on and on.  I wish I could find the installment she had up last night that was a bunch of smaller drawings of children doing naughty things… gorgeous.

Walking around last night… just falling in love.  There was an old suitcase that was to be filled with old baggage tags with writings of spectators feelings about Beltrame’s art.  I was moved to write,

“Reminds me of Henry Darger, my favorite.
Makes me feel the same way…

alone… empowered… beautiful…”

 

o peso de um coração.

Such powerful feelings.  From art… amazing.

And here’s Henry Darger

[i’ve spoke of him before.]

 

195 are unsuccessfully attacked...

 

untitled.

Can’t explain the connection, but it was there for me and it was powerful.

Leaving the exhibit, I ran into the head honcho for TreeFight…

– Hey Rachel.

– Wull hay… This is amazing: Congrats!

– Thanks.  Hey, did you meet Thais?

– Oh, no I didn’t get to meet her.  Her work is incredible, though.

– Yeah, isn’t it?  She said she really loves the logo for TreeFight and wanted to meet you… C’mon, I’ll introduce you.

– What?  No, I designed a silly logo, she is an incredible artist… She really reminds me of my favorite favorite artist.

– Henry Darger?

– [a bit shocked/baffled] Yes… Wait, how did you know that?  Did I tell you that?  Wait… How did you remember that?

– C’mon…

So I’m introduced to Thais and instantly have a ladycrush on her.  Gorgeous, adorable, little Brazilian who makes breath-taking art… who doesn’t have a crush on her?

– I just wanted to tell you how much I’m in love with your art.

– Oh, thank you!

– And I’m sure it’s not cool to tell you that it reminds me of another artist, but it makes me feel the same way as I do when I look at the work of Henry Darger.

– He is amazing.  One of my favorites as well.  Thank you!  That is such a compliment.

And before I knew it, she was telling me all about her own searching and loving of Darger.  Telling me about standing in front of a recreation of his apartment at the Chicago Cultural Center and feeling like she “was standing [then pausing from a bit of embarrassment, then being brave in truth] in front of an alter.”

Tripping over our words in awe and excitement of his incredible story.  He was a recluse, a janitor.  His art was only discovered after he died.  He became famous on his deathbed.  There are only three known pictures of him.  No one ever hardly looked at him.  While there are now hundreds, thousands of pictures “tagged” of one [each] individual on Facebook, this man, this incredible individual, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, had only three times someone look at him close enough, focus on him on purpose, to snap a photo.

Wow.

And as cheesy as it sounds, I was almost brought to tears from this conversation with a stranger.  The immediate bond, the depth of a connection discovered… Something great.  Something familiar like a best friend you haven’t seen in so long.  Something like your favorite book covered in dust, opened again.  Something.

Found this photo on Thais’ blahg [in true stalker-galore style]…

And now I don’t know even how to end this.  Convince you I’m not creepy?  Words of hope for more interactions, more strangers?  Arting and its importance?  A song?  Yes, a song…

or two…

…alone.  …empowered.  …beautiful.

that whole reading/reader situation.

My dear Dabney sent this to me today: http://thebookspy.blogspot.com/

I love it.

The site documents what people spotted in subways are reading and give projections about that whole reading/reader situation happening.

It kinda made me miss Australia; where I rode a train constantly and always had a book in hand.  [or at least bag.]  And I would sit there and wonder what people thought about me and what I was reading…

The times I had Harry Potter – “Does he think I’m an idiot?  Whatevs… I think he’s an idiot if he thinks I’m an idiot… Otherwise, he’s pretty cute.”

The times I was reading my favorites [Miranda July, Jonathan Safran Foer, Dave Eggers] – “Do they know what they’re missing by not being me, reading this, right now?… Also, do they know how much of a dork I am?”

The few times I was brave enough to read Anais Nin on a train – “Oh, young little hipster… If you only knew how naughty this book is… You would be way more excited about books and less about that wretched music I can hear coming from your neon headphones.”

I wish there was a train in my life to keep me reading more.  I’m only just getting to the books everyone has been telling me I HAVE to read…

I’ve taken to putting a ten dollar bill in books as a bookmark… and then when I’m finished with the book, I get to buy myself a totally selfish treat of some breed.  Incentive… because there are no trains… and I’ve recently discovered Dexter.

the sun did not see my tears.

Leaving my sister’s… again.

Getting out of town, getting out of Visalia, a coffee shop caught my eye.

It’s this coffee shop I regulared when my sister was going through her divorce and I was staying with her, helping her with Emerson… her daughter… two at the time… four now.

I sat out on this patio trying to figure out what the hell I was doing.

october 2008.

I’m sitting here again.  Decided to take another picture, in the same place… to see how I have changed… things have changed.

october 2010.

I tried to capture the same photo… the same feeling.  I’m closer now.  I’m more here.  But things are still so the same.

I am jobless again… not still… but again.

Family… FAMILY… just like then.

Yosemite is on my mind still.

I am in love again… not still… but again.

I still find joy inside myself.

I still find darkness inside myself.

Love is still a strength that baffles me.

Family is still a beautiful mess played by the most hilarious/amazing characters.

An exerpt from an email from my father:

“By the time I pulled into traffic, it was all over, I had to put on my sunglasses so the sun did not see my tears.”

…in reference to his love for this beautiful mess.

We’re all still just making it and making everything of it.

I have come full circle many times in life: rose to the top to have my chest swell above the world I know, slid to the bottom of days of darkness and praying for sleep… and everything between.  But what will always be the same, no matter where on that constant circling of life, is where I came from.

Thanks for the great time hanging out, Sarah and Daddy.

Okay, now, it is time to leave again.