27 February 2010

A Late Winter Manifesto

There's only one more day of February, but it's reached that point where the winter is beginning to feel endless.  I can only speak for myself, but it seems like now is the time when we all need reminders that the end is in fact in nearing.  So this morning, while I was avoiding existence beyond my flannel sheets, I wrote some notes for myself and figured I might as well share with anyone else that needs that extra little pat on the back in these long, cold months.
A Late Winter Manifesto
-- Go get yourself some flowers, particularly if your local florist has some early daffodils
-- Listen to some reggae while taking a nice long shower.  I know, this sounds silly, but grooving while shampooing to the album Uprising has been a personal cure-all for ages.
-- Buy yourself something cozy like socks or mittens, especially now that winter accessories are going on clearance.
-- Go outside everyday, even if it's just to check the mail.  My favorite is taking a long meander through my tree-lined neighborhood with some dark chocolate.
-- Wear bright colors!
-- Set aside some moments from your day for creative endeavors.
-- Venture to your nearest restaurant/cafe that uses local foods in their repertoire to acquire some new inspirations for the kitchen.  And eat something yummy while you're there.
-- If you take photos, print a few 8x10s of shots you took last Spring, and hang them where you'll see them everyday.
-- Keep your space clean, whether it's an office, a house, or a room.
-- Cultivate and maintain optimism... Spring is almost here!

26 February 2010

[this moment]

Feeling inspired by the lovely soulemama and her [this moment] idea...
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
This is something I do with words in my journals, but I love the idea of doing it here with a picture.  Although I can't resist adding just a couple words.  If you would like to join in, please leave a link to your moment in the comments to share.

 
-- Brother -- Sunshine -- Conversation --

23 February 2010

i will tie them tighter

 
I've been thinking all day about writing poems as lassos, about using words like snares.
Ideas are brewing and taking form and insisting on being written.
Too bad I have all sorts of ecological perspectives homework to do tonight.
One of my favorite artists, Joanna Newsom, released a new album today, and you can listen to the three disc epic in its entirety on NPR.  I am enjoying it thoroughly as I type... each song I decide is my favorite until I hear the next.

21 February 2010

spring tease

 
Today, my brother and I took to the North Hills to rejoice in the sun which was shining in full glory.  After what felt like months of grey, Missoula woke up Sunday morning to a cloudless sky.  Ahh...
I was also struck to see this little sign of spring.  A fly, who was clearly strategizing on how to get into my warm, colorful room.  But still!  Insects!  Spring!
 
I've also been noticing how the retreating puddles and ice are revealing the cracks in the road, and how this translates to people.  Hmm...

Unfortunately, as all Montanans come to know, this February tease of spring is just that - a tease.  Come March, there will be snow again.  And probably in April too.  
But for now, I'll take it.

19 February 2010

a meditation on stillness

 
Today I went for a little hike in one of our local wilderness areas.
I didn't make it too far in on the trail that sidles along the river, because I was mesmerized by the noise and speed of the water.
After deciding to just sit and think for a bit, I realized that the silent, stationary snow I was sitting on was what was generating the surging river; the water was being fed by the melt.
It struck me just how powerful stillness is, and how we all need it to recharge.
Stillness leads to movement.
Stillness leads to strength.

15 February 2010

quiet

 
I suddenly have a lot of schoolwork to do so it will be quiet here for the next few days.
I hope you all find peaceful moments and simple joys throughout the week.

14 February 2010

Happy New Year / Happy Valentine's Day

 
My dear, sweet roommate left these for me this morning to wake up to.
She's the best.
 Last night, we painted quietly together, listening to Jolie Holland, and I painted a lemon, for good luck (which was according to no tradition at all haha, I'm pretty sure it's clementines that are good luck, but I wanted to paint a lemon)... today marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger!  I love new beginnings.  And the tiger is appropriate for this year of new adventures for me, I'm going to need as much bravery as I can get.
I also painted two avocados, which for me equal love, and NPR agrees.  Yum.
This little guy was my favorite from the evening, but I didn't get a very good picture.

Last, a couple things to share with you:
<3 Eve Ensler gives a great TED talk about V-Day and the Vagina Monologues
<3 A lovely little print-out of hearts over here
<3 And a finally, a poem:
Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

12 February 2010

today was melancholy

 

: TODAY WAS :

 

:: attempting to rejuvenate in the mountains ::

:: winter hues of grey and gold ::

:: the wonder of being weightless in water, loving the pool ::

:: smelling the distinct earthy odor of spring ::

:: letting that smell fill me with hope ::

  

:: these for dinner... delicious ::

:: taking care of pesky tasks, but now they're done ::

:: lots of dog nuzzles and snuggles ::

:: the worries that come with driving a car older than me ::

:: listening to fleet foxes, zooming along the road under burgeoning clouds ::

11 February 2010

The Sleepytime Blues

 
[A stunning image of Baikal Teals in S. Korea - AP Photo/Yonhap]

I've always had trouble sleeping.
For some reason, since I've gotten back from my trip out East, it's been far worse.  As in, I'll glance at the glowing numbers across the room, full of dread, and it will be 4:47am.  That bad. 
Anyways, this isn't a post about lamenting over lost hours of snoozing, because in reality, if it didn't affect my efficiency and brain power throughout the day, I would elect to not sleep at all... there's just too much I want to do!
And that's always been part of the problem... it's like a little flock of neglected birds suddenly decide that they want attention, and start flitting about, twittering and pecking.  My thoughts come alive at night, especially the creative ones.
But no, this is not about the problem, it's a post about solutions.
A friend left me a cute little list of sleeping advice the other day, so I thought I would share just in case anyone else has similar troubles.  It's all pretty common sense, but sometimes we need reminding.

Ways to Help Liz Fall Asleep
1. Make a "think about list," and keep it by your bed
2. Avoid chocolate, carbs, and fatty foods (cheese) two hours before bed
3. Try not to exercise two hours before bed
4. Try to stifle your yawns - it will make you more tired
5. Get up and do something mindless
6. Make sure your bed is made before you get in it
7. Drink a glass of wine before bed
8. Remember to breathe

I need to add my own (and follow it), no computer use two hours before sleep.
... As I sit here, eating Valentine's chocolates, typing in bed.

10 February 2010

Pasts and Pelvises

I'm still new to this whole blogging thing.  I feel like there must be a code of blogdom out there that I haven't had access to yet or something.  Do I just write about myself and my days and my thoughts?  Do I write these things for myself?  Or do I write for an audience?  If so, who?  I get nervous sometimes, because my words seem to orbit around my self.
What I mean is, I don't want to treat this like a narcissistic diary.
But, I also want to share what is on my mind.  So, beware, I'm still finding the balance.
---
I've been thinking a lot about my past lately, and how it's become somewhat disconnected from my present state.  My endless folders of photos have become foreign relics from time past, and I have been transfixed flipping through them.  Thinking to myself, "Oh yeah, I did that," and "Oh, I did that?"
-
In the perusing, I stumbled upon this photo from Scenic Point Trail in Glacier National Park, where I spent three wild summers discovering part of who I am.  I was brought back to the moment instantly.  This long-dead, wind-stripped and sun-bleached tree instantly took hold of me.  Standing under, looking up, I recognized it.  
-
The first boy I thought I loved had taken almost the same exact picture of the same exact tree two summers before.  When I took this one, he was out of my life, with a bitter, unresolved end.  The idea of paths - crossing, tangling, overlapping, backtracking - struck me.  Here I was, where he had been, and where was he now?  And where were we going?
-
I also recognized it as a reincarnation of my favorite paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe.  During a trip to Minneapolis the year before, I had seen an exhibit of her pelvis paintings.  I couldn't get over her depiction of a milky white pelvis against a drowning blue sky.  The starkness, the depth, the vulnerability, the strength.  Something shattered inside me when I saw them.  And I felt the same fragments rattle and shake within me when I looked up at this tree.
-
Our pasts are so rich, and our lives are so cyclical.
I can't get over the way time churns.

08 February 2010

Chocolate for Breakfast

 
Woke up to a treat and a note.  Lovely.
[oh pain au chocolat, how i love thee and thou way of legitimizing chocolate for breakfast]

Today was good.  Very good.
Work was slow, but the daydreams were fruitful.
I have a project on my mind that is very exciting.  I'll share in due time.
Went swimming with my brother, it felt so good to be in the water again, sinking into the rhythm of laps.
Then I baked cookies!  And ate a very Costa Rican dinner (gallo pinto, tortillas, eggs...).  Yum.  Speaking of which, Costa Rica just elected its first woman president!
And now, curling into flannel sheets.
Hoping the night dreams will be just as good.

Early Morning Peace

 
I wish I could do this more often.  Wake up early, watch the light slowly fill the rooms.  I'm just always so tired, but I need to remind myself that it's worth it.  Worth the quiet moments with peppermint tea steam lacing its way past my face.   Sitting downstairs in front of the window, wrapped in blankets, not having to get dressed for another hour.  Reading a couple of Mary Oliver poems out loud to myself.  Being able to imagine my day as I want it to be, and prepare myself for the inevitable surprises.  Waking up early is so grounding.  
I'm going to do this more often.

07 February 2010

Some February Blues

 
 It seems as though it's snowed every evening for weeks, and as beautiful as it is, I've found myself tired of it.
  
 Just flurries, but it's enough to maintain the white on the ground, which then melts, freezes, gets covered with more snow, and repeat.  We're stuck in a bit of a cycle that results in slippery walks to school.  Fall count: 3
  
 This morning my friend Emily stopped by as it just started to get light out, and we shared eggs as we caught up.  I hadn't seen her since Halloween.  We giggled under the twinkles of xmas lights as we sipped pomegranate juice. It was a lovely way to start what could have been another dreary day.
  
 As much as I love the deep and varying shades of brown that are being showcased currently outside, I've been longing for color.  I walked around my house after breakfast, relishing pigments left in dried petals, the deep green of empty wine bottles, and the bright cheerful photographs I have planted everywhere.  For now, finding color inside.  There's plenty.
  
Sometimes (edit: often) something sweet helps with the February blues,
 
and having cozy feet is almost a cure.

[Confession: my most effective remedy has been purchasing happy things online, while cradling a cup of tea.  Oops.  I'll share when things arrive.]

05 February 2010

today was good

: TODAY WAS :

:: running on snow along the river ::

:: a grilled cheese sandwich to die for ::

:: car troubles and solutions ::

:: staying in bed for way too long, and loving it ::

:: a gift of gummy bears, which have been dissolving on my tongue all day ::

:: forging new paths, taking baby steps ::

:: thinking about the people i love, gathering bundles to send their way ::

:: reading 100 years of solitude, and loving it ::

:: smiling... lots of smiles today ::

 
[a flower of pumpkin and poppy seeds, made by my dear friend laura]

a new pen obsession

Just a quick note on how much I LOVE THESE PENS.
Like I'm literally obsessed.  My roommate got me the full set of 20, and they come in this neat case that folds and stands on its own.  Obsessed, I tell you.
While I was in North Carolina, I pulled them out and within the next day, both my grandmother and my aunt had purchased their own sets.  I swear they're that good.  Lists are constantly being scribbled in my house, on post-its, notecards, receipts, etc., and these pens make my lists so much more fun.  Also, I've been doodling tattoo ideas and I've narrowed it down to two very promising ideas... more on that later!

04 February 2010

optimism

 
[wolf moon from several days ago]
What a mercurial week!  I've had belly-bruising giggles, and I've burst into tears on the street.  
There were sharp, painful negatives almost everyday - two flat tires (in a week!), the death of a dog, illness...
And even though they were relatively less significant, the positives were so much more resounding - Scintillating classroom discussions, freshly baked rosemary potato bread, a package in the mail, an incredibly exciting job opportunity for post-college life, new friends, late night giggles with my brother, fair trade chocolate... I could go on and on.  
Small things.
They've gotten me by, in a big way.