Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Tale of Two Loves

Here is something I’ve never done before. A disclaimer; I wasn’t ever going to put this out for the world the read for several reasons. The number one reason being, it sounds like I’m holding a grudge against the two individuals I’m discussing. I’m not. I don’t harbor any ill will towards them anymore. We were all young and stupid and things happened. I’m simply retelling things the way I remember. With that said I will begin.

There are two boys that have screwed up nearly every relationship I’ve had since meeting them. Obviously I can’t use their real names (even though who they are will be obvious to people who are familiar with the situations discussed). We’ll call them Tim and Todd.

I met Tim through a series of mutual friends. I don’t know what it was that drew me to him. He wasn’t particularly smart, or charming. In fact he was crude and loud. It was probably the fact that at 15 his life lay in complete ruins.
That sounds mean, but it was true. His life was unstable.

Let me start over. From a very young age, I was what I like to call a rescuer. I would save bugs and lizards from drowning in our pool. I made hospitals from shoeboxes and even revived one or two things. This probably means that I should have gone into medicine or nursing or some such nonsense like that. For a while I wanted to be a veterinarian. But thanks to the California school system that doesn’t teach kids who don’t understand math properly, that dream went up in smoke. I should have been a vet. That’s for another time though.

So Tim came into my life by accident and by accident or by my deep need to heal things I reached out to him in friendship. Friendship soon became a crush and that crush spread like a rash. I knew he was bad, the things I wanted to do with him were bad. But I couldn’t stop myself.

He liked to play games. We were friends one day, suddenly the next I wasn’t fit to spit on. I’d try to smile and talk to him, but was met with a cold wall, who avoided me at every turn. Then I heard a rumor, I don’t know if it’s true, it came from an unreliable source.

“Hey Staci” Mr. Unreliable Source asked. “Why do they call you sluttly slut?” We were in class; granted it was theatre class (which basically meant free time) so no one really heard, except a few people.

“What? Who does?” I asked. I had lines to memorize, but now all my attention was focused on Mr. Unreliable.

“Tim does.” He said. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and the memory after that is blank. I don’t know what I said, or did; if I hid in the bathroom and cried. If I tried to continue with class, or if I just went back to my seat and tried to be very small. I just remember being so hurt by those words. I tried to help Tim, to be his friend. And maybe that was the problem. I couldn’t even save myself, and I was trying to save him. From that day on, Tim could always screw with my head. We had a hollywoodesqe on again off again relationship that no one could properly figure out. He had issues with lies that I’ve never understood. It was in the midst of this confusion and hurt that Todd entered the scene.

Todd sauntered into English class with so much confidence; you couldn’t take your eyes off him. The fact that he was wearing yellow sunglasses and a bright orange t-shirt with the handicapped sign on it was difficult to ignore as well. My friends and I sat on the left side of the room closest to the door, third row back. Todd came in and walked all the way to the right side of the classroom. Then he glanced up and saw me. I don’t know what he saw, but I think I smiled. He was one of those rare hot high school boys and hot boys never paid attention to me, even when I would smile at them, so I assumed this would be the case. Todd stopped and walked all the way back and sat down right next to me. Again this is where the memory goes blank, probably with euphoria. I’m sure he said “Hi, I’m Todd” or some such thing, but I don’t know if I said anything back, or if I sat there blushing.

We started dating. He was new to the school, from Washington State, very exotic indeed. It was strange for me, having someone this attractive like me and want to be with me. We kissed in one of those warm desert down pours and that is what I remember as our first kiss. It’s still in my top five kisses of all time, very close to the top. (In fact it was only unseated from number one when I met the man I was going to marry and he kissed me for the first time.) It was like a freaking movie in that everything was so perfect and felt…well right.

But even still things fell apart. He broke up with me about two weeks later, and to this day I’m not sure he knows how much he hurt me. His breakup line etched on my brain was “I don’t know where this is going.” Perhaps he didn’t, or perhaps he finally figured out I wasn’t popular and wasn’t as beautiful as someone else that he vigorously pursued for the remainder of our sophomore year. The real downer of it is this was the first relationship to get my mind off Tim and I really, really liked this guy. After that I had two very different guys to wonder about constantly.

So there it is. I realize the boys are not completely to blame. They played their hand, but it’s not their fault that I’m some sort of neurotic, over analyzing weirdo, as many of the female persuasion are. I don’t blame them as much as I used to, but I’m not going to say they didn’t screw up, because they did. It is my fault, however, for not moving on, over analyzing every little encounter and dwelling on things they had forgotten moments later.

And that’s why I stand by my own personal revelation; I should have converted to Catholicism and become a Nun.

Writer’s Block

I’m starting to feel the pressure of deadlines. When I started this whole thing I had a lot already written. I had five weeks worth of writing, all edited and ready to go. At the point of writing this four of those articles have been used up. Here’s a deadline and pressure, ready… write something awesome! Every time I sit down to write something that sounded really funny/deep/thought provoking I see that actually it’s nothing.

So instead of trying too hard and busting something in my brain I decided to write about being blocked. Go writers block! Here are some things I do when I have writers block.

1. Go and check my email a million times even though I know I won’t have anything new. Honestly, everyone I normally get emails from has a real job where they can’t send ten emails to me a day to distract me from writing. I’ll also somehow spend an hour and half on Facebook, Myspace, Livejournal and my website/blog.

2. Make up excuses for getting up and leaving the writing for a moment. I’m cold and need a sweater. I’m thirsty for water, coffee or tea. Usually a hot beverage that takes longer to make. I like feeling like some sort of cliché; the desperate writer sits at their desk with a cup of black coffee, smoking a cigarette, except I can’t smoke in the house it’s a rental. Besides I don’t smoke on a regular basis. I digress…

3. The cat is annoying me so I decide she needs some attention and I go play with her.

4. I need to loose a few pounds so I go work out with our Wii Fit for awhile.

5. The laundry needs to be done.

6. I borrowed a movie and have to watch it. Or I have movies I need to take back.

Some of these things I know need to get done; things like the laundry, working out, returning movies to Blockbuster, and yes even playing with the cat. My point is I decide to do them during my writing time. When I’m writing I need to stay put and focus and write something, doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, just something.

Writers block is terrible because it makes me depressed. I think I was built to write. If I don’t write at least a bit a day I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. I could cure cancer, bring peace to all nations and get my whites as white as can be, but if I haven’t written anything during that monumental day, it would feel wasted.

So I’m built to write, to tell stories. I truly believe that; whether it’s meant to be read by the masses, well we have yet to see how that goes.

Collections

I never thought I was collector of anything. I tried to start collections but always lost interest or found the collections sort of stupid; like Bert collecting bottle caps on Sesame Street. Why would you collect bottle caps, what’s the use of those?

I tried collecting stamps for awhile. I bought one of those “starter” books that had a plastic window with five or six stamps in it. I stuck with it for bit, carefully peeling stamps off letters and sticking them in a notebook. But I never really understood stamp collecting. Once they were used, you couldn’t use them again. Postage rates were always changing and what’s the point of collecting and keeping a bunch of stamps? No one ever got rich off collecting stamps.

I tried rocks too. Again, I bought a starter book that came with a box of small rocks and a card stock organizer to keep them in. I was in the middle of the desert, how hard could rock collecting be? The problem was there weren’t any cool rocks close by and rocks didn’t really do anything. You could classify them and look at them, and then what?

So then, much to my parent’s horror, I thought key chains would be the way to go. I seriously had a zillion key chains, anything that resembled something that could hold a key went on my “key chain chain.” Of course ten key chains to hold the one house key you have in junior high is truly fantastic, so I quickly lost interest in that. I started collecting buttons.

I pinned them to this thin vintage sash my mom let us have to play dress up with and hung them from my stuffed animal hammock. Did I mention I collected stuffed animals as well? And of course in elementary school was the obligatory sticker collection. Needless to say I had a lot of collections. Once my room was bursting at the seams with useless crap, I decided it was time to stop collecting anything. And for awhile I stuck with it. I didn’t collect anything for the entirety of my senior year in high school. I thought I was free of the collecting bug I didn’t need to collect anything. I didn’t want to collect.

That is until I came to Seattle. When I moved here I left almost all my books at home. I figured I’d be reading books for classes and partying it up so much I wouldn’t have any time for leisure reading. It all started innocently enough. I got ahead on my school reading, there weren’t many parties to attend at SPU (at least none I knew of) and suddenly I found I had time to read. I read the few books I had brought with me to school and suddenly I was out of things to read. I talked with a few people on my dorm floor and they suggested nearby Fremont that had a great used book store called Twice Sold Tales (now called Ophelia’s Books in honor of their late kitty). I headed over with a few friends, stayed for hours and left with a couple books. As I grew more comfortable with venturing out into the big city I discovered the astonishing amount of bookstores. Suddenly I couldn’t control myself, I had to go to these bookstores, and browse. And I had to buy!

I haven’t been able to kick this habit. I used to think of it as just some sort of hobby…or obsession. Put a bookstore in front of me and I’ll go in and most likely buy something. I never really thought of it as a collection before, I didn’t think anyone really collected books. I finally started referring to all the books I owned as a book collection this past Christmas when my husband gave me Book Collector, which is software that keeps track of all your books; what you have, what you want, who’s borrowing them, when they should bring them back.

So I collect books and now that I know that I embrace it. I have over 461 books, plus the three I bought last night at Fred Meyer, cause they were on sale, buy two get one free with the coupon! I also rationalize my collecting. I love books because they can scare you, make you cry, make you angry, give you hope, inspire you and be a friend.

If I’m struggling with a bit of writer’s block I feel no guilt just closing my computer after two sentences and opening a book. Doesn’t matter which book, as long as I’m reading I feel good. If I were to turn on the TV or watch a movie I would sit there disappointed in myself for being so lazy all the time. But a book can inspire me, a book can give me ideas, a book can even help me find reasons why a certain character of mine is acting a certain way. Like I said it doesn’t matter what I read. I love so many authors it’s impossible to pick a favorite. Put almost anything in front of me and I’ll read it and probably like something about it. Even smutty romance novels have their place on my shelf. After reading Germinal, no way am I going to pick up War & Peace, I’m going to pick up a Danielle Steele. Of course I could read a million Stephen King’s in a row and not complain. I’d be jumpy, but I wouldn’t complain.

All this to say I love my collection of books. I love to see them on the shelves, I love the smell of ink and glue and I love that each one is different.

On Being Nerdy

I’m a pretty nerdy person. I’ve come to accept that. I’m not nerdy to extremes, like some of those stereotypical characters you read about or see in movies. I love Star Wars, Harry Potter, Twilight, comic books and graphic novels. I could also discuss horror movies, especially zombie movies until the cows come home. But my interest in them is spread evenly over all, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you mundane details about any of them. Perhaps the closest I could get would be Harry Potter.

I’ve read every book a few times over and I also have the Scene It Harry Potter edition DVD game, and am pretty damn good at that. In addition, I attended the midnight party at Barnes & Noble when book 7 was released. Not only was I there, I participated in many of the events taking place at said party. I didn’t dress up, but I did get a Slytherin snake painted on my forearm to resemble the Dark Mark on a Death Eater’s arm.

What I’ve been thinking about as of late is would I have turned out this nerdy if I’d stayed in the desert? Or not even if I’d stayed; if I had moved back to the desert how would that have affected me?

Would I have embraced my love of Star Wars, Harry Potter and comics as easily if I hadn’t been surrounded by those that were into those things? The friends I made in Seattle knew that what they enjoyed was nerdy, but didn’t seem to care. They’d talk about what they liked and I loved that; it was refreshing not to have to worry about who would make fun of me for comparing real life situations to Star Wars or Harry Potter. It was nice to know that when I wanted to go to the aforementioned midnight party I had some folks to go with.

If I’d chosen to move back to the desert after college or if I, for some reason, returned before I graduated I would be a totally different person than I am now. The people I chose to befriend truly shaped who I am today.

I think sometimes about the person I would be if I’d gone home and what I see is not something I particularly like. I imagine myself as something of an alcoholic, unhealthily obsessed with boys who could really care less about me. When I think of what I could have become I feel a little disappointed. I say to myself, you’re so much better than that, of course you wouldn’t end up that way, you wouldn’t let yourself. But no! That’s not true. The person I am now wouldn’t allow that to happen. The person I am now would never have existed if I had not come to Seattle, made new friends and opened myself to their influence.

I’m not saying I’m a clone or that I’m not truly myself. I’m saying I am a product of my environment. The people you surround yourself with will influence you one way or the other. Which brings me back around to the reasoning that perhaps, even without my influences here, my experiences in the desert could have opened my eyes and shown me what I didn’t want to be and with that under my belt, I could change who I was. So I really haven’t proved any point at all just talked, or wrote as it is, in a circle.

Suddenly this is all jumbled in my mind. What was supposed to be a funny piece on being nerdy and enjoying it has, in a sense, become a commentary on nature verses nurture, except that it’s lacking any sort of conclusion.

I was just supposed to be editing something I’d already written and now here I am starting all over again with something totally different. Maybe someday I’ll be able to stay on track, but until then – Oh, look shiny!

Dear Prudence

Across the Universe is one of my all time favorite movies. I love the music, the dancing, the drugs, it’s all wonderful. While watching the movie for the third or fourth time one of the lines triggered in my head a question, a wondering really. Jude is getting ready to leave Liverpool. Phil says ‘You’ll miss this place.’ Jude replies ‘Don’t count on it Phil.’

That got me wondering, what makes a place, the people or the location? I’m beginning to lean toward the people. Here’s why. When I left the Coachella Valley I didn’t think I’d miss it at all, it was too hot and dry. There were no colors, no seasons, no life it seemed, until I left it. I came to Seattle not knowing a soul and although the place was beautiful, I had no one, I was alone.

I thought I missed the desert. In the middle of the beautiful Seattle fall I missed the heat and normalcy of the desert. But was it really the heat? No, I associated those elements with my friends and family. I missed Dustin, Danielle, Brandon and Lynda. I missed my mom, dad and sister.

They were in the desert so that’s where I wanted to be. It wasn’t the desert scenery I wanted it was the people. Had they not been in the desert, I would have had no reason to go back. Once I’d finally gotten settled and found some friends here I stopped wanting to go to the desert every week.

You find places that make you feel at home. One such place during the summer of ’06 was Prost!, a German bar in Greenwood. The boys were familiar with two of the bartenders there. And when I say they were familiar I mean we’d walk through the door and they’d already have our half liters ready. We were there so often the boys eventually got t-shirts for drinking so many liters. It was nice to be there and we always looked forward to going, nearly every night. Our bank accounts hated it, but we loved it.

Then the two bartenders decided to go to South America together. After that any time we went we’d get carded, beers would take forever and we’d get half the punches on our cards.

We went less and less, and missed it less and less. When we talked about missing it, we’d talk about those bartenders. We still hit up Prost! every now and then, but we’re just as likely to be at Dantes, Feierabend, Die Bierstube or St. Andrews.

So when Jude said he wasn’t going to miss “that place” I knew it was true. There were no deep relationships forged there, besides his mum, which is a given. There was no one there to make him miss it.

Seduced by the Seasons

Seattle hit me like a green, wet blob. Although it was fall it was still much greener than I was used to. In the desert the only colors, in any season, had been different shades of brown, yellow, purple and this weird dusty looking green. There were manicured lawns along my block that stayed put in their squares or rectangles of fertile earth. The grass wouldn’t have left that plot of land if it was given an invitation. There was simply no sustenance in the sand. Those pitiful, little lawns were the only green even remotely similar to the green of Seattle. I was able to find the beauty in all the browns and yellows and purples; in fact I miss seeing palm trees everyday swaying in the winds coming off the Santa Ana Mountains. I love the landscape of the desert. I love the creosote bushes with their tiny yellow flowers giving off a pungent scent that bit your nose. The pollinated air around the bushes was just as beautiful as the dozens of purple wild flowers that sprung through the sand every spring. The flowers would burst forth and completely cover vast expanses of untouched desert. They weren’t flowers like daffodils or tulips, but small purple things tucked close together like families, bursting from a dull green shrub. It is a beautiful place, my desert. Alas I will never go back; Washington seduced me the very day I moved.

The first thing I noticed was the grass. It was everywhere. There were no manicured lawns in Seattle, except in the wealthy areas of town, where folks could afford a gardener. The grass grew where it pleased, even in the cracks in the sidewalk and through a rock wall, it wasn’t particular.

The trees in Seattle baffled me. As we drove into the city from the freeway, the first thing I noticed was the trees visible between houses, as if the houses had popped up uninvited in a lush forest. The trees were huge standing alone or in clumps, their leaves a weird yellowy green as fall approached. Despite the slight turning of the leaves all I saw was green. There was green everywhere, bushes and weeds and flowers and green, green, green! It was amazing, even the weeds looked like sweet little flowers, when I’d first arrived. I thought it couldn’t get any better than early fall in Seattle, so much green and yet so much color. I wasn’t prepared for fall in all her glory.

Autumn came in full swing only a couple weeks after being at school. The air had a crisp fresh feel to it. As the air chilled, the leaves started their gorgeous transformation from yellowy green to bright red, vibrant yellow, orange and scarlet, even new shades of brown I’d never seen. They started to fall, leaving blankets of crushed leaves on the sidewalks and in the grass. I wondered how everyone could just walk on like nothing was happening. I found myself eagerly looking around as I walked to class, totally enamored with the natural beauty around me. I’d been on vacation in Seattle before, so I thought I knew what Seattle was like. My mother reminded me that we’d only gone in the summer, when most things were left to their own devices which meant turning brown and withering (at least in the case of my garden).

I kept thinking to myself how wonderful it was to live in Seattle. How it wasn’t as rainy as everyone said, even how it wasn’t as cold as I was expecting. I was actually quite pleased with the weather. I loved that there would be a sunny day here or there. It would rain for two days then right in the middle of the week was the sunniest day, you’d ever seen. I loved the weather. I thought I could handle it, until winter reared it’s ugly, cold, wet head.

Winters in Southern California are mild. Sure you may carry a sweater with you, but you probably won’t need it until after five o’clock in the evening. I learned a lot about myself that first winter in Seattle. The constant sunshine at home had spoiled me. I became confused at first when we’d had a straight month of cloud cover. It was cloudy and drizzly all the time. Even when we did have the one or two days when it was sunny, that lack of cloud cover made it impossible to do anything outside, it was just too cold. Every thing looked gray and sad. The trees stood spindly and naked. The grass, though still green, was squelchy and impossible to walk though. Nature seemed to be deeply asleep.

I felt cheated; I thought if it got this cold there had to be snow. I perked up a little when I saw frost layered on the grass and plants around school. The snow must be coming soon. When someone told me Seattle hardly ever got snow I was actually offended. I’d never been so cold in my life and all I got was rain and crunchy grass? I was mad and began spending more time inside. Winter was proving to kick my butt more than I thought. I was getting depressed, my roommate didn’t seem to like me, and there was no sunshine. Luckily by this time I’d made a friend. She too was from SoCal and we would spend the endless hours of rain in our dorm rooms, watching movies, Roswell and reminiscing about High School in the heat. If it hadn’t been for her, I might have jumped out my 6th floor dorm window or just shipped it back to Palm Springs. I soon discovered that a Seattle winter is worth the wait for a Seattle spring and summer.

Spring arrived slowly but surely. I noticed it because I began sneezing at least twenty times a day, but didn’t show any signs of illness other than the sneezing and itchy eyes. The sun finally started to peek out once in a while and I saw that all those dark days and gray rain had brought the most vibrant green I had ever seen. Not only was green everywhere, there were flowers popping up in the most random places. There would be a daffodil in a tree planter downtown or growing out of some ivy on Queen Anne. It was the weirdest thing I’d seen in my life. The air was slowly warming and became fragrant (when I could smell it). Nature was finally waking up again! The trees clothed themselves in their shiny green leaves; the grass dried and became less muddy. Tulips started to sprout shortly after the daffodils. The tiny buds pushed up through the ground and turned their fiercely colored faces to the sun. I could bear cold, wet winters if it meant I got this spring every year. Then to exceed all expectations summer arrived.

Summer in the desert had always been unbearable, unless you had a pool, air conditioning or a friend with both. Going outside with any other intention than to swim meant taking a cold shower before going to bed. Not in Seattle. In Seattle summer means beautiful warm days and mild cool nights. You can spend all day outside and not worry about heat stroke or sun stroke. There’s always shade somewhere and always an air conditioned Starbucks around the corner if you feel you need some water. Summer in Seattle was the last straw for me. I was head over heels for this place. Seattle was to be my new home; the seasons alone had seduced me.

Coming From Nowhere

Let me tell you about where I come from. I grew up in Palm Springs, California and for me living in Palm Springs was sort of like living in purgatory; it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. Back in the 90’s (and today too I’m sure) there was nothing for a teen aged person to do. There were overpriced movies, a small water park and Street Fair. Street Fair was the only “event” that was routinely indulged in, because it was free.

Street Fair is pretty self explanatory. It’s a weekly event that takes place on Thursday nights. Local artists gather their wares and line the street with booths to sell them. You could find nearly every teenager from every high school in the surrounding area at Street Fair. My friends and I had a simple routine for the night.

1. Meet at Starbucks around 7pm and do some loitering. Maybe one person out of the ten of us would buy a Frappacino, but usually not.

2. Walk along the strip (a whole two blocks) and browse the overpriced knick-knacks people made in their garages. There was one artist my friend Danielle and I would arrive to early to see. This Native American guy would create these neat glossy paintings with spray paint, the caps of his spray cans, and bits of cardboard. It would start as an unintelligible blob, but would slowly turn into a ship sailing through a starry night on bright blue water. There would be planets in the distance and whales jumping out of the water. We’d stop and watch him for about 20 or 30 minutes.

3. We’d walk back down to the Starbucks and bother the rabbi at the “Ask the Rabbi” booth. I do hope he still attends. He was so tolerant of our idiotic questions. He must have been aware of our dilemma of most boring city on the planet.

4. Lastly we would loiter around Cold Stone Creamery, bothering our friends that worked there.

The whole night long we’d be bumming cigarettes or giving them, shouting and laughing and generally just being annoying teenagers trying to have some fun.

There’s another reason I felt the deep need to leave the desert after high school. My friends and I were convinced that if you didn’t leave the desert almost immediately after graduating from High School, you get stuck there. And if you didn’t move far enough away you’d get stuck in the Desert Force Field and be sucked back. It’s like getting caught in an ocean current, you can’t fight it, cause then you’ll wear yourself out and drown, but it’s so, so awful to let it take you out to sea. I refused to get caught in the current and taken out to sea.

Of course this was all before I realized I actually sort of enjoy the place; now that I’m older and don’t mind just laying around doing nothing for a change. And it’s true I do have some very fond memories of the desert. One of my favorite things was to drive to the end of Ramon Road with my boyfriend and a couple other friends, park the car at the foot of the hills that surrounded the valley and climb the rocks. Our tiny city looked so pretty and serene from those rocks. The stars were so bright, it was hard to tell where they ended and the faint city lights began. Besides being beautiful and breezy up on the hills, there was also many a place to curl up and make out. But you can’t do that forever, especially after you and said boyfriend break up. No, it was time to move on, I couldn’t stand to stay.

I applied to three universities. The first being Point Loma Nazarene University. I wasn’t accepted, but that’s ok, because it wasn’t nearly far enough away. San Diego, although more entertaining, is too close, you get sucked back to the desert almost immediately. Azusa Pacific University accepted me. I really didn’t want to go there either. They didn’t have the major I was considering as anything except an extracurricular activity. Besides, it was only about 2 hours away, absolutely in range of the Desert Force Field, I was certain I’d be sucked back every weekend to hang out with my friends still in high school. I wanted to get away, start new. Enter Seattle Pacific University. They accepted me, my first choice; first because my parents went there, and also because it was so far away. I loved Seattle; I’d visited every summer since I was about 5. It was definitely outside the Desert Force Field, and it was completely new. I would be a totally new person, partly because SPU made me promise not to drink, smoke, or do drugs. There was my first step at being new and fresh. I was ready for the adventures of Seattle. I was ready to be a new, better person and I couldn’t wait to go.