Thursday, December 19, 2013

Moving Up

Due to some prompting by one of my housemates, I have decided to move on to a Wordpress blog, where hopefully I can write more regularly. You can follow me here:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween at last

This past weekend, my roommate and I made the arduous trek all the way to the Fred Meyer down the highway to get our pumpkins. And even though we didn't have the experience of slogging through pumpkin patch mud or getting lost in yet another corn maze, we did have a feast of Halloween goodies, and I carved this Sherlock pumpkin:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Play Houses

For most of my childhood, I didn't play house. My mother claims I only dressed up as a bride once, and my idea of playing house was gathering moss or herding ants. But still, I had a decidedly romantic, middle-class heart. In my vague expectations of the future at six years old, I remember hoping that I would be confident, successful, and beautiful. I assumed that I would end up married, in a white, middle-class house with 2.5 baths and 2.5 kids. During high school, I retained those ideals but concentrated on school. During my first five semesters at Fox, I tried to avoid drowning in the plethora of marriages in the student body. I wrestled with the idea that I wouldn't marry, but in my deepest of hearts, I still wanted that middle-of-the-road success.

Returning from Spain has meant a lot of things to me. First and foremost, it means I have new eyes, or a new prescription for my glasses, if you will. My friends and I have rented a house for the next year, and it's everything my little-girl self would have wanted. Pale yellow paint, 2.5 baths, smack dab in the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac.

The problem is that this is no longer what I want.

At the risk of sounding snotty or conceited, I've seen a few of the corners of the world, and I am no longer content with a middle-class American life. Traveling has a way of working its way into your blood, and the thought of spending the rest of my days in this type of house, in this type of neighborhood, is too comfortable for comfort. I miss the struggle to corral enough Spanish to talk with a woman on the street who shared her umbrella with me. I miss walking past a Gothic cathedral on my way to Starbucks. I miss knowing that dozens of countries and cultures are a hop, skip, and a jump away. I miss eating lunch at 3 and dinner at 9. I miss comparing notes about Paris with my señora, and I miss realizing that there are so many more languages for me to learn.

My little-girl heart was so hopeful about the future, dreaming about houses and plane trips before I knew anything about mortgages and jet lag. I had ni idea (no idea) that travel can change you from the inside out. My college-girl heart now has new hopes, probably just as grandiose as my old ones. I hope that America can be my roots and Europe can be my wings.

The Glory of Internships

Let me tell you a story. I'll write it in the present perfect tense, to pretend that it just happened. Or that I've been too negligent to publish it after having written it. Take your pick.

My summer has just gotten infinitely better. After getting back from Spain, resting at home for three weeks, and settling into my new house in Oregon for the past two, my mind has been going crazy. I applied for several virtual editing internships for the summer, and all the them had rejected me, or simply declined to respond. I widened my search a bit, and I came across an internship that replied the next day. And today they casually informed that I will be writing and editing for them for the summer.

I've been listening to Imagine Dragons's "On Top of the World" ever since I found out.

Let me explain the depth of the desperation that I have been feeling for the past few days. I always thought I could find work, or at least entertainment, for myself during empty days. But yesterday, faced with a house empty of my roommates and no job or internship to speak of, I found myself pacing. It started innocently enough. I couldn't sit still. I tried reading, but I kept fidgeting. Then I boiled some pasta for lunch, and I started pacing in the kitchen when I got restless. The paces got longer, until I was looping around the perimeter of the house. During these loops, I was arguing with the potential employers that had rejected me. I aggressively drained the pasta into a colander and waved the steaming pan at my invisible critics. I added cheese to my dish, and while it was melted, I continued to walk and argue. But walking wasn't enough.

I ran up and down the stairs. I justified it by saying that I was tidying up the house while I went. I was "tidying" by moving the same water bottle between the living room, which is downstairs, and my bedroom, which is upstairs. I even changed into my workout clothes, determined to go jogging instead of eating. Instead, I turned up the volume on some extremely poppy songs and determinedly danced myself into a sweat. My fidgets finally calmed as I sat and calmed my heart rate. I retired to our patio (read: small slab of concrete) and wrote a letter to a dear friend. And, because there is no better way to spend a Saturday night, I stayed up until 2am watching the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice.

This morning, laden with the guilt of not going to church, I sat on the couch and read for a couple of hours. Our house does not yet have WiFi; it's good for my sleep schedule (usually), but bad to check my email. So, I went to the coffee shop that has become my second home in two short weeks and saw the message that made my day. It's not Random House or J.K. Rowling, but I found a place that will welcome my input. This summer I have to chance to learn, to practice, and to hone my skills. I will have a chance to ascertain that this is truly the thing to which I want to dedicate my life. For once, I am excited about the summer. For once, it's not simply a time to grow restless, like it was before college, nor a time to earn money, like it has been during college. Now, I'm living in a town I adore, and I will have the chance to work with words.

The extremely ambitious part of me craves the chance to intern at a huge publishing house; but I know I wouldn't be happy working there. Yes, I need to expect a lot from myself, but over the past three years in a small college in a small town, I've learned to value a constructive community more than a cold corporation. A tiny publication might not cause a splash on my resume, but since when have I valued my resume over my happiness?

Writing Blues

I want to be a novelist. A far-fetched dream, I know, flung even farther by the fact that I've hit writer's block. I've tried the blowing-on-fingers-then-rubbing-hands-together trick. I've tried writing with silence. I've tried writing with music. I've tried writing while listening to recorded coffee shop ambiance. But today I broke out of my house, where I had coddled myself and my story ideas. I headed to a real coffee shop with just a notebook and pen. No computer. No eraser. I was forced to smile and talk to people, to remind myself of how humans interact. With a pen, I have to write whatever I think without erasing it.

In my writer's-block-induced desperation last night, I even Googled "how to be a motivated writer." Google tried to correct me kindly by saying, "Did you mean: how to become a motivational writer?" No, Google, I didn't. But nonetheless, I found some good articles and blog posts by authors with similar problems. Those authors recognized that writing can be hard, and that there will be times when they don't want to write. Overwhelmingly, the most frequent advice was to write. Even if it's garbage, even if it has nothing to do with your current project. Keep practicing in one form or another.

So here I am now, writing hundreds of words of my novel and sipping the raspberry Italian soda that I accidentally stole from someone else. Strangely, just reading about other people's writing motivated me more than anything. I was reminded that even though authors are generally solitary creatures, we are united by our goals: get published, get paid, get better at writing. And considering that we communicate better through virtual means than social interaction, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the writers who managed to push past writer's block--and those still in it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I realize that this entry is woefully late, in light of the fact that I visited Ireland and England almost two months ago. Still, my heart has been lingering in Europe, so here was my reaction after visiting London:

My whole life I've had the fantasy of abandoning my humdrum American life, moving to England, and finding my true purpose. But now, returning from London, I don't know if I would be happy there. Most all of my life has been spent in the US of A, and as much as I love British culture, I hadn't realized just how much I had idealized it.

From the time we booked our flights in January, I had looked forward to this trip, and I realize now that I had astronomical expectations. My few days in London would be sprinkled with gold dust, and nothing would go wrong. And then we got to our hostel at 2:30am, after a midnight flight, a 2-hour bus ride into the city, and an adventurous traipse through the streets of London at Jack the Ripper's peak hour. And then we shared our room with a young man with a rattail-dread combo, my WiFi didn't work for the whole of the trip, and my body started to realize that I had run out of most of my medications for the past week. Before I could even have a proper cuppa, I found the Big Ben smaller, the British people ruder, and the fish and chips greasier than I thought they would be. In my exhausted mind, the trip started to unravel. It's a nasty shock when you realize that your childhood fantasies are complex and multifaceted, with real flaws. If I knew I couldn't be divinely happy in Seattle or Seville, then how could I expect to be so blissful in London?

Throughout the trip, I blamed our lack of time and money for ruining the experience. And it's true to a certain extent--we had to walk across the city instead of using cabs, and we couldn't stop to savor every moment and monument we came across. But even with a comfortable fortune and time to burn, I would have cast the problem somewhere else. We hadn't planned enough, or we had planned too much, or we didn't know the culture, or we thought we knew too much about the culture. But let me be honest. I expected London to rise and embrace this desperate Anglophile.

I expected:
  • Big Ben to take my breath away
  • the Tube to be thrilling, even after our 79th trip on the same line
  • my photographic memory to kick in, reminding me of the entirety of British history
  • my backpack to hold an infinite amount of souvenirs, Mary-Poppins-style
  • my feet not to hurt after hours of walking
  • the British pound to be worth less than the US dollar
  • fellow Sherlock fans to be crowding the streets
  • British accents to make me swoon
On the other hand, for Ireland I just had a vague picture of shamrocks in my mind's eye. To my limited knowledge, there were not any must-see monuments in Dublin, like the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben. As such, we got to enjoy ourselves in Ireland, eating in pubs and finding hidden treasures. We found Marsh's Library, the first public library in Dublin, and we savored a drink at the city's oldest pub. I would go back to Ireland in a heartbeat; it had been just another destination during my semester, but I fell in love.

On my next trip to Europe, I probably shouldn't try to take on a country's capital in the 22 waking hours we have in said city. And, in the words of my roommate Jenna, we need to throw all of our expectations out the door (or the window, I suppose--whichever is closer). Sky-high expectations are bound to be damaged as they fall to meet reality, and I should be able to accept the future with open arms, even if it's not what I thought I wanted.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Rain in Spain

An entry about Dublin and London is soon to follow, but for now I want to express my shock at the recent change in weather. In just the past week, the temperature has changed dramatically. Two weeks ago I was shivering in the bathroom, begging the shower water to start boiling. Now, I start sweating the moment I step into the street, and I rejoice when my shower seems to tap a melting glacier. Ironically, this has been both the rainiest spring in the history of Seville, and the hottest week of Feria (celebration of Seville culture) in the last several years. I attribute the rain to my bringing the weather of Washington and Oregon across the Atlantic, but I have no idea how to justify this heat. At least I now know that I could never live in Seville during the summer. It usually gets to 100 or 105 F on a daily basis in July, and if I were to stay in Seville past May, I would simply melt into a puddle next to the Guadalquivir River.