Friday, July 17, 2015

The Decemberists

I saw The Decemberists tonight. I also ate a tasty vegetarian, portabello burger with buffalo sauce from a place I've been meaning to try (their food truck was parked in the park) and sipped wine before the show.

(I'm not exactly vegetarian, but I love food in general so I'm willing to try all sorts.)

The Decemberists were perfect. I didn't want the night to end, even though my feet were sore from all the dancing and jumping and standing.

Edit: I hadn’t quite found the words I needed to express my gratitude to The Decemberists for their show at Marymoor Park last night, July 16, when I first made up this post. It’s something that will stick with me for a while. Colin walking out with his glass of wine and suit, looking nonchalantly at the crowd, then slowly grabbing his guitar and singing “The Singer Addresses His Audience”--the perfect kind of opening to any show. The song begins with, “We know, we know, we belong to ya.”

People crowded the stage as the rest of The Decemberists appeared on stage, encouraged by joyous applause and hollers. They finished out the song and welcomed us. It felt like coming home.

The Decemberists probably did every song I could have ever wanted and/or needed them to play. Even some of their really fun songs that I just wanted to dance to. Probably the first time they got me and made me tear up through a song was “The Engine Driver,” whose lyrics are beautiful enough on their own:

“And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I’ve written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones”

Even now I can’t read those words without getting chills. I can’t say I was able to hold it together well. And that was still early on in the show.

We sipped wine, we watched Colin sip wine and we sang our hearts out to every note and word we knew. Every moment that had etched its way into our memories. “Make You Better” was next on the list of songs that pulled me apart, but not nearly as bad.

Then there were the songs that just blew me away live like “Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid.” Hearing Nora O'Connor belt out the words to “Repaid” in that song was everything I could have hoped for and more. They broke it down and got soulful for us. And at the end of the night, when they did the “Mariner’s Revenge Song” we were instructed to scream bloody murder as a huge cardboard whale ate the band. They conducted us through parts of the songs. They made us a part of the show.

And now all I really want is to be back there in that summer breeze, hanging in the low 70s, under the night sky with hundreds others staring up at these people who have given us so much for so long. I want to see the stage be lit up in brilliant color. I want Colin to say, “Maybe this will linger with you later,” and conduct us all in a chorus of, “Hear all the bombs fade away,” as they finish the last 1.5 minutes of “Sons and Daughters.” I want to sing it over and over again in front of that stage with them as we did that night, nearing 2 minutes of echoed love. I don’t want the melody to end. I don’t want to give my feet a break. I just want to remember those words and this moment forever. Please, dear God, just take me back.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Injured Bird

There was about 20,000 steps under our belt Sunday afternoon as we went trail-hopping. It was a long day, but I've walked worse. When the path veered across a bridge and then faded into the grass, we weren't sure where to go. At some point, someone made their own path, and you could see--carved into the grass--a faint trail. We followed it only to discover it went nowhere for awhile. We tried to cross the river but twice we failed. On our way back we noticed something sitting on the trail we hadn't before: a bird.

I didn't notice the bird right away. He was fluffed into himself like a fat little ball of feathers. His feathers, however, looked worn and a bit oily. We knew immediately something was wrong. The bird must have heard us talking because he slowly opened his eyes, and I could finally see his face. Slowly, he lifted his head up to us and opened his beak. No noise came out, and it made his suffering seem that much worse. I had to look away.

I thought back to the baby bird who fell from its nest when I was a kid. I was riding my bike around my house, and on about the seventh time around I noticed something a few feet from the track I had been digging into the yard with my back tire. It was yellow and very small. It was probably only a few days old.

He chirped up at me, when I approached him, and flinched as I squatted down to get a closer look. His wing looked broken. I imagined some stray cat had been using it as a toy before I noticed him there. I ran inside and found a cardboard shoe box and some napkins and told my parents about what I saw. My mom and dad came out with me, and my dad picked up the bird as gently as he could with the napkins, placing the small thing into the makeshift bed. "We've got to get this thing to the vet," he said. "If it fell out of its nest, the mom won't take care of it anymore."

"Mamma, would you take care of me if I fell?" I asked.

"Of course, baby," she said.

We took that bird to the vet that day, and they did what they could to nurse him back to health. I remember talks of sending him to the rescue/preservation shelter a few blocks away.

When we saw that bird on the trail, all I could think about was how much I couldn't save this one, and how far gone he probably already was. I kind of felt like him, for a moment, yelling into the wind but with no real ability to be heard, desperate to do something.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Plant Your Feet Somewhere

One way to feel at home anywhere that you are is to have people you love around you. Another way to feel at home anywhere that you are is to find a place where you can plant your feet, even if just for a little while. It doesn't have to have a solid roof or a comfortable bed. It can just be somewhere to sit.

There's a small coffee shop downtown, where the barista will greet you in comfortable jeans and a t-shirt, hair cut in a pixie style--flopped over to one side of her face--and say, "What can I get you?" The bar in the coffee shop wraps around in a semi-circle that ends in a glass case full of scones, sandwiches and bagels. All experiments with different fruits, vegetables and cheeses--sometimes hybrids of all three. They only take cash at this coffee shop, but the paninis are pressed, the bagels are toasted and the scones are warm. The benches and chairs are hard, polished wood. Not the most comfortable, but they're sturdy. You can find focus there. 

I have a favorite: It's an Almond Joy-inspired coffee with almond milk. The coconut and almond blend perfectly, iced or hot. When I'm done ordering, I take my coffee with a smile and go to the bookstore next door. There are several stretched across those few, adjacent streets--some with shelves and books crammed into tiny spaces, some large and impressive with space for other novelties and merchandise. Sometimes instead of going next door, I explore them all.

No matter how old or new, the secondhand bookstores are cloaked in the smell of moth balls and worn pages passed between many hands. There's a section on the top floor of my favorite bookstore where old National Geographic magazines sit and collect dust. The October 1910 edition's cover stories are "The Portuguese Colony of Mozambique," "The Lost Wealth of the Kings of Midas," "A Talk About Persia and Its Women," "The Greatness of Little Portugal," and "The Woods and Gardens of Portugal."

I open up the plain paper, almost ripping at the corners from the slightest touch and read each headline, skimming the copy. I imagine the gardens, the kings and the women. I wonder what it must be like to be in the early 1900s as a travel journalist. I thought about the books covering the shelves nearby, telling stories of people and places I've never seen with my own eyes. I imagine a photographer with a Newsies-styled paperboy cap and camera sitting on a log, feet planted, pointing his lens towards the next big story.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Don't Worry


I find myself calming down now. I rested last night, and that's the most important accomplishment I've made in weeks. Things have been slowly returning to normal for me, but I know I'm going to have my good and bad days. I still am frustrated in the same ways I was Thursday/Friday, but I'm doing what I can to not be as stressed as I was. It's important to let go and let God. I know that sounds like such a cliche, but for me, it is one of the most important lessons I've had to re-learn over and over.

I have this really bad habit of obsessing over work. I fall into a pattern of constantly thinking about work and doing too much while I'm there. There's a reason why I was so exhausted all of the time when I was an editor. (When you work in journalism, your work never stops.) I don't know that I'm mentally able to work a 9-to-5 like other people can. I almost think I'm designed to be in a job that never quits and exhausts me. I know it sounds crazy, but despite the stress and fears and tears... That's the kind of work I love. And I love this job, so I think I'm trying to do the same thing here.

I just have to learn how to breathe more. Work is going to be hard, but at least if I'm in this deep, it means I care. Some people go their whole lives never having a job they care about.

"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them." 
Matthew 6:25-26

Friday, June 26, 2015

Learning, A Sequel From Another Time

Today the stress was too much. Maybe you can relate?

From the moment I woke up, I knew that it wasn't going to be my best day. Something just felt off. That sounds like I was being defeatist from the start--and maybe some part of me was--but it took a lot to smile today.

“Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself.
— Saint Francis de Sales

(You can thank Anna for that quote, by the way.)

I had a meeting today with one of my bosses, and I just fell apart the moment the hint of frustration was in my voice. This isn't the first time that this has happened, but I feel as if I need a serious break. And if this isn't the first time I'm losing my wits in my boss's office, that means something is definitely wrong. I'm doing everything I can to not dwell on the need for a vacation and make my state of mind worse. I've been at this job for just over a year, and maybe that's also part of the problem--I'm used to some sort of reprieve by now.

I'm also more frustrated at the structure of things, than anything else. Don't get me wrong--I still love this job. Every job has its ups and downs, though.

But we just have to keep on truckin', even when we don't want to. And I'm telling myself that more than you.

I let things build up too much. And I need to stop.