Friday, January 31, 2014

Back in the Saddle

It's the last day of January, and I have to say that 2014 has started out great so far. At the beginning of the month I was between jobs and had a couple weeks of downtime, so I decided to take a little trip to the southern US and get some warm weather.

My first stop was visiting my dad in Florida. Once a year never feels like enough time with my sweet, fun, attentive, eccentric father, but it's better than nothing and I cherish our days together. On this visit, we went to Crystal River, which sits on a spring-fed bay where the water is a constant 72 degrees. Because of this, about 400 manatees leave the cooler Gulf waters in the winter to live there. It was pretty spectacular to be able to watch them swim.

Oh, but that part about going south to get some warm weather? I picked the exact wrong week to do it. It was during the polar vortex, when pretty much the whole country was blasted with freakishly, devastatingly cold temperatures. Of course, Florida wasn't -40F, but it was mild in the 40-60 degree range. The weather did, however, make for some amazing photographs nationwide, like these ones of Lighthouses in Michigan.

My second stop was to see Lindsey who lives in Austin. It was also cool and rainy, but that did not dampen my spirits. I got to catch up with my dear friend, hang out with her ridiculously cute dog (who is especially ridiculous in conjunction with the roommate's dog), go running, drink Texan beer, have lunch with a cousin, ride bikes, eat southern BBQ, and see really good live music.
When I got home I felt refreshed and ready to get to it. It was time to start my new job! I now work as a writer in downtown Seattle. It's a big and VERY welcome change. So far, I'm loving it. I feel like I'm coming back to myself in a strange way, like I am getting reacquainted with the parts of myself that were put on hold while doing work I didn't like as much.

I'm back in the saddle literally too, as I've committed to bike commuting to the office 3-4 days a week. A couple weeks ago, I spent a Sunday fixing up my bike- cleaned it, lubed the chain, put air in the tires, replaced the rear brakes, got a new tail light, and put new batteries in the headlight. The first day I rode to work was totally nerve-wracking, winding my way through the construction at south Lake Union and zig-zagging to Pioneer Square while trying not to get hit by cars every block of the ridiculous left-hand bike lane on 2nd Avenue. I got to work feeling equally elated and furious, wondering if the health benefits of cycling really outweighed the stress.

But since then it's gotten a little better, and I'm trying to accept that riding downtown is a whole other beast, and takes a whole other mindset. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the lifestyle change and the pedaling.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Shaking My Own Dust

Happy New Year! In the spirit of new beginnings and resolutions, I wanted to share a poem by Anis Mojgani. I saw him perform when I was in college in Bellingham back in 2003 or 2004. I remember him performing a piece called Shake the Dust. For some reason, as 2013 was winding down, the poem flooded back to my mind. I recommend watching the video of him, but just to give an idea, here is the beginning of the poem.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

This is for the fat girls.
This is for the little brothers.

This is for the school yard wimps
And the childhood bullies that tormented them
For the former prom queen 
And for the milk crate ball players
For the nighttime cereal eaters
And for the retired elderly Walmart store front-door greeters
Shake the dust.

This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them
For the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns
For the men who have to hold down 3 jobs
Simply to hold up their children
For the nighttime schoolers
And for the midnight bike riders trying to fly
Shake the dust.

This is for the 2 year olds who cannot be understood
Because they speak half English and half god
Shake the dust.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

2013 was a good year in a lot of ways, and a really hard year in others. The last few weeks, I've been doing whatever I need to shake my own dust.

First, I felt the physical need to clean things. I've been going through my closet and vacuuming the corners of my room. I checked my bookshelf to see if there were any books I needed to return to people. I vacuumed my car. I went to the Korean spa to soak and sweat and scrub away the dead skin.

It's also been a mental and emotional process of letting go of patterns that are no longer serving me. I want to feel clean and new and empty, and tie up the loose ends that I've had nagging at the back of my mind- having certain conversations, visiting friends and family I've been meaning to. I've needed to catch up on sleep, and have a couple lazy mornings. I've needed to just enjoy some time wandering in Seattle. I've needed to get outside, running stairs and jogging Greenlake in the rain. I've needed to get into the snow and laugh with girlfriends. I've needed to shake the dust of a recent breakup, and the dust of worrying about who or what I will find in the future.
And now that I feel clean and less weighted down, I'm excited for 2014. Really, really excited. I'm starting a new job that I am genuinely happy about, for the first time in several years. It's not something that I ever thought I'd be doing, but at the same time I know it will be a creative and intellectual challenge and a really good fit. There is a lot I want to do this year- not that I will resolve to do, but that I will just do.

One of those things is to keep on blogging, which I have done steadily since 2007. I love having this place to come and write and think and share. Even though some argue that the blog is dead, I am going to be here right on through this new year, plowing forward with a heart full of gratitude.