My favorite part of working in the big city is it means I
get to ride the bus. This is a “favorite” for four reasons:
1.) Amazing feats of gentlemanliness happen daily. The men in line always let me go
first. One morning, a gentleman in
a suit said, “The front of the line is always reserved for women” and smiled
while nodding me towards the front.
This morning, there weren’t enough seats for everyone, and an older man
had to stand in the aisle for the long busride. About halfway through, a man in the back of the bus got up
and gave the older gentleman his seat.
Feats of gentlemanliness, I tell you.
2.) These precious forty-five minutes are deemed “free air
space.” This means I can do
whatever the heck I want to (read books, edit photos, journal-write, daydream)
without feeling one ounce guilty.
3.) The seats lean back to just the right angle for sleeping.
4.) Funny things happen.
Like yesterday when a teenage boy sat next to me and hadn’t yet learned
the seats-lean-back-at-just-the-right-angle trick, and hence was nodding
(literally) in and out of sleep the entire bus ride. Which meant that every 1.5 minutes, his head would land on
my shoulder. Super awkward and
super hilarious. But the truth is...he probably just wanted to sleep on my shoulder because, let's face it, I have dang hot shoulders.
I've been thinking a lot about how I can use my writing for good in the world. I like this whole blogging thing, but sometimes it feels really self-aggrandizing. So I'm trying to find a way to make it work for me, where it's more than "Look at these cute things I like and want to buy!" etc. (although let's face it--aren't those all our favorite blogs anyways? They're like double-fudge brownies--void of lasting nutrition, but loaded with instant pleasure.)
So anyways, in this blogsoul-searching, I've landed on an important question: what do I know about? Those are the best writers--when they know about something and they can talk about it. They say to become a master at something you have to spend 10,000 hours at it. Unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of things I'm master in. Seriously--my list went like this: "Wellllll....I know how to breathe pretty well. Unless I'm snorkeling--as soon as my face hits the water and I see how deep it is and all the fish, I stop breathing. And unless I'm at the dentist, when I stop breathing and pass out and he has to put the oxygen mask on me. Okay, not so good at breathing. Welllll....I'm good at getting dressed. I've probably spent 10,000 hours doing that in my life time." But no one is going to benefit from anything I have to say about clothing yourself in the morning. Soooooo........
Then I realized I've spent an a fair amount of time on dates. Not 10,000 hours. That would be crazy. But in my 26 years I'd say I do have some dating experience. This is not to say I have dating wisdom, or even knowledge. Just experience.
So I thought, "Well, why not. Maybe every now and then I can say something I think about how dating works. Or about how I wish it would work." In other words, what I'm about to say is most likely utterly useless but if nothing else, it might at least be entertaining.
So tonight, something for the men to think about:
When you take a girl out, act like you know what's going on. Have a few possible restaurants already picked out. Know how to get places. Find out what the girl's schedule is like (does she have to get up early the next morning? does she have a huge paper due by midnight? is she completely free all night and wants to spend that time with you?) and then have a time you plan to have her home by, respectful of that schedule (it's nice as the girl to not feel like you're just spending time together until the guy runs out of things to do). In other words, don't be afraid of taking charge of the date.
Note: This is not to say that you should be left entirely in charge of the date. I'd venture that girls like options. I'll write more on this in a future post. But what I'm trying to get at is this: If you've asked a girl out, I think the girl appreciates knowing that you've thought things through. I always prefer when the guy has a good plan in place, which he then asks for my input with, and I can sit back and relax. If you've asked the girl to spend a few hours with you, you should take the reins when it comes to planning a good time.
'Cause what it comes down to is this: taking a girl on a date is more than getting to know each other. Yes, that is important. But it's also an opportunity for you to say, "Look. If you were mine, here's how I would treat you. I'd be a man. I'd take care of things. I'd tell you not to worry--I'll go up to the counter to get the food when they call our order number. I'd come up with funny things to say and conversation topics so the pressure of ensuring we have a good time doesn't rest solely on you. I'd take care of you." I'm not saying you should be in charge of the girl (heavens no--but equal partner relationships will have to wait for a future post), but I am saying you should know how to take charge. The dates on which I enjoy myself the most are those where the guy knows how to take care of a lady, and he shows it.
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."― Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin
I'm very excited to introduce to you a new project I've been working on: What a Lovely, the Europe Edition. It's been one year exactly since I was gallavanting all over Europe. I want to share that with you now. This project's been in the works for some time now, and I've got all kinds of good things in store: stories of love, stories of regret, legends fulfilled, adventures in food, and as always lots of photography, music, and video .
So head on over, follow it if you'd like (special postcards to the first 20 people who become followers!), and see what a lovely Europe there is.
A story: a week ago, I went to make toast. I hadn't eaten anything for a few days because I was too sick to eat. Finally I could stomach a little toast. I went to make some. There was no jam. Sister said there was more in the pantry. I was too frustrated to dig looking for it in there, so I went downstairs to the secret storage room of jam. Got myself a jar. Came back upstairs. Went for butter in the fridge, found none. Opened the cupboard, found the butter tray, lifted the lid......no butter. I screamed to the heavens, then grumbled something about nasty toast and no butter and sick and looked up and saw Rosie (sister) doubled over laughing at me.
Not one of my more brilliant moments. Really no moments in the last two weeks have been brilliant, if we're being honest. I've felt at least three (at times up to twelve) of the following maladies at every moment in said time period:
1. lung-igniting cough
2. drizzly nose
3. cloudy, spinning head
4. muscles sore like a trainwreck
5. anvil headaches
6. crater-sore in mouth
7. sahara lips
8. a throat like sandpaper on fire
10. tingling over whole body
11. spotty-like-i'm-fainting vision
12. chilly chills
I'm not typically a wimp either. I power through colds pretty well. Not so with this round.
Anyways, so my sister rubbed my feet (note for future reference: rubbing a sick person's feet is one of the kindest things you can do for them. Washing their feet is even better. Just sayin.)
Other than that little delight, I have been having all kinds of other adventures, including but not limited to:
1. Saying "just sayin" after every sentence.
2. Busking the streets of Salt Lake with an accordion and a boy named Ben who sings like he's famous.
3. Cresting the quarter-century hill (more on that in a couple of days. I've rescheduled my birthday this year because I was too sick to like it when it happened. So I shall be celebrating it a week after the fact. Yeah. Send me presents and stuff.)
4. Meeting singing Navajos in parks.
5. Renewing my driver's license. Looking like a freakin deer in the headlights on my picture. Perfect.
6. Pre-chopping all my hair off because it has decided to mutiny, and there's only one thing to do with mutinous hair: chop it all off.
7. Playing jacks with the whole family. (CLASSIC game, people. If you don't know how to play, I highly encourage you to go get yoself a set and learn.)
8. Starting a Nancy Drew Club with an eight-year old girl that has a hundred freckles and legs like a stork.
Now I'm going to go eat a fried chicken summer dinner because hallelujah I finally have my appetite back.
We packed up the old truck and drove ourselves into the heart of the woods.
I say a thousand ages because when you're with people who have the same heart as you, the same outlook and desires and feelings, you feel like an old soul and a good soul. And in those thousand ages we did all sorts of stuff (all of which was interspersed with Lord of the Rings quotes and random outbursts of song. Unbeknownst to us before this weekend, we all share the same affinity for Lord of the Rings and for singing.):
ate gourmet quesadillas, cobbler, waffles, etc.
fished on the lake at 5:45-sunrise
walked the road back, past a dead deer and a beaver dam and a crawdad cemetery
hiked through forest woods and quaking aspens
slacklined (I fell off, and nearly lived out my greatest fear: having your right leg slip left and your left leg slip right.)
told scary stories around a wood stove while eating dutch oven
lots of moments of people jumping out of the woods to scare us (ray and stephen, nathan and stephen...stephen and stephen...)
the truth game, in which we all became best friends forever.
invented the best game in the world, called "Orcs in the Woods" (this is the more P.C. title)
decided if ever I have a band, we'll be called The Cabin Fevers
played lots of nerts and phase 10, in which nathan proved himself after we more or less sabotaged him with an entire round of "skip"s.
Best of all, we woke up to snow and hot cocoa in the morning.
In the vast sea that is mainstream music, some albums are just a drop in the bucket, made to make a quick couple of bucks. I'm thinking of anything Owl City did post-Fireflies, most Justin Beiber songs, and kinda any song by Adele (sorry Grammy committee. But I mean..."I'll set fire to the rain"? What does that even mean?!). And then there are albums that actually try to change how we listen to music--albums that are the moon changing the tide and carbon emissions melting icebergs and raising sea levels. "For Emma, Forever Ago" is that kind of album.
First, there's the lyricism in the title: "For Emma, Forever Ago"--the parallel between "For Emma" and "Forever" as if they're synonymous, the breakdown and loss when the parellel turns into "Ago," the hopeful promise when you stick that "ago" with "forever"... This alone should win anyone over to at least a good-hearted listen.
And what do you find then? Melodies that cascade over each other and choruses that echo and timber and rush.
Please listen to it from start to finish.
Please turn the lights out and lay spread eagle on the floor.
Please open a window and let the moonlight or the streetlight fall through the blinds and make stripes on the carpet.
And of this week, when Bon Iver came to town, I can say only that the audience was a lightshow gallery of iPhone screens and camera LCDs, that the Red Butte breeze pushed the seaweed-curtains and his Bon Iver hair like he was sailing headlong into a storm, crying, "Who will love you?", which he answered again and again: "Thank you. I love you all."
He played the nighttime into "Michicant", and by the time the song was over, the stars were out.