Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to my soul. That sounds a bit odd right? Maybe. But my soul is something I am intrinsically involved with. It is different from my heart, my brain. My brain is very helpful in the logic department. Ya know, informing me when I am being nonsensical, which is often I will admit. When I should feasibly stop eating cookies and go for a run. Also pretty often.
My heart tells me what I want, what I beat for. And I try to listen to my heart's desires while asking my brain for assistance when my heart really wants to become a Wild West girl in a traveling troupe of horse riders. I obviously have to mesh the two and acknowledge that yes I would love to run free with horses, but wild horses won't cut me a check for my ever-increasing credit card bill. I wish it were that easy.
Now my soul. Oh goodness. That's a whole other entity. It isn't one thing. It encompasses my whole being. My reason. My brain. My Heart. My insides. It is like a spindly electric root pinging off every nerve inside my body, throbbing and waiting for the things I most connect with to set off on a fiery thrumming rampage throughout my internal system. Do you get it?
My soul is what sings. It cries. No it weeps. It longs for the things my heart didn't even know it really wanted. For instance, I was driving through the mountains with my grandma a few weeks back just silently listening to the wind and watching the landscape roll across me like a billowing sheet. I didn't want to read. I didn't care to turn on the radio. I just wanted to be in the mountains. That is all. I found myself thinking of pioneer women in the valley in their old clothes, walking to a well, or scrubbing clothes on a washboard, cutting up animals that their husbands had just finished skinning and cleaning or whatever burly men do with their freshly killed game. I could see it. I watched the signs that said:
Maggie Valley
French Broad River
Bluegrass Jam, tonight at 9
Cherokee National Forest
Smokey Mountains
And I felt it. That feeling that my soul was trying to tell me something. My body fairly sizzled with the urgency of my yearning, my love for the mountains, for all they encompassed, stood for and concealed. And I knew, with a death and taxes like certainty, that my soul was reaching out to the mountains like a newborn baby reaches out to her mother.
And a few moments after feeling this quaking inside of me, of knowing what I need and reeling from how I will go about obtaining it, my grandma said to me, "there is magic in the mountains," looking at them in exactly the way I was.
I knew it! There is magic in the mountains, and maybe that calls to me too. The sense that it's not just beauty, it's not just adventure, it's something other-worldly that I might not ever understand even if I tried.
And since that moment of raw understanding about what makes my soul quiver with unmatched passion I have been experiencing these sensations more and more. I hear particularly radiant music and I cover my face and cry because some things deserve my tears.
In fact now that I have opened up the soul-searching floodgates it is hard to reign back in. I read a story about children playing in Italy and I stopped reading because again I was electrified. I knew what I wanted. To play with children in Italy. To write about and photograph them even. To try food there so exquisite that I suspect I might understand what it'd be like to be royalty.
Let me just tell you one last thing about the soul and you can go about your day blindly listening to Kesha, misconstruing that for music instead of the rubbish that it is.
I heard this band in Ireland. Street performers if you will. I heard them from inside a shop while perusing souvenirs. As soon as I heard it, I turned and headed for the door where a large crowd was already gathered. I kept inching closer and closer to the sounds of these musicians with their banjos or violins, or whatever it is they were playing so well and that feeling I've been referencing, I felt it then. So much so that again I wanted to start sobbing in the streets of Dublin. It sounds sort of pansy-ish and maybe I won't be able to make you understand. But those sounds were slowly moving up my list of Most Favorite Sounds I'd ever heard. Along with hearing babies coo and my parents laugh, the sound of this Irish street band was a sound I will always remember and always yearn to hear again.
But see, this is my soul. My soul craves music that moves me. Stories that make me pause and then get lost in myself. Writing that makes me want to not only be a better writer but a better person. Photography that takes me to places I thought could only exist for God.
I can only say this. Mine is different from yours. And if your soul honestly trembles to Kesha, then okay, I can't judge you on that though I sort of want to, I won't. But I suspect if you were honest with yourself your soul yearns for something more. Pay attention to it, because it won't lead you anywhere than a place you were already meant to go.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Best of Summer

All right folks prepare yourself for something exciting! My first ever Best of List! I know, I know; it's gonna be good. Because my summer was a lot of things, stressful/crazy/wonderful/unique I wanted to do a small compilation. Okay that's a lie. It won't be small. So without further ado...

Best Books:
(In the order of very best-though I must add all these books were top-notch)
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett- If you haven't read this, you are insane.
2. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls- An unbelievable memoir that will make you feel truly blessed and sincerely make you question what you can actually achieve in this life.
3. The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank- A beautifully woven tale of womanhood that every girl can relate to.
4. Bossypants by Tina Fey- Everyone needs a little hilarity in their life and Tina Fey is it. I recommend the book on tape because you're privy to her wit firsthand.
5. We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg- This story of a mother and daughter's uncommon relationship will wow and warm you.
6. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding- Ahhh! I finally read this iconic book and yes it is better than the movie, though I will always dearly love the film. A perfect summer read and yes it made me feel a lot better about the state of my love life.
7. Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos- A very untypical love story but one absolutely worth reading for its incredibly poetic feeling. This writer knows her craft.
8. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller- And yes, finally got around to reading this as well. Such an easy fast read, but a worthwhile heart-wrenching love story.
9. Lake Wobegone Summer of 1956 by Garrison Keillor- In a word-hysterical.

Best songs:
(Or songs I couldn't get enough of)
Paolo Nutini
-Coming up Easy
-Growing up beside you
First Aid Kit
-Hard Believer
-Ghost Town
-When I met up with the King
John Legend
-Everybody knows
Ben Gibbard
-Where our destination lies
Amos Lee
-Better Days
Brick and Lace
-Love is Wicked
Cold War Kids
Young the Giant
-Cough Syrup
-My Body
-Someone like you
-Set fire to the rain
Natasha Bedingfield
-Little too much
Fleetwood Mac
-Never going back again
Glee tracks
-Never going back again
Brett Dennon and Natalie Merchant
Across the Universe Soundtrack
-I've just seen a face
Olly Murs
-Thinking of me
Lorene Scafaria
-We can't be friends
-All I need
The Avett Brothers
-I and Love and You
Bedouin Soundclash
-Brutal Hearts
Ray Charles
-Georgia on my Mind
10000 Maniacs
-Because the Night
Lil Wayne
-How to love
Panda Bear
-Last night at the Jetty
Andy Grammer
-Fine by me

Best Movies:
*Funny Girl
*Jane Eyre (I could not stop renting this)
*Arthur (the new version was superb)
*The Young Victoria
*A Philadelphia Story
*Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Moments:
>Being at my family camp. LOVE IT. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
>Actually waterskiing this year
>Attempting wakeboarding
>Seeing Vince Gill live for $3.00 and weeping to Go Rest High on that Mountain
>Going motorcycling with my uncle Lee
>Experiencing the Dirty South with my sister
>Lake Superior Scuba Diving
>Seeing one amazing James Heltunen
>Chats with my grandmama's
>Trying new things
>Learning to dap (that's for you Lace and Lex)
>Seeing two of my most amazing and beautiful friends wed their true loves. Pure Magic.
>Amish Country
>Sleeping in
>New York-Duh.
>Oh and last but not least, having only the finest people to spend my summer with: The Sturos bunch-all of you. My U.P. girls, WI girls, and Lower MI girls. The Rajala Clan. You all contributed to a most memorable summer and I thank you.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

part deux

and then...

he never called.

i know. i know. i am sorry to disappoint you as much as it was a disappointment to me but remember that little statement i revealed yesterday about not being honest with myself, well that plays a more important role than you anticipated.
the story i wove about meeting the musician that night was 100% fact, however, i did leave a few finer points out.
as soon as i had gotten home that night i had felt a remarkable sense of non-excitement over my brush with male attention.
why? why? why?

well... the exact tale i spun for you was exactly how i played it out in my mind and to my sister and closest friends. i met a musician! he wore glasses! he kissed me! what could be better? nothing with those facts.

but if i were honest with myself... and everyone else, i would have told you this:
that he didn't seem to have a stitch of humor in his lovely physique. okay... fine, so not everyone's funny.

that he made fun of a lot of people in our vicinity. people dancing(whom i thought were not only good but brave to dance on their own) older people who were out alone and blondes. and okay if you know me, you may know that i am not exactly keen on skinny, pretty blondes. they are my arch nemesis! why you ask? because they are everything i am not and they seem to have it so easy. it makes me batty.
but when mr. hip musician pointed out a s.p.b. and mocked her and said she looked stupid, i should've done a victory dance. two points for the curly haired plump brunette! but i didn't.
seems that if it's me and a man against the blondes or me and the blondes against a man, i am going to go with womankind. we girls have got to stick together!
in fact i was so repulsed by his blatant mockery of almost everyone around us that i didn't even want to get to know him better. i knew enough.
so why was i excited when he still asked me out? and disapointed when the jerk didn't call. because it still felt like a rejection. even if i knew myself well enough to know that he would've never been right for me at all.
oh yeah... and uh he may have been divorced and had a 15-year-old daughter. did i mention he was 37?
see what i mean?
i am not very honest with myself! and i have now realized why. because that would be admitting things that are unpleasant or unsavory and why confront that nonsense? well it's high time i do.
because i know myself. i know that divorcees with children as old as my teen sisters are major dealbreakers for me. i know that people who aren't very nice aren't for me. and i also know that without a doubt i still need the funny. i don't actually give two figs if you play for the bloody black eyed peas, if you can't see the humor in everyday life, and no not in making fun of blondes, then you just aren't my kind of fella.
so yes, i kissed another toad on my search for mr. right, but that's okay with me. like i said. this is only just the beginning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

if i were honest with myself

ah, limbo, such an odd place to be. well to be more accurate i am actually in anderson, south carolina, and before you get all wigged out that i am not capitalizing anything, it is not a ludicrous attempt to imitate e.e. cummings, though i do love the man, it's simply that the laptop i am working with here has a faulty caps lock key and i am just not used to the shift key enough to care to utilize it instead. so there, relax.
anyhow, i have had loads of time for introspection whilst on my extended stay in the south and i have come across a startling realization!
i am not very honest with myself. if i were i wouldn't have such a hard go of things. let me backtrack to the real story at hand here. the story that inevitably lead to this daunting discovery.
it was six days ago. a balmy night with a splash of rain that didn't do anything to diminish the heat and i was out with my aunt. out in the electric city.
i met a man. or rather he met me. he came over to talk to us and though i looked good, yep i looked real good. my thin frizzy hair was voluminous and coiffed. my feet snug in razor-sharp heels. my outfit, vintage and chic. but all that aside i still assumed the man was coming over to talk to my aunt. she's a looker, okay? in fact only yesterday a man told her she was a woman who could stop traffic. i burned with envy. i never stop traffic, i sulkily pouted in my mind. anyway. digression. back to the story.
but no, the man wanted to talk to me. hmm. i wasn't really interested at first if truth be told. though he had black rimmed glasses,(my fave and a borderline prerequisite) dimples and a military physique(or so my aunt pointed out, i stopped noticing after the glasses) i just didn't see the point.
but when i felt his smile on my face repeatedly i let down my guard and asked him what he did for a living to try and make polite conversation.
i am a musician, he said.
say no more, i thought. you had me at musician. but i was hooked now, so a barrage of questions left my lips with my excitement that i had met someone who gets it. who has a passion like i have a passion.
i find it very attractive that you're a writer, he commented after i found out he, unlike myself, actually makes money at his craft and can effectively play instrumentals.
he gets it!
then he complimented my appearance. i felt good. womanly, noticeably good.
he nervously asked for my number. he later walked me to my car(my aunt trailing a few feet behind). southern hospitality indeed. his name, that he shares with another musician, that i won't share here is perfect. so i said it. i said it was nice to meet him and i wished him all the best in his music career if i didn't see him again.
he shook his head.
i'll see you again, he said with certainty. then he kissed me.
i made sure it was only a peck, a mere flutter of lips to lips because i didn't want to be some girl he tongued in a parking lot. i beamed at him. i hoped that when he pulled me in for not one but two hugs that his cologne would seep into the fabric of my vest. it did.
he opened my car door and closed it. i drove home to the stream of chatter from my aunt in the passenger seat, repeating his name and his impressables like a chant.
and then...
well. i'll tell you, of course, but not right now. a little suspense never hurt anybody. besides this is only just the beginning.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My kin folk

At 25, living with my parents again almost seemed like a death sentence. And at first, I treated it as such. I was prone to histrionics, bouts of bossing at my family who is large and chaotic and who were irritating me and unbalancing my need for complete control. Something that is close to a Mission Impossible in my house.
But over the course of the summer, the strangest thing has been unfolding. I have slowly re-acclimated to sleeping in my old room with my teenage sisters on either side, feet by my face and someone's leg strewn across my middle.
Each night when I stare at the neon glow-in-the-dark stars that I gummied to my ceiling as a child, I am awash with a comfort which is unparalleled to anything else in this world. I can hear our dog Ruby, rustling about downstairs, trying to sneak onto the couch, because we're all in bed.
I used to dread being the last to fall asleep growing up. It unsettled me in a house full of people to be immersed in such silence. Now, it is not only welcome from the boisterous day, but a reminder that I am about to drift into sleep, surrounded by all my favorite people.
I have gotten the pleasure of drawing on my siblings backs again, my sure-fire way to soothe anyone into sleep. My sisters and I have been thrifting-a passion which every single girl in our family shares. Squealing with delight when we spot an old-fashioned breakfast tray at the consignment shop down the road for only $2.00. We get it. We get each other.
There is also something sacred about having a bad day and confiding in your fifteen-year-old sister, just to get it off your chest, and because you cry, she cries. No one but a sister will cry with you, over absolutely nothing or absolutely something. My sisters and I can look across the room after a commercial, both misty-eyed and know that it struck the exact same chord within both of us.
My seventeen-year-old sister, the lanky thing that she is, jumping on my back and out of the blue telling me she loves me.
Talking photography with my mom all day long.
Having my dad plop an article about an accomplished writer in my lap and beam that I should read it, it could be me next.
My brother calling me from Arizona every few days to tell me he's having fun and he can't wait to show me pictures.
My teenage brother looking over at me to roll his eyes at the reality TV shows my sisters are glued to. I roll mine back.
It is almost borderline detrimental to me how much I enjoy spending time with my family now that I am over my initial resistance of relinquishing some of my independence. Sure they still drive me slightly to the brink, when my ten-year-old brother is teasing my little sisters and my mom is telling them to knock it off and the teens are complaining they're bored and my other sister saunters in with 12 pairs of gorgeous new shoes and I want to deck her for not knowing what bills are yet and running out of the adult toothpaste and having to use the kids all-natural strawberry flavor that literally tastes like brushing your teeth with warm fruit yogurt, even then, I can't help but think, you crazy fools, all of you, I love you!
At least right now I am full of love. I am sure in an hour when I have ordered the kiddies to clean up their lunch mess and they yell at me that I'm not the mom, I will wax a different kind of poetic. But right now, nah, they're just... actually there is quite a bit of lunch mess that I didn't make.
Excuse me while I go be bossy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Don't bring around the cloud to rain on my parade

People just don't appreciate starving artists like they used to. It truly is a darn shame too, because we are a sensational bunch.
Okay, let me explain, for those of you who are not up-to-date on my shiftless drifting and artful pursuits.
I chose to sidle on home this summer to curb expenses for my impending move to NYC. I chose to give up a perfectly respectable job with benefits, the whole bit, to get a move on my moving parade. No shame in that right? Artists do it all the time. Madonna moved to NY with $35 buckeroos in her pocket and a whole lotta gumption.
So why I get so much grief for, oh golly shucks wanting to kickstart my everlasting dream of being a writer in the big city is a mystery the likes of which I'd like to challenge any gumshoe worth his salt to get to the bottom of.
There have been a few instances of aforementioned grief-giving taking place this summer, of which I will not elaborate on, except the most recent, which took place tonight.
I was partaking of some lovely fresh air, live music, and photographing of classic cars when I was stopped by an old acquaintance. This particular person is someone who every time I run into her, which is every time I'm home, somehow manages to insult me. But in that pleasantly backwards way. You know the way I'm talking about. Anyway, she asks me what I've been up to. I sum up. Wisconsin. Home. New York City. Soon. Real soon.
She questions what I am going to do in NY. I explain. Hopefully, get an internship. Work three jobs to pay rent. And oh, pursue that silly little thing involving my degree in English... A.K.A Fulfill Lifelong Dream. Exciting, no? No. Apparently not.
She proceeds to laugh with her mouth, not with her eyes and tells me that should I ever decide to... get ready for it, direct quote headed your way... "settle down and get a real job," I could work where she works. Which is in the medical field. This is all I will say.
Because I am not sinister, or a biter, I control my throbbing rage and calmly reply that she can look for my book in Barnes and Noble one day and attend one of book signings, should I ever be in this area again. She laughs gaily, like she's entertaining the idea of a child becoming Superman.
"I hope so!" she says with a complete lack of sincerity. I resist the urge to scream. And instead coo that it was soo nice running into her, but I must get going and fiddle with my little photography hobby.
To say she ruined my night would be outlandish. You can't ruin live music mixed with a camera as my mom said. And besides, a perfectly gorgeous stranger called me beautiful as my mother photographed me trying not to be photographed.
Anyway, to quote the song, because the song says it best:

Don't tell me not to fly, I simply got to
If someone takes a spill, it's me and not you
Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade

Sung with much gusto if I might add.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You had it all wrong, Ariel

I like to believe that in another life I was once a mermaid, for I have a deep affinity for the water. I like to splash and I like to frolic. I like to imagine underground caverns and castles. I like the idea of communicating with dolphins. Or even scuttle. And I especially like being weightless.
A few weeks back I spent a dollar on a pair of goggles. It was one of the finest dollars I have ever spent. Looking at the icy blue depths of Lake Superior is as close as I've ever gotten to my mermaid roots and I couldn't get enough of my new underwater vision. This isn't to say I haven't ever used goggles before. No, don't be silly, of course I have. But not in Lake Superior. Not in one of the most pristine bodies of water on this planet.
I swam deeper than I've ever gone before and farther than I normally would've ventured because I could see the way. And not only was the way clear, but terribly fascinating.
I saw rocks in the shape of steps descending 7 feet below to the sandy bottom and ominous black trenches and even what I thought was some sort of treasure but upon closer inspection was indeed just a sock.
One of the most riveting things I discovered, however, was if I laid on my back and looked up out of the water at the sun... well, to sum up, Ariel you red-headed fool, Prince Eric wasn't worth it!
The sea is a splendor and to view the sun rippling in sparkling clear water, a yellow, bobbing orb of light as you float along, detecting patches of turquoise to your left and to your right, while trying to steady yourself below the surface in order to hold onto the moment when you realize that there are some things in life so exquisite... that they are worth holding your breath for.

Monday, July 25, 2011

frugal frau

It's no secret that I'm real sweet on a good bargain. Though I have always sought out good deals like Sherlock Holmes on a mad mystery, it's gotten to be even more of an art as of late. I realized upon graduating college that I had an exorbitant amount of expenses and virtually nothing left over for fun or frivolities. So I got creative. Here is a small compilation of some of my thrify finds.
If I want to see a movie, I wait until it goes to the budget theater-$1.50.
I, like any other woman in America need one to four new pair of underwear from time to time. Underwear are ridiculously over-priced. I refuse to spend $10 on a pair of fabric that wraps itself around my nether regions. I will pay $2.50 or less. Absurd you say. Nope, I religiously check the clearance sections at almost any department store I shop at and lo and behold: Valentine's day lace-$1.75/Bright red and blue summer cotton-$.80/Silky beige with ribbons-$2.00
One of my worst weaknesses is antiques. And most of those are more than my shopping price range of $5. But with an arsenal of self-restraint I will wait until I find beautiful pieces of furniture, mirrors or home decor at St. Vinny's or roadside sales. I recently found a petite old lamp, think Aladdin and rubbed it to see if a genie would come out and give me more money to buy the retro chairs I wanted for $60. No luck. But the gold genie lamp was $1.76 and quite fetching. I bought it for good luck in New York.
And clothes! Oh the clothes I crave. Again, I don't even tempt myself anymore by looking at full price. If it's not %75 off good riddance I say. I was on vacation a few weeks back and had the uncanny luck of going into St. Vinny's on fill a bag for $5 day. I was with four of my sisters who are equally budget-conscious. We decided to split a bag and each contribute one dollar. With my expert clothes rolling skills, we each came home with the skirts, shirts, pants and sweaters that our hearts desired. All in all we each got about five pieces and had over $60 worth of clothing in the bag.
Why didn't we just all spring for our own bag? Because we didn't each need or want a whole bag full. And look at that. New wardrobe-$1 each.
I impart this little bit of wisdom because upon talking to others about ya know the economy, job down-sizing, feeding family's of ten, we've realized it's not just nifty thrifty to seek out $.80 underwear and $1 haircuts (going get that done on Wednesday) it's pretty darn practical.
Happy spending my friends!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


How about this 100 degree heat we're having? I am not sure what I hate more-talk of the weather or this preposterous heat. Currently these steamy temps are making a mockery of my already mediocre appearance. My hair looks like Ms. Frizzle, my cheeks are constantly as ruddy as a fresh tomato and I have no energy to put on anything that lives in the same neighborhood as style. In short I look like a sweaty farmer's mule-faced daughter.
In other news I am offering in home care to a severely embittered 90 yr-old woman while getting my affairs in order for the big move and it's given me a lot of time to think about my writing, photography, the usual. I of course have come to the foregone conclusion that the only person standing in the way of my success, is... well lil 'ol frizzy me. So I did what I do best and made several lists of proactive ideas and feel a pinch better.
I also recently dyed my hair red and then bamm-o! ran into an old red-headed crush of mine, serendipitous? No; he turned out to be a bit of a letdown. Turns out the only redhead I am fond of is Lucille Ball and her hair was about as naturally red as mine.

Upon some intense pondering while at work I realized that I am putting all my proverbial eggs in the Big Apple Basket. Despite the fact that I have yet to be published, gotten to the svelte size 6 I dream of, okay fine, 12 will do, I somehow have this fanciful notion that once I swipe the dust off my boots in Brooklyn that I will be well wildly together... let me do the movie preview version, because that's how it plays in my mind and you'll get it. Accompanied of course by a peppy new Natasha Beddingfield song.

Sturos Takes New York

Cut to me frolicking in Central park in dark denim skinny jeans, or jeggings, whichever is easier for you to imagine, an over-sized cable knit sweater most often worn by fishermen of Maine, but very offhandedly trendy for a svelte New Yorker such as myself. I am laughing gaily at something my GQ-esque boyfriend said, who is accompanying me. Cue Natasha. We are off to some trendy gala of sorts. I am carrying a manuscript in my titanic sized designer hobo bag. And fast forward to me riding on the subway looking again, painfully hip, having had a heated debate with GQ,and also pondering when my novel will be published, but it'll all work out, this is the movie preview of my life, obviously, and even if Natasha mentions heartbreak, she also says to be yourself and embrace life and it'll all work out.

That's the shorthand. The preview of course. To be certain if I do indeed work things out with GQ, stop eating chocolate chip cookies and get published you must watch the entire movie. Or follow me to New York. Or tell me to introduce myself to delusion because we are clearly in an intimate coupling.

Oh Natasha, sometimes we are indeed trapped in a circle. You said it sister.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I guess this means we can't be friends

Vacation. God love it. I have had the sweet delectability of having a few weeks away from reality to ponder life, anxiously await New York, and attempt a slew of watersports. In my 25th year of life I actually waterskied, well for a brief moment I was indeed on skis, in the water, moving in a forward motion, grasping the handle, only to get overly giddy, feeling so victorious that I promptly lost my balance and face-planted into the water giving my chin a nice case of water burn.
I even attempted wakeboarding and back flips off the raft. What's that you say, Cassandra, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and back flips in one week? Why that's madness, sheer madness! Yes, tis. But I guess I've got all sorts of ambition up my sleeves as of late. I am trying to do my 25th year justice.
Currently I am sitting in my sister's posh college apartment in Marquette, having already babbled with old friends, frolicked about in Lake Superior and squeezed in a hike. The hike was one of the first ones I attempted when I attended college here and re-hiking it after so long a time, instantly brought me back to one of my first times on the trail with one of my first loves.
Gosh, I felt so cool bringing him to that spot that I felt I myself had discovered. When in reality, this hike is in the middle of a park, only about a mile or two from town, yet I fancied myself Magellan, when I smugly swept my arms across the rugged cliffs jutting into the Superior, seeing if he was as impressed with me as I was.
Even though I brought him on a thrilling hike he'd never before experienced, introduced him to Wendy's fries dipped in frosty's, and bought him Eminem's album Encore, the relationship didn't last. Too sad for him. It's not everyday such an olympian, explorer, hip mixer of foods and flavor waltzes into your life man. Seize it. Carpe, Cassandra.
I say this in jest as I know said first college love is now married and because I am feeling fun and fancy free here on vacation. Oh and I got hit on in the deli today. I got the elusive double take. Yes! And then I was told with a smile like mine I must always get my way. I resisted the urge to guffaw and instead played it coy and collected, swatting my hand in the air like oh stop, you sweet man, while inwardly smiling like a deranged Cheshire cat.
I left the grocery store with aforementioned smile, almost drunk with delight but my balloon slowly deflated when I realized he could've gotten my number. I would've gladly forked over the digits most frequently used by my mother.
Ah, well, still it felt nice. I guess this means we can't be friends.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quarter life crisis

It's almost funny how fast life can change. One minute you're riding high on the hog, a bank teller in cheese country, making a modest living, paying your bills relatively on time and saving for your dreams. Then in a flash you're taking a leap on a better paying job and less bills, only to lose said job in a week's time and find yourself moving back in with your parents, sharing a bed with your teen sisters, with the ever-daunting realization that you're 25 and yet again applying to be a waitress with your borderline useless English degree and wondering if you can handle the stinking suffocation/choking despair of life's nasty twists and turns.

Well here's the scoop. The low-down, vanilla:

I am done. So done and over this. Since the age of fourteen, these are the jobs I have held:

Sheet folder at a bath store
Babysitter extraordinaire
Pizza dough roller and breadstick maker
Slave to the oldies, serving country fresh grits
Sub sandwich creator
Stocker of arts and crafts
Wine and cheese connoisseur
Credit card pusher
Answering phones for a health insurance company
Greeting hotel guests, enjoy your stay
Swiveling through sports bar crowds
Scrubbing floors, Cinderell-ey, Cinderell-ey
Bank teller, would you like that direct deposited?

And guess what? At the ripe old age of fourteen while folding 100 thread count sheets, I remember looking out the window at the highway, the surrounding outlet mall stores, the fields with nothing to them, and promising myself, even then that I would go to college, I would make it out of this town, I would be somebody.

So I am leaving. I am going to attempt to sell my earthly belongings, scrounge what I can and get to NY. Now. Not later. This vagabond can't wait tables another minute in small-town, Michigan. Unless it's in New York to support my art; I can't and I won't.

So goodbye, Fowlerville. I can't say I missed you when I left at 18, and I won't say I'll miss you now. Thank you for my upbringing, my roots, but I bid you an altogether un-saddened adieu.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I apologize profusely dear readers, for I have been negligent. So much so, that I fear I may have lost some of you. But negligence no more! I am back. From many things in fact... back from my writing hiatus, back from New York and back in my home state(for a short time).
Such changes, before and behind me have been nothing short of bittersweet. A piece of my heart stayed behind in Wisconsin when I left and will remain there for all my days to come. Another part of my heart grew, maybe even to an abnormal bursting point like the Grinch's, however, on my most recent trip to my beloved city, NY.
I have known for some time that New York is where my soul belongs, but after spending a week there apartment hunting, oh let me tell you: New York was specially made for me. Or I was made for New York. Whichever. I am back to regale you mere mid-westerner's about my New York.

Oh there were Michael Jackson impersonators dancing in front of City Hall
Poet's in suspenders typing on type-writers on the Brooklyn Bridge
Mango's being carved into precious edible flowers on the sidewalk
Pizza with sauce so delectable that you could pour it in a glass and gulp it down
Teenagers singing gospel in the subways
Breakfast to be had at Tiffany's. Oh and did Tiffany and I ever bond over bagels.
Bagpipes bellowing in Central Park
Models strutting their stuff, with picture-perfect Vogue smiles amidst their cameramen
Languages I'd like to know rolling off tongues of people I have seen only in J.Crew ads
Guitarists strumming on a swaying subway car and murmuring, "Gracias, gracias," with a tipped hat and a bow
Strapping young lads in their crisp white uniforms strolling Battery Park for Fleet Week--Yumm-o
Cupcakes so decadent that I now understand why Suri Cruise is always eating them, lucky bitch
Impromptu parades busting out in Little Italy
the giant toy soldier greeting at F.A.O Schwarz, which turns out, not just a kids store
And then me, walking serenely back to the subway after a frozen peanut-butter hot chocolate at Serendipity's thinking, can this be love? Can this be happiness?
Oh but it can.

And here I am, back to my roots for a summer of family bonding and nanny diaries before my next big trek into the great unknown.

Don't worry, I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inspector Gadget

I went out to lunch the other day with some girlfriends and naturally wanted to get gussied up. I pulled on my brown lace-up boots, think Pippi Longstocking, folded my skinny jeans up into a cuff, think James Dean, donned my long army green coat, think Kate Moss, topped it off with my grandpa hat, think James Macavoy, and large oval sunglasses, duh think Jacki O.
I thought I looked like I was ready for New York, or maybe exiting a grunge concert, but either way, freaking hip--like my incredibly style-savvy sis who I have been mirroring as my fashion icon as of late.
Anyhow, whilst walking out of the restaurant an employee came out from the back, looked at my outfit and commented that I had a lot of hodge-podge going on. I was instantly annoyed. I shrugged, thinking okay... thanks. "You look like Inspector Gadget," he said.
Being the polite and non-confrontational sort, I didn't want to tell him to fuck off in public and that he obviously wouldn't know good style if it bitch-slapped him, so I instead replied, "I try."
He couldn't leave it at the two insults apparently because he had to take it one further and tell me I shouldn't have to try that I should just be myself and then went into a drawn out story about his youth with some point about being unique and not trying. I stormed out of the restaurant in a rage and then slept the rest of the day as I felt sufficiently shitty about myself.
But it got me to thinking, am I trying too hard?
I mulled it over and mulled it over some more, even drawing on my high school years, shudder, and college days.
The truth is that lately I have been straddling the line on who I've always been and who I am becoming. The lines have in fact gotten so blurred that I am not sure where I stand, because who I once was is no longer exactly recognizable... a caterpillar squirming her way into butterfly.
In high school, someone once commented that my style was sporty because I often wore sweat suits. I took that as an insult. I only wore those stupid things because of the elastic and because I wasn't secure enough to really embrace my flair for the weird.
I started college thinking I had a fresh slate, I could really be who I wanted to be... but it was still a slow go discovering who that was exactly. But I started blooming nonetheless.
And now?
Well here's the thing, I am still discovering who I am! Not just style-wise but in a lot of ways. I have realized that as we grow older our tastes just keep changing. And they probably always will.
For instance: I now like sauerkraut(would literally run from the room as a child plugging my nose in horror over the smell) And Newsweek(thought it was boring and pretentious) And black coffee(only old men drink that) And Flogging Molly(too much rock) And not matching my clothes all the time(hippies).
So the consensus is, I am not trying too hard, I am simply refining my tastes.

Bottom line: If Inspector Gadget I am, then I happily accept.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Proud Momma

There's a new love in my life. It's a very new and exciting relationship, but one that's been budding for some time, I would even say all my life.
I went and held my new beloved a couple weeks before taking her home with me and I just knew. The weight of her in my hands, the way my breath caught in my throat and my heart started pitter-pattering at the mere sight of her. It's like we were made for each other. Now that I've brought her home with me, I find myself staring lovingly at her, ever so gently setting her down when my little dove has had a long day.
When we are out on a drive together, ready to embrace the day and I unthinkingly take a curve too fast--not used to having such precious cargo on board--I quickly reach out my arm to do the soccer-mom-save and hold her against the seat murmuring that I won't let anything happen to my precious peanut, adjusting her scarf to make sure she's warm.

I find myself missing her when I'm at work, delighting in all the new things she shows me every day when I get home. I don't know why I waited so long to make her mine, but now that she is in my life, I don't ever want to leave her.

Ah to be a proud momma to a new Nikon D7000 SLR.

I didn't know I could love like this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

broken horses

Admittedly I have been having a difficult go of life lately. I guess life is too broad a word, by life I mean my work life. Currently I am a teller, moonlighting as a waitress, squeezing in some house-cleaning. Ah, but there is nothing like hauling trash, scuffing knees swiping a dishrag across a dirty floor, waiting tables and being called an ignorant bitch by a disgruntled customer not getting her way to really make a person evaluate if it's all worth it.
Besides paying back my college education tab which is getting so engorged with interest you might think I attended Yale, instead of one of the smaller schools in Michigan, I also have a need to get to the Big Apple and turns out even three jobs barely accomplishes that.
My spirit is starting to shrivel like a sunburned grape in Napa Valley. Hence why when aforementioned disgruntled shrew started screaming at me at work today in a fit of unholy rage over a policy that I myself could not change, I lost it.
I walked to the bathroom and cried. Tried to pull myself together but instead cried some more. Then sat in my car for an hour while my mom told me to shake it off and still the tears would not be abated.
I came home with a pounding headache, peeled off my work clothes and crawled into bed pulling the covers over my head to get lost in sleep.
Later on a walk at dusk accompanied by my roommate, I told her about this horse I had seen on a recent trip to Chicago. My friend and I had been walking by the Water Tower on the Magnificent Mile when I saw the horse carriages lined up.
Being an avid horse lover, I felt the pull to be near the stunning creatures. With my camera around my neck I instantly began to get close to snap pictures. It wasn't until I walked away and really studied the pictures that I saw how terribly sad the horses eyes were. It actually made me want to run back, unhook her and say run. Just run.
And then, though the story didn't start out with this correlation in mind, I got it. I am the horse with almost no spirit or delight left behind my eyes to tell me to keep doing what I know I have to do. I don't see the sun peaking on the horizon. All I see is black.
I don't know how to remedy this situation... yet, but I do know my spirit has taken an ugly turn for the worse and I can't push myself much further when I already feel so broken.
Like those beautiful horses, I ache for something more, something beautiful and something free. And I am not sure how much longer I can pretend it's okay being shackled to the pavement when I need to feel the grass beneath my feet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'd take a cowboy

Okay, so I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the Pioneer Woman. She has this wildly popular blog with photography, writing, recipes, oh yeah and she lives on a ranch, married to a cowboy. That lucky bitch.
I cannot quite describe my level of longing for her life. Every time I turn around someone is prattling on about her, showing me her photos, or I run into her book at the bookstore detailing her fantastic love story. I nearly threw it across the store in a fit of rage... or jealousy, I don't know.
Where is my cowboy? Where are my book deals? Why am I not photographing wild horses? Well for starters I don't know how many seriously legit cowboys there are in Wisconsin, farmers, yes, packers fans, aplenty, but sexy would-be John Waynes... haven't met too many thus far. So fine, I may not meet a man who rides a horse and tips his hat to me anytime soon but nothing else is stopping me on the book writing, picture taking and recipes--all things I adore equally if not more than that blasted Pioneer Woman. I could do all that and I have of course been slacking in all departments.
But no more my friends! I have some new and exciting things in store for my blog, my photography and even my cooking! My love life, no. Can't really help ya there, because with all the picture-taking and adventuring I am soon to be having I just can't squeeze in a whirlwind romance. Okay, I probably could... but just one thing at a time!
So you better look out Pioneer Woman, you are not the only one who can wield a camera and knows her way around a kitchen. You have some competition heading your way, partner! So get in the saddle friends, because the real adventures are about the begin! Alright, I'll stop with the Wild West talk, I got carried away.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year New Me?

Every December I begin contemplating how I should change come January 1st. And every January 1st my list could easily be recycled from the previous year: lose weight, procrastinate less, believe in myself more, be more loving, enjoy the little moments in life—all very Tuesdays with Morrie.
While these are all seemingly valid improvements that I always want to make, I end up hating dieting, hating myself, and dismissing my list of improvements when I want a quickie with a double cheeseburger from McDonalds.
For the first time in my life—I hate that statement because it’s so dramatic, but it really does apply here—I did not put losing weight or any variation of losing weight/ loving myself on my list. It’s actually preposterous that I need to write that down as a to-do once a year; like I need reminding that I am worth loving. And as if I ever go a day of my life without looking in the mirror and thinking I’d look better without so much insulation.
But guess what? There’s nothing wrong with ringing in the New Year wanting to better myself, even if it does seem to be a wasted effort year in and year out.
This year I want it to mean something though. I want it to be different. I don’t want to go into yet another year telling myself I am not good enough and need to be slim in order to make everything else happen.
That’s the biggest change I need to make. And for awhile I have been preparing. I stopped dieting a few months ago. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back. I hate portion control. I hate counting calories or having someone tell me I can’t lick a knife with cream cheese on it because it means I have no discipline. Fuck you. I want to lick the knife and I hardly think that one extra taste of cream cheese is going to add that big of a dimple to my thighs anyway.
So New Year here’s want I want from you:

To be healthy— A wise and very healthy person I know told me the reason he continues to eat so healthy is because he pays attention to how his body feels when he eats healthy vs. not healthy. I have been trying this novel technique and holy Kit-Kats, guess what? McDonalds makes me sick. It tastes delicious, but every time I eat it I feel like a vat of diarrhea. So this is a long overdue adieu.

To focus on what I want from life and not obsess over what I don’t want. What I want is worth pursuing, what I don’t want is not worth wasting energy on. Also thank my healthy friend for these words of wisdom.

To give myself the attention I deserve, meaning not rolling out of bed five minutes before I have to go to work and schlepping in make-up-less and bedraggled and wondering all day why I feel lousy and irritable.

So New Year New Me? Eh, the old me is not so shabby. She just needs a little tweaking. And that’s about it folks. I mean being more loving, kind, patient and less interested in trashy celebrity television goes without mentioning. There’s something to be said for Tuesdays with Morrie. And if you haven’t read that book, then there’s an idea for your list of resolutions.

Let's hear it for the New Year!