Saturday, October 27, 2007

Coffee. Want, need,'s all the same.

I'm so excited! I'm sitting in a real, authentic Pacific Northwest style coffee house. Thank GOD! The walls are black. The ceiling is tin. The floor is hardwood. The coffee is organic. The pastries were baked here this morning. They even have a stuffed black crow sitting on a shelf with a book of poetry. Don't you just love it? I do! It's about freaking time this town got a real life coffee house. They even have four different folk bands coming in tonight AND they're playing good Indie music on the speakers as I type this. And did I mention the free wifi? This is my new home.

And I can't help but feel just a tiny bit of extra joy in knowing that this used to be the Christian all Jesus rock all the time cafe. There is justice in this world. I'm going to throughly enjoy my coffee, my internet and my sanity.


PS: To further demonstrate my elation, here is the conversation I had with Jackie while writing this:

14:10] Jackie: hi

[14:10] Chillie625: HI!

[14:10] Chillie625: I'm in a real coffee house!

[14:11] Jackie: ooh! where?

[14:11] Chillie625: It just opened this morning

[14:11] Jackie: haha

[14:11] Chillie625: I'm drinking a real cappuccino!

[14:11] Jackie: in Lander??

[14:11] Chillie625: I'm using free wifi!

[14:11] Jackie: wow :)

[14:11] Chillie625: I KNOW!

[14:11] Jackie: welcome back to the 21st century

[14:11] Chillie625: I'm so happy that I'm blogging about it

[14:11] Jackie: :-D

[14:11] Jackie: that's great

[14:11] Chillie625: NO SHIT

[14:11] Chillie625: I'm actually sitting here alone and smiling

[14:11] Chillie625: God bless coffee

[14:11] Jackie: yeah they actually had an awesome little coffee place in Fairfield, but I think it's since gone out of business

[14:11] Chillie625: and God bless the cute tattooed hippie couple that opened the joint

[14:12] Jackie: didn't have much seating or wi fi

[14:12] Jackie: haha

[14:12] Chillie625: They even painted the walls black

[14:12] Chillie625: I love them

[14:12] Jackie: yeah

[14:12] Jackie: nice!

[14:12] Chillie625: heheheheh

[14:12] Chillie625: so happy

[14:12] Jackie: just what your Jewlic heart desired

[14:12] Chillie625: so so so happy

[14:12] Chillie625: I know

[14:12] Jackie: :)

[14:12] Chillie625: I think I'm going to tear up

[14:12] Jackie: haha

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Hi everyone. This summer my editor started giving me prompts to help me practice my writing. I was going through them today and found one that I liked so I thought I'd toss it up here. The prompt was "write about postcards". I know it sounds boring but I did have fun with it. Enjoy!

Postcards are bizarre creatures. They are short, small and public. You can’t disclose your innermost thoughts and feelings on them due to both lack of writing space and the painful truth that they can and may be read by anyone, such as the postman, nosey neighbor, disgruntled partner etc....

Postcards are historically for sending cute little notes and one picture of a place you’re visiting back to loved ones at home. Of course they have also evolved to be used for wedding announcements, party invitations, dental appointment reminders, political campaign mailings and to announce the sale at the local chain store. But first they were used as personal correspondence; meant to share a bit of the experience and maybe even entice those left behind to join them. They’re supposed to be upbeat, because if you’re in a new location, shouldn’t you be happy about it?

Be concise, be clear, be friendly and be upbeat. It almost sounds like instructions from an overly cautious mother to her teenage daughter on her first day of high school. But is that really honest? True expression of the self isn’t always happy enough to feel unguarded and public about it, such as on a postcard. I suppose that some friendly, cheery cards are entirely honest (after all, there are legitimately happy people in this world) but what of those who choose to mask their true intentions? And if that is true, that postcards are friendly by nature but not always honest, then shouldn’t we consider all postcards as possible imposters, or liars altogether?

Most postcards, classically, sound something like this: “Dear Mom, Spring break in Florida is great! I have been having a great time on the beach, going to Disney Land and visiting the alligators at the petting zoo. I wish you were here! Love, Chuck.” But what if Chuck, who happens to be the school nerd, has no friends and secretly wishes for death (i.e. the alligator petting zoo), is actually honest on his postcard? “Dear Mom, Spring break sucks. I’m sunburned, bored, and some guy took my wallet so I have no money for food or soda. To make matters worse, I forgot my scalp cream and the heat is killing me. Can I come home early? Chuck.”
Who wants to read that? And who wants to risk having such a humiliating account of one’s Spring Break read in conjunction with a shiny picture of sunny, happy Florida? The two just don’t coincide.

Postcards are usually cheery because they force us to be cheery. Their existence is based on the representation of good times and happy travels. At the very least they force us to examine on paper the image we wish to project to others and to the world. And isn’t that something that we’re always going to be concerned about as human beings anyway? By that account, are we all just walking postcards?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Next Move

Hi All,

I'm moving to Montana! I got an internship at a magazine and will be starting with them at the tail end of December. I'm totally excited to be heading that way this winter and will have to give out more details as soon as I get them.


The Girl in Pearls

I wrote this one last month and have been debating whether or not to post it. But, for those of you who do read my blog, I thought I'd share. So here ya go...

The ghost of who I used to be has been nagging at me a lot lately. The girl who had an apartment, a cat, a car payment; the girl who wore suits, makeup and pearls. That girl. The one I was so glad to leave behind and say goodbye to is starting to protest her absence.

It’s strange to have her over my shoulder. I anticipated that she would be long gone, left behind in a pile of boxes, second hand furniture and moth balls all mixed together in a soupy mess in a storage unit. But she’s still here, bugging me, asking me when I’m going to come home and settle back into a ‘normal’ working life.

I suppose she’s on my mind because at half-way through my internship I am already thinking about my next career move. Right now I live in an old hotel that’s much like a dorm, work three jobs, wear blue jeans to work and listen to NPR. It’s almost like going back to college. In leaving that old life behind and starting over with an internship I have both digressed and moved forward. It’s a bizarre feeling.

Last week I had an interview for an internship with a publication. It was disappointing in every way. There wasn’t a single thing about it that I could use to gain experience. The worst part was that I had always admired the magazine so going to work there would have been a dream. But, it wasn’t anything I was looking for.

“You have to think about what you want your life to be like before you go back to school” my boss said to me. She’s right. I have to ask what I want life to look like and be like before I can consider my next move. I just didn’t expect to be thinking about my old life.

Somehow, that girl, the one soaked in perfume and peals is on my mind as a possibility; almost as a choice. When I was in my senior year of college I found myself trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life through shoes. Which did I want to put on in the morning: high heels or hiking boots? I chose hiking boots but ended up in heels. I hate heels.

I think back to where I was a year ago today. I see myself hurrying into a large, black office building wearing a drab wool suit. My hair is barely past shoulder length and straight as a board. I’m wearing nylons even though I can’t stand them. I have a large black purse inside which I hide a cell phone, lip gloss, unpaid bills, a scarf and maybe a lunch of low-calorie flavor deprived food. I don’t like looking at me like this, but that’s how I looked. I have pictures to prove it.

It’s fall in Eugene so the air is crisp. The trees along the riverbanks are starting to turn orange and gold while the evergreen trees needles seem to be darkening in color. Pumpkins are on sale at the supermarket. It’s my favorite time of year. I even have a boyfriend and I’m starting to think there might be a future with him. Silly me. I always wonder that, though this time the guy is perfect, not a flaw about him other than that he snores very loudly, sweats profusely and is sometimes a bit too timid for my taste. Other than that, he’s perfect on paper. Life, a year ago today, was text book.

But then, with the coming of November it all fell apart again. And of course it did—that life wasn’t working for me. And neither was that identity.

That’s why I’m thinking of her without contempt—a year ago today I was happy. Not on the whole when I was living there, just for this one season in 2006. It was just for that one brief time that things were okay. Not great. Not what I always planned or wanted. Just okay. Comfortable. A quiet place to live, trails to go running on after work, a cat to snuggle with at night. For three months, it was okay. Then it all turned back to not being okay, clearly reminding me why I wanted out of that life to go do something bigger and better.

She was almost content. Stable. There were no ifs, maybes, choices or even possibilities for her. Of course I’m thinking of her—my life is the direct opposite of hers and is filled with uncertainty right now. This is a good thing and I am grateful for it. I guess it’s just nice to fantasize about stability every once in a while when things are uncertain.


I’ve been confused a lot lately. Well, I’m almost always confused (just ask Robin) but these days I’m more mixed up about the fundamentals rather than just the random every day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mean people. Bullies, bitches and bad apples. Why are they here? What good purpose could they possibly serve? I know it’s almost too existential to tackle (I might as well ask what is the meaning of life) but somehow I feel the need to pound this one out. Or at least pick at one type of mean people: the frenemy.

Because this is a new addition to the English language it has yet to be found in Webster’s Dictionary. Instead you can find a variety of definitions online but essentially the easiest way to sum it up is to say that frenemies are the same as false friends. They are people who will always bring you down, are completely without redemption but are integral to your life or they are people that you have to be nice to (such as colleagues) even though you are at war. They’re a pretty complex group of people.

I know the concept of a frenemy is not new but the term certainly is, at least to me anyway. It’s kind of stunning to be able to put a name on what they are and helps to somehow understand the whole dynamic. Still, mean people who are friends? It’s somewhat of a contradiction in terms.

Like most people I would imagine, there are a few frenemies in my past. There was the girl who I was friendly with in college but when it came to class and grades we were clearly competing for the higher mark. For example, I would do well, and she would say something to cut me down. Then there are the people, though not many, who were my friends but every time I was with them I felt awful; criticism, snide remarks and subversive behavior took the place of where kind words, relaxed conversation and companionship should have been. I look back and find that moving on from them was much like procrastinating about taking out the trash. Before you know it the mess is overflowing and causing a stink and you wonder why you just didn’t do it sooner. I know that sounds harsh but it’s really how my brain looks at it.

However, I should point out people aren’t perfect. You could have a friend who is going through a rough time and for the moment they might ‘vent’ on you. Or you could simply have a friend in your life who is just a perpetually cranky person. The difference between a true friend who is just persnickety and a frenemy is found when cruelty rears its ugly head. Instead of dealing with the competition, poor attitudes or just plain cranky behavior this other person is intentionally causing you harm.

But, for me at least, the trash has been taken out and I’m certainly better for it. Life is good. Life is one giant joyful playground. And we’re not here all that long, so with all the wonderful things to do and fabulous people to meet, why on earth would we waste our time with people who are bad for us?

In the meantime, I will wish them well (really—I mean that) and move on.

Hiding Out

It’s interesting to me how people put up barriers between themselves and others. Some people will simply be reserved, quiet and reveal little about their personal lives. Others might avoid eye contact or cover their mouth when they smile. Some might even hunch down a little in their cubicles, hiding in their holes like prairie dogs, peeping over the edge only to investigate strange tidbits of conversations or the smell of food. Typically I’m not usually like this. I like talking to others and finding out what their lives are like. I like making that connection. People may reveal more about themselves if you share a bit of yourself with them first. Sure this openness has gotten me into trouble a few times, but hey, it’s who I am.

I like being an open and unguarded person. I say what’s on my mind, happily chat with others in the hallway and talk up customers at the restaurant where I work. But lately I’ve found myself retreating a bit and feeling the need to put some distance between myself and others. I’m not sure why. It could just be that I’ve had a lot on my mind and very little time outside of work to really mull all of it over. Strangely, I’ve been finding comfort hiding behind my glasses. I know…not really that much of a mask, but my thick black specs have been my method of separation lately.

I started wearing the glasses a couple weeks ago when my eyes were getting too dry for contacts. I think it might have been an allergy thing but when my eyes started to get a bit better I found myself reaching for the glasses as a matter of preference. There’s something about having my eyes barely concealed that makes it feel like I’ve stepped back a bit and put some distance between myself and the world. It’s nice, albeit slightly odd. At least I’m not walking around wearing sunglasses indoors. That’s when I would really start to worry.

By having taken this step back I’ve started to really notice how others establish their own barriers. It’s fascinating. I wonder how much of it is conscious and how much is just reflex that they’re not aware of. There is the one woman who is as prickly as they come. Everything about her tone of voice, lack of eye contact and physical distance that she keeps from everyone else screams for others to leave her alone yet it’s all done very subtle. There are also a few guys walking around who never remove their hats though with that I’m not sure if it’s a way to hide their eyes or their receding hairlines. And of course there’s a variety of hunched shoulders, furrowed brows, vigilant floor watching, lowered and unconfident voices and even some cocky strutting. I wonder if any or all of it is a means to separate and detach or if these traits are just characteristics of these people.

When I studied abroad I chose to travel alone. I had found that when being a solo traveler locals were more apt to approach me for a conversation or even a brief walk around town. A lot of the kids in my program couldn’t fathom traveling alone. They worried about getting lost, not having anyone to eat dinner with, or take their picture in front of some statue. I traveled alone almost all of the time when I was abroad and I never had any of these problems. In fact, I would venture to guess that I had better cultural experiences than they did. There was always someone to help me when I got lost, take my picture when necessary (and in the case of one group of Asian tourists, they insisted on being in the picture with me), and always someone to chat with. In Ireland people would see me sitting alone in a pub and immediately approach to find out who I was and why on earth I was all by myself. To them, being alone was just too strange. Didn’t I know it was unhealthy to eat alone?

Going alone actually meant being more surrounded by others. I was approached rather than being the one who initiated the conversation. I wonder if that’s a bit of what I’m doing now; stepping away and just allowing what I need to find me instead of me trying to find it. Sure, the glasses are really only a prop, but at least they’re reminding me to be quiet and still, to listen, watch and digest whatever comes my way