Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How Robin Williams Changed my Life in Secret

A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through the movies on TV and saw that Good Will Hunting was starting. It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoon, "why the heck not" decisions to settle into my couch and give it a watch. I had basically no recollection of the movie aside from the main actors that played in it. I was only in middle school when it came out. 

As the film rolled on I could feel old flickers of memory sparking that hadn't ignited in my mind since I had first watched it 16 years earlier. The memories started popping into my mind and into place one kernel at a time. I had seen this movie in theaters with my mom. We had gone to lunch afterward and as was typical for us, we spent the time reflecting on what we'd seen and the thoughts that it stirred in us. I remember how mesmerized I was by the therapy space that was created by Sean, played by Robin Williams. I spilled with magical feelings to my mom about it. "I would love to do that," I told her. "I love the idea of creating a special room. This sliver of space in the world where people can come in and nobody will hurt them. They're free to be who they really are." I knew that space would be warm. A place where time could stand still for a little while. Where people could be suspended in authentic care and non-judgment as they tend to matters of the heart and soul.

I had somehow managed to store these thoughts and feelings into my unconscious where they remained percolating and forming me as a clinician before I even knew that was my ultimate calling. The movie ended and I was left with less of an "aha" moment and more of a "holy shit, I want to cry, how is it possible that this movie has impacted me so tremendously as a human being." I could feel myself getting emotional with S as I told him of this revelation; kind of like I feel now as I write these words. Robin, thank you for being such a critical part of my life. You've transformed my world without me even knowing it. I'm so devastated that your depression took your spark the way that it did. Depression can be like cancer to the soul and I'm broken by the reality that your battle ended in this way. I swear on my life that I'll keep fighting against that darkness in my work with all the love and kindness I can muster. You trained me well for that. My most tender feelings go out to you, your family, and the millions of others in this world that suffer emotionally.

Rest in sweet peace, Robin. 


Friday, May 23, 2014

how to torture a wanderluster

what I think I sound like:
 what I really sound like:
 what S sounds like:
This is what happens when your husband gets the date wrong for expected travel plans. Worst thing you could ever do to a wanderluster is plan a trip and then mere days before departure push it back by a week. My emotional suitcases were already packed, my Love. They were packed! Don't worry (clearly). I'm fine. I'll just sit here at my work computer instead and keep fidgeting with my legs to keep from popping. No big deal.
In the meantime, I will have to try my best to bring the adventure to me. A challenge that has served as a very important reminder that even for the worst wanderlusters among us, meaningful moments and opportunities to get out of the ordinary are always at our fingertips. On the list this weekend: meteor shower watching, Texas bbq with sweet friends and a very sweet baby, drives around town in my ol' Datsun, an escape to a nearby state park, and church time with some very special peeps (Love).

Just a few more days and I'm out on the open road again. YES. Have a wonderful long weekend!
semi-neurotically yours,


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dear S: A millennial Love letter

My memory is terrifying. As a consequence, it is also my primary motivation as I get back to writing. I went through some old facebook messages today. Whenever I get the urge to read something from my past, especially from the undergrad chapters, I usually do so with one eye shut and the other eye squinting open like I'm at a scary movie and some horrendous thing will pop out in front of me at any moment. This is how I look back on some of my glory days. Much to my amusement, there was nothing but delight for me as I read over old correspondence between me and S circa 2006. These are the Love letters of the millennials. And I have to say, they may not be sealed with wax, but I'll totally take it.

We were in college. Little B was living in London for the summer with the parentals while little S travelled as a racecar mechanic across the US and Canada. All of his messages are miserable and of the same tone: I'm exhausted, my boss is an a-hole, I love you, I miss you, let's bang when I get back. All of little B's notes are rants, details, feelings of enchantment throughout the day, and expletives. Little B tells little S about the beautiful boat ride she took as she went punting through the canals of Cambridge. She tells him of the charming pub she wants to live in that has white paint flaking off the ceiling and walls of brick. She tells little S of her adventures with her mother. She tells S of the plays they see, how terrible the movie version of My Fair Lady was after seeing it on stage and wanting those hours of her life back. "All 2.5 of them," she expains. She tells him of sneaking into senior citizen night to catch the silly chick flick they wanted to see, the window shopping, and the big floppy hat that was recently purchased. My memory of this time in our lives and our documentation of the events are so strikingly different. Per my memory (and it appears that I have a tendency to look back and see only good things unless S and I are fighting in which case I can conjure bad memories left and right), I had a fabulous time in London. It was the quintessential "foggy, London town" summer. Pimm's, escapes to magical gardens and castles, shopping on the cobblestoned High street. Little B begs a differ. She argues that she is having a wonderful time, sure, but that she misses her Love and that everything in her world is coated in a tinge of gray without him. I read on. Little S and little B agree to never be apart in this way again. To current B's horror, little B says that she wants nothing more than to be back at home on the couch in their sleepy college town and watching TV next to S. This is interesting. Current B feels like she is dying a slow death when sitting on the couch watching TV next to S...

History is important because it keeps us from repeating past mistakes. I have always detested history and been negligent about its value but its importance finally broke through to my head. I had recently been reviewing job listings and me being me, I was looking at spending a semester teaching in Cambodia. There was an opening for another site in St. John. With my applications ready to go, S and I had another talk about it. Could we do a semester apart? Life is short, right? Current B and current S decided that the applications would remain in a state of eternal pending. I'm now feeling very thankful we decided to keep our future adventures to those reserved with a seat for two. If only we had remembered little B and little S figured that out a long time ago. They were so much smarter than these old fools.

Yours always,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm back, baby

Total eclipse..., Kannyakumari, India, Jan 2010 (rotated) // ph. Harald Haugan
I emerged from the cave. Blinking my eyes to assist their adjustment to the bright street lights overhead.

I thought I was done with graduate school related stress and academic isolation when I walked the stage in December but it was all a cruel ruse. There's always that last hoop to jump through and for me it was the licensure exam. For the past 2 months I have cursed the world from the confines of my home during my preparation. Study notes laid out all over the house. Red and blue pens left dry and dead from use. I looked around for sympathy from S with my best, pathetic, first-world whimper. "You asked for this," he tells me with a click of the remote, not taking his eyes off the TV screen. I let out a cry of blasphemy but at some point all graduate students must ask ourselves: "Are we masochists?" Why do we sign ourselves up for this? I massaged my temples with my hair scattered about in a big, glorious mess of black. My brain was pulsating from studying with such intensity. S tells me I have a "raging brainer." I laugh and decide to keep him around for another decade.

And then just like that, the exam is over and we're out in the world together. We're out on the town! People are out! Life! I'm out of the cave and the moon is out to greet me. We go to the movies because we're 500 years old and married for 300. I feel somewhat disoriented as we cut through the crowd of 20-somethings. Like I've been time travelling and landed on a planet that must be my own but seems alien. The women are all dolled up. Their dresses are like spandex wrapped tightly around their bodies. Short and to the point. Their heels elongate their legs like Barbie. You'd think I would feel uncomfortable around them in my hipster t-shirt, skinny jeans, and flats. Instead, I feel horribly liberated. "They're trying to attract a mate!" I tell S. Like this is NatGeo. "And here I am, not wearing a bra, rocking my skinny jeans and not givin' a ffff****" I reach my hands to the universe and give a little happy dance. I'm back for good this time baby, I'm back!

The next few weeks are surely going to be rich with life, sunshine, and pure enjoyment. This caged bird is ready to fly and my hope is that I can satiate my need for the world with some camping and time with friends before I do something crazy like take a year off to do nothing and everything. Just for the hell of it.

Cheers, glorious cheers,

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

i love college

The always quotable Douglas Adams.
I wrap my sweater tightly around my body and slouch over like a sad little Oliver Twist except in Tory Burch boots. One of our front desk ladies starts to laugh at my sight and I start to laugh too. Good Lord. There is a bomb threat in the building next door and I'm not sure what to do with myself so I figure I can just do a little self-swaddle action in the middle of the hallway. We figure we are technically "not in the area" enough to evacuate but we are still a bit too close for comfort in my opinion. The thing about working at a university is that sometimes things like this happen. Coincidentally, around midterm time... Lucky for me, chances are this is in fact a hoax. The first half of the day was cancelled already due to icy conditions so if some sort of mastermind decided that a near empty campus was a good time to blow things up, I'd be a bit more worried about their critical thinking skills. But just for safe measure I think I'll hide at the farthest end of the building behind an armchair in my colleague's office. You know, in case there is debris or something I will have a shield of old apholstery to protect me. I can feel my heart rate start to slow. I think about my own experience as an undergrad dealing with finals. I remember meeting up with a friend on campus during exam week and she asked me, "so how did you do on that history final?" I laughed one of this big, throw your head back laughs. This jokester. We hadn't had the final yet! "No seriously," she asked. "How did you do?" I wave of panic robbed my face of the joy I had felt just seconds earlier. The sirens started going off in my brain. Red alert! Red alert! After a good ole college panic I tried to assure myself that this happens every semester. I couldn't possibly be the only student this had ever happened to. I talked to my professor and soon set up a time to retake the final. I met him in his office and he handed me the exam. I reached to take it and as I did he tells me, "In all my years of teaching this has never happened." His hair was gray. He looked at me and I looked back. He started laughing. Thank. God. I smiled a sheepish smile. "In all my years" continued to ring in my ears and I just smiled at myself thinking about how proud my parents should be. I was number 1!

Now number 1 is back at college in a slightly different role and hoping that the debris she feels will remain one of metaphor and emotion.

Yours always (I hope),

Monday, February 24, 2014

sleepy pups and projects kind of weekend

I woke up on Sunday to find that it had rained during the night. I adore those little "while you were sleeping" moments. It was a really mellow weekend. S was out of town off-roading and trying to almost (but not) flip over our land cruiser. I try to not think about that logic too much because it makes my head hurt.. I was spending my time studying for a board exam and trying to not go out of my mind. I was pretty successful on both those fronts, thank God. It was actually kind of lovely. We don't always take time to see and really soak in the little things in life. This weekend just seemed full of those tiny moments.

For one, our new pup has been growing and growing. I snapped this photo of her after she shifted from cuddling on my shoulder while I read over notes to literally faceplanting on this pillow in the most ungraceful and deliciously organic way. Boo, our older dog, has been having a harder time adjusting to the baby than we would have hoped. He is annoyed with her obnoxious enthusiasm for the world and is often in a bit of a grouchy mood or fit of jealousy. Watching the dynamics unfold makes me want to apologize to my older brothers for being such a brat and getting so much attention. Boo barked loudly in her face when she wouldn't leave him alone. She cried and she cried and she cried. I just scooped her right up in my arms and held her tight against my chest, soothing her and telling her, "I know, darling, I know, I used to cry like that too." Boo looked at me with his signature expression and I just melted. This dog has this way of looking deeply at you in a way that is hard to find even among people. It was something S and I were really hoping to find when we started our search for a new puppy. It was very hard to do a google search for, "dog breeds that really look at you in your soul." I took his photo wanting to capture that little expression of his forever. I kissed his forehead and cheeks the way I always do, trying very hard to engrain that feeling and moment deep into my memory.

I later took a break from my work to install a new barn pendant light fixture in the entry. I have such a Love/hate with installing lighting. At some point in there it always gets frustrating, but when you finally put the tools down and hit the switch and you see that bulb shine? Oh man, it just feels like such a feminist win. I also got another order from my online Etsy shop, The House That Pearl Built. I packaged up this super sweet wolf shot measure to send to its new home. It's so nice to have this little side hobby. There is nothing like getting those orders in and donating profit to the American Cancer Society. It's such a win-win kind of moment that brightens up my day, my buyer's day, and a cancer patient's day. So I guess it's actually a win-win-win moment. I was also hoping to take my new project car out for a spin, but with S out of town and much work still left to do to get it dependable I was content just looking at it and then looking at it some more. It's a 1978 Datsun 280z. I still remember the first time I ever saw one. I was 15 years old and it was in the grocery store parking lot. It was night and the orange flourescent light shined on its metal body. It was Love at first sight. And now it's finally mine as a graduation present to myself. My mind is still a little blown by it. Not so much by the car itself (although, hello, gorgeous), but by having a dream and then seeing it come about in real life. It's crazy and kind of surreal to bring things into reality with hard work and perseverance. It literally feels like living a dream. Pretty wild.

So all in all, my dreaded indoor weekend turned into something kind of special. I hope that I can keep this sensitivity to tiny moments through the rest of my studying and while we're at it, let's just go ahead and throw in the rest of my life. That would be kind of awesome.

Cheers to the new week, everyone. I hope your heart catches the many tiny moments that surround you.

Yours always,

Friday, February 14, 2014

share your heart day

Single Awareness Day. Horrifyingly overpriced dinner day. Give me presents day. Valentine's Day. This holiday of sorts can look and feel very different for people. I'm personally a big fan of the "give me presents" part, but what I'm a bigger fan of is the opportunity this day gives us. A year ago today I took my dad out to lunch on Valentine's day. It was the first one since Mama Pearl had passed. I can't tell you how happy it made the both of us just to take time out of the day to celebrate Love. Period. To celebrate the Love that surrounds us, remember great Loves lost, and truly enjoy each others company while we have it. It made me want to redub Valentine's Day to Share Your Heart Day. Today, I'm looking forward to spending time with S, kissing that face of his, reminding him of how important he is to me, and how much I adore his presence (and presents). I hope your day is filled with meaningful words, memories, and Love too.

yours always,