Friday, January 30, 2009

Reasons #348,275 and 348,276 Why I Love Tennis

Because of matches like this.

And rivalries like this.

Sure it may seem like they're waxing a little too poetic in the above clip. It's a sport after all, just a game. But of one the many reasons I love tennis is because of just how difficult it is to remain detached or blase if you're a fan. It's an inherently poetic game, full of beauty and quiet grace. The guys might have big muscles and run real fast, but at the end of the day it can all come down to a flick of the wrist or the delicate positioning of feet. There's nothing brutal about tennis, no bodies colliding. Tennis is athletic movement as near art. And Mr. Nadal and Mr. Federer both know how to create a masterpiece. I couldn't be more excited for their final, and will willingly sacrifice sleep in order to watch another chapter in this extraordinary story of theirs.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Love This Man

from New York Magazine

Okay, so a non-tennis fan would probably read the title of this post and then look at the above picture, and think, well obviously. He must be some kind of model for exercise equipment, or a Chippendale or some other beefcake stud muffin (I have no idea why beefcake and stud muffin are still in my vernacular, sorry!). But for those of you who have any knowledge of tennis, you'll know that this is Rafa Nadal, the current number one player in the world, and my current and possibly forever love.

And no, it's not because his abs look like that (but good GOD) or because his hair falls just so or any for any other physical reason. Once and for all I do not watch tennis because I think the players are cute. I cannot tell you how many times I've gotten this, and for future notice, anyone who wants to suggest that to me again, it's insulting and more than a little bit sexist. Girls can like sports for reasons other than the dreamy athletes. We're not a bunch of giggling, boy crazy teenagers (okay well not all of us anyways). Yes it is a most definite perk that a lot of male tennis players are downright Adonis like (have you seen those pictures of Tommy Robredo?!), but it is a perk. It is not the reason for my love of the game (you'll know that if you've read my blog explaining my love for tennis).

My love for Rafa Nadal goes far beyond looks. It is a big decision to give your love to a tennis player. Being a casual fan is one thing. I can casual fan myself to dozens of players without feeling like a hussy, because it's the nature of the game. Players burn bright and they fade and you can't get too attached to just anyone. But to be a true fan is a commitment, something that you take on for life, or at least for the usual decade plus long careers of these players (God willing they avoid injury, mental freakouts, overlarge egos, etc. and etc.) I have given my true fandom to very few players. Agassi was one and that was really only for the last 7 or 8 years of his career (I only casually watched tennis before high school). Andy Roddick is another, and no he may not be the most talented player out there but before you start picking on him, let me just remind everyone that he has been a top 10 player for SEVEN years, the only other player besides Roger Federer to maintain such consistency. He finished number one in the world not too long ago, and his serve will probably go down as one of the greatest weapons in the game. Plus he's the number one American and it's my patriotic duty to support him. So if you're still tittering about how I only like him because he's "cute" then just go poo on yourself.

Whew, sorry, I get a little overexcited about my tennis. I apologize for telling you to go poo on yourself. Doesn't mean the sentiment doesn't still hold though. But anywho, I have several other long term affairs with players. I almost always watch a Marat Safin match, because there's always that possibility that he'll get his head together and live up to his incredible talent. I root for Tommy Haas because he's had such bad luck in his career and has never really gotten the chance to live up to his potential (plus when he gets pissed in a match he curses in German, who doesn't love that?). I love Marcos Bahgdatis for his joyous personality and for his huge heart. James Blake of course gets my support because he's the number two American and tennis at its heart is a very nationalistic game. Djokovic has caught my fancy on a number of occasions, but my admiration for him was punctured when he acted like a bratty teenager at the US Open. I could go on, but my point is, I have a number of players who I will tune in for, but who I haven't fully committed myself to, because like I said, it's a big decision. To become a true fan of a tennis player means that you're in it for the long haul. There will be matches lasting to the wee hours of the night, agonizing losses, infuriating upsets, tension filled tiebreaks and five setters that leave you a ragged pile of nerves. Of course there will also be joyous wins and epic comebacks and moments of brilliance, but you get the good with the bad.

So why have I chosen to attach myself to Nadal? If you think it's because he's number one now, then think again. I am not a bandwagon kind of girl, and I have faithfully watched Rafa's matches for years now, long before he overtook Federer. And again, it's not because he looks good in those weird capri pants. No, I love Nadal for his incredible talent, his dedication and passion and because he brings something to the game that no other player right now does, something elusive and rare. He's a character, a vivid, memorable soul that leaves an indelible impression. Years from now a handful of players from this generation will be remembered. Federer will of course be remembered for his greatness. Maybe Djokovic or Murray if they continue to do well. But Nadal will be remembered not only for his brilliant game but for his whole aura and self. I mean just think of how many Nadalisms there are that no other player could pull of without looking like a complete idiot. First of all, after the coin toss in every single match, no matter if it's first round in Cincinatti or the finals of Wimbledon, he does that boxer sprint to the service line. He crouches for a moment and then explodes, one giant ball of energy and strength, ducking and weaving and carrying on like Rocky running up the steps. But there's not a hint of arrogance or showiness to it. He's just so insanely fired up, for every single match, again whether it's some stupid, inconsequential tournament stop where's he's playing number 203 in the world or the finals of a slam where he's facing someone like Fed.

Then there's the much imitated pre-service routine, the wedgie pick, the hair tuck, the great scowl on his face as he reaches up the ball to serve. Again this isn't him being an asshole, trying to throw off his opponent (cough Novak "ball bounce" Djokovic), it's just him being this completely neurotic, superstitous athlete who knows what works for him and doesn't want to change it. His game is so unique and specific, the power he brings to it, the spin on his forehands, how he chases down every ball whether or not he's two sets and a break up or two sets and a break down. Then you've got the clothes, the (up until the Australian Open) sleeveless shirts, again that very few other players can even kind of pull off (although many try) and which only he really pulled off, the sheer intimidation factor of those giant biceps, the capri pants, the bandana, this singular style that you just know will remembered decades from now. Toss in how he acts on the changeovers, the lining up of the water bottles, the meticulous OCD stuff, and how can you not love a guy with this much on court personality. There's nothing bland about Rafa Nadal, nothing homogeneous. It's why he's such a target for impersonations.

But the very best part is the stark difference between all this on court bravado and "Vamosing" and fist pumping and the modest, unassuming kid he is in interviews. He's humble to a fault, still refusing to say that he's a better player than Federer. If I hadn't been won over before hand, his remarks after the 2008 Wimbledon final would have done it, how he did what everyone in that crowd and at home wanted to do for Roger Federer, give him a big verbal hug and reassure him that the loss didn't change anything, that he was still great, possibly the greatest. He never throws rackets, never yells at umpires. It's rare to even see him slightly disgruntled at a line call. He lives with his family in his hometown whereas so many other top players relocate to the tax haven of Monaco. He blogs for the ATP tennis website about pasta and The Godfather and playing videogames with the other Spanish players. And I know I sound like I'm gushing but I can't help it. I have an enormous sports crush on this man. He's this incredible presence in the sport, and he's amazing to watch, for his game primarily but also for the color and spark he brings with it.

And he wants to improve, the number one player in the world of tennis, four time French Open champ, Wimbledon champion, greatest clay courter of all time probably, wants to and is improving. He's changing his forehand, flattening it out for the hardcourt tournaments. He's worked on his serve, on his net skills. His love of and curiosity for the game of tennis is obvious. And that would seem like a given but it's not. A frustrating thing about the individual nature of tennis is that you're sometimes forced to watch athletes squander their talent, men who don't want it enough or who are lazy or distracted or who simply don't have enough heart. It's immensely disapointing, and so when a player does show how much he loves the game, how much it matters to them, how much they want to work and try to improve, even when they're at the top, well it's incredibly endearing for a fan. It shows an appreciation for their gift, a lack of ego, a hunger to keep moving forward. And this is really extraneous but he's also working to improve his very cutely broken English, and if you watch interviews with him now compared to just a couple of years ago, it's pretty damn impressive.

And so yeah, I think this is it, a tennis love that will last a tennis lifetime. And I hope I've convinced you that it's not just because he's a gorgeous hunk of man. I have no problem admitting that Rafa Nadal shirtless is a sight I very much enjoy, but my love for him goes far beyond such carnal pleasures. He's the most vibrant, memorable player in the game right now and he's made even more appealing by his off court demeanor and maturity (he's almost a year younger than I am! if I were that rich and famous and succesful I would probably develop several drug habits and start hurling cellphones at assistants). So there it is, my proclamation of undying tennis love. I don't give my heart lightly to tennis players, so this is a big deal. Now those knees of his better not break my heart.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

I know I should write something deep and historic and meaningful right now, because it was a deep, historic and meaningful day today. But I worked for eight hours and I'm far too exhausted to come up with anything eloquent enough to do justice to such a day. So maybe I'll be able to pool my thoughts this weekend when I'm well rested. For now I just needed to write something, to mark the occasion, no matter how inadequately.

Today was a good day. Today the world changed. Today I saw the candidate I believed in become president, the candidate who inspired me to spend two cold, rainy days in Durham knocking on strangers' doors, the candidate who I waited in line to see speak at the Cistern in Charleston way back in January. Today I was proud to be American, proud of that giant mass of people waving flags on the Mall. Today I feel excited about what's to come. I can' t know this, no one can, but I can hope that the next four years will make us better and stronger and bring us back to where we belong, in an America that lives up to its promises, an America that leads the world not by force or intimidation but by its ideals and values. Today I saw an African American man become the president of the United States. Today I saw people on the news who had lived in a black and white America, people who had known segregation and open racism and hate, stand there and watch an African American man become president. I saw their tears and I saw their joy.

We stampede Wal Mart workers to get to flat screen televisions and we eat too much and we watch too much TV and we can be terrible and awful and greedy. But today, we were Americans united in the possibility of our new leader, united in the collective possibility of ourselves. And that's rare and that's beautiful and that's something to celebrate, no matter your party or political creed.

Today was a good day. Today Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of our United States of America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

a good week

I am more exhausted than I've been in a very long time. I had an incredibly long first day at my new nanny job (albeit spent in the company of a beautiful one year old). My arms can barely lift a cellphone because the beautiful little one year old is a little bit pudgy and you have to carry one year olds a lot since well, they can't walk yet. I got food in my hair, milk on my clothes and am going to be in a lot of pain tomorrow. But you know, I'm in a good mood.

Because of How I Met Your Mother on Lifetime (I'd never watched this show and now I know what I've been missing) it's very funny and sometimes painfully true to life for someone in their 20s (hello I wish everyone around me could be sub-titled at a noisy bar/club). Plus I adore Neil Patrick Harris, especially now that I've been watching old episodes of Doogie Howser M.D. on

Because Gossip Girl is new. And from the first thirty minutes it seems that Blair and Chuck are back in her best scheming form. I'm sorry but I don't like them mopey.

Because the Australian Open started yesterday. It's been many long months since the U.S. Open and I have been dying for grand slam tennis. I love the majors, love that they take two weeks and that you can really sink your teeth into them, love the drama, love seeing who's looking good for the new year, love that there's so much up in the air this year as far as the top men, LOVE it all.

Because this week for the first time since I can remember there was good, miraculously good, news on the front page of the New York Times. And 150 some people who should have been dead are alive today.

Because tomorrow we'll all go to bed knowing that the world has changed. What Mr. Obama does with his presidency is yet to be known. But for one day, the world will be new and beauitful and full of hope.

Friday, January 16, 2009

birds: humanity's greatest threat

So yes it is a miracle that everyone was okay after that plane landed in the Hudson yesterday, yes the pilot is a hero and the passengers stayed calm and rescue missions were swift and blah di blah all that good stuff. But I'm so pleased to have finally come across a news story that asks the tough questions, specifically why do birds hate humans. We've all been so caught up in the miracle aspect of this story and have let ourselves go soft. Now is the time for action, to strike back swiftly against these hollow boned terrorists. I mean first Fabio gets attacked at Busch Gardens by a suicidal goose (think of the national treasure we almost lost that day people, THINK ABOUT IT), and now this. What's next birds? I mean have you ever really been near a swan. They look all lovely and pretty but get too close and they will punch you in the face (or you know the swan equivalent, wing you in the face?) Plus birds poop on us. I mean Osama bin Laden is an evil bastard, but I'm pretty sure the guy has never defecated on any of his enemies.

So now without further ado I present you a work of serious journalism from New York Magazine by Eriq Gardner and Jessica Pressler, a piece that really takes a stance against these menaces of the sky.

"Birds have been attacking human aircraft since long before yesterday's near-disaster with Flight 1549. The first "bird strikes," as they are called, were recorded just a few years after the original Wright Brothers flight, and the creatures have been menacing us ever since. Bird Strike Committee USA, a joint partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Defense, estimates that birds cause $600 million in damages in the country each year, and have caused 219 deaths internationally since 1991. When they're not striking, these would-be suicide bombers bide their time lurking around airports, since, as John Ostrom, chairman of the Bird Strike Committee, puts it: "They're wide-open attractive places free of predators and [are] a good food source." New York’s airports are particularly vulnerable to Canadian geese and seagulls — fat, hideous birds whose sudden flocking has felled many a plane. But what drives this behavior? Are they angry that humans have infiltrated their territory? Why do birds hate us?

Irene Schulz, president of the Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, would like us to believe that birds are merely ignorant. "This is not the bird’s fault," she says, of their tendency to fly straight into engines in a way that looks as though they are doing it on purpose. "They don’t know our technology. They don’t understand there is a plane in the way and it’s not going to move for them. Unfortunately, they don’t teach that in geese school.”

Plus, she suggested, planes have an unfair advantage. “A plane flies faster than a bird, so it’s actually like a Pacman come to gobble," she says.

So it's our fault that their schools are ill-equipped, their technology is backward, and they don't have enough food where they come from? Please. We're not the ecosystem's parents. Irene also suggested the birds' deadly, highly organized flying style was a kind of cultural difference. The pack mentality, she said, is just "birds being birds."

Well, as we see it, birds are welcome to be "birds," so long as they don't infringe on humans' freedom to hurtle through space in a giant motorized tin can whenever we want to.

Fortunately, officials at New York's airports, run by the Port Authority, have taken a harder line than bleeding-heart Irene, and have responded to the bird threat proactively, with some unusual steps throughout the years. More than a decade ago, Kennedy International Airport maintained a cadre of trained falcons and hawks that were flown around the airports to scare off the geese and gulls, but this bird-on-bird action was only limitedly successful. JFK and LaGuardia next tried employing loud sonic booms to disrupt them, but like most New Yorkers, they learned to live with their nosy neighbors.

Other techniques that have been tried, according to Ostrom, include pyrotechnics, scarecrows, stuffed foxes and coyotes, propane cannons, dogs, radio-controlled remote cars, and banging on pots and pans. None have eradicated the problem. "It's impossible to turn an airport into a biological desert," says Ostrom. But that doesn't mean they can't keep trying. In fact, we were heartened to hear that recently, frustrated airport officials finally moved on to the only time-tested approach — guns. Up until today, the Port Authority has been a little nervous about how the public might react to news that they have rifle-toting marksmen who hunt birds. But yesterday's incident showed how much damage nature's terrorists can do — and now people are sure to be more, er, hawkish on the war on birds. God willing."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

sometimes I really hate the news

I read about what's happening in Gaza right now, and I just want to cry. I want to cry because of the frustrating complexity of the situation, that as much as I want to rage against Israel for this excessive (and yes it is excessive) force, I understand that from their point of view there's a reason for the offensive, that the current Israeli government and probably many Israelis believe that Hamas will not stop until Israel is destroyed. I want to cry because Hamas wouldn't even be in power in the first place if a two state solution had been reached years before when it was promised with the Oslo Accords. I want to cry for the Israeli people who have been affected by the rocket fire and Palestinian terrorism(I have cousins in Haifa who talk casually of bomb shelters just being a part of day to day life). I want to cry for the Palestinian people who are living in utter despair, who have been living in despair ever since Gaza was established. It's a prison, not a homeland, a tiny, unlivable strip of land that should never have been permanent. And for some it is all they have ever known. Can you imagine being raised in a place like that? Can you imagine being told by your parents that you are a part of no nation, that your entire livelihood, your work and your water and your electricity our at the mercy of another country? I've said before that nothing excuses or justifies terrorism, but my God, you can't deny that Palestinian anger isn't justified. Nothing plants seeds of hatred more than growing up without recognition, without validation.

Before I end this extremely depressing blog I am going to make a suggestion. For my Western Civ class I read my first graphic novel, "Palestine" by Joe Sacco. It's nonfiction and it's about Palestine, not just the terrorists or victims you see on the news, but Palestine as a real, vibrant place, Palestine as a people starving for a nation of their own. It helped me tremendously to understand this situation. It's beautifully written and beautifully illustrated, and maybe it doesn't seem like much, but I have to believe that understanding is the first step to peace. I have to do something other than cry. I have to believe that with understanding of both sides and on both sides things will change. It's an illogical, unsubstantiated kind of hope, but it's all I got right now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"all these places feel like home"

So I think I officially have two homes. And while this means that I'm always going to be a little bit homesick no matter where I am, I am deeply grateful that I can call both Richmond and Charleston home. I went down to Charleston for a couple of days to pack up some odds and ends and clean (I am still currently renting out an apartment in Charleston, even though I technically live in Richmond now). And in between the vacuuming and the sorting and the boxing I was struck very forcefully by just how much a home Charleston still is for me, even though it may not be my current geographical residence. I guess what scared me most about leaving Charleston last month, what made me the most sad, was the thought that it wouldn't be home anymore, that one day I would come to this beautiful city and be a mere tourist.

Charleston is great for tourists, don't get me wrong. Y'all get to do cool stuff like wander the Market and go to Fort Sumter and the Aquarium and take horse drawn carriage rides around the battery. But those aren't the reasons I love Charleston. They're not what makes me feel safe and at ease there. Charleston is home for me because of stupid, simple, completely mundane stuff, like driving down 17 in Mt. Pleasant on a random weekday to run errands, or walking out of the East Bay Harris Teeter on a Sunday evening at dusk. Charleston is home because of East Bay Deli take out and driving over the bridge at rush hour and the way it always smells a little bit like salt when it rains. Charleston is home when I'm driving over the Connector at night and the whole peninsula just sits there, glittering underneath the stars. Charleston is home when I spot the faint outline of the bridge from all the way out at Isle of Palms or when I go to my dentist in Summerville. Home in Charleston is the Barnes and Noble at the Town Center or dinner at Five Loaves or a beer at Poe's or a crowded Earth Fare on a Saturday afternoon. Home in Charleston is the beach on a cold, cloudy day or sitting on a side porch with a glass of wine. It's the smell of marsh (even at low tide when it's kind of stinky) and the smell of fried seafood (cheap and good at the Wreck, not cheap and bad at the Noisy Oyster)

See I never worried about forgetting what Rainbow Row looked like. I never even worried about forgetting the Cistern or the shops on King Street. Those things, you can find them on post cards. And they'll always be there, not much different from a tourist perspective than from that of a resident. What terrified me was the thought of losing those little, inconsequential (to most) details that make a place home. I was terrified of coming back to Charleston and feeling like I was on a vacation. To comfort me some people pointed out that I could always come back and visit. But that was sort of cold comfort. Because visiting a place and living in a place are two vastly different things. To live in a place is to know and love its stupid, boring details, to love somewhere more for its rusty, creaky bits than for its big, shiny attractions. I've lived in Charleston. I've loved it. And it would break my heart to come to Charleston and feel like an outsider, a dork with a map and a coupon for Hyman's Seafood.

And even though I've only been gone a few short weeks and I've been away much longer before, I was afraid that something might have shifted already, simply because I'd never left Charleston before without a fixed return date. But to my immense relief, the second I saw the bridge looming over 26, I felt a surge of reassurance. And then when I drove through crosstown on my way to James Island I knew. I was home. Charleston is still home, in all of its mundane, flawed, dusty and creaky glory.

It is one of my firmest hopes and dearest dreams that it will always be this way.

Monday, January 5, 2009

i hate money

Well I just had a thoroughly depressing afternoon. And it all goes back to money. I hate money. To be more specific, I hate the panicked, chest constricted feeling when you need money and have no discernible (and legal) way of getting it soon enough. It's really silly that paper and metal can make a person feel this way, but the issue of money has a way of making me feel incredibly bad. And I know that relatively I have it so good and so easy. My wants are not food and shelter and basic clothing. I don't have to worry about getting evicted or not being able to pay for basic medicine. I really have no reason to complain. Yet here I am doing so, fully aware that this pity party, when held up to harsher realities, is the definition of irrelevant.

Here's my problem. I have no money, as in 33 cents in my savings account, twelve dollars in my checking account and 850 dollars of debt on my credit card. I want to be honest about it because I'm hoping it will make me feel better, like getting this in the open will make it seem less big and scary. So go ahead, laugh or scoff or commiserate. I'm 23 years old and should be able to handle my finances, yet somehow I've become that person who never saves, who always spends, and who has yet to really understand how investments and portfolios and financial sounding things even work. My current lack of capital wouldn't be so bad since 1) I'm living at home and 2) I have parents who will not let me starve. Yet I still feel that rising since of panic because well, I need money. Specifically I need money if I get accepted to teach English in Thailand, like a lot of money, or at least a lot of money for me. The program fee is 1600. A plane ticket would be 1800 minimum. But I can't even start saving up for this stuff until I pay off my credit card. Plus there's the threat hanging over me that I might have to pay 600 for my February Charleston rent if my landlord doesn't find someone to move by the 1st. And well here I am again, panicking. Which brings me back to this afternoon.

I've noticed a trait in myself that is slightly alarming. When in need of money, I have a knack for coming up with it, mainly through the sale of personal belongings. It started innocently enough, selling a few of my things on Ebay, but then I started seeing sales potential in everything, including items not belonging to me. I sold my sister and her husband's (old and not used anymore) playstation 2. I sold my dad's coat (again old and one that he no longer used-i'm not a thief, yet). And the more I sold, the more I wanted to sell. Everything around me suddenly had dollar amounts hovering over it. And as nice as it is to make some easy cash, I don't want to be this kind of person. I don't want to be that lady who pawns old pieces of jewelry or stereo equipment of family heirlooms. There's something very scavenger like about it and it creeps me out. I creep myself out. Yet it's hard to resist. There's something so irresistable about the thought of making money out of old stuff you don't care about, almost as if out of thin air.

I watched Antiques Roadshow the other night with my parents, aunt and grandma, and I couldn't believe it. I groaned when my dad switched the channel to it, called it the most boring show on television. But little did I know. It's like a dozen fairy tales rolled into one hour, a dozen rags to riches stories that are not scripted but entirely real. These people bring in junk that has been collecting dust in their basements for years, stuff that Aunt Sally left in her will but which they never really paid much mind to, and lo and behold, it's a rare and incredibly valuable antique. Ugly paintings of cats, ugly statues, ugly pendants, all of this ugly stuff that these people got for 5 dollars at a yard sale, ends up being worth thousands of dollars. It's the ultimate fantasy. As much as we want to pretend otherwise, money dictates so much of our lives. It sucks and it's stupid and unfair, but if you're really honest with yourself you'll know it's true. So the idea of easy money is perhaps one of our most cherished dreams-it's winning a game show or the lottery, stumbling upon a treasure chest. It's Publisher's Clearining House, how even though you know it's kind of fake and rigged, you catch yourself fantasizing that it's you opening the door and getting that big ass check.

So this afternoon, I went out in search of my own easy money, or at least I thought it would be easy. I took clothes to a consignment shop but was told that they were too springy. I drove for an hour looking for a coin shop I had found on the internet to sell some old silver dollars, but never found it. I had a whole stack of DVDs to sell, but couldn't bring myself to do this. The way things were going, I was bound to be told that my DVDs were not desirable, i.e. worthless. Basically I accomplished nothing. I'm still in debt. I'm still fighting that claustrophobic, panicked feeling. But I'm trying to breathe, trying to remind myself that my worries are peanuts in the big scheme of things. People with families to support are losing jobs. People are starving. My biggest fear is not being able to afford to go on an amazing adventure to a distant country. Other people have to fear for their very livelihoods. Which puts things into perspective, but still makes me think the same thing. Money freaking sucks. I wish we could all just barter with each other, trade goods and services like in the olden days. It could work right? Global nations could lend each other bananas and coffee instead of billions of dollars. Executives could get paid with wine and cheese. Blue collar workers would be paid with meat and potatoes (sorry couldn't resist). I know this is all horribly naive and silly, but right now I need something, anything to alleviate my generally sour mood.

I tried to cheer myself up with Target (only buying things that my parents would pay for mind you, i.e. groceries-I'm not that bad that I'll spend money when I'm depressed about not having money) and even that didn't work. And then I got even more sad when I realized what I really needed. If I was in Charleston and feeling this way, there's only one thing I would do-take a ridiculously long walk on the beach. Today was one of those days where I really needed the ocean, where my head was so full and my thoughts so jumbled that only cool, salt air could sort it all out. It sounds silly, like a classified ad cliche, but walking on the beach really kept me sane these last few years. I'm not an organized religion kind of person. I don't go to church. But for all extents and purposes the beach has been my church, my quiet place that I turn to for guidance and calm and help. It's where I can breathe, where I feel safest. No matter how upset I've been, I've never gone to the beach and not come away feeling significantly better. It's my therapy. And it's not like I'm crazy and think the waves talk to me or mermaids give me life advice. It's just that the ocean clears my head. It quiets all of the static and noise so that I can remember what I've always known, that I'm going to be okay. And I really could have used that today, that perspective that only a shoreline can give me, that despite stupid money and the lingering, irrational desire to rob a bank, I really am okay. Life is beautiful. It's just harder to remember that sometimes when you're inland.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

multitudes: my 2009 resolutions

For the last few years I've avoided New Years resolutions. I tend to blanch at any kind of set in stone, blanket statement directed at something as big and confusing as a life. Because in life, contradictions are inherent. You're going to be one person one day and a completely different person the next. And you shouldn't feel bad about that. I know from personal experience that one day I'm going to be a carb-free, yogacizing, accomplished, punctual, productive young woman and the next day I'm going to sit on my butt, scarf down McDonalds and not even bother to change out of pajamas. Because that's life. Which all leads to my original avoidance of resolutions, or at least the kind of strict, impossible resolutions that we tend to make for ourselves. But I do believe in self improvement. I believe in the challenge and necessity of it. So this year, I'm not going to resolve to do such and such a thing every day or be such and such a person all the time. I am however going to resolve, in my most transcendental fashion, to be as many of the following things as I want, in as many ways as I want. And that's going to mean contradicting myself, but well, that's just me.

""Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." ~Walt Whitman

-take care of my body whether it means abstaining or indulging, dieting or splurging, eating a lot of green things or eating a lot of chocolate things, exercising or resting, whatever my body needs most in any given situtation-just listening a little more to me and tuning out a little more all of the noise
-read anything and everything, anytime and all the time
-go see movies in the theater and spend ridiculous amounts of money on ridiculously overpriced concessions
-go out for nice dinners and for cheap ones
-really breathe at least once a day-sounds like a given but trust me it's not
-write as much as humanly possible
-write fiction
-write in some kind of professional capacity
-find a way to go to the ocean as often as possible
-find a way to go to Charleston as often as possible
-eat things I've never tried
-do things I've never tried
-dance while not innebriated (this one might be tricky)
-dance while innebriated
-watch at much live tennis as I can
-play tennis
-eat chocolate without all the crushing guilt
-discover new music
-go to concerts
-go on day trips
-go on road trips
-use my passport at least once
-do things that scare me
-do things that terrify me
-set bugs free instead of squashing them
-bring my canvas bags to the grocery store instead of leaving them at home yet again
-cook new things
-cook Indian food
-try to make sushi
-eat less tuna (you know all that Mercury)
-eat more tuna (it's so yummy)
-take more pictures
-develop more pictures
-read books that are educational
-read books that are purely entertainment
-spend more time with family
-spend more time with friends
-sing when I'm alone
-sing around other people (sorry in advance!)
-spend more time in sweatpants
-spend more time in nice clothes
-be more honest
-be kinder to people I don't like
-be kinder to people I do like
-be kinder to myself

Friday, January 2, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I would never have thought that a movie could capture the strange, unearthly, almost frightening beauty of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, Where the Wild Things Are. But then I found out that Dave Eggers was a co-writer (he's my hero, and despite all the haters out there, he's a masterful writer; I'm sorry but a lesser mortal would not be capable of writing both A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genuis and What is the What, these books could not be farther apart in subject or style and they're both brilliant)

So I heard that Eggers was a writer and I got excited, but I still had serious doubts over a movie ever being as wonderfully weird and gorgeous as the book, but then I saw this still from the film.

And this one,

And this one too,

And against all odds, I believe.

how I rang in 2009

To ring in 2009, I went up to Wintergreen for a couple of days to ski, roast marshmallows, drink hot chocolate, all of that ski lodgy stuff. I've gone skiing maybe five times, but it had been five years since my last trip. And you know what they say about riding a bike. Well it does not apply to skiing. The above image is not technically me, but I think it paints a pretty accurate picture. Never have I felt more like an awkward toddler since well, I was an awkward toddler.

I reached the conclusion that skiing is one of those sports that gets harder as you get older. Five years ago, I was seventeen and clearly less afraid of injuring myself or my dignity. Little kids just zoom on down the hill, no poles, no hesitation, no fear. Which of course is slightly humiliating. Here I am, a fully grown adult, going at a snail's pace down the bunny slope, a look of terror on my face, both arms flailing for balance and five year olds are leaving me in their dust.

But despite my general ineptitude, by the end of the night, I remembered that I do like skiing, that despite the clumsy and heavy equipment and below freezing temperature, despite the snow blowers pelting me with hundreds of drops of ice, despite losing all sensation in my face and toes, despite nearly falling over every time I got off a lift, skiing really is fun.

Now the total body soreness that comes the next day on the other hand....
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