Sunday, July 29, 2007

by land and by sea

Began the day by land: After working the trailhead, we hiked a little over half a mile in to cut up a tree that had fallen across the trail, and it was much bigger than we thought. No I didn’t do any chain sawing, but I’m a fine wedger! I got to thinking on the way back about the things we know as facts and the way we know things by experience. So often I feel like education is about leading up to what we will experience and we sometimes forget to just go out and play, fall down and feel the pain so we know why it’s better to avoid it. I was thinking mostly about the simple fact of how much wood weighs. Trees are so massive and great and I know they weigh a lot, but maybe it’s because the whole mass of the earth is holding them up and I don’t often picture them leaving it so am not required to imagine how heavy they must be. But oh, they are. Sometimes my job just makes me feel weaker, but the next moment ever stronger. Quick sum up- trees are heavy, don’t try and pick them up alone.
Finished the day by sea: After work and finishing packing my life-to-be-forever-stored into a total of seven plastic containers, I went to the beach for a run. I love running in the shallows, how did I never discover this joy until my last months here? I ran towards one of the most beautiful sunsets ever (though I’ve been saying that about every sunset I’ve seen lately, I actually took the above picture two days ago, but at the same time and place). There is this way the ocean makes me feel a part of this world like nothing else does. This immense expanse, and the way the setting sun shines a direct path on the water toward you, no matter where you are. And then I couldn’t resist, I jumped in. I think this guy walking his dog thought I was crazy, but the water was fine. I ran some more, then jumped in again, tee hee. I need to remember those moments of childish glee, before the absurdities of adulthood fall so completely into place. Then at home I watched “Shallow Seas” from the incredible Planet Earth series, and was further rejuvenated. Last but not least, I climbed into my dark tent, and when I turned around to zip it up the big, beautiful, nearly full moon faced me directly, perfectly placed between the trees. Time spent with both the sun and the moon always makes a more complete day. I taste like salt right now and I love it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another Fine Monday

(I’m going to try not to edit these posts too much now, the one from July 17 was edited down from 6 pages, and I don’t know if it makes any sense anymore) I took the 101 from Camarillo to Ojai at night with the windows down, no one lets me do that and it was so nice (but I still hate driving). The past couple days I was mildly inspired by my boredom and procrastination of other immediate to-do’s and began consolidation, not of my loans, but of my stuff. Those who know me know I’ve always been a major pack-rat, but over the past year I’ve gotten a hell of a lot better at throwing things away. I guess the 80 pound total luggage limit for the Peace Corps is influencing the rest of my life as well, plus never knowing where my mom might be in the near future. So I’m basically unpacking all my old and new boxes, getting rid of as much as I can and carefully cataloging and packing what’s left. I’m hoping to fit it all in under 10 plastic tubs, think I can do it? I’m getting distracted by all kinds of nostalgia. I swear there has got to be more pictures of my first year on this earth than the rest of my life (including the future) combined. And it’s creepy that I make the same contorted expressions today. I also found some really old pictures of my mom, silly letters between friends from high school, and about twelve journals and ten or so sketchbooks I’ve done over the years. By going through pretty much everything saved over my lifetime I can see the growth a little clearer. Does that make sense? Like wow, almost 22 years have passed and now there’s this big person. Since watering young human-planted oak trees has been part of my job this summer, I’ve been noticing how we take a long time to really establish ourselves, much like they do. Only they live so much longer than us . . . I’ll write more on oaks and how my faith is always found again in nature soon. My mind is all wrapped up in Moroccan Arabic too, from the practice lessons PC sent out; I can make most of the sounds, but can’t remember what any of what I’m saying means except, peace be upon you, and are you fine? So tomorrow I will be hauling and chipping wood at work all day and then I am going to finish my horribly and embarrassingly overdue thank-yous, I fear they are so late people will forget what I’m sending them for. But now I’ve posted it publicly, so you’ll all know if I don’t do it! ooo, and Ashley arrives two weeks from today!

Friday, July 20, 2007


i am leaving 7 weeks from tomorrow. at the moment i feel wonky, but psyched. i am already in love with a life i dont know yet, isn't that a tad dangerous?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Runner's High

Endorphins speaking, hurray for today! One of those days I have been needing for, hmm, the past month or so? Today was the first Santa Monica beach day with the fam, not too many people, but it was wonderful. Everyone made fun of my sweet tan line (note- I work in the sun all day in hiking boots and shorts and a t-shirt, you map out the white areas when I switch to a bikini), so I evened that out and swam and had a nice dinner with my sister and grandma. Then my sister and I went for a run (I know, what?) along Ventura beach as the sun was setting. Oh my goodness it was so nice, and I am no runner.
So after an extended period of discontent, mounting into an utter breakdown, and settling into new realizations, today is the day when things make more sense by becoming simpler. Circumstances may not change but I can somehow deal with it all again. The wonderful thing about a breakdown, no matter how painful, is that it wakes you up and forces you to focus on just what’s up (note: crying and driving don’t mix well. Could I get ticketed for reckless driving? It’s like driving without the wipers on, at least in hindsight its funny). I also love that frustrating, yet equally reassuring place where you realize you’ve known all along what is right, we so often don’t give enough credit for how great our instincts are.
So why the big breakdown? I’m calling it pre-departure depression, and oh my how awful. Yes apparently there is a reason why people who want to remain sane don’t work 14 hour days, but it was more than that. The problem with working so much in a job that only requires your body, not your brain (I’m speaking mainly about the camp), is you are allowed a lot of time to think and analyze, but no time to write and record. I don’t know about you, but I go nuts if I don’t journal enough. I know I wasn’t working just to save money; I was working so I could avoid thinking about all that was changing and how I felt about it. I somehow figured I could put off dealing with and feeling everything until, oh, mid August or so. Not! I have realized I have reached a very odd place- I am exactly where I want to be; the very point I have worked so hard to get to. I graduated college, and have my dream job beginning in less than two months, my family is overwhelmingly proud and supportive, and all I’ve felt like is shit. I can’t remember ever being at a point where I was exactly where I planned to be, maybe the beginning of college? But even then there was a great deal of uncertainty.

There remains a good amount of my “only comfortable in chaos” complex from childhood, where I learned to always have a plan and be prepared for any possible crisis. I could read people better than a book and was completely focused on survival and keeping people, particularly my mother, at peace (though we never really reached it). The lessons of childhood certainly sparked my interest in the Peace Corps, but the na├»ve idea of just helping others has come far and grown into a much more mature goal for the betterment of this world. One of the oldest proverbs, “give a man a fish and he will eat today, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” I know, I know, painfully obvious. But my point is, like many others, I am most comfortable when there is a conflict to deal with. For when there is peace and silence, what can you do, but look at yourself? This presents the realization that I have not only neglected to have a good relationship with myself, but with anyone else as well. The ability to develop healthy relationships, meaning, equal parts of you and me, is new to me. In all my past years I believed I didn't need anyone very close, because in my view, those close caused pain and suffering. I now know of course that those close invite all kinds of suffering, but even more happiness, and just like any other dumb animal, I am in deep need of my own species. The reality of this lag time before Morocco is I have felt a great loneliness I find hard to explain and am focusing on accepting time off, and with myself, as well as better relationships in general. Turn off the shyness, eh?!
How so? Well yesterday I got brave and quit the camp, long story, but it’s a huge weight off my shoulders, and I will be working a normal, 40 hours a week at the OVLC (I have many stories I want to share about that job, but they will have to come in another post)
And lastly I want to send out an apology for being a grumpy, depressed, workaholic, bitch, mess, etc. I haven’t gotten much done or been very nice or allowing lately. But onto better days! I’m off to plaster my very red body in aloe vera and get some sleep. Lyla tov.