Posts Tagged ‘ growing up ’

Responsibility

As I walked upstairs to my apartment just now, I overheard my downstairs neighbor having a conversation with his daughter, who’s probably seven or eight.

He was talking about how there’s always a trade-off between work and family, because as much as he wants to spend more time with her, he has to bring an income into the household.

It made my heart absolutely ache, because I remember having that same conversation with my father (and my mother) so many times.

I don’t think I quite understood, not as a kid anyway. My parents did a great job putting it into concrete terms, but actually grasping the way money and time and responsibility work didn’t start to sink in until I was probably eleven or twelve.

Right now I’m at an extraordinarily luxurious phase of life. I don’t work so much that I can’t have fun, and I’m responsible for exactly one person; me.

The only times I actually get worried about money is when I know I’ve been spending irresponsibly– alcohol is more expensive than I realized– but in reality, the levels of responsibility required of me are extraordinarily low.

Show up for work on time. Get enough sleep. Eat enough, and eat well. Drink water, and when drinking alcohol drink in moderation. Spend time with good friends, and don’t waste time on draining people. Do well in school.

Those are basically the only things I have to think about regularly.

Either I’m irresponsible or I’m lucky. Very, very lucky.

I suppose if I get into it, I could think of more things that I could be worried about on a daily basis, but if I do I usually end up curled in the fetal position cradling a book and my teddy bear to forget.

I’m not irresponsible. I just manage my low-spectrum levels of responsibility well, because responsibility is, like everything else, a spectrum.

My downstairs neighbor seems to be teaching this principal to his daughter in a sane and sensible fashion. Here’s hoping.

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Things I learned in 2012.

When I was drafting this blog, I was laughing internally because in comparison, the one I wrote for 2011 was so short. It amuses me that 2011 felt like I grew so much, but 2012 was so much more.

So because this list is so long, I’m going to subdivide it into months.

January

  • Saying goodbye isn’t the hardest thing– living without is.
  • Moving to the Willamette valley in January is a terrible idea. It’s the crappiest weather of the year.

Feburary

  • Crappy jobs still pay rent.
  • Rich people aren’t good tippers. Actually, rich people are the worst tippers.
  • Getting thoroughly lost can be the best way to learn about a city’s geography.

March

  • Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to tune out.
  • If you’re willing to be surprised, a good friend can come from anywhere.

April

  • Unemployment is only scary when it stops feeling like a vacation.
  • Twenty is a surprisingly bummer age to turn. Suddenly adulthood feels like a burden

May

  • Aim high, be prepared to score low, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

June

  • Summer in Portland is perfect. 
  • Living in a main street in Portland during the summer… Not so much.

July

  • Nothing is certain, not even your life.
  • Getting prodded by medical folk gets easier the more it happens. Same with throwing up.
  • Dulaudid is one hell of a drug.
  • Recovery is the hardest part– waiting and wanting to be back to normal, but still sick.
  • In spite of the soap opera-y parts, Friends is an awesome show.
  • Staying hydrated is so much more important than I ever thought. Drink water, people!

August

  • Bicycling through Portland at night in the summer is amazing.
  • Doctor Who is one of the best TV shows of ALL TIME.
  • Life goes back to normal really easily, even when you’re changed forever and there’s constant turmoil in your brain.

September

  • Empathy is not a strong trait of mine, except where my sisters are concerned.
  • Every wedding should have dancing. (and dancers.)

October

  • Important decisions can be delayed.
  • I’m freaking awesome at parallel parking.

November

  • People who skype in coffee shops make me nervous.
  • Shutting up and listening is important.

December

  • Feeling rich is still a major fault of mine.
  • Handmade Christmas presents are the best!
  • Distance hasn’t made me love Central Oregon and my people there any less, and time hasn’t made me miss them any less.
  • Even though 2012 was a really tough year, it was a really good year– and it was really important.

And yeah… Fart jokes are still funny.

With that said, I’m really looking forward to what 2013 will hold. I’m making plans to intentionally make it the best year ever.

Cheers!

Now.

So, as you might already know, this summer I had a too-close-for-comfort brush with death.

Although I’ve made a full recovery physically, the emotional turmoil has been the worst part.

For a while I was somewhat paralyzed by fear– every time I had a twinge in my back, my overactive imagination would put me right back in the hospital, delirious from dehydration. Over the months, the fear has subsided, but there is still a constant thought running through my head. I could die tomorrow.

This theme has been strengthened and pounded into my brain by a number of things in addition to my own health scare. Two of my friends are battling cancer right now, both for a second time. A barista in Gresham was randomly murdered.

Life is tenuous.

I’ve realized how important it is to live right now. I have a really bad habit of putting off things I know I’ll enjoy because I’d rather not put in the effort. I’ll do it later, or tomorrow, because I’d rather just curl up on my couch and watch TV shows than get dressed and go out into the real world.

Since I realized this habit of mine, I’ve been thinking about the scope of my life. If I died tomorrow, would people have any good stories to tell about me? I don’t need to be remembered for long, but I do want to be missed. No one is going to miss a creepy girl who spends hours on Facebook every day while watching Netflix and serving coffee to pay rent.

Each morning, I ask myself how I want the day to look. If I want to have good stories to tell about the day, I have to make things happen myself.

If I died tomorrow, would people say that I lived life to the fullest in my short time, or would they shake their heads and sigh about a wasted life?

Life is short. Each day is valuable. I intend to use the full value of each day that is granted me by living in the now, and living more every day.

 

Living Intentionally.

Shortly after I moved out of my parents’ house and my hometown, I was struck by a sudden and unpleasant revelation: It was time to learn how to be an adult, and I had no idea how to learn that.

Through trial and a lot of error, I have a theory.

Intentional living.

I realized that every day, I’m turning more into the person I’m going to be. If that makes any sense. So to be the kind of human I want to be eventually, I have to invest my time into doing things that will make me evolve into the Bethany I want to be next year, in five years, and forever. If I live every day carelessly, controlled by my whims, I will never mature.

Not that spontaneity is bad. Indeed, I want future Bethany to have just as much, even more, of a taste for spontaneity as present Bethany. But living every day flying by my ass isn’t going to make that happen– all that’s going to be accomplished by living carelessly is an empty bank account, too much stuff, and a lot of regrets.

I don’t know about you, but I try to live regret-free.

That’s prettymuch all I have for today.

In other news, I’m launching a new blog tomorrow! It’s focused entirely on coffee-related topics, and will update every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so you can get your dose of my writing every day if you want, or if you only want to hear about coffee you won’t have to wade through the musings and whimsy here on Blip, and if you like my musings but get tired of my coffee rants, you’re also in luck. Something to please everyone I guess. It’s called PDX Coffee Nomad, and you can go there to learn more about it.

I’m also taking this opportunity to be more intentional about my blogging and actually writing before my self-imposed deadlines so that this will actually be updated M-W-F instead of so late at night that it might as well be T-TH-ST.

Cheers!

Diaries of a Dichotomous Dancer.

So I mentioned in a post a couple weeks ago that my sister invited me to dance in a piece she choreographed.

Well, the show is tomorrow night and I just realized that I could tell you a long, long story about me and dance.

When I was just a tyke my sister started taking ballet classes. She was eight that year, so I guess I must have been five. I dimly remember her first recital– Jessie in stage makeup and a bright gold and red costume. All I remember is seeing her on stage, and wanting with all my heart to be up there with her.

Her next few recitals, all I remember is being stunned by how beautiful the Big Girls were in their tutus, dresses, and pointe shoes. But finally, the fall that I was eight, my parents allowed me to dance too.

I have only a few memories from the classes those first few years. There were a couple girls I hung out with every class, and certainly a few more that I remember, but each year of classes has sort of blurred together in my memory. I must have been one of the shorter girls, because I usually ended up in the front rows at performances– but of course I mistook that for my teacher liking me especially.

For my first ballet recital, I was supposed to be one of the townschildren in the ballet Copellia. That was the first time I remember experiencing an adrenaline rush; right before I stepped onstage for the first time. The costume was very pretty, but for some reason there were sequins in the armpits and they itched like crazy.

The next year, I was another generic female in a group in the ballet Sleeping Beauty. I was irked at my costume because it was pink when there were also purple and blue costumes in my class. This was the last recital that Jessie and I shared. She quit because she hated pointe or something, and I can’t say that I blame her.

My final year in my first bout of ballet, we performed the Snow Queen. I was a little demon cohort thing of the villain, and then a snowflake for the rest of the ballet. There was a quick costume change which I remember as being stressful, but I was easily stressed at the age of eleven. Hailey, my best friend, had her first ever solo in this ballet. I was green with envy, and I’m sure it was obvious even though I tried really hard to hide it.  At that recital, I bragged around the fact that I wasn’t coming back the next year. I would never have admitted it, but I quit dance because Jessie left dance. I cited boredom and a desire to avoid pointe.

So then began my four-year hiatus, during which I took pride both in that I had done ballet and that I had quit. Every fall, I would consider starting ballet once again, but every time I couldn’t bring myself to do it, all because I would be a year, then two, then three behind my former classmates, and in my eyes they were so good I could never catch up.

At some point, I took a year of tap. That recital was interesting. I felt like the only one in my class who had good rhythm (I’ve always been a bit big-headed about that, can you tell?) and our costumes were indeed horrifying. They consisted of a purple velvet leotard with lime green, waist-high pinstripe pants, topped off with a plastic fedora and sparkly suspenders, cuffs, and ties. I loved that dance (to this song) but I still remember how embarrassed I was going onstage in that outfit.

I still don’t remember what prompted my return to ballet. It was probably something to do with my sister going to school to be a dance major. Anyway, I again don’t remember a lot about that first year back. I do know the first few weeks of classes were excruciatingly awkward for me as I tried to remember how to make my body cooperate, when in the four years away I had both gone through puberty and grown at least eight inches.

That recital, the school put on La Fille Mal Gardee, and I portrayed both a male cohort of the male lead (who was actually a male,) and a random townswoman. I seem to have a knack for being a townsperson. When our class received the exceedingly fluffy dresses that were our townswomen costumes, we joked about looking like cupcakes. It was funny at the time. (And I tend to think we did look like cupcakes.)

The summer after that, I journeyed to Portland to purchase my first pair of pointe shoes for the coming dance year. I was so excited. When classes commenced, I knew in my brain that it was going to be hard and painful, but I had the hope in my heart that it wouldn’t be. That recital was the first in my memory that our instructor diverged from a story ballet and instead just did a series of dances. I loved that format, honestly. Rehearsals were simpler because we didn’t have to work with any other classes, and there wasn’t any drama about who got which solo and why. The theme that Mary chose was Deep Forest, which I didn’t get but whatever. Since we were the only class performing en pointe that year, we portrayed giraffes. Shocker.

I know it’s a recurring theme, but our costumes were again a disappointment. In the catalog photo, they looked like beautiful golden tutus with gold braid around the bodice. When we pulled them from the bags, we discovered instead glitter-covered, unfitted leotards with floppy, unattached tutus in strange shades of tan and yellow.

According to everyone, they looked good when we were on stage, but they were so, so uncomfortable. Sometimes I watch the DVD of that dance and just cringe because I remember how much pain I was in– and I didn’t even look good. Every step looks like a struggle, as indeed it was.

But even though I wanted to and thought about it, I didn’t stop doing pointe. I continued the following year because I have this obnoxious competitive streak that won’t let me stop doing something that I don’t like or is too hard when some of my peers are still continuing. I kept doing pointe because I always want to be the best at what I’m doing.

I planned to drop out of dance in the middle of that year, after a performance of the Nutcracker (our first time in my memory we did a winter show,) but then I didn’t for a number of reasons. For the first time in my life though, it wasn’t my older sister who kept me in dance. I had spent the last couple of weeks letting everyone know of my impending departure, but when the weekend of the show arrived I found I couldn’t leave yet. My family was in the midst of a pretty intense crisis, and between that and school I found that kicking my own butt at ballet four nights a week was the only thing keeping me sane. When I was still unsure, the gentleman who played Drosselmeyer in our little production told me I shouldn’t quit because I had stage charisma, and that was the tipping point. When I told Mary I was staying for the rest of the year, she didn’t say anything– she just hugged me.

The final production I was in with my home studio, we danced to Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons. My class was the opening dance, Spring, and the closing one, Winter, which was on pointe. I’m not going to lie, that dance sucked– or rather, I sucked at that dance. I also was recruited to fill a spot in a lower level’s dance, Summer, because one of the girls had to drop out and the choreography necessitated an understudy about my height. Since I’ve complained about all the previous costumes I’ll say this– all of them that year were beautiful. Although I’m not fond of pink, I admit that the mint green and pale pink tutus were perfect for spring, the green dresses with vines were perfect for summer, and the purple and gold romantic tutus were beautiful for the painful en pointe winter dance.

After that though, I thought I was done dancing forever. It took some separation from the studio for me to deal with and resolve some of my own body image issues. Those were interesting, because when I was at my height of fitness I thought I had fat legs and butt. My problem was comparing myself to ballerinas on Youtube instead of the humans around me. I dipped into anorexia some that last year, but I never could commit to it; I preferred not feeling like I was going to die of hunger. It took some time, but I came to the conclusion that my body image struggles were more a function of the familial crisis I was dealing with than of ballet.

It took a while, but I finally realized that I’m pretty sexy just as God made me.

When I moved to Portland, I even more thought I was done dancing forever. I gave away most of my dance clothes, painted some old pointe and tap shoes to fully retire them, and didn’t bring any dance clothes to Portland with me.

Then Jessie invited me to dance with her again, and, well, you can get the rest of that story in this post.

Although I finally broke away from following Jessie into whatever, (a process that took longer than I’d like to admit,) it’s interesting to me how she’s always the one who brings me back to dance. It’s taken time, but I’ve realized that I can have an identity as a dancer that’s separate from her just as much as in the rest of life, despite her frequently being the catalyst to my choice to dance.

Maybe I’ll take up ballet again. I miss the body that I had when I thought I had fat legs, but I don’t think I’ll ever love ballet like I thought I did. I never loved ballet. It was a means to an end– performing. And now it will be a means to another end– fitness.

Sometime I’ll have to tell you the rest of the story about my much less fascinating relationship with tap dance.

So fellow dancers, what’s your story? I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or via email. Go!

Time Travel is Impractical.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Time Travel. It started a couple weeks ago when I was in Central Oregon, listening to Levi trying to convince Garrett that time travel already exists, pointing to footage from a Charlie Chaplain film of a woman apparently talking on a cell phone. I’m dubious, but I’m not here to argue about that video.

I’ve been thinking about how humanity seems to have an underlying obsession with time travel and why. We’re obsessed with the idea of going back in time to prevent mistakes or calamities from occurring. We’re fixated on the concept of undoing mistakes with a giant ctrl-z instead of learning from the consequences.

However, H.G. Wells dealt thoroughly with the time travel conundrum in Time Machine. If you go back in time to correct a mistake or an event and succeed, then you’ll never have the motivation to initially travel back in time and correct the mistake or event, so therefore that mistake or event must occur no matter how you try to stop it from happening.

It simply cannot be done.

Lost (the TV series) also had an interesting take on time travel. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, some of the characters get thrown back in time, but as desperately as they try to change events so that they never end up on the island in the first place, they are unable to change future events, because they already happened. If they changed circumstances so they never crashed on the island, they never would have been on the island to change the circumstances.

Again, it just doesn’t work.

While I’m not informed enough to make any arguments about the science of time travel, I have my doubts it will ever work outside of theory or fiction.

However, theoretical time travel in an individual’s life becomes irrelevant if we look at the problems involved, and even more so if we take an objective look at the circumstances we would want to change. Odds are that if the event was significant enough for you to want to change it, the aforementioned event had a personal impact on you, and if you changed the event you would be changing yourself.

This concept has been bothering me because I’ve been wondering how different my life would be if I hadn’t made some choice mistakes. Given the opportunity, I decided I would not try to undo those mistakes.

If I were to go back in time and lecture little Bethany it wouldn’t matter anyway. I don’t even listen to myself now. (Even if I did listen to myself, that takes away my motivation to go back and deliver the lecture, and yay here we are back to square one.)

The point is, if I had the capability to undo mistakes and took advantage of it, I’d just have to make those same mistakes later in life instead of earlier so that I could learn those lessons. If I still hadn’t made the mistakes on my mind, I’d be even less of an adult than I am now.

Also stupider.

And that is why I decided that time travel is impractical (even though it doesn’t really work.)

Life is like a river, my friends, and no matter what you do, you cannot swim back upstream. We aren’t salmon.

Why Central Oregon gives me Writer’s Block.

So as anyone who’s been following by writing may have noticed, I’ve been writing a great deal more since I moved to Portland area. I noticed too, and have obliged myself by moving to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday blogging schedule.

However, I’ve learned something strange.

Whenever I’m at home in Central Oregon, my newfound wellspring of literary creativity dries up.

I am dumber at home.

Since I hate feeling dumb, I’ve come up with a few theories as to why this may be the case.

In Redmond, I have a lot of people to have conversations with. When I have conversations, I’m bouncing ideas, solidifying opinions, and airing complaints. All of those are things I write about, so when I’m saying them out loud I never get around to writing them down, and then I forget the specifics.

My second theory is that Redmond is just too normal. The population is significantly smaller, so there are just not enough bizarre and fascinating people to observe and write about. In Redmond, I’m not going to see an old man falling asleep on the bus, or a black-clad twenty-something male screaming song lyrics in the bus shelter.

Thirdly, life at home is just straight up easy. Writing is a way for me to sort out struggles in my brain and heart, and when I’m not struggling at all I don’t have much to say. I don’t have to.

Fourth, when I’m at home I have an active enough social life that I don’t block out time to write, especially when I’m here for a short visit. For example, I’m at home right now, but since I’ve only been here to work for three days, I’ve been spending all my free time talking with my family or my friends (see theory number one,) and right now I’m stalling my friends just so I can get this published.

My last theory is that there is just too much sunshine in Central Oregon. When I have sufficient levels of Vitamin D in my system, I don’t worry as much, so I don’t think as much, so I don’t write as much. Rain always puts me in a contemplative mood– that’s part of the reason I chose Portland, and contemplative moods for Bethany is equivalent to a writing mood.

Therefore, I am going home to the rain and large population tomorrow, and hopefully the strange people and vitamin D deficiency will jump-start my fount of literary blessing.

Adios, Sunshine!

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