Five Things, Large and Small, on My Mind

The short version of this post is: I’m not updating weekly anymore, I’m gonna be more casual about the content I post and more forgiving of myself when ideas are not fully formed, I love you all a lot a lot, and we’re all gonna make it through February because we already made it through January so we can do anything. If you want the long version, read on!

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1. It’s hard to update this blog once a week. I think the problem is that I am attempting to do too many things all at once – it’s a thing I’ve been struggling with since I was five years old, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised. When I was small I used to love dance classes and acting in the school play and my mom would always say, “Vaness, one day you’re going to have to choose. No one has that many hours in one day.” My mom always sort of indicated that by the time I entered high school I’d have to pick one of my two after-school activities, because I’d have to be studying, etc. Life is weird though and instead of choosing between dance and acting, I fell in love with the school newspaper and the speech team, so I threw myself into both of those activities at the beginning of 9th grade. I did eventually give up dance but I never quit auditioning and acting in school plays (and when I didn’t get cast I often helped out backstage), and I also added a deep passion for photography to the mix, which meant I spent countless hours after school developing negatives and printing portraits in the darkroom. Rather than narrow down the activities that took up large swaths of my time, I increased them. It wasn’t weird for my mom to get up to have a glass of water or go to the bathroom at 3am only to find me, her annoying stubborn stretched-too-thin teen daughter leaning over my thick history text book, diligently taking notes on the chapter we’d be quizzed on the next morning, because I only got home at midnight after speech team practice and a newspaper meeting. Basically, I’ve spent my life over-committing myself, and refusing to cut out any of the activities I love because, well, I love them. No matter that no one human can do everything all the time. I want to! I blame my Gemini moon. All of which is to say, I’m now 27 and it’s 12:30am and I’m still up, working on this blog, because I spend a lot of my waking hours outside running and hiking, because I allotted a bunch of time today to crafting handwritten letters to far away friends, because I like to cook meals and spend time with my girlfriend and attend workshops about mountaineering classes because have I told you about my ample free time? I should definitely sign up for a mountaineering class to fill it up. (Don’t worry, I’m not actually that ridiculous – I clearly cannot take the mountaineering class this year. Next year. Next year I will learn to use an ice axe and summit Mt. Hood.) So the end of this long drawn out explanation about my long history of over-committing to activities I truly love but simply do not have time to do all the time at the same time, is that I am no longer pretending that this blog is a project I will update once a week. I think it sets up an unrealistic goal, and then the failure to meet the goal further discourages me to write. From now on, I’ll just be updating whenever I please. I’m hoping this removes some of my self-induced pressure and anxiety surrounding this project and ultimately allows me more freedom and excitement to write.

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2. I am obsessing over the idea of community recently. And uh, by recently I mean for the past 2-5 years. As a writer (as a person?) I am always obsessing about 1-5 things at any given time, and usually I need to write about those things a lot in order to make peace with the obsession, or let it go, or figure out why it’s important. Right now I’m really interested in what makes a community, how communities (specifically informal ones, like a friend group, etc.) govern themselves, and what communities do when an outsider wants to join. I, personally, really enjoy becoming part of a community, and I have been extra interested by the closed-off or secretive or guarded etc etc etc nature of many community members when they first meet an outside person. At first I thought this mechanism was unfriendly, but as I’ve gotten to know more communities and more individuals within communities, I realize that it’s often a self-protection ritual that I myself would probably do well to employ more often. (I am the queen of opening my heart wide fucking open and then being shocked to realize that not all new friends can be trusted with such delicate organs.) This will be a longer post soon, or a series of posts, and I’m hoping I can interview some different people I know who are deeply rooted in specific communities, but I just wanted to write some not-fully-formed thoughts about this down, because I like the idea of this blog being a place that holds space for baby ideas, the ones that I haven’t fleshed out yet but that if I don’t write down might slip away unnoticed. It’s nice that this doesn’t have to only be a space for polished work because fuck it, it’s mine! It can be a space for whatever the fuck I want.

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3. Parasites! I am also totally obsessed with the fact that I got sick with a parasite almost one year ago and my body still has not recovered, despite the fact that the actual parasite is long gone. I have a lot of thoughts about the ways bodies work and the ways we are taught to interact with our bodies, as well as some ridiculous/hilarious metaphors about actual physical parasites versus the old personal baggage that is haunting me from years ago. Both things have fucked up my body and while the actual illness/people is/are now out of my life, the havoc it/they wreaked is still messing with me and making me feel bad. So that’s another longer post in the future, hopefully. Stay tuned! Everyone loves a good parasite metaphor, right?! …Right?

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4. If you need a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie(s), your mom, your gal pals, or yourself, I strongly recommend checking out Alex Simon’s Etsy store. She makes gorgeous handmade heart-shaped mugs, many of them have unicorn handles complete with gold horns, and she’s literally the sweetest most wonderful human being to ever grace this planet. She also makes necklaces, inhaler pipes, and a variety of other whimsical magic objects. Go check out her store right now! You won’t regret it.

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5. I’m going to San Diego in one month and Thailand in six weeks! I can’t quite believe I’m going to Thailand…I’ve been wanting to do this trip since 2008, and I really honestly cannot believe I’m actually going to travel to SE Asia. But I am! I don’t really have much to say about either of these travel plans as of right now, but they’re the two most exciting things I have going on this spring, so I’m including them on this list. Getting a whole lot less picky and finicky about what gets published on this blog! Focusing on writing words down and hitting “publish,” not editing and editing and hoping I construct the perfect sentences and the truest emotions. I am just a human person, trying to write regularly on the internet after a long time of being out of practice, and that is okay.

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Let’s conclude there, babes. I think January was rough in some way for almost every single person I know, and many of us are still reeling and recovering and growing and remembering to breath and also trying to remember exactly how breathing works. But it’s all okay, and we’re all gonna make it. I’m gonna write in here about it sometimes. I’m gonna get outside and not feel guilty about not updating this blog sometimes. Maybe some weeks I’ll get to do both.

Thank you for reading when you do. Thank you for writing to me about my words and talking to me about my words and sharing stuff that speaks to you on social media and even just saying, “Hey babe, I read your blog.” Seriously, engaging with people who read my words is my favorite part. Thank you. I love you. Happy February.

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4 thoughts on “Five Things, Large and Small, on My Mind

    • Vanessa says:

      this is an incredibly kind thing to say and i’m sorry it’s taken a month and a half for me to respond. seriously, thank you. i hope i keep speaking to you.

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