If you don't understand him, an' he don't die young, He'll prob'ly just ride away.

When my mother left, when my mother came back. Going to live with my grandparents. My father being arrested in front of me. Visits to rehabs. My father's death. Turning points in my life have mostly been things where I feel no control. Turning me from a quiet controlled girl into a contained, obsessively controlled woman. ***

When I kissed him when I shouldn't have because I was committed to kissing somebody else. The kiss that would turn into months of arguments. Of late night phone calls. Of screaming and threatened suicide if I didn't come RIGHT NOW. Of two hour drives and me leaving the peninsula at 6am to get to high school in Santa Rosa on time. Of spiraling down, down, down. Poor grades in eagerly signed up for AP classes and lies to my therapist. Or at least, not truths. Breaking the trust of the somebody else for, maybe, ever. The first proof that for the next six years I'd always find a way to be leaving.

Until that day when I left.

"I don't want you to move in with us"

"Is that all?"

"And I don't think I can do this anymore"

"I was afraid that's what you were going to say"

And so I drove away in tears from the boy I thought I would marry, who put up with panic attacks and days spent crying and that early mistake of kissing somebody else who would only make things worse. Allowing us both to grow up and apart.

Maybe this was my moment of being cruel to be kind.

***

I sat in the waiting room with my grandmother. I hadn't slept for days weeks and so I was here. Therapy, round 2. I guess that first round, when I was a small child, didn't take. The truth was, I needed it more before my father died. Now I had reason to be sad and reason to not sleep, though both those things had been true beforehand. I filled out the forms with my grandmother sitting next to me and though I was fairly certain she wasn't looking, I lied. I lied about the amount of sad, the crying, the thoughts about death and suicide. I didn't lie about sleep habits because that's why I was there after all. Grief and sleeplessness and dropping enough pounds that my pediatrician asked if I had been trying to lose weight. I lied. And I would mostly keep lying. And after a year I would be pronounced fine.

The therapist couldn't have known then that she was the one doing the lying.

***

That time I locked my heart up when my mother told me it was no fun if I didn't cry. That night child me walked herself home in the darkness of the West Oakland night. That first morning I got myself ready for school and attempted to wake up my mother to get her to take me. The habits of self-sufficiency cemented early and forever unshakeable.

***

When I boarded a plane for India. When I boarded a plan for Turkey. When I chose culinary school over college.

When I left my dream job, relationship and apartment to move into a cabin in the woods.

When I was still unhappy two years later and boarded a plane to New York.

***

I don't know that there are event horizons I haven't written about or beaten like a dead horse. I don't know the moments where I truly changed all. I think sometimes I have been the same forever. The happier version or the sadder version or the more honest version. But my core seems the same. The only difference is how closely I have lived in line with it.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. One of today's prompts was What have been the event horizons of your life - the moments from which there is no turning back?

Drive all night just to feel like you're ok

Music prompts are my favorite prompts and also the hardest. Californians love driving like they love a brother. We bitch and moan about traffic like it's our job, but in the end, don't even know how to function without an engine and an open road. I'm from the part of California people come to just to drive. Dark, forested, windy back roads that suddenly open up on top of rolling hills and vast expanses of vineyards. Lush and green in the spring and waves of fire in the fall.  Round the right corner and suddenly your car is hugging a cliff and you're blinded by the sun reflecting off the Pacific.

When I'm stressed my urge is to jump behind the wheel of a car, or when I'm angry, when I'm depressed, when the sun is shining and everything seems right with the world. All emotions lead to California One. Sometimes this is the hardest part of New York, this long separation between me and a steering wheel.

You can't really belt it out and feel your FEEEEEELINGS on the subway.

"Excuse me? Could you round this corner just on the verge of too fast and maybe blast some Ryan Adams over the loudspeaker? It's just, I broke my own heart tonight. Don't try tell me everyone else on this train isn't also sick to death of love and sick to death of trying, we all know what dating in New York is like"

What? You don't feel all your feelings through alt country of the 90s?

Is it because, like me, you have a not so secret love for feeling all your feelings through angry female mainstream country? At least, you do when you're back living at home, in the country and that cowboy Casanova has told another one of his lies and suddenly you're identifying with T Swift? (I'm still bitter I was never allowed to drive that damn truck)

But it always comes back to my favorite song. I've listened to it over and over and over, driving everywhere. I made a tape of the album, back before there were iPods, because my sweet '96 Corolla only had a tape deck. I've mentioned before that it was the anthem of my junior and senior years of high school. The years right after my dad died. The years when I was truly truly a mess.

I didn't sleep much. Sometimes, when I couldn't sleep, I'd layer up and leave my house. I didn't really get in trouble and I didn't have a curfew and my grandparents were usually in bed before me, so I honestly don't know if they even noticed. I'd get in Delilah and pull out of our driveway, turning left towards the road that would lead me to the coast.

Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin.

If it was too cold (which it almost always is in coastal Northern California at night), I'd turn the heater as I obeyed the next lines.

The window down, feel the moonlight on your skin

Desert wind cool your aching head

The weight of the world drift away instead

I'd relax into the seat. Tears pricking the corner of my eyes, quickly navigating the turns so familiar I could still follow them blind folded, turning the heater higher and higher as I got closer to the coast. This was a thing my father and I did, driving. And at once I'd feel closer to him and forever far away.

These days I barely get by

By the time I'd get to Hwy 1, I'd have to rewind the tape to listen to this song over again. Finally, pulled over, I'd chokingly sob along, the crash of the waves slowly calming me.

I don't even try

I don't even try

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. Today's prompt was to talk about singing alone in the car.

How To: Big Sistering

  1. Be an only child for eight years. Preferably, also be an only grandchild for at least seven.
  2. Acquire a younger brother. Alternate between resentment and eagerly helping take care of him.
  3. Suffer through a year in which he thinks biting is the most effective way to get what he wants thanks to a kid at daycare. You will have bruises. The tooth marks on the tender skin on the inside of your upper arm will be the ones that make you come closest to instinctively smacking his toddler face. Don't smack it.
  4. He will soon move on to kicking you. Love him anyways.
  5. Get dragged to his second PeeWee soccer practice. He would only watch at his first and your grandma thinks he'll be encouraged if you're there*
  6. Watch him watch the other kids do their "practice drills" (we are still talking 4 to 5 year olds). Feel bad.
  7. Get a ball and take him to the other side of the field. Start lightly kicking it to him like you've done at home.
  8. Watch him smile and enjoy himself. Feel good.
  9. Move closer to the other kids. Get yourself and him in line for the drill.
  10. Go through the drill a few times with him before running back to the sidelines and watching him participate fine on his own.
  11. Repeat for as many practices as necessary.
  12. Go back to resenting him.
  13. Love him anyways.

*WARNING: Because of this story, your grandma will always think this is true and this is how MANY years later you'll find yourself at 23, awake at 2am, filled with many cups of coffee wondering how ethical it would be to just write a damn Sophomore English paper yourself as you drag sentence after sentence out of him and repeatedly yell that Wikipedia is not a reliable source. You will do this more than once. I'm sorry.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of story telling. Today's prompt was to tell a story in the form of an instructional manual.

Battle Scars

Chefs are inordinately proud of their scars. We all are, in a way, I suppose, but when I say "chefs are proud of their scars" I mean physical ones, not metaphorical. We're the new rock stars, you know - we work hard, we party hard and we burn the fuck out of ourselves with sheet pans hard. Don't act like you're not jealous of our badassery. Chefs without scars are scoffed at, regarded as glorified home cooks. At times my lower arms have been covered with rows of sheet pan burns so numerous and neat they look more like scarring from self harm than occupational hazard. Ice cream making is not a particularly scarring endeavor, so I'm down to three scars right now - an oval where my left shoulder hit a 450˚ sheetpan fresh out of the oven and received a nasty second degree burn, a heart-shaped scar on my right forearm (because of course I would have a literal heart on my sleeve) and my worst, and longest lasting scar, a thin line that travels diagonally from the base of my right pinky and up the inside of my right ring finger, ending just above my second knuckle. A scar that to this day, has made it so I only have partial feeling in said ring finger, either making the fact that that's my finger my carpal tunnel most affects, better (because I'm used to it) or worse (because maybe it wouldn't go totally numb if it weren't already partially?).

I gave myself the injury that would cause that scar six years ago, right before my 21st birthday and about 5 weeks before I was to graduate culinary school. It didn't happen because I was doing some sort of crazy impressive quick knife work or got jostled by somebody else moving too quickly through the school kitchen. It happened at Baskin Robbins. Where I worked as a cake decorator.

Yes, my most badass scar comes from cake decorating. Even for a baker, it's more than a little humiliating.

You see, Baskin Robbins doesn't have premade cakes for every custom flavor you can order, because that would be insane and impossible for stores to stock. They basically make premade cakes in variations of vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip, mint chip or strawberry ice cream with either vanilla or chocolate bases. For every other flavor, the cake decorators have to assemble the cakes themselves. This is done using a tub cutter. The tub cutter has a metal pole with holes and a metal pin to adjust the height of a curved arm that holds the tub in place and the naked box cutter blade that cuts through the cardboard of the ice cream tub. You spin the tub against the box cutter blade, cutting a neat circle around the tub and then pull a thick wire through the ice cream, slicing off a neat layer with which to assemble the custom cake. Pretty genius, right?

Five days a week, I left my house at 10am to go to work for three hours and got home at 11pm after 7 hours of schooling that was essentially working, it was really only a matter of time before my exhaustion caught up to me. For my first hour of the day, I worked by myself because not enough people bought ice cream at 11am to interrupt my cake decorating. That day I cut off a layer of ice cream from the tub, started assembling a cake and then got distracted by a customer. By the time I got back to the tub to put it away it had started to defrost. The icy fuzz that had formed on the outside had even started to turn to slippery rivulets of water and as I pulled the tub away, my hand lost its grip. Tired, I instinctively pulled my hand away, right along the exposed box cutter blade.

If you have never cut your finger, let me just tell you that even the smallest cut bleeds like a mofo. Two deep, inch long cuts? Yeah. I immediately wrapped my fingers in paper towels and applied pressure, afraid to look but knowing it was bad. When I started to feel faint, I raised my arm above my head in a continued effort to stop the bleeding. Finally, pressing my right hand against my chest to not relent on the pressure, I used my left hand to shakily dial my boss (the owner).

"I cut myself on the tub cutter, I think I need to go to the emergency room"

"How bad is it? Did you drive today? Can you drive yourself?"

"I did, but I cut across two fingers on my right hand, I don't think it would be safe"

He picked me up and drove me to the Kaiser ER.

"I'm sure it won't be too bad when you unwrap it"

I looked at him doubtfully, I was raised by a nurse, I had taken my basic first aid classes, I was shaking and the bleeding still hadn't stopped, I knew it was going to be bad.

I bled through an entire roll of gauze before getting stitched up. Seven stitches across two fingers. Seven large stitches my grandmother shook her head at.

"If you were a hand model, they would've given you at least twice as many stitches"

But I wasn't a hand model, I was about to start my career as a classically trained pastry chef and I had just gotten my first battle scar.

At fucking Baskin Robbins.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. Today's prompt was to tell a story about your first job.

Bits & Pieces (the third)

I mean, THIS WEEK, y'all, this week. Or two weeks? I don't even know. I don't even know where to start. This is going to be a little brain dump-y. Ok, a lot brain dump-y. (read: hilarious/ridiculous/rambling)

I didn't finish Scintilla because I had a carpal tunnel flare up, probably from Scintilla. What I learned from Scintilla: I actually, physically cannot write every day. So there's that. That's pretty shitty. I mean, I probably could if I didn't get paid to squeeze piping bags and shape tiny pasta but I do, so writing every day is out. And no, I couldn't really hold a pen by the end of the day either. With a break from writing and "sleeping" with a wrist brace for a few days, I seem to be doing ok. This makes me really happy because a) I can stop sleeping with the motherfucking wrist brace because sleeping with a wrist brace is more like "wake up every three hours and groggily wonder why the fuck you have this uncomfortable torture device on your wrist" b) I was freaking out because I don't have health insurance and I'm ok with paying the $100 for an urgent care appointment if it's for getting antibiotics or some shit, but carpal tunnel isn't really a "here take this things and it's fixed" sort of problem and I have no money for tests or physical therapy or, god forbid, surgery and the freaking out probably didn't help with the wrist brace induced insomnia and c) now I can write again.

And I need to write again so that I can tell you about how I haven't slept longer than three hours in one stretch EVEN WHEN I DRUGGED MYSELF for like two weeks and I am really really glad I finally have two days off IN A ROW tomorrow and Monday.

Also, I need to talk about how boys are confusing.

I suffer from chronic bitch face, my mouth naturally turns down when my face is relaxed, while this doesn't seem to really bother other women, it means I get a lot of those annoying commands from men to smile. It also seems to mean that men either think I'm a bitch, or if they've gotten me to smile, that I'm flirting with them. I either apparently have "bitchface" or "flirtface" on because apparently I unintentionally flirt A LOT when I think I'm just making conversation. (Sidenote: Yes, I am also a flirt, but when I'm intentionally flirting it's usually pretty obvious, there's a lot of smirking and eyebrow raises and taking advantage of my shortness) And then I'm too nice and I give people my number EVEN THOUGH I DIDN'T THINK WE WERE FLIRTING and then I feel awful but most of the time this isn't too much of a problem because I can just be that awful girl that ignores your calls. However, it is a problem when my drunken coworker kisses me and I didn't even see it coming a little bit.

Drunken coworker.

Kissed me.

Not the one I slept with forever ago when I wasn't working there. A new one. Like, not just new to kissing me, but new to working there. Oh, and did I mention he has a girlfriend? And I've barely every spoken to him? Except for making polite getting to know you conversation at the other sous chef's going away party, I'd pretty much never said anything other than "Hey, how are you? Which breads are you low on?".

But we left the party at the same time and we were waiting for the train and he kissed me and WHAT? So I told him it was a bad idea and then he said it was a good idea and then he looked me straight in the eyes and told me I was beautiful and I was so caught off guard (see also: drunk) that I didn't dodge a second kiss. And then he fell over, taking me with him. And then he vomited.

So here I am, in the train station, with a guy I've known two weeks and have had maybe a total of thirty minutes worth of conversation with who is falling over, vomiting, black out drunk. Sober me realizes he might've hit his head when we fell and that maybe I should've taken him to a hospital. Drunk me went into crisis mode and decided to get him in a cab and get him home.

He's a foot taller than me and does not have a small build. I have a bruise over half my right ring finger from the pressure of the claddaugh I wear from trying to pull him up by his hands. I succeed in getting him up and out of the train station. With much effort I get his address out of him and get us into a cab. Not thinking about the fact that his address could be construed as Brooklyn or Manhattan and assuming that the cabbie would stay IN THE BOROUGH WE WERE IN if I didn't specify, I focused on making sure new coworker was alive and ok and not on the fact that OH HEY WE'RE IN MANHATTAN NOW, also please pull over because new coworker needs to throw up more. So then I had to go back to Brooklyn. Most expensive cab ride ever. Fuck my life. But, I mean, what the fuck else am I supposed to do?

We finally get back to his house and the effing effity eff keys keep sticking in the lock and it's freezing and it's 3am and it takes like twenty minutes of us passing the keys back and forth to each other to get in the god damn house where we proceed to go upstairs to his bedroom and then I go to the bathroom only to find he's disappeared while I was peeing. Fuck. I find him downstairs in the other bathroom sitting on the toilet with his head in the sink. I mean, hey, I usually prefer to use the toilet for vomiting and the floor for sitting on, but at least this way he can't choke on his own vomit in his sleep. He vaguely wakes up, throws up some more. I try to force some water into him, he doesn't keep it down. I consider sleeping in the bathtub because I am a crazy person that thinks that somehow by sleeping next to a black out drunk person I'll keep them from injuring themselves. I try to pull him up and get him upstairs. No luck. Finally, I give up and let him fall asleep, head in the sink. I go up to his room, curl up on the bed, completely clothed, jacket still on because it's freezing and set an alarm for twenty minutes to go check on him. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually he makes it into bed.

And that, was how this week started. I left before he woke up. I know he knows I got him home because I overheard him telling my other coworkers that he blacked out and I got him home but I have no idea what else he remembers.

So I'm pretty much just pretending none of it ever happened and he hasn't said anything about any of it to me (either the kissing or the me getting him home) but he has been really friendly and look, HOW THE FUCK DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION? Because I'm at work, I have a professional relationship with him. I barely know him. I don't want to kiss him. But I spent multiple hours wiping vomit off his face and I've slept in his bed so it's weird. It's really fucking weird. I don't know what to do, so I'll probably just keep pretending nothing ever happened except it makes me kind of feel like a bitch to be like "hey, I've seen you crazy vulnerable and in need of help but now I'm acting like I barely know you". But I barely know him.

So anyways, apparently I have no idea how to read men because I really didn't think we were flirting but he really was determined to kiss me. Also, he was really drunk so I'm assuming it has no bearing on how sober him feels about kissing me. At least I'm hoping that's true.

Boys Are Confusing Part Two:

This past Saturday I think I almost got into my first fight with Trouble. (Pro Tip: You're not supposed to get in fights with somebody with whom you're just sleeping and have no emotional involvement, because I think that's a sign of emotional involvement. Oops.) We were in a cab and he mentioned how his new subletter was a really great guy and HE SAID "not like my other roommate" so I said "who hates me?". He again clarified that his roommate hates everyone and I again stated that I didn't really care if his roommate hates me because he was kind of a jerk.

"Really? Because he's one of my really good friends, y'know we grew up together, so his opinion really matters to me"

And then I changed the subject because a) never try to reason with drunk people especially if you are also drunk and b) why does it matter what his best friend thinks of me if we're not dating?! What?

We are talking about a guy here who once pointed to the ring on my finger and said "Are you engaged? I mean, not that it would matter if you were, I don't believe in the whole marriage thing". I thought we were firmly in this is not a relationship land, not ambiguous relationship land. Ambiguous relationship land is my actual least favorite.

Why am I meeting his best friend?

Why does his best friend's opinion matter?

Why are we seeing each other (slightly) more often?

And why is he doing cute things like pushing my hair out of my eyes and telling me it's a good to see me?

And I AM A GIRL AND I NEED TO ANALYZE ALL THESE THINGS TO DEATH BECAUSE I HAVE ALL THESE FEEEEEEEEELINGS.

Unrelated to all these things, I worked 13 hours today even though it's the day my pastry cook came back from being on vacation. I don't know either. Also I had potato chips for dinner even though I'm starting a juice cleanse on Monday. The world has been muffled all week. If you understand that statement, I am glad for the company, though also sorry. If you don't, I can't explain it. My room is a mess. I misread my DIGITAL scale all week and thought I had gained back five pounds instead of losing five pounds. I will clean my room tomorrow and I will pay to have somebody else do my laundry and I will have dinner with my family and I will start drinking all the juice on Monday and life will come back in focus again. I think. I think that's how it works.

But now, it's time to go the fuck to sleep.

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest for truth its sacrament and service its prayer. To dwell together in peace; to seek knowledge in freedom; to serve humanity in fellowship, thus do we covenant together.

Faith. It's not a word I struggle with, but it's a word I feel I'm supposed to. My dad's side of the family are Jews of the non practicing sort. I was raised Unitarian Universalist in a congregation that fired a minister basically for talking about God too much. Also, his sermons were actually the most boring, rambling things I have every heard in my life. AND he wasn't very supportive of our high school youth group, we theorized it was because more people showed up when we lead service than when he did. Actual true story. So maybe just not a good fit overall.

That really here nor there, though.

I wasn't really raised in a family or a faith that is down with the G.O.D. (except for the UUs that are, we're big on the personal belief systems in Unitarian Universalism*) and for a long time I identified as agnostic. I wasn't willing to totally discount the presence of a capital "G" God, but s/he didn't really factor into my personal belief system. These days, I've changed my mind.

I am an atheist. I'm not a militant atheist. I don't believe that science has all the answers. I do believe that religion can be a marvelous force for good. I do have faith.

I have faith that people are basically good.

I have faith in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

I have faith in nonviolence. I have faith that there are things worth dieing for, but none that are worth killing for.

I have faith in compassion. Always. Always compassion, justice and equity.

I have faith that we are all connected, that tomorrow is another day, that everything will be ok. I think god is the feeling of the sun on your skin after a long winter, reading the words for something you felt to be true but could never say, the ocean, service work. I have faith in faith- that it helps people, that it heals. I have faith that when you say your faith in capital "G" God sustains you that you mean the same thing I mean when I say my faith in capital "H" Humanity sustains me. I have faith in Western medicine and neti pots and yoga. I have faith that some day my prince will come.

I have faith that I am the person in charge of my own happiness.

And I have faith you are the person in charge of yours.

 

*This post should probably include a disclaimer than in no way do my beliefs speak for all UUs. Except for the UUs they do speak for. Look, this is the only stuff we can agree on. We would like less mention of God except for those of us that would like more. Some of us would prefer we only ever mention the Goddess. We basically can only agree on the importance of coffee hour and committees. It's a great religion.

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project. Prompts can be found here.

The parts of me I've lost.

Sidenote: I feel like this post is only grasping at what I want to say. It's not quite there yet.

Vulnerability. Oh I am vulnerable. I am oh so so so so vulnerable.

It hurts, living, it hurts constantly. Like my skin is being rubbed by sandpaper. Except for the moments it doesn't, the moments of sitting on my roof on a warm Spring day eating pineapple until my lips bleed. If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

You will never know this.

I am a feelings person. I feel everything, dramatically, immensely, personally. But I am (mostly) a quiet, contained person, a tense person, a small, apple cheeked, dimpled woman with a sharp edge.

I loathe innocence and softness in others. I don't relate. I resent it. "Don't you understand?" I want to scream at them, "Don't you understand that the world is a cold, hard and lonely place, there are beautiful people in it, but even the beautiful people leave at some point, somehow, always. I should know, I don't think I'm a beautiful person, but I know I'm always leaving, be careful of people like me. And some people, most people, they're just masquerading, don't ever EVER be the first to show your soft underbelly".

What is it like to not feel like that? What would it be like to gain my vulnerability back? I don't know. I lost it so very long ago. I think it's somewhere in West Oakland, between a fence I climbed and a bedroom I was thrown across. Don't ever ask me for memories of your father, little brother.

It's a catch 22 you see, I would trade the loneliness of this impenetrable fortress for things like snuggles on the couch at the end of a long day and nightly shared meals if you proved you were trustworthy but would you take the time to prove you are trustworthy to a woman who only ever offers vague glimpses of who she is?

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project, prompts can be found here.

I am the luckiest

It's 10am when I struggle with my copy of a copy of a copy of a key to roll up the metal gate and open the heavy door and walk into the dark and silent wine bar that makes up the front half of the restuarant.

What has proceeded this moment: 45 minutes of "snoozing", a bleary realization that I went to bed with my hair wet (again) and that it is sitting in a half-Jew fro on top of my head, hello flat iron, clothes somehow end up on my body, tinted moisturizer and out the door. Coffee at the bodega where they know my order (Am I a New Yorker yet?), 45 minutes on the train, half awake weaving through Chinatown and then digging through my purse.

I walk through to the pastry kitchen, flipping on lights and ovens,  setting down my phone and coffee. I snatch up a yellow legal pad and head downstairs. Into my cubby goes my purse, my real world clothes, my shoes and jewelry, out comes yoga pants and shiny blue clogs. My clipboard and I make our way around, counting and checking what was gone through the night before against what I had written for production. Two walkins, two kitchens, opening drawers, pulling out sheetpans.

And then, finally, thirty minutes later, I tie on an apron and head into the kitchen to start the real work.

Into the dock goes my iPod. Nobody is here yet, I can play whatever I want.

Stop... with you feet in the air and your head on the ground...

Mixing bowls out, yeast, water, flour and salt. Eggs for some. Olive oil for others. And suddenly the quiet kitchen is filled with the not so quiet whir of two 6 quart stand mixers and a 40 quart's clunk, clunk, clunk. I still have another hour before anybody else arrives. Another hour of just me, my music and the kitchen.

Even though I know that means I still have another 9 hours to my day, another 9 hours on my feet and running up and down the stairs and hoisting flour sacks and realizing the wholesale order should've been in the oven twenty minutes ago, I also realize that I chose right all those years ago when I chose culinary school over college because I am in the kitchen and so, I am happy.

This post was written as part of the Scintilla Project. Prompts can be found here.

It's a treacherous road with a desolated view

 Tumbalalaika is my grandmother singing me to sleep and Where Have all the Flowers Gone is her playing the piano in the sunlit living room of my great grandparents' house in the Berkeley hills.

A musical snowglobe with a basket of roses played the song played at my mother's (unsuccesful) rehab graduation and kept me company in the years she was gone.

"You're going to really like this," my father says as he puts the bright orange CD into the stereo and skips to I'm Just a Girl. Sunny summer Sunday mornings with the top down, driving me home on highway 1.

Mayonaise for the boy I spent three weeks kissing in Ireland when I was 14.

Years of late night singalongs in the Mendocino Woodlands and the smell of campfire lingering in my clothes for days are comprised of Obla Di Obla Da and Down by the Riverside.

Staying up all night next to the fire in the dining hall in the same Woodlands, with friends so close I still think of them as my family, is yelling along to Buddy Holly which is also: my first concert, Paris with Corina (another Weezer concert) endless car singalongs and dinner parties in my Berkeley apartment.

Lara and Corina are I Will Survive and the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack. Stuck in traffic before the Rainbow Tunnel headed towards a Unitarian Universalist youth conference on a rare warm sunny day in San Francisco. Late night cookie bakes. Planning Sunday service.

Golden Age is rain on the roof of Jacob's room junior year of high school. It's panic attacks and aching and loss and grief and comfort and safety all wrapped in one. It's my favorite song and I rarely listen to it because it hurts. It hurts like you couldn't even imagine. Sometimes I don't even know how I got through that first year after my father died.

India when I was eighteen is obviously Redemption Song. The Garden State soundtrack is my return and the next semester in Turkey.

Our tiny, damp and cold (but cheap) apartment in San Francisco was Not a Pretty Girl, while I rocked out to Twin Cinema in the culinary classroom and walked towards the streetcar in the fog humming To Be Young is to Be Sad.

The truth is, I could keep doing this all night, almost every post on this blog for the last three years has been titled with song lyrics, each one awakening a very specific feeling. I'm one of those people. You know the ones, the ones that can't possibly get by on only the 16 gigs their iPhone allows, the ones that listen to albums with the shades drawn and the lights off, whole albums always, songs are meant to be listenened to in album order or on a playlist but never an album on shuffle (shudder), the ones who sometimes replay a song if a conversation interrupted really listening to it, the ones who devour new albums like they've never heard music before... One memory and one song? Impossible. I could more easily give you the soundtrack to my entire life.

But if you really must know, Summertime will always make me cry.

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project, prompts can be found here.

On Adulthood

I don't really understand this whole not thinking of one's self as an adult thing.

Lightbulb Moments I never had:

  • I am responsible for myself now.
  • Adults are imperfect.
  • I am an adult

I hold these truths to be self evident.

My dad used to describe me as 13 going on 30.

My family feels the need to remind me that I don't have to do everything by myself.

Being an adult was all I ever wanted to be and I wouldn't trade being in control of my life for any part of childhood or adolescence. It was all I ever wanted and I will gladly take it, bills and monthly budgets and ten hour work days and all.

Because I don't trust anyone else to take care of anything ever.

Maybe when I do, that'll be the real adult moment.

Maybe adulthood is backwards for me.

This post is written as part of the Scintilla Project prompts can be found here.

The First Scintilla Post

I tried to think of important firsts. The first time I flew across country by myself, the first time I baked a batch of chocolate cookies, my first birthday cake made completely from scratch, no help from a box, my first day of school in a new town, the first time I drove a car or rode on a motorcycle. It seems the important firsts to me are the ones for actions that I will repeat over and over and over again until all the times meld together making the first indistinguishable from the rest.

So instead.

The first boy I ever "went out with" was Austin Close in the sixth grade. We held hands for two weeks before a mutual friend informed me Austin didn't want to date anymore. I don't remember being particularly heartbroken.

The first boy I ever kissed was Larry I Cannot for the Life of me Remember his Last Name. (In my defense I don't think I've seen Larry since I was 15, not in my defense, I'm pretty sure I've know him since I was like six). It was Summer break (I think between 6th and 7th grade?) and I was visiting my dad in New York. In retrospect, Larry was a terrible kisser, even for a 12 year old.

The first boy I dated even though I knew I shouldn't was Drew Davey. Drew was my first venture into the land of goody two shoes smart girl dates somewhat bad boy in an effort to change him. Drew was also the first boy to break my heart, dumping me over the phone the Summer between 7th and 8th grade. I didn't learn my lesson.

The first boy whose heart I broke was Tim Matthiessen. I'm pretty sure he doesn't read this blog (because I've never told him it existed) but if he does I want props for not referring to him as "Timmy" (which I still have a hard time not doing IRL) and for still being able to spell his last name correctly without checking facebook. Obviously, Tim and I are still friends, but there was a period during freshman year of high school during which that was very much not true. Apparently that happens when you break somebody's heart and then start dating somebody else two weeks later. It would take me close to ten years to really learn that lesson.

The first boy I dated where the relationship was built on true friendship was Jacob Peters. See also: the first boy I sat in rooms with just listening to albums, the first boy I think of when listening to the sound of rain on the roof, the first boy with whom I went clothes shopping, the first boy I lived with, the first, the first, the first.

However, the first boy I ever slept with James Doolittle. Also the first boy with whom I had a borderline emotionally abusive relationship. My most truly codependant relationship. I hadn't learned my lesson about fixing yet.

The first boy I ever broke up with without having another boy waiting in the wings was Jacob Peters. When I was 3 weeks from 23 years old and I just couldn't bear the thought of moving in with him again, hated the future I, for SIX YEARS (er, other than those James Doolittle time, but that's another post) thought would happen looked like and felt so trapped that even though I loved him, I was miserable and had to leave. I broke up with him for me, completely selfishly, but I honestly think we're both better people for it

And because of that, I wrote my first serious blog post on this piece of internet property that was originally supposed to house the craft projects and random snippets that didn't quite fit on my food blog.

And because of that, I kept writing. I remembered what it was like to take the words cluttering my head and clutter the screen instead. Not for anybody. Just because. Writers write, they say.

And because of that, I met people whose lives I read every tiny detail about online, offline. I made friends and moved across country and built a network and met a lovely young woman named Dominique.

And because of that, I'm writing my first Scintilla post.

Who knows where this first will lead?