Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No. 31: Written by Jon

He blesses me.

1. The weather here in Boston has been less than summery, which I’m not all that grateful for. However, on Sunday, we turned the whole grey, rainy, despair-inducing pattern to our advantage. Matt came to visit for the weekend and we slept in mightily. Coffee was made and fiction was read. Bread was baked and so were cookies, of the chocolate chip variety. Emily came by and read as well. Eventually we put on some Deadwood and sat, awash in the violent, profane and obscene, realizing that for all the funk of life, this is a story about people who love each other. John B got back from PA and joined us for Thai food and more Deadwood.

I climbed into bed early and full and pleased with a day spent entirely indoors.

2. My mom and dad are facing some tough realities about getting old and health and living and working and dying. Again, not all that grateful for that, though I can imagine a person of flintier character than my own mustering some gratitude for hard lessons being learned. My mom sent me an e-mail about the steps they might take to welcome others into their home, spending their “declining years” in close-knit community. She also wrote this:

We think when we live in our own little castle that we are immune to acting out our sinful nature...why test my patience with living with others when I can live alone and I only have myself to make happy or not happy?

She continued:

My Mom only had 4 more years of life when she was my age. I want them to be years filled with a deep connection with God and those around me.

I’m so incredibly impressed with and proud of my parents.

3. Max, my barista, teased me about getting the same damn thing everyday. Joy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

No. 30

1. Dinner with Jon-Erik last night: our waiter gave us a free improv show, I ate a delicious sandwich, and I am now inspired to read books that intimidate me. Jon-Erik, who knows so much about this stuff, claims that many of the post-modern books that for whatever reason gain such a critical and pretentious following are actually very optimistic and genuine. I stand corrected for my skepticism, and am excited to redeem myself.

2. While in desperate search for a post-work cupcake this evening, I accidently stumbled into a poetry reading. The poetess must have been really legit because there were hoards of fancy-looking people there, but big surprise I hadn't heard of her. No matter; her imagery was very funny and made me chuckle from the back.

3. I made naan pizza (twice!) today and it was simple, warm, crisp, and beautiful. I topped a piece of whole-wheat naan with olive oil, tomato sauce, herbed goat cheese, roasted tomatoes, sauteed eggplant, and fresh mozzarella. The entire process of making it was so quiet and lovely: tasting as I added ingredients and using my hands to crumble the goat cheese and spread the sauce.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

No. 29

1. Finally saw "Away We Go" last night. What a lovely, sweet, endearing movie. It is not a film for the jaded, or the critical, which makes it delightfully refreshing. As Roger Ebert says, it's a film for nice people. And it reminded me of every definition of home that I have.

2. Man 1: Hey, how's your Pride going?
Man 2: My Pride's going great; how's your Pride?

Woman with Man 2: Did you know him?
Man 2: Nope!

3. Barah Sauer calling me during the Brandi Carlile/Indigo Girls concert to let me listen (via cell phone) to the most raw, elegant, heart-thumpingly-brilliant love song there ever was.

As far as I understand it, the lyrics and melody and vocal technicalities of this song completely step aside and make way for the emotion behind it all to completely take over. An emotion so powerful that it could be felt even over a crappy free cell phone.

I'm always talking about how when you kiss somebody and it's a fairly non-meaningful kiss, you are are aware of the anatomy involved--here are your lips, these are your teeth, this is your tongue: ew. But when it's an in love sort of kiss, you're not thinking about lips as lips and saliva as saliva--it's just all one big magic explosion sort of deal which completely transcends anatomy. That's how I feel about really good music. I mean it. You're not thinking about the instrumental elements involved or the word choice of lyrics...you're just laughing or crying or sighing or holding your breath.

When I hear a really good song that communicates emotion to me over anything else, to the point where I forget about the talent of the artist, THAT'S when I know that artist is truly talented.

And Brandi Carlile is friggin' talented y'all.

This performance of aforementioned "The Story" with The Seattle Symphony is so beautiful...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No. 28

1. Bought two new books yesterday: Surprised by God (Danya Ruttenburg) and What to Eat (Marion Nestle). I'm trying to figure out how I can get myself a library card since I still don't have an official Chicago address, but in the meantime I love any excuse to buy a book; perhaps it's a consumerist tendency coming out but I just love owning a book as opposed to borrowing one. Maybe it's because I am so tactile and enjoy the crinkle sound of the pages so much that my books are completely worn out by the time I'm done with them; maybe it's because I always draw in the margins (though I've been known to do that with library books...don't tell Chicago).

Post-purchase excursion to Women and Children First (one of my favorite bookstores of all time), I showed my literary finds to Hannah, who exclaimed "Big surprise! Religious women and organic foods--your two favorite things!" I laughed and I loved this. If I'm going to be known for liking certain things, religious women and organic foods aren't the worst I could do. It feels good to feel known by a friend, and it sometimes it feels really good to be typical.

2. I sat on the beach last night in my new neighborhood. I love Rogers Park for its elegant architecture, distinct character, and its unassuming, breathtaking beach. It was such a warm, summery-cozy night with so much beautiful light and color I just had to stare and stare. Digging one's hands and feet in the sand is so remarkably pleasurable, and watching boats sail by is always a simple, peaceful surprise.

3. Deep, dreamful, uninterrupted sleep.

Friday, June 26, 2009

No. 27

1. Enjoyed my favorite breakfast--coffee and a bagel--while writing a letter this sunny and warm (but not hot!) morning. There was a little spot of sunlight on the table and it reminded me of whatever J.D. Salinger book it is which talks about wanting to curl up in a small patch of warmth. Writing an epic letter to one of my very dearest friends helped me process and come to some valuable conclusions that I would not have reached writing to myself in my journal. Hip hip for interactive writing.

2. I love days when I don't work in the afternoon so I can talk with Kristina when she wakes up, and I'm doing something productively lazy like making eggs. Those are some of my favorite conversations I ever have with anyone, sitting at the table and talking until she has to leave.

3. Watched a middle-aged, mustached, collared-shirt-wearing bespectacled man eat breakfast with his pink-short-haired, skinny, mightily-tattooed daughter and her white-haired, skinny, and mightily-pierced girlfriend. It was a wonderful image and they were all completely delighting in each other, laughing a lot and eating French toast.

4. Raul put air conditioning in the dining room where I sleep. Praise Jesus for Raul. Praise Jesus for air conditioning.

No. 26

1. Enjoyed my favorite breakfast--coffee and a bagel--while writing a letter this sunny and warm (but not hot!) morning. There was a little spot of sunlight on the table and it reminded me of whatever J.D. Salinger book it is which talks about wanting to curl up in a small patch of warmth. Writing an epic letter to one of my very dearest friends helped me process and come to some valuable conclusions that I would not have reached writing to myself in my journal. Hip hip for interactive writing.

2. I love days when I don't work in the afternoon so I can talk with Kristina when she wakes up, and I'm doing something productively lazy like making eggs. Those are some of my favorite conversations I ever have with anyone, sitting at the table and talking until she has to leave.

3. Watched a middle-aged, mustached, collared-shirt-wearing bespectacled man eat breakfast with his pink-short-haired, skinny, mightily-tattooed daughter and her white-haired, skinny, and mightily-pierced girlfriend. It was a wonderful image and they were all completely delighting in each other, laughing a lot and eating French toast.4. Raul put air conditioning in the dining room where I sleep. Praise Jesus for Raul. Praise Jesus for air conditioning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No. 25

1. Passing secret notes on a rainy afternoon

2. I got three compliments on my name today. [Big ups to the 'rents.]

3. Brought my iPod to work, played it through speakers and into the ears of cafe patrons. It is a tremendously intimate, and ergo intimidating thing for me to share music because it is so very personal. But customers were rocking out, and one even asked, "To whom do I owe the exquisite pleasure of listening to this fine playlist which was clearly crafted with much love and mega bucks spent on iTunes?" or something to that effect, and I was feeling much more motivated to work listening to my favored jams.

Monday, June 22, 2009

No. 24

1. Saw a painting in a coffee shop this morning: "You are doing everything right," said it.

2. "Here Comes the Sun," exactly when and where I needed to hear it. The version I have is live, and when the song begins, it seems that the audience can barely resist but to erupt themselves in massive applause with lots of cheering. It appears that it was exactly when and where they needed to hear it too.

3. Choreographed a ballet routine for the itty-bitties in my living room early this afternoon. I still tend to think of ballet as an ugly industry for its competitive backstage drama and obscene standards of feminine perfection. But then when I forget about long necks and long hair, and just dance to music so pretty it forces my heart to swell and compells my toes to point, I feel every forgotten muscle in my body working together and feeling as though that's exactly how God intended my earthly vessel to move.

Then I feel a very grand sense of purpose in teaching dance; I feel better about scary teacher evaluations and the stressful chore of working the front desk, and I can free myself to breathe, and enjoy, and share a forgotten passion with impressionable 8-year-olds so sweetly excited for their first pair of ballet slippers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No. 23

1. "It's so complicated I can't even communicate it."

A good reminder from Jon that some things are probably best left unexplained. Friends can still understand friends even if they aren't caught up in every single detail of each others' lives. As a serious verbal processor, I forget that I don't always need to process verbally.

It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite songs, "Thank God for the kind of happiness you can't explain."

2. Pie and coffee with the BFF at 10:36pm: the perfect orange-streetlight-lit hour for such gastronomical felicity, even if we were totally bumming out otherwise.

3. Saw this picture and choked on my own sigh. Reminded me of one of my favorite peaceful fall days in Florence.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No. 22

1. Early this morning I bought John Lennon's Double Fantasy, and it provided the a remarkably uplifting and also calming commute [a half-hour walk] soundtrack, which was much-needed because pre-Lennon-listening I was having a complete panic attack about work.

George has been and will always be my favorite Beatle, but John's music digs so deep, and his voice has such a cheerful quality about it, even when he's singing about the depths of despair. He definitely comes in a very close and triumphant second on the Mari's Master Fave Beatles List.

Two great songs: Listening to "Watching the Wheels" always makes my life feel epic and exciting, and if "Dear Yoko" does not make you want to dance and sing...I hereby reserve the right to de-friend you immediately.

2. Ate a refreshingly simple and nourishing dinner of spinach, tomato, and feta frittata. This is one of my all-time forever and always favorite meals, but I always forget to make it. Tonight I completely remembered, and enjoyed all its deliciousness while looking up Fresh Prince episodes on youTube.

3. A Chile friend remarked, about his post-Chile life, that work was boring and difficult but the guitar was keeping him sane. I try not to think about Chile too much because at this point I really cannot even let myself go there--it will make me crazy-nostalgic and super emo if I do--but it gently reminded me of how the guitar-playing of others often kept me sane while living there. I spent a lot of my first couple weeks in Santiago crying in my bedroom--homesick and anxious as all get out--but I cherished those first freezing nights when Seth would bring out his guitar and play soothing music with sweet simple messages of general good-cheer and auspiciousness.

What keeps me sane now? I think. Hm. Unplanned conversations with Kristina on the couch. Planned times with honest, confident, and fashionable friends who make me laugh. Long walks with lots of music. Music in general--my most treasured posession. Writing [in my journal] and reading [funny books, good magazines]. Cooking [frittatas] and eating [healthier]. Churching and praying [for peace]. Emailing my [witty, lovely] mom, and receiving her [enchanting, encouraging] emails. Reading blogs about families [I have never met]. Sleeping [deeply, for more than 6 hours at a time].

Good night, dear hearts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No. 21

My favorite part of being a barista [which I have been since I was 17] is interacting with regulars. Such a strange relationship: I feel like I know more about my regulars than their own best friends do--seeing the same person every day at the same time and talking about the mundane, and not-so-mundane, can be an extraordinarily intimate experience.

Because it's nearly an anonymous relationship, and can be cut off at any time, I think people feel a lot more comfortable sharing the depths of their souls with their barista than their siblings or negligent spouses.

I guess it's kind of like blogging that way. Ergo, I love it.

We have some pretty outstanding regulars at my new place of employment.
3 things that made me smiley today:

1. I think his name is Alexander, but he bears a fortunate resemblance to Jack Kerouac. He comes in with his two ridiculous children, wears thick black glasses, tips well, and dead-pans his entire order.

Today: "Oh good. You use Metropolis? That's great, yeah that's really great. Yeah. I take no comfort in supporting that fascist Intelligentsia."

Smiles all around.

2. Old Man Charlie is the most dramatic tip-giver I have ever seen. He leaves a $1 tip for his $1.80 coffee, which is very sweet and quite generous but not altogether uncommon. But you'd think he was tithing his final savings the way he so ostentatiously presents his dollar, and it always makes me mentally crack up.

There is an obvious tip jar right in front of him, but Old Man Charlie insists on handing his tip to me. Which is kind of ridiculous, because then I just put it in the jar. Only yesterday, I was busy, so he waited until I was looking to stick it in, with a lot of trouble so I'd be sure to observe.

I'm going to start playing my own game with him: watch him carefully until he's about to throw in the dollar, then turn around really quickly and see if he still does it. I bet you all my weekly tips that he doesn't.

I am terrible. I am also hilarious.

3. Small-Coffee-In-A-Medium-Cup is a graceful [Northwestern] professor woman who looks just like Arpana Singh. She speaks with that gorgeous lilt specific to India, the kind that makes everything she says sound like a poem about springtime.

Today she said, "Oh dear, it is already 9 o'clock and I am late for my class," with such beautifully heavy syllables that they seemed to linger on the floor long after she parted.

Then she asked with deep concern, still smiling as always, "Do you think it proper to take a taxi for only three blocks?"

I said, "Yes, I think it is perfectly proper!"

[What a great way to ask a question! Do you think it proper...]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No. 20

1. [Observed during Creative Movement]

Roman [age 5]: Want to come over to my house sometime?
Mia [age 4]: I don't even know you.
Roman: I got juice.

2. Mari: Yo Dave--could you make me a caprese before I leave pleeeease?
Dave: Whatever you want, dear heart.

[Dear heart! What a wonderful thing to be called]

3. "GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE!!! HAVE A BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!!" --CTA employee at 4h25 this morning

Sunday, June 14, 2009

No. 19

So. Like.

Do you ever have those days where you feel like Tracy Chapman is the only one who truly understands?


Well. I do.

Anyway. This morning I downloaded R. Kelly's "Ignition [Remix]." Because I remembered last night that it was my favorite song of all time. Besides the Cha Cha Slide and whatever other ones I've mentioned on this site. I'm not going to put that down as a Grain of Fire per se...because it has a questionable analogy about a car key...but it brought me a lot of happiness whilst walking about the streets of Chicago today.

Hokay, 3 things:

1. I went to the most beautiful wedding that has ever existed last night. I mean seriously. No one should even get married now. Because they cannot top last night's celebration. Nobody can. Sorry. And nobody can beat the bride or the groom. They are the two most excellent people alive. And now they are married to each other. So why do the rest of us even bother?

Okay I am being a little absurd. But it's true. Anyway. There were so many grains of fire last night it would take an entire new blog to list them all. There were brightly-colored cupcakes. There were French caterers. There was music that took me to the heights of joy. There was MAJOR DANCING. There were friends old and new.

There was a moment when a boy told another boy, "My girlfriend is the hottest girl on the dance floor."

There was a moment when I said "This was kind of me and B's song" and I felt sad. So A., in all her radiance, said "Let's make it our song!" and she invited me to dance. And dance we did.

There was a moment when I told N. how much I missed Seattle. And he said, "I can't imagine missing such a wonderful place." But he can imagine, and that is why I appreciate him so much.

And a ceremony that brought tears to every eye and laughs to every mouth and fuzziness to every heart. Was it the Bjork song covered by a gorgeous voice and a 10-piece band? The simple and powerful homily? The beauty of the two happiest families alive uniting via their children/siblings? Kate's smile? Adrian's gentle voice repeating those ancient vows like I have never heard them repeated?


It was all too good to be true. And God was very very there.

2. Today after work [my last shift! my last shift!] I went to the new Whole Foods--the largest in the USA! It was spectacular of course. Though the word "foodie" makes me nauseated, it's all I could think of in that store. It was just so...foodie. And colorful. And happy!

I bought some organic natural hippie mint chocolate chip gelato [it wasn't green!] and sat outside by the river. I was warm and content, despite secretly wishing that Antoine the Caprese Sandwich-loving Frenchman were sitting across from me whispering sweet nothings. But the little moment itself--the river and the warm and the ice cream and the end of a negative situation...this was all very liberating, very sweet, much loved by me.

3. Today is Priest Sarah's birthday, AND Tyler and Kelli's first wedding anniversary. I am so thankful for all three people involved here, celebrating their own loveliness today.

Oh look at me at T & K's weddin' looking completely ridiculous. What else is new.

Friday, June 12, 2009

No. 18

1. I was walking down Belmont, trying to look calm and cool and collected, when I ran straight smack-dab into a parking meter. [That was not the grain of fire.] Then I laughed for 5 minutes at myself, because I am ridiculous and in constant need of humbling. [That was the grain of fire.]

2. I listened to "Rhapsody in Blue" on my commute to work this morning. I timed it perfectly. I listened to half of it on the bus, then the remainder as I walked from the bus stop to the store. When it got to the really exciting part, the sun was in mid-rise and I saw that very sleek art-deco building shooting up from the ground and I felt like I was made out of massiveness and wonder. The beautiful, 16-minute song ended RIGHT when I arrived at work.

3. Today I passed a very old man on my walk home from work. We were dressed exactly alike. Exactly.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

No. 17: Morning Edition

8:56 AM and I already have 3 things.

1. Earl Grey tea was just perfect. Thank you Yesterday Mari, for knowing exactly what Today Mari would want this morning and buying it for her.

2. I stopped by Ben's myspace to listen to his new recordings, and his music sounds so full and alive and Ben-ish. He is playing lots of shows and writing songs like crazy and recording some really beautiful stuff with his band. I am such a proud ex-girlfriend.

3. The other day when I took my pilgrimage from Evanston to Lincoln Square, I was listening to Josh Ritter. Which is not rare for me. What is rare for me is when I am listening to my fave Josh Ritter song, and Joe texts me, "How do you feel about Josh Ritter?" That is straight-up rare.

Anyway, it led to a text conversation which led to me burning a bunch [two] of JR albums for Joe, which made me re-fall in love with Josh. I am in love with Josh. I am.

This is why: He creates these incredible fantasy worlds, about the Mississipi River and silent films and living in the wilderness, and then he sings about them as though they're completely normal. Awesome and probably very difficult to pull off. Maybe he is the Pedro Almodovar of folk music.

I am also bananas about his use of the Wurlitzer, and the way he can be at once so folky, so rocky, so bluegrass, so old-school honkey-tonk. And his use of the 6/8 time signature, i.e. God's time signature.

And finally, I feel like Josh Ritter sees his entire life as this big romantic drama. Which is exactly how I see my life. So we should get married?

Anyway. I've been listening to him non-stop since I woke up today.

The lyrics in this particular song are stunning, beautiful creaky melancholy for this rainy morning.

Now, I take a walk.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No. 16

1. Disco Dance Party this morning with two fellow strong independent women. We ate Raisinettes at 8am while getting down to Gloria Gaynor. And the Dance Queen Champion herself told me I was not really that bad of a dancer at all.

2. Found a wonderful stranger in my kitchen at 4:30 this morning. And he was not even trying to steal anything. He just introduced himself, chose some music [Of Montreal] for my morning commute, said it was nice to meet me and that I shouldn't ever take up smoking, then went to sleep.

3. Had a brief but full discussion with a girl at work about holism and sexuality in the Church. Of course. What else would I talk about with my co-workers I barely know? Felt thankful that I belong to a Church [and church] I don't feel embarassed about. Felt thankful for new friends who respect me enough to ask questions.

4. Got a seat on the bus ride home! [Never happens.]

5. You know what you are? You're God's answer to Job. You would have ended all argument between them. I mean, He would have pointed to you and said, "You know, I do a lot of terrible things, but I can still make one of these." And then Job would have said, 'Eh. Yeah, well, you win.'
That's how I feel about most people, places, and things.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No. 15

1. Joe emailed me a list of funny/fabulous insurance agency names he dealt with today at his Important Man Job:

Lovitt & Touche
Buttrey, Wulff, Mamminga Agency
DeGeus & Klafter
Plapp Services
Puckett Sheetz & Hogan

I love Joe for sending me something like this. And I love him for the fact that he noticed a sign a while back for the Tinkoff & Popko Law Firm, whose name I've taken to saying in my head to make myself laugh in a time of need.

2. Took a lengthy walk home tonight. To tell you the truth, I find it lazier for me to walk than to take the El. The El requires all that fluoresence, waiting around for the train for a few minutes, perhaps even transferring. Yuck. Walking is so much easier, and feels quicker.

During tonight's walk I felt strange and uneven, like I accidently tipped the balance a bit too far one way and all of a sudden, all of these thoughts spilled out from their assigned spaces where I had them carefully placed on the upper shelf of my brain and heart and guts--not to speak unless spoken to.

But in the midst of spillage, my coat felt so cozy like this big giant wonderful hug, Sam Cooke sang into my ears via these decrepid earbuds I refuse to (read: can't afford to) replace, and I missed Chile so much that my neck started hurting. Which reminds me that most everything difficult will some day be missed, and that Heather is back in the USA and now a phone call away.

3. "I am strong. I am invincible. I am Peter."

Monday, June 8, 2009

No. 14

1. "I'm supposed to tell you that I'll call you in a few days to let you know my decision, but I'll just tell you now: it was a pleasure meeting you. You can start Monday."

2. I walked from Evanston to Lincoln Square today. It took 4 hours. Go ahead and laugh. I'll be laughing my way all the way to a CTA card machine to see that I have $2.25 more on my card than I would have had if I'd been lazy and taken three trains to get home.

Anyway, the point is, I walked along the Rogers Park beach. This is my favorite part of Chicago. I wouldn't really fancy myself much of a Beach Girl, but there is something in the air on that part of the lake. The sky is always some crazy color and something wonderful is always happening. I've only been a few times, but I am convinced, and will convince you, that it is magical. I am very serious about this.

Today the sky at the Rogers Park beach was periwinkle (in the middle of the day!), AND the lifeguards were having a FOOD FIGHT on the sand! See? Magic.

3. I noticed the most gentle little puppy in the window of a pet shop (with a sign that assured me he was not from a puppy mill). I realized in a quick moment that he was a King Charles Spaniel, favored breed of my beautiful mother. I felt so thankful for her that I had to text her. Which is how I show my love I think.

4. I walked around Evanston this shiny grey morning because I arrived an hour early (of course) for my job interview. I pretended to be an important Northwestern student as I walked the halls of a science building, and I visited Seabury Episcopal Seminary which has a small, elegant campus with chandeliers in its academic building, and a resident Golden Retriever. The mansions in Evanston are so large and old that I just have to use the word "antediluvian" to describe them, and my walk inspired all sorts of joyful wondering. There was one street with so many plants and trees it looked like Jumanji, and another that reminded me of Charleston. Well, reminded me of my idea of Charleston.

5. I tried repeating the Jesus Prayer as I took my giant walk, preparing for my spiritual pilgrimage across Russia of course. Then I decided it would be a lot more fun to listen to my iPod. Ergo, I was grateful (to myself I guess) for a fully-charged iPod loaded with songs that perfectly matched a warm drizzly walk by the water. Lots of banjo. Lots of happy.

6. On the final block of my journey, I watched a group of young people doing the Cha Cha Slide in the middle of a park. Not only is the Cha Cha Slide maybe my favorite song of all time (besides Rhapsody in Blue and I Want You Back of course), but I was way inspired by these kids dancing their brains out in public, under a surprise downpour no less. Even though my pseudo-designer shirt from Target was getting wet, I just had to watch them do the entire dance. Also my feet were tired, and it was a grand excuse to lean on a fence.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

No. 13

1. Young One: Say that word you just said again!
Father: Sonic Boom.

2. Saw "Up" with the very best "Up" companion there ever was. We were affected so deeply we had to spend a sacred hour in Post-Film Pie Talk. We agreed that honest art is due for a comeback, that "I can't contain myself" is a brilliant description for certain heart-swelling experiences, and that life is worth living as long as you still have the ability to listen to "Rhapsody in Blue" (I added to that, "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5).

3. Met the most fine-mannered Irish Setter named Finn today.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

No. 12

1. The checkout guy at Trader Joe's had a tattoo of a Makah whale wood carving on his arm. I told him, "Your tattoo is beautiful; it reminds me of home." He replied, "You must be from the Pacific Northwest." I always think of places I've lived in terms of cities--not regions--but identifying myself as a Pacific Northwesterner, as opposed to Seattlite, gave me a quite spiritual feeling of connection to land and people and history.

2. Worked a birthday party today. As I was passing out plum cake [with cream cheese frosting], Elsie grabbed my wrist and said with utmost earnestness, "Miss Mari, when it's my birthday, you NEED to be at my party." Oh, unconditional love from 5-year-olds.

3. New issue of Bust!

Friday, June 5, 2009

No. 12

1. Talked and laughed with a dear one last night, felt listened-to and understood.

2. A moment of courage + the support and advice of friends = Mari is a smiley girl today.

3. Saw this picture and felt calm, happy:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

No. 11: Another Entry By Jon!

I love him.

1. As we were packing up to leave the cafĂ©, I went to wet a paper napkin to clean some delicious lingonberry jam from our tall table by the wall. I managed to get water everywhere. Laughing and wiping up my mess, Woody, our favorite Barista, reached into his pocket and retrieved some small packets of paper. “You guys are my favorite students here. You’re so respectful of the space.” He handed us three of his tiny books, made from one sheet of 8.5x11 paper. “I make these. I hope you like them.” We read them on the train the whole way to the Boston Public Library.

2. Riding on the T (Boston’s train system) back from a lecture by David Rushkoff about his new book, Life, Inc., a beautiful, round-faced little girl in a stroller tapped me on the hip. I smiled at her and she smiled at me and she waved at me and I waved at her. Then, with ninja-like speed and strength, she grabbed my two fingers mid-wave and gave them a mighty pull, laughing lightly to herself. She tugged and I tugged. Her mom apologized and I assured her it was just fine. We smiled and tugged, first with one hand and then with both. When they had to get off the train, we waved and smiled. “Bye-bye!” she chirped as her tired looking mother wheeled her into the soft light of early-evening.

3. Jerome made delicious Mediterranean salad and I brought egg-salad sandwiches made with grown-up bread. John had picked up a copy of All The Pretty Horses for me at Brookline Booksmith. With Jimmy Hendrix playing his upside-down guitar on the stereo, I read the first few dense and Texan pages of McCarthy’s novel. My friends chatted and distributed dinner and the soft, old chair wrapped around me. The sky outside was dark and cool and mysterious.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No. 10: I have so many today!

1. This morning I was completely eavesdropping on the conversation of customers sitting down together for breakfast. Typical clientele: young white wealthy professionals. Not usually the most fascinating eavesdropping subjects. But the woman surprised me with her outburst: "Guess what happened to me today! It was the nicest thing--I didn't have enough cash to get a CTA card, so the woman in front of me just let me swipe hers! Wasn't that nice?!" I found it to be very nice, and am glad that she shared--both with her friend and [unknowingly] with me.

2. Hannah and I were discussing love and romance, and to conclude our conversation she said, "You know Mari, let's just call a hen a hen. Wait...not beat a hen over the head with a dead horse? What expression am I thinking of here?" We never did find out to which idiom she was referencing, but her confusion made me laugh for a good minute.

3. On my walk home I spotted this gigantic dog the size of a Smart Car galloping toward me. Attached to him was a tiny fragile old woman. As I passed her, she remarked "He walks me!" I had a hearty laugh at this because it was completely true.

4. A guy came in the store today to drop off an application, and in doing so gave me something of a free fashion show. He was dressed to the nines in a plaid trilby, seersucker track jacket, grey well-fitting trousers, and snappy black shoes. I told him as he handed me his resume, "I have seen a lot of well-dressed men today, but I must say you are definitely the best dressed of them all. I love your outfit. I wish The Sartorialist were here!" He laughed and thanked me, and I clumsily added that I wished to become a men's fashion designer. To that, he said, "Good for you--we need a lot more of you!"

5. A soft and pretty Damien Jurado song came on my iPod tonight and it reminded me so much of Seattle, and walking around Greenlake during the summer, and baking cookies in Ballard. I got to thinking about Seattle, how it seems so distant to me now, but became so grateful that I was able to grow up in such a gorgeous city. I complain a lot about how much I move--I have moved at least once a year for the past 6 years--but I am so lucky to have lived in such interesting and beautiful places, all with unique beauty and special intrigue.

6. My evening walks have been just breathtaking lately. One of my favorite things about the transition of the seasons is how the light changes throughout the day. In the summer there is such a beautiful couple of hours between daylight and dark: not just the usual twilight, but a couple of other stages too--the one where the sky turns cornflower blue, then the one where it's pale yellow with a little lavender over the top, and then right before dark when it's the most radiant shade of magenta.

7. I read this quote today and liked it: "It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence." --C.S. Lewis

8. I was taking a walk and saw a guy coming toward me with an ironic handlebar mustache and skinny jeans over black boots. I admit I [mentally] smirked at his ensemble and erroneously expected him to ignore me. But to my surprise, he flashed me the warmest, most genuine smile I'd seen all day! It made me so happy, and was a cheersome reminder not to be so judgmental of people who make the puzzling decision to sport ironic mustaches.

9. I went to Pandora to start a new station [M. Ward], and as soon as I clicked "Create," a song started playing that I haven't heard in a very long time [You Still Believe in Me, originally by the Beach Boys, in this case covered by M. Ward]. I didn't know how many strong memories I had attached to this beautiful rendition of a really beautiful song, but I started crying as soon as it started, very hard. The emotion the song provoked completely startled me. And I must say it was not particularly pleasant to feel so incredibly sad all of a sudden, but all that emotion brought with it many good and important memories that have shaped and taught me so very much. I am really thankful for all my experiences--delightful and painful--that can still stir in me so much feeling. Such reminders let me know that I have already lived a very full and rich and wide life.

10. I have hot pink fingernails!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

No. 10

1. I wasn't sure if I wanted to return home after work or stay at a coffee shop and read for a while. I decided to come home, which turned out to be the splendid choice. I had a promising email waiting for me on my laptop, and the ashy afternoon light made our kitchen look really pretty.

2. I wore a silk scarf this morning for decoration (my drab ensemble of a black shirt and jeans definitely needed more than my pink Chucks to bring it out of its melancholy), but the scarf ended up being very functional as the day turned from spring-rainy to fall-ish chill this afternoon. I was very appreciative of the silk around my neck to keep me relatively warm on my walk home.

3. "You're a phenomenal woman too, Mari. The world ain't ready for women like us. They're gonna have to get ready though!"