Bright shiny new things

It’s still dark outside. Cold. I’m tucked under a cozy blanket. I’ve always loved the lonely way of morning. Just me and the darkness and my coffee and the blanket. Somehow this time of day seems to belong to me a little bit more than the rest. 

Good morning. 🙂

This week I am thinking about doing new things. Things that drum up the heart. That scare us through and through.

On Sunday I hosted a two hour radio program. I spent all week preparing and got totally swept away by the project until I was lost. I literally could not tear my eyes away. Listening to music, watching videos, arranging the songs and re-arranging. I wish I felt like this more often–completely committed and immersed and just a tiny bit insane. Something to strive for, I suppose.

I found so many inspiring things. This video by M83.

M83 ‘Wait’ Official video from The Creators Project on Vimeo.

A group called The Wonder Revolution. “More than a band, The Wonder Revolution is a collective that features musicians and visual artists, all seeking a return to wonder.” I myself am concerned with wonder, so I really love this concept. (And do I adore the spazzy white-haired gnome man on the front page of their website? Yes indeed I do.)

Also, The Cinematic Orchestra put out an album called “In Motion, pt 1” that “provide[s] soundtracks to or musical re-imaginings of seminal work by great avant-garde film-makers.” This is really neat. The song (top) and video for “Manhatta” below. Mute the movie and then play them together.

Sometimes (often actually) people just amaze me.

We spent Sunday skiing at Lake Louise, a mostly-sunny day in the most spectacular setting you can possibly imagine. (You guys. The mountains…)

Our friend Cindy drove us out and we talked a lot about work, who we are, and how we’d like to be. It’s always refreshing to be around someone as self-reflective and honest as Cindy is.

I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. I realize that if there is an external deadline (like a two hour radio show I have to host) I will work my tail off to make it awesome. But if it’s just me holding myself to a deadline, I will procrastinate to holy heck. It takes a while to fully accept the things we’d rather not about ourselves. But I think we must so that we can figure out ways around them. Right?

Cindy’s the bomb!

 We got back and ate our weekly batch of pho (little bowl of heaven from the Vietnamese restaurant down the street) and then my calm ski-pho bliss rapidly disintegrated into a hummingbird-paced heart and a crazed bundle of nerves. I mean… what business do I have being on the radio?

I used to host a reading series in San Francisco, and about an hour before the show this always happened to me. I would turn into a crazy person. Dan would patiently help me gather up my things, complete last minute tasks, tell me I looked pretty. And on Sunday it was the same. Me jumping in and out of the shower commanding him to Turn on the computer! Hook up the printer! Print that! No not that–get out of the way–let me do it! 

I don’t know why he puts up with me.

You’re going to be fine, he said. You worked really hard on this. (It’s moments like this–when you’ve gone out of your damn mind and your partner still loves you–that you fall in love a little bit more.)

I made it through. I spoke, I played the music. There were a few glitches, but mostly, it was pretty great.

That night I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep. All the adrenaline still pumping through my veins.

I have learned that fear can really mean you’re on to something good. But I’m still figuring out how wander in the direction of fear and wrestle with it. That’s another thing I’ve been thinking about: how to be brave.

I’m leaving you with my very favorite song from Sunday’s show. Antony and the Johnson’s Swanlights. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful.

“Living is a golden thing. It means everything.” Is anything more true?

(Note: this is the video I could find. The track I played is from their new live album Cut the World, and I highly recommend tracking down that version if you can.)

Of the stars

This week I’m thinking about friends.

The ones I always think about, but the ones I was really close to when I was younger and who drifted away for whatever reason. There’s been this very moving coming together since Katie passed away last week. I feel like I’ve gotten really close to this part of my life that I don’t take the time to think about all the time. It’s nice to know that memories are floating around for us to pluck out of the sky when we need them.

And. Simply, I don’t know what I would do without my friends.

And speaking of friends, my friend Laura Lee has this wonderful blog called A Tad Bookish, and I loved her post this week. Please read it here.  It ties in with this beautiful book about work that I’m reading called Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte.

After months of working in the Galapagos as a Naturalist, he’s contemplating what’s ahead of him and he writes,

I thought of the old Latin root of the word desire, meaning de sider, of the stars. To have a desire in life literally means to keep your star in sight, to follow a glimmer, a beacon, a disappearing will-o’-the-wisp over the horizon into someplace you cannot yet fully imagine. A deeply held desire is a star that is particularly your own; it might disappear for a while, but when the skies clear we catch sight of it again and recognize the glimmer.

A star that is particularly your own. I could dwell on that image all day.

Take care my friends. I hope that disappearing will-o-the-wisp is pulling you right along.


A friend of mine died yesterday morning. She was 32 years old.

Last May, she sent out an e-mail telling us she had a rare form of liver cancer. Something that usually affects older people with a history of drinking and smoking. This woman was one of the healthiest, greatest athletes I’ve ever known. Sometimes life just makes no sense at all.

I happened to go out to San Francisco around the time she had a major surgery to remove her tumor, and saw her in the hospital with two other high school friends. It was so surreal sitting there in her room–she in a hospital bed and blue gown, a spectacular view of Golden Gate Park, the bridge, the blue bay–four high school friends from Minnesota there in San Francisco.

We walked around the hallway, compared notes about having Canadian husbands and talked about the future. It was the conversation I would have with any old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. It was the last time I saw her.

I had a restless sleep last night. Dreams so intense they felt like being awake. When the alarm did go off, I couldn’t stop thinking: I can’t believe she’s not waking up to the world today. I can’t believe she didn’t brush her teeth, snuggle up next to her husband under the covers and kiss him goodnight. How can this day look like every other day?

I’m overwhelmed by how quickly things can change. I keep thinking about the things we don’t know about our future. And that all we can do is hold who and what we care about as close as we can and just love and love and love.

The other day, I stumbled onto this moving video of an interview between Terry Gross and Maurice Sendak. He says,

“I am in love with the world…
It is a blessing to read the books and listen to the music…
Live your life, live your life, live your life.”

It made me realize that I too am hopelessly, shamelessly in love with the world. It confuses me and astounds me–is it so unfair and random and beautiful–it inspires me, disappoints me, makes me sad and blissed out and angry and it fills me to the brim with wonder.

My dear friends, I want to say with all my heart- thank you for reading my little blog. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. Let’s go read the books and listen to the music.

P.S. This is a title I’m trying out. What do you think? This is a temporary re-design. I hope it will be prettier some day.

Work and dreams and everything in between.

Christmas + Bear Hats!
and sparkly tights- Hooray!

Road to the mountains

I made Dan a photobook for Christmas this year. There, over 50 pages, were all of our photographs 2012. One year of memories.

Playing with new Christmas toys!

I find it so easy to get bogged down in mourning what I don’t have–girlfriends nearby, a job, enough money to travel wherever whenever I want to. (As our friend Matt used to say: white people problems.) That little book was just what I needed to remember everything we do have, and everything we have done.

Dan polished off Where’d You Go Berndaette?A great book!

“What was your favorite thing we did this year?” I asked Dan.

“The cottage at Georgian Bay with Nate, Dana and Brad,” he said. “Or the dance party to Fun. at Laura Lee and Robbie’s house.” He paused. “Florida was pretty awesome.”

Neither of us could settle on one.

Couldn’t resist this shot of my new Cookie Monster mittens frolicking on the antler coat hangers.

We rented this little cabin in the middle of nowhere B.C. for New Year’s (really! We had to snowshoe to and from our car). It was the kind of place where you really can’t do anything so you do all the nothings you crave to do. Like read by the fire for hours and hours with a hot drink in your hand.

This picture pretty much encapsulates the weekend.

I read Just Kids by Patti Smith. It gave me a lot of food for thought about being an artist. She writes, “I would go as far as I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations. And then I met a fellow who gave me his secret, and it was pretty simple. When you hit a wall, just kick it in.”

I learned a lot about sacrifice and commitment, and how important it is to have someone believe in you before you believe in yourself. Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe nearly starve at points. They live in dilapidated spaces, ones with no bathrooms. Robert keeps telling Patti she should sing. Patti keeps telling Robert he should take his own pictures.

There’s this scene where Patti is consoling Janis Joplin after a guy goes home with a pretty girl over Janis and Janis sobs and sobs to Patti. I thought- by god. Janis Joplin was just a girl too. Sometimes it’s easy to forget.

Dan chopping wood outside our sweet cabin.

There was a moment not so long ago that I was kind of ready to give up on writing. It just seemed too hard, maybe even impossible. It seemed like I would always be only-ok at it.

I nearly froze my hands off to capture this Dr. Suessian tree.

I found an old journal a friend made me. It’s filled with pictures of our adventures and lyrics to songs like “Into the Mystic” and “Visions of Johanna.” Colorful pictures of our mid-twenties blissfully misbehaving–about the ages of Patti and Janis when Janis cried on Patti’s shoulder.  I never quite filled it up because I always wanted whatever I wrote in there to be perfect. To somehow match up with the words of Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. But I’m learning more and more that we have to make a lot of messes before we make what we actually intend to make.

Ah, glorious Fernie!

In the back of the journal, I taped the torn-out title page to Dibs In Search Of Self.  A woman I hardly knew gave me that book. We took a writing class together in Minnesota, and on the last day she slipped it into my hand and then rushed out of the room. To Sky, she wrote. Keep, keep writing–I feel like your heart will help heal others just as Dibs got made well by belief and not-giving-up-ness.

Dan is a master dishwasher when there’s no running water around.

That book is one of the greatest gifts I have ever gotten. So is my little journal. So the man who puts up with my mood swings, my despair, my excitement, my frustration, my fleeting highs, and for who-knows-what-reason sticks with me through it all. 

Sometimes I have to stop–take stock–turn it it all over in my hands and pull it in close.

Cabin decor.

I’m not sure how it was for other people–but in my twenties, my dreams felt like these big beautiful things that someday I’d just bounce around in, like a cloud playground in the sky. It has taken me some years to learn that dreams live right here with us on earth, and to live them is just plain old hard back-heart-breaking work. (I’m an easy dreamer, and a slow learner.)

So I am leaving grandiose dreams behind. My goal this year is only to not give up. And maybe–to kick a wall in.