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New Year's Eve Day

It seems like an appropriate day to be the last day of our Experiment, doesn't it?

New Year's Eve is my favorite holiday. Traditionally, I'll take an hour or so for myself to read over my journal, any (bad) poetry or other writing endeavors, and take stock: try to get a clear picture of what happened this year.

Then I dress up, light some candles, gather some photos of family members who have passed, and have a little conversation with the Universe. I say thank you for what has been. I sit in the now. And I ask for what I want the next year to be like. It is a little like prayer and a little like ritual and it is my favorite part of the holiday.

The parties and champagne are secondary.

29 things I am grateful for as we say goodbye to 2009:
1. Leaving my old job
2. Getting rid of 75% of my stuff
3. Packing up my car
4. Taking 18 days to drive across the country
5. The red rocks of southeast Utah
6. The mountains of Salt Lake City
7. The plains of Kansas
8. St. Louis
9. The city of Chicago
10. The Outer Banks
11. Arriving in DC
12. Getting a new job
13. Getting two new apartments
14. New friends
15. Free museums
16. The view from the top of the Washington Monument
17. The view from my apartment window
18. Writing a novel
19. Walking to work
20. Family and friends coming to visit
21. The change of seasons
22. Coming home
23. Living the questions
24. Money in bank
25. This healthy body
26. Singing
27. Travel
28. This moment now
29. Whatever is next.

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a new year. (hey: we're cheating. But I want to meet the Universe somewhere tonight and say thanks in person)

Wednesday Night

What a big baby I've been.

It took the loving reminders of several of you to get back on this remember that the results don't matter; that it's the questions, the gratitude, the NOW of it all that I'm really in this for. Thank you.

I am grateful for:
1. You
2. My dad
3. My mom
4. My brother
5. This day
6. This life
7. This big butt :)
8. This breath
9. The question
10. Whatever is next.

My delight was watching my best friend try on wedding dresses.
It was also a 2-hour long conversation with my dad by wine and fire light.

There was no 17 seconds. The Universe knows what I love.

Thank you.

Wednesday Morning

I didn't blog last night. On purpose.
I'm throwing a bit of a tantrum.

I was catching up with a friend yesterday, and I realized that I'm really mad at this. I feel so lost in my life - lost enough to embark on some weirdo esoteric experiment where I ask the Universe for advice. Wha-wha??

What if this doesn't work? What am I doing??

I am pissed about:
1. Not knowing what I'm doing
2. Not knowing what I want
3. My general lack of patience
4. The Universe not serving up what I want on demand
5. My butt getting bigger
6. My friends getting married off and having babies
7. Being an adult child
8. Not even knowing what I care about
9. Not doing anything I care about
10. This whole experiment.


Tuesday Morning

I am grateful for:
1. Electric blankets
2. Wine
3. Darby
4. Singalongs
5. Waking up to sunshine
6. Darby's house and all her stuff - all the memories
7. Coffee
8. A full night's sleep
9. My poor guitar skills
10. This warm bed

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a hot air balloon.

Monday Night

I am hanging out with my bestie in Bellingham drinking terrible wine and about to sing Tori Amos because she plays piano and I love her.

No cotton candy today.

My 17 seconds was on friendship - people who know me, who actively seek me out and actively care for me...friends I can visit, friends I can see and love and listen to and touch. My friends. I am so grateful for you.

My delight was singing in the car. Think I'll extend that into this moment now with Darby and her piano and the Charles Shaw Merlot.

Monday Morning

Welcome to day 28 of the Experiment!

I am grateful for:
1. Fleece pajamas
2. A pedicure in the middle of the winter
3. My friend's kids
4. Working remotely with a view of the Puget Sound and a mug full of coffee
5. Remembering that the purpose of my life is to experience joy
6. The way I feel when I remember what I just wrote
7. Homemade cinnamon rolls!
8. Money in the bank
9. Steve Martin
10. This moment now

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: cotton candy.

Sunday Night

I am having trouble working my program, what with all the holiday distractions. Time to turn up the juice on this home stretch here.

No meatballs today, but here is the palm tree I saw this morning by Green Lake:
Who does this? We're not living in LA! (thanks to the Universe for taking me down that street and thanks to my dad for pointing it out...the Universe doesn't care that I'm not working my program - it's still working it for us.)
My delight was the drive home this morning from Seattle. We drove into Tacoma as the fog was lifting, and watching the mist thin out over the Puget Sound while the sun came through was beautiful. And that's all delight is: intentional enjoyment. I always mark this time by saying, out loud if possible, "Universe, this is my delight."
My 17 seconds was on alone time (which is kind of a cheat because you need the option of NOT being alone to really have it - so really my 17 seconds was on alone time and company); I love just a little bubble of time that is purely mine, to think my thoughts and be with me.


I've been an errant blogger! I felt like I left the house without pants on this morning - funny how you form habits.

No canary yesterday, but I did get another palm tree today (photo to come). Who plants palm trees in their yards in Seattle in the winter?? There was also another rainbow. Felt to me like the Universe was saying, 'we're still here!'

Yesterday my 17 seconds was on Knowing What I Want. I imagined what it would feel like, and held that.

My delight? Was all day long.

Today I am grateful for:
1. Walking all over Seattle
2. The Michael Jackson Laser Light Show
3. The sequined glove I wore to the Michael Jackson Laser Light Show
4. The Ride the Ducks Tour of Seattle mom booked for us
5. An amazing dinner at Dahlia Lounge
6. Christmas lights in the city
7. My family
8. Cracking up with my brother
9. Waking up to sunshine on Lake Union
10. Seeing the old homestead

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: meatballs.

Saturday Morning

Another morning of fog and coffee. We're headed to Seattle today as a family for a new holiday traditional overnighter, so I don't know if I'll be able to blog tonight. Don't fret! You can read all about the experiment from beginning to end and it'll be just like you, me and the Universe (capital U!) are hanging out.

I am grateful for:
1. Watching my mom do the crossword puzzle with a candycane pen
2. Getting better at something
3. My dad all dapper in his new Christmas shirt
4. The ticking clock I've been listening to all my life
5. Getting to see old friends
6. The fog horn from the Port
7. A family addiction to caffeine that means there's always coffee
8. Stretching after a good walk
9. My new boots
10. Ashley coming to town in a few days!

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a canary.

Christmas Night

What a beautiful day.

My delight was a walk in the woods (Pt. Defiance) with my dad. The late afternoon sunlight on the tree trunks, the choppy water of the Puget Sound, the muffled sounds of our boots on the moss...this is maybe the singular thing I miss most about the Northwest.
My 17 seconds was on romantic partnership. God I hate the way that term sounds but to me that's what it is: a partner with romance.
And my signs? If you remember, I asked for a rainbow this morning and a palm tree yesterday; both of them came to me in conversation today: the first was a conversation with my mom this morning about a movie we saw in BC for Expo '86: Rainbow Wars. The second was at Christmas dinner with our family friends when Steve was talking about getting out of town to Palm Springs for sunshine and - yes - palm trees, during the winter.
As we near the end of this month-long experiment, I am finding fear: fear that it won't come out the way I want. And I have to keep remembering to let go. It's a hard lesson, and a really good one. I don't control this. And that's okay.

Christmas Morning

Hanging out with my parents around the Christmas tree in the early morning fog.

I am grateful for:
1. This moment
2. Christmas
3. My mother opening her stocking next to me with maniacal glee as she tears into chocolate covered pretzels
4. The sound of coffee percolating
5. The (fake) fire
6. Appreciative present-opening noises
7. The way my dad always adjusts lights, music - pretty much everything my mom does
8. The f-ing Christmas mugs (there's a story)
9. The way my brother 'wraps' presents
10. This moment

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a rainbow.

Thursday Night

I am so tired, I don't even remember what I asked for this morning...but nothing showed up that I particularly noticed, so we'll assume the Universe was teaching me that lesson about not always getting what I want. :)

My delight was walking with my dad, looking at the kind of stunning beauty that is the PNW.

My 17 seconds was on travel.

Going to sleep now so Santa will come. Merry Christmas!

Thursday Morning

I am grateful for:
1. Sleeping on flannel sheets
2. Walking with my dad
3. The faces at the local coffee shop
4. Fog on the Sound
5. Seeing age on the faces of my friends
6. This healthy body
7. The way my dad charms strangers
8. A hug from my mom
9. The Christmas tree
10. My brother

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a palm tree.

Wednesday Night

Happy to say I'm writing this from the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Just went to my best friend's 30th birthday party and sang terrible karaoke songs. A bit hoarse but better for wear.

Lots of signs today - on different occasions I've asked for a yellow ribbon and a bowtie, and today I was watching 'Arrested Development' and came to the episode where the seal eats Buster's hand...and what kind of seal is it? Why, it's a yellow bowtie wearing seal! I also asked for a carnation a few weeks ago, and in Travels with Charley, which I read on the plane, Steinbeck talks about carnations in one chapter. Seems that the Universe is becoming more present - it's less a BIG HIT-YOU-OVER-THE-HEAD sign, more a constant reassurance of presence. I'm also finding this constant low-level gratitude that I can tap into at a moment's notice. Pretty amazing.

My delight was karaoke. What is sillier than singing "New York New York" poorly at the diviest bar in Tacoma on your best friend's 30th?

My 17 seconds...shit, I haven't done this. I've become errant about these things. I'm going to do it right now, on: tangible results. This is why I hate project management; you work your ass off, but at the end of the day? You have nothing to show for it. I know that I love looking at something I've done and feeling good about it. So here we go.

Wednesday Morning

Guess who's going home today.

I am grateful for:
1. Plane rides
2. Taking the metro to the airport
3. Getting my car out of a packed snowbank
4. An easy half-day at work
5. Scotch on the rocks
6. Morning noises in this apartment building
7. The clock on my wall that will keep ticking for the next 10 days in my absence
8. Warm socks
9. Hugs from my parents
10. Darby's life (Happy 30th!)

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: chess.

Tuesday Night

I'm back in DC for a breather before I hop a flight tomorrow back to the Northwest. My project at work is (mostly!) over and I feel a huge sense of relief!

No yellow ribbon today, but remember when I asked for Halloween? Well, I have to say thanks to Lira as this was her status update on Facebook today:

Why couldn't Jersey Shore have aired BEFORE Halloween?

My delight today was a double-header, both involving music. I took myself out of the office today for 20 minutes to buy a hideous suitcase for my trip tomorrow, and sang carols all the way to the store and back. And then tonight, I turned off all the lights and turned up Florence and the Machine and danced...with my eyes closed, I pictured little sprays of pure love and color coming right out of my flailing arms (white girl dance moves, remember?), and I felt this profound sense of THIS IS WHAT MATTERS MOST descend on me. Joy. Joy matters most.

My 17 seconds today was also musical - it was on singing.

Tuesday Morning

Did you know that Santa has been reading my blog?? It's true; otherwise, how could you explain THIS:
The part where he unrolls the scroll got me all choked up...with Santa on my side, this thing just has to work.

I am grateful for:
1. The best person I have ever shared a name with
2. Genuine big belly laughs
3. Being loved by my friends
4. Being loved by my friends
5. Being loved by my friends
6. Everyone I know turning 30! (Happy Birthday, Natalie/Hillary/Darby!)
7. Snow piled in drifts
8. Finishing this project today
9. The colors of snow, sky, sun, Chesapeake Bay and big tall water reeds
10. Being loved by my friends

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that this is working, and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a yellow ribbon.

Monday Night

No Halloween today (that I noticed), but then again, I'm in Stevensville...the place where goodness goes to DIE.

My 17 seconds today was on FRIENDSHIP - friends who know me, who get me; friends who speak my language, who seek me out. Resting in the eyes and heart of a true friend.

My delight was the meal I just had with my boss. Fried tempura sweet potatoes? Two bottles of cold sake? Seaweed salad? Delightful!

Almost at the end of this road, friends. I am excited about what's next.

Monday Morning

Writing this to you (sneakily?) from my corner of the office in snowy Stevensville.

I am grateful for:
1. Friends who rescue things from your snowbound car
2. Dogs that look like Harry
3. Junk food at 10 p.m. on a Sunday
4. How beautiful everything is when it snows
5. Laughing with coworkers
6. The anticipation of going home
7. Frozen DC
8. The end of this project
9. Patched-together breakfast donated by coworkers
10. Sunshine

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that this is working, and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: Halloween.

Sunday Night

No bobcats today, but remember my dream from last night? Here's what I passed today on a walk:

We likey.

My Delight was spending all morning in bed watching 'Pride and Prejudice'.

And I'm ashamed to admit this, but I haven't done my 17 seconds yet! I'm going to go do it while I brush my teeth. And tonight, it will be on writing.

Sunday Morning

Last night I dreamt that a huge man, a sort of benevolent giant, carried me home. I curled against his chest and my arms fell loose and rocked with the movement of his steps. I felt loved and taken care of and I fell asleep in his arms.

I am grateful for:
1. Waking up to clear skies and snowy grounds
2. Solar power
3. The freedom to stay in bed as long as I want
4. The health and safety of my friends and family
5. Free 2-day shipping!
6. Grinding coffee beans
7. My snow clothes drip-drying in my shower
8. Hulk Hands!
9. She & Him
10. My noisy radiator pumping out heat

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that this is working, and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a bobcat.

Saturday Night

What a beautiful day. It's always like a dream when it snows somewhere.

This morning, I asked for a sun tan (very impractical in snowing-all-day DC), and my girl SRod provided this (from her Gmail chat status):

Florida, you fickle bitch, do NOT play games with me and Operation: Bronze Goddess!

Now, I don't know what's doing on in Florida...but I do know my sign when I see it. Sarah, maybe you should consider a spray tan?

My 17 seconds was on travel. Yesterday, in anticipation of this winter storm, I picked up John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley: In Search of America" from my local public library. It's about a 3 month period of time where he roamed around the country in a camper with his poodle. I am loving it.

My delight was all over the place. But I want to make a distinction
here: there is a definite difference of intention between realizing I'm enjoying something I'm doing, and intending to enjoy something I'm doing. So while I enjoyed playing in the snow with Brian, and the subsequent afternoon drinking we did at the Hawk 'n Dove, I consciously set out to enjoy some singing tonight. Turned out all the lights, lit a candle, picked up my guitar, and delighted in the vibrations my voice creates in my body - the air in and out - the words, the feelings. Deeee-lightful.

Saturday Morning

It looks like a white Christmas here in DC this morning. My friend and I walked home from dinner late last night in the snow singing carols. I'm finding gratitude really easy this morning.

I am grateful for:

1. Waking up to this:

2. Mr. Coffee

3. Watching that big black dog play with his owner in that snowy alley

4. Rufus Wainwright

5. Waking up in my own bed

6. Ridiculously impractical food like foie gras and pate

7. REM and the memories their music brings up

8. My umade bed

9. The urge to dance

10. Watching falling snow.

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that this works, and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a sun tan.

Friday Night

As you may remember, this morning I asked for a pig. And today at work I got the following email:

Thanks Jenn! Next time I kill a hawg you git the tenderloin.

I won't bore you on the particulars that led to that email, but nonetheless - a pig!

Not only that! If you recall, I also had "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac on my gratitude list. And at lunch, guess what was playing in the restaurant by work?

Both made me giggle in glee. I have to say - my energy today at work was markedly different from the way it's been the past two weeks; namely, not miserable and laser-focused. Maybe there's something about that expanded focus, easy-breezy energy that I need to be paying attention to?

My delight: When I got back into DC, I went for a run. I have a RUN playlist on my IPOD, and on that playlist? Is Miley Cyrus' delightful "Party in the USA". I have an urge to dance every time I hear that song. And tonight, I stopped running to dance a few measures. I was on a side street, and thus, the crazy was not shared with anyone. It was my little love song to the Universe.

My 17 seconds was on friendship - I am so grateful for the people I get to call friends...and I want the Universe to know that so they'll always be around.

Friday Morning

So I was chatting with the Universe last night about our little experiment. And I was asking for a specific quality of response to this question we're asking; namely, that I could be hit over the head with it, as my biggest fear is missing it! I hadn't thought about how I want to be told what I want - do you think it's important?

Either way, last night I had a dream. In the dream, I was driving around the country, everything I needed in my car. I was taking 6 months to see the US and write another novel.

Now, I'm not jumping to any conclusions - I'm just adding it to the pile.

I am grateful for:
1. Dreams
2. ...the Fleetwood Mac song "Dreams"!
3. Getting the F out of Stevensville today
4. Getting to see friends this weekend
5. Learning a new song for the band
6. Being warm and inside this winter
7. The rare periods of quiet in my head
8. The smell of hazelnut coffee
9. Wrapping this project up
10. Another change of year

I wish: to know what I want. (By the way, it occurred to me that I haven't shared with you the following: when I perform this step in the process, I imagine what it would feel like to know what I want. I hold that as long as I can. That feels really, really good.)

As a sign that I've been heard, and that this works, I ask the Universe to send me: a pig.

Thursday Night

I got a lot of love back from my job today, and it really helped. So even though there are a lot of colors in this, we're going to paint today all over with gratitude and call it good.

I was in the parking lot finishing up a cigarette and caught a few minutes of alone time, which I took advantage of for my 17 seconds: which was on travel/coming home. The concept of home has been elusive for me for the last few years. So my 17 seconds was part affirmation, part wish: affirmation of what I love - the freedom to travel, to see new and amazing things - and the wish to have a place that is home to return to.

My delight was watching the SNL Holiday special; I don't have TV, so when I'm staying some place that does - it's a real treat. And I caught this:

...which is just funny every goddamn time.

Thursday Morning

Sunshine in my eyes and coffee in my hand. Welcome to day 17 of the experiment.

I am grateful for:

1. Yummy smelling shampoo

2. Geese huddled in the half-frozen river

3. A paycheck

4. Improved battery life on this laptop!

5. Soft, warm pajamas

6. A good night's sleep

7. My own limitlesness

8. The Helio Sequence

9. Running

10. A good cake donut with chocolate frosting

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that this works, and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: Twister!

Wednesday Night

Oh, friends. I am so, so tired. Quite a few of you have been trying to get in touch with me, and I apologize for not throwing the ball back! I'll come back to life this weekend.

No signs today.

My 17 seconds was on partnership - specifically, a romantical one. This is something I've been hesitant to claim in my life over the past few years. It's been such a selfish time for me (in a really positive way), what with not knowing where I'll be or for how long at any given time; this sector of my life has been visited by some very beautiful people, but nothing that's stuck. And that's okay. But as some ingredient in my future, I do know that I want a partner - for however long that may last. So my 17 seconds was on that person. It felt good.

You know what else felt good? My delight. I'm still in Stevensville for work, and the company townhouse is all mine tonight (for the 20 minutes between getting off work and blacking out from exhaustion), so that meant I turned on some tunes and danced like the white girl I am. There's something especially delightful about dancing like a freak in someone else's house.

Wednesday Morning

I follow Abraham-Hicks on Twitter, and here's what they posted this morning:
Once you've decided that you want something, the opposite of it is going to be very much a part of your awareness too.
Ummm, wow. I can't think of much that I want less than what I'm experiencing at work right now, so that rings true.

I am grateful for:
1. Waking up to sunshine
2. Port Angeles
3. Hiking in the woods
4. The way pine needles feel underfoot
5. Realizing it was just a bad dream
6. Warm feet
7. Late night white wine
8. My health
9. Escapism
10. Being flirted with

I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: candy corn.

Tuesday Night

So, yesterday, I asked the Universe to send me a hippopotamus. And guess what showed up.

So I have a new theory about this sign business, and bear with me here... I found Hippy the Hippo (I'm not making this up - check out his label!) at a chintzy store by work. I was at said chintzy store because on my to-do list today I put "delight". I made a conscious decision to get up and walk away from my computer and enjoy myself. And there he was.

So my theory is this: joy/delight/happiness is a MAGNET for all things good, for all the things I say I want to attract. I had to change my mood and change my location to put myself into alignment, and the second I did that? The Universe sent me a little love letter.

I can't help but think of this theory in terms of people in my life who are in a rut - who are hesitant about making whatever move will take them away from the circumstances they are unhappy about for whatever reasons they may have (money, fear, etc.)...if Hippy the Hippo was Guardian Hippo to each of us, I think he might want us to know that the first step is to get happy. As simple/difficult as that may be.

As I wandered the aisles of this chintzy store, my 17 seconds was on giving and receiving. The means and freedom to purchase/acquire/receive whatever I need, and the generosity/freedom/ease to give away whatever others may need.

Tuesday Morning

I am grateful for:
1. Big conversations
2. Walks with my dad
3. A good movie preview
4. Margaritas (rocks, salt)
5. Folding warm-from-the-dryer laundry
6. A good firm mattress
7. My high school sweetheart
8. Homemade holiday cookies
9. Plenty of hot water
10. My parents on speakerphone
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, and that this works, I ask the Universe to send me: a yellow rain coat.

New strategy: I'm putting "delight" and "17 seconds" on my to do list. :)

Monday Night

Ah crap.
My day ate me alive again.
You know what I forgot to do?
No delight, no 17 seconds, no hippopotamus (unless you count "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas..." which has been running through my head all day but I really think that's more shitty luck than it is a sign).


Okay, delight:
I'm going to stretch. Right now. In this room. In Stevensville.
Mmmmmm...that was very nice. I'm having a hard time shutting off my mind and just being here. I keep sort of blacking out and then coming back in the middle of something - in this case, to feel my muscles stretching like rubberbands, tacky and hitching.

17 seconds? Hmmm...what do I LOVE that I've experienced in my life? Okay: we're going to try something different, because I've just tried on a bunch of ideas and my body liked flying best. Obviously, I don't have any superpowers. But what about the essence of flying could live in my mere mortal life?
Funny how my 17 seconds could technically count as my delight. :)

Monday Morning

Welcome to Day 14 of the Experiment! Almost half-way through.

I am grateful for:

1. Clean sheets
2. The word 'fresh'
3. Giraffes' purple tongues (did you know they are purple so they won't get sunburnt?)
4. Random facts
5. My hands
6. This Morning Mix playlist from Burly that I've been listening to for years
7. My amazing friends
8. My spinal cord
9. Being 9 days away from going home for the holidays
10. Money in the bank

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, and that this is working, I ask the Universe to send me: a hippopotamus.

Wish me luck, friends; I'm headed back across the Bay Bridge for another week on the Eastern Shore. If this week goes anything like last week, I vow to:

  • Get up from my desk and walk around

  • Practice delight

  • Use substitution (Harry works really well to instantly change my mood)

Wish me luck.

Sunday Night

I love foggy nights like this. It's like walking around in a giant feather pillow.

If you remember, this morning I asked for Mic Jagger. And today, I got the following text from my friend:
whats up with the band tho thats cool Rolling like the stones. you play an instrument? lead singer?
I feel like the Universe and I have an inside joke when this stuff happens. I love it.

My 17 seconds was on performing - which is different than acting. Take this vocal band my friend's text is referencing - that's definitely a performance. Public speaking is a performance. Any situation where I stand in front of people, feel that electric connection, that moment to moment give and take? Performing. I blissed out on performing while doing the dishes. That's what's so handy about this practice: you can float away no matter where you are, or what you're doing.

My delight? Well, I have this playlist on my IPOD called "Guilty Pleasures". It contains some Sir MixaLot, some Bell Biv DeVoe, some Biggie Smalls...let's just say that it was on very loud, as were my white girl dance moves.

Sunday Morning

Is it the 2 cups of coffee or something else that has me jumpy this morning? Either way I'm about to take a run in the rain. But first!
I am grateful for:
2. SRod
4. Party dresses
5. Jeff Tweedy's voice, lyrics, guitar...everything
6. New opportunities
7. Christmas cookies
8. Holiday traditions that make the winter less cold and dark
9. Gratitude
10. Dreams about flying
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, and that this works, I ask the Universe to send me: Mic Jagger

Post-script: yesterday, my sign was a disco ball. As you know, I went to a super-fun holiday party...and apparently after I peace'd out, my disco ball showed up. Got this via text from my girls:

JBanner suggested it's a reminder from the Universe about timing...that sometimes, you are perfectly on-track to receive what you'd asked for, but then you LEAVE THE GODDAMN PARTY EARLY and miss out! I also think it has something to do with they see things you may miss, and can gently remind you of what's really there. Either way, I'm grateful: for sparkly balls, for friends, for the mystery of it all.

Saturday Night

Someone has to leave the party early, right? I cameo'd at JBanner's party tonight, then headed home early...exhausted.

It was a day full of delight...from the thrift store adventure with Brian, to all day Christmast-fest with Kylie, to the party mentioned above - my delightometer is full.

My 17 seconds was on travel.

No sign, although my girl Jenny (hostess with the mostest) said she went on a mission today to find me a disco ball...that's a true friend.

I'm pooped, friends. Off to sleepy land.

Saturday Morning

Welcome to Day 12 of the experiment! (What is she talking about?) Waking up to a beautiful morning in my own bed is a good thing.

Stumbled across this a few weeks ago and bookmarked it for our experiment:

First of all, I just love Will Smith. Second, what he's talking about is tied up in this work. His power of intention is so strong, and so joyful - it's allowed him to have what he wants. Which is ultimately to enjoy life.

I've been thinking about the law of attraction, and where my earlier experience with it was based on 'The Secret' - geared towards a very specific career goal, and carried out with this energy of impatience and frustration - the way Will uses it (we're totally on a first name basis) seems to differ in his positive energetic intention. Something to think about.
I am grateful for:
1. Being fresh out of the shower
2. My bandmates
3. This cup of coffee
4. Looking forward to a day of Christmas music and cocktail party
5. This healthy body
6. The way drug stores smell
7. A new razor cartridge
8. My friends' happiness
9. Scented candles
10. My mom: happy birthday, mom!

I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, and that this works, I ask the Universe to send me: a disco ball.

Friday Night

I am exhausted. This week sucked. But I am okay.

My 17 seconds was on alone time. This is crucial for my well-being, and is my barometer for defining myself as an introvert: I am recharged by alone time. I love a window of even just 30 minutes in a day to be by myself.

My delight was twofold: fold one consisted of me flat on my back with whiskey-lemonade in one hand and Arrested Development on my laptop (no TV so we make do).
Fold two was band rehearsal. Yes, friends, I am in a band: a vocal band. Straight up nerd style. I adore these guys and we sang together and then enjoyed some adult beverages, talked about what's next, discussed band names. I laughed, and sang, and laughed.

I need to expand my range of study. Any recommends on reading material you think would be appropriate?

Friday Morning

T i r e d . Depressed. Grateful?
I am grateful for:
1. Sleeping in a bed last night
2. Having enough food
3. Being healthy
4. Money in my bank account
5. Coffee
6. The fact that I don't have to be here again tomorrow
7. My new boots
8. Ray LaMontagne
9. A warm house
10. The sound of heat coming through the vents
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a massage (clearly I'm asking for this as more than just experimental data).

Thursday Night

I just got home from work.
In case there's not a time stamp on this thing, it's 1:22 a.m.
Today was a bad day.

Not only did I fail to notice if any of my signs showed up, I also failed to consciously engage in any delight...and I really could've used it today! Ah, screw it...I'm still awake (barely) and it's never too late for delight! Join me in enjoying this, right now:

Much better.

My 17 seconds (thankfully taken this morning before the day went to hell) was on collaboration (ironic) (I'll stop talking crap about my job in parentheses in just a minute) (I just really have a hard time understanding people who don't think things through or manage their time or take initiative or ownership and just expect someone else [me, in this scenario] to tie up all their loose ends or maybe they don't even expect that at all because that would require them to THINK for a second) - namely, that amazing electricity when you're sitting around a table with people building on each other's ideas and creating something better, together, than you could have ever created alone. I love that.


I failed today. Failed at keeping open, keeping firmly planted in what's real. I got sucked into frustration and anger and fear.

Thursday Morning

Good morning! If you're just joining us, and you want to know what is going on, read this. Otherwise, on to the gratitude.
I am grateful for:
1. Watching that hawk ride the wind
2. Coffee in bed
3. Seeing this sunrise
4. Clean hair
5. My dad asking if we can do lots of walking and talking together when I come home
6. Looking forward to band practice
7. Waking up to a voicemail from an old friend
8. Realizing that it really is okay
9. Eating with chopsticks
10. the Chesapeake Bay
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a dirty joke.

This is a big day at work for me. I'm going to see if I can keep part of my head and heart in this quiet, powerful place while the chaos rages.

Wednesday Night

I am finding it really hard to be here during this time at work. My energy and intention aren't as involved as they were in the beginning. I am frustrated with myself.

No bowtie, either! My dear friend Jennifer had this to say about signs not showing up:
I am absolutely in agreement that your signs that you're missing are right on par for the way this should go. Come on friend...the Universe doesn't play exactly according to our plans or am I missing something?!!?? If it did then I would have been married to Rob Lowe a long time ago. I would translate these signs as... "I hear you Marley... but I will show you what I want to show you....when I want to show it to you... thank you very much....just like I always have."

Okay...I'm down with that. My dear friend Phoenix brought up The Secret, and how ego-centered that version of this practice is (my interpretation of her words). I agree; I've always been uncomfortable with the way that movie takes the concept of the Law of Attraction and turns it into a tool whose sole purpose is to get you stuff that you want. To me, the heart of that - the intention of that energy - seems like a gross misuse of this powerful tool. Maybe the Universe is reminding me that I'm not calling all the shots?

Ugh. See? I can only talk so much about "the Universe (capital U!)" and my intention for so long without wanting to barf in my mouth. Excuse me while I light some incense and fingerpaint a picture of my soul.


My 17 seconds was on acting. My delight was sushi with my coworkers. And I have to say: something unexpected this 17 seconds is giving me is this constant finger on who I really am, outside of what I'm doing at any given second (in this case, working like the world will stop if I don't finish this project on time). For example: I was furiously compiling narration errors (don't ask) and all of a sudden I came back into my body - realized my shoulders were up at my ears, I wasn't breathing - and I remembered that I'm someone who loves writing and travel and acting and singing, and that I happen to be performing this job function right now. And I could breathe again.

We likey.

Wednesday Morning

Welcome to Day Nine!
I just looked outside, and everything is blue! Sky, concrete, light...A huge storm blew (blue?) through last night which means more on the Eastern Shore than in the city.
I am grateful for:
1. Coffee made on a timer
2. A (good) new bed
3. TJ
4. Waking up to text messages
5. This healthy body
6. My family
7. My coworkers
8. The sound of geese honking
9. Listening to a one-sided phone conversation in a different language
10. Beer!
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a bowtie.

Woke up to this is my inbox from my meditation group leader:
Questions can assist us getting in touch with our deepest intentions:
During meditation or reflection, ask yourself one or more of these questions:
What do I really care about?
What is really important to me?
What is my heart's longing?
What most wakes up my heart?
At the end of life, What will really matter?
Then open to the wisdom in your body-mind-heart; not analyzing or thinking it through. But, just opening & listening. Listening without judgment, but with a tenderness and an honesty, because sometimes our motivation will involve fear, insecurity, or a wish for comfort.

Sounds like what we're doing here, doesn't it?

Tuesday Night

So, this morning I asked for a Cosby sweater. And one of my coworkers generously supplied not only a Cosby sweater, but a tie underneath.
Ah, the eastern shore of Maryland.

Did someone say delight? Cause I enjoyed mine with said coworker and the IT guy at a bar. Sliders and Bud Light. Non-work-related conversation. Don't mind if I do.

And I'm ashamed to admit this, but I forgot all about my 17 seconds until this moment. I think I'll do it on travel again...seems appropriate, as I've 'travelled' to Stevensville...and will be here...all weeeeeeeeek....

In case you're curious, I do my 17 seconds out loud. I talk about what I love about said whatever. I really go there in my mind. I hold it as long as I can (at least 17 seconds - usually it goes over). And it feels great. Do it! Right now: pick something you love and talk about what you love about it. Go there in your mind and your heart. Stand up. Walk around. Speak out loud. I guarantee you'll feel better for having done it.

Tuesday Morning

Welcome to day 8 of the experiment.
This morning, I am grateful for:

1. Running
2. The sound of dog collars clinking at the park
3. Getting invited to sing with a new group
4. My IPOD
5. Listening to music I started listening to over 15 years ago (O LLLLLLLLLLLD)
6. Breakfast
7. My mom's sense of play
8. Childhood memories of Seattle
9. Playing my guitar
10. Warm socks in bed

I wish: to know what I want.

As a sign that I've been heard, and that this works,
I ask the Universe send me: a Cosby sweater.

Monday Night

I am in the death throes of this project at work, and what normally would have been a really crappy day was okay. And I know a big part of that is due to this practice. When I remember that I am a person, separate from my job - that my worries are temporary - that the things I care about at this job are doing the best job I'm capable of and being good to people - my perspective widens, I can breathe again. And I'm okay.

No $2 bill today...that's 7 days, 4 signs showing up (not that anyone's counting). Both Sarah and Phoenix think that's a reminder that the Universe doesn't go around granting whatever request I throw at it. I'm starting to be willing to entertain that idea. But it bums me out a little. What's the lesson there?

My delight! I put "So Insane" by "Discovery" on repeat (that song thanks to Paul) and did a little booty shaking. Also made a point to take a (smoke) break with a coworker and talk about actual life - nothing work-related allowed. I'm finding that anything can be a source of's really just a shift in perspective.

And my 17 seconds was on writing. Oh friends, how I love it: writing scratches a lot of my itches. It's solitary, it's creative, it's my voice - I get to go into a cave and produce something, then share it. How very INFJ of me (if you have time you should take this personality quiz: Myers Briggs).

I slept like crap last night and working on remedying that RIGHT NOW with a little Jim Beam n lemonade, then an early bedtime. Catch you tomorrow!

Monday Morning

Guess who doesn't feel like doing a Gratitude List this morning? THIS GIRL. I slept like crap, I ache all over...and it's Monday. But that's why I'm doing this in a public forum - to keep accountable on mornings like this.
I am grateful for:
1. Sleeping in a bed last night
2. Singing in harmony
3. Cold apple juice
4. Early morning sun on the Capitol buildings
5. The memories this Incredible Moses Leroy song bring up (hi Lira!)
6. This healthy body
7. Laughing with my bro
8. Warm radiator
9. Buying myself a cup of designer coffee
10. A good sweat after a run
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that the Universe has heard me, I ask for: a $2 bill that helped. :) Let's give this day another try. See you tonight.

Sunday Night

So this morning, I asked for a turtle. And guess what I found's a turtle foot stool! I was at the flea market portion of Eastern Market with my cousin and we passed by it. I said: "What does that look like to you?" and she said "A turtle?" and I burst out laughing. This is one of the best parts of the whole experiment: feeling like I have an inside joke with the Universe.
I had a lot of delight today; the two big ones both involving singing. When I was in high school, I was part of the Swing Choir, and every holiday season we sang this absolutely horrendous medley of Christmas music. We used to do it two, three times a day at various rest homes and other schools in the area and I'm afraid we'll all carry the sense memory of step-touch-snap and all the cheesy ad-libs we did with us to our graves. It's part of my personal holiday tradition to annoy the shit out of myself each year (and Darby, via phone call) by singing through the whole thing, choreography included. Excellent.
I answered an ad on Craigslist for a female vocalist and sang with these great guys in Arlington last week. They asked me back this week. Singing harmonies with them, laughing, working = deeeeee-light!
So it only seemed appropriate to point my 17 seconds at singing as well. Did you know it's one of my life dreams to sing back-up on a world tour? Well, now the Universe knows it too.

Sunday Morning

Welcome to Day 6 of the Experiment!

This morning I am especially grateful for:
1. The "Into the Wild" soundtrack
2. Getting to play with my cousin all day
3. Ice making the roads around the Capitol look silver
4. This healthy body
5. This cup of coffee
6. A hot shower whenever I want it
7. Catching up with dear old friends
8. Poetry
9. Singing
10. Medicated Blistex (so tingly!)
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a turtle.

Gonna go hit Eastern Market. See you tonight!

Saturday Night

Daaaaang y'all...where the H are my lightning bolt and my carnation?

I can tell you what did show up today though...mucho delight-o. I suppose that's what weekends are for, though? For the pure joy and delight of it, I engaged in the following frivolous Saturday activities:
1. Dancing and singing to Miley Cyrus singing "Party in the USA"! (don't hate)
2. My friend John sent me this in honor of my midnight viewing of "Labyrinth" last night and it is truly amazing:

3. I enjoyed several episodes of "My So-Called Life" while the winter weather did its thing outside. Oh Jordan Catalano...I will always heart you.

The MSCL era was really when I started being super conscious of wanting to be an actor, so that was my 17 seconds again today. That feeling of power, of unity with words and partner and crew and moment...yeah, I love that.

I'm going to go and...
4. Read a great book in bed.
I have to say...this intentional engaging in things for the delight they give me is something that is going to last beyond this month. It's just too good not to give myself.

Saturday Morning

Waking up to snow and rain today. Think I'll stay in bed with this coffee a little bit longer.
I am grateful for:
1. Plates full of sushi
2. Bottles full of sake
3. Laughing with the crowd at last night's showing of "Labyrinth"
4. The way DC looks at night
5. This healthy body
6. Laughing with coworkers
7. Getting a phone call from my brother
8. Looking forward to going home for the holidays
9. This process
10. The pleasure of a good book
I ask: to know what I want.
As a sign that this process works, and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a lightning bolt

This was in my inbox this morning. This is from the Abraham-Hicks website, and is a video of Esther Hicks channeling Abraham at a conference and talking about abundance. There is some terminology I'm not familiar with, but what she's talking about in regards to focusing on the good that is present as a means of attrracting what you want is particularly appropriate for our experiment.

I'm going to refill my coffee cup and listen to winter now. See you tonight.

Friday Night

It's going to be a late night for me, so I thought I'd do this now.

So this morning, I asked for a muffin, and guess what happened:

I was walking to work, and someone literally dropped one right in front of me. Blueberry, in case you're curious. I waited until they got a safe distance away before I took out my camera and took a picture of the trampled muffin. It's okay to be a weirdo as long as it kept (mostly) under wraps.

I'm still bothered by my carnation not showing up. My girl Sarah thinks it's the Universe's way of reminding me that it doesn't just go around giving me anything I want...but that is contrary to the Abraham-Hicks teaching. I was thinking about it more today, and I did a lot of waiting for my carnation yesterday, unlike the rest of the days of this experiment thus far; maybe there's something there - maybe the energy of wanting the carnation pushed it away? This is tricky business, when wanting enters the picture.

My delight today was this:

I turned up the volume, shut my office door, and danced right along. It was the perfect launch-pad of joy to catapult me into my 17 seconds, which was about teaching. In NO WAY do I consider myself a teacher, in the traditional school sense. But I've had the opportunity to lead meetings, to facilitate groups, to give presentations - and the delivery of information in a clear, concise way has always given me a ton of pleasure.

Alright, friends, I'm going out. Have an excellent Friday and I'll see you tomorrow morning!

Friday Morning

Slept through my alarm again...that is an unprecedented two mornings in a row. Not sure what to make of that.
Welcome to the experiment!
I am grateful for:
1. Meditation group
2. The way my meditation leader speaks
3. The Universe working on my friends
4. Sleeping through my alarm two mornings in a row
5. Sleeping in a bed last night
6. Having food in my fridge
7. This healthy body
8. My big comfy corduroy chair
9. Listening to my upstairs neighbor "sing" his heart out last night
10. T G I F
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that this works, and that the Universe has heard me, I ask for: a muffin.

Joyfully releasing this and off to my day.......

Thursday Night

No carnation today, which bums me out. What does it mean when the sign doesn't show up? I tried something similar like this while I was living in LA (to feel like I had some...any!...measure of control over my life) and my average time span for signs-showing-up was 2 days. So we won't give up on the carnation.
But what does it mean??

My 17 seconds today were on acting. Ugh! It's still a loaded subject for me and blissing out to it for 17 seconds was surprisingly difficult to initiate. It was like showing someone a dance step you've been working on alone for weeks. I was reticent, and a little embarrassed? to own that I love acting. I still love it, even after everything that happened around it. But once I started rolling (maybe around second 11?), I was in a good place, and it felt great.

My delight was singing. I worked at our corporate headquarters today which is 45 minutes out of DC, so the drive back in to the city was all fa la la. Singing - just for the sake of it - is one of the purest sources of joy I have. Deeee-lightful!

Thursday Morning

We got off to a bit of a late start this morning (read: I slept through my alarm and had to speed all the way to work) so I'm covertly taking a few minutes in the office to do this. (What the heck am I doing anyway?)

I am grateful for:
1. No cops on the 50 West this morning.
2. Waking up to sunshine.
3. Free donuts at work!
4. Anticipation of seeing friends tonight.
5. Thinking about what I'll write next.
6. Whatever my delight will be today.
7. Learning new music.
8. Checking things off my to-do list.
9. Running.
10. Cheesy bubblegum dance pop music.
I wish: to know what I want!
As a sign that this works and that I've been heard, I ask the Universe to send me: a carnation.

Alright...back to work.

Wednesday Night

Well today sucked ass.
I'm sorry, but there's just no other way to put it.
I was walking home thinking about how different I felt on my walk home yesterday, and I had to chuckle - it reminded me that not much changes, really, but the way I feel about it changes constantly. And I reached deep and touched that gratitude from this morning and while it didn't change everything, it helped.

You know what else helped? My 17 seconds. I took it in the middle of the day - just closed my office door, stood up, and spoke out loud (quietly) about what I love about singing. I was in the middle of the ass sucking (not in a pleasant way) and I DID NOT want to stand up and "bliss out" for 17 seconds, but the second I did, I floated right out of my shitty office into happy. Then the crap at work continued but those 17 seconds gave me something to come back to, to remind me that I'm not my job.

And my sign? If you remember, I asked for a marble. And I went on a date tonight. And he was telling me about where he used to work, and one of the companies was "Marble" something or other.
I said, "What was that name again?"
And he repeated it: Marble something-or-other, and I burst out laughing, and he didn't really know what to do with that. And I considered explaining but thought that's maybe second (or seventh...or never) date conversation and let it lie.

I'm going to get in bed and listen to the rain now.

Wednesday Morning

If you're just joining the experiment, here's what's going on.

Woke up this morning to the headline about Obama sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. My heart is heavy and I really need some gratitude.
I am grateful for:
1. Harry's red sweater
2. My family
3. Ashley
4. My vision board!
5. The change of seasons in DC
6. This warm sweater
7. The smell of clean hair
8. Running with Kylie
9. A good book
10. Cold water
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard, and that this works, please send me: a marble.

Catch you tonight!

Tuesday Evening

I have to say...even if at the end of this month I still have no goddamn clue what I want to do, for a day like today? WORTH IT. I forget what it's like: to cultivate gratitude, to bliss out to what I know I love, to purposefully engage in some hot-n-heavy delight just for me.

In the words of Ice Cube: Today was a good day.

My 17 seconds was dedicated to TRAVEL. I drove across the country to get to DC - took 18 days to do it - and that was some of the best time in my life. Getting in the car every morning, map on the passenger seat, back seat piled high with everything I needed...adventure! I took a break at lunch today and engaged in some serious joygasm-inducing blissed-outness around travel.

And the sign! If you remember, I asked for a cupcake. I got not one, but TWO affirmations from the Universe!

Well, was from my friend Mike. He sent me an email with a link to Natalie Dee's website (which won't open for me...WTF) but which I can see from the google search page is a surly little cupcake which cracked me up.

This brought up a good question: does that count??

This is what Mike said when I asked him the same question:

why not? look at it this way. you typed some words on a webpage this morning and sent it into oblivion. Then oblivion was kind enough to reward you with a surly cupcake cartoon. the universe is only as big as you make it.

What do you guys think? Does it count as a sign from the Universe? (I feel pretentious capitalizing that but we're going with it.)

THEN I got home from work and had about 15 minutes to kill before I went running with Kylie. So I cracked open my Vanity Fair to an article about cuteness and LO AND BEHOLD...cupcakes! My apologies for the crappy quality but hey (you can see the word cupcakes there on line 2!).

So, for my delight I romanced myself with some cheap red wine and made a vision board. What, pray-tell, is a vision board? It's anything visual you create that reminds you what you love, what you want (in my case, it's made on the skeleton of the fake protest sign I made for my Halloween costume - a confused protestor; but I'm pretty sure you can do yours on whatever you want). The folks at The Secret love them some vision boards, as do self help coaches, motivational speakers, and a myriad of other cheesy people who you annoy you (but you secretly love). So I did one. Posting this here feels like I'm standing naked in front of you (clearly after having eaten some veggie soup), but again - we're going with it.

Not bad for day 1. Bring on day 2!

12/1/09: Tuesday Morning

Welcome to the experiment! If you're wondering what I'm talking about, check this out. Otherwise, here's a list of 10 things I'm especially grateful for this morning:
1. Watching the sun rise behind the Capitol building
2. Catching the top half of a great big yellow moon as it sets
3. Listening to "The National" while the city wakes up
4. My guitar
5. This glass of water
6. My family
7. This healthy body
8. The cup of coffee I will drink at work
9. This laptop
10. Garrison Keillor's Good Poems
I wish: to know what I want.
As a sign that I've been heard and that this works, please show me: a cupcake.

Alright kids, I'm off to blowdry this wet hair and generally get on with my day. I'll check in tonight with what my delight was, what my 17 seconds were on, and whether or not my sign showed up today!

A Watermelon for God

I’m hijacking my own blog! Instead of creative writing, we’re doing some creative life-ing.

The Background:

My whole life, I wanted to be an actor. It defined me. It gave shape to my life and context to my actions. I pursued it with a laser focus: got a BFA in theatre performance and lived in Los Angeles for a number of years.

Then, one day, I decided to leave. And I intentionally took my hands off the reins of my own life.

It’s almost three years later, and the ride has been great - but I’m ready to take those reins back.

The Big Problem: I have no idea what I want.

The Experiment:

For the month of December, I will follow a routine. This routine will be a mixture of:
- cultivating gratitude
- making wishes and asking for signs
- experiencing delight
- being with the broad strokes of what I know I love

The Anticipated Result:

At the end of this month, I will know what I want.

The Foundation:

I believe that the Universe is a living, responsive thing that I am part of in every way possible. I find the teachings of Abraham-Hicks to feel particularly true for me as far as big picture, what-am-I-doing-here kinds of questions.

I also believe in the Law of Attraction, which the movies The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? explore. The Law of Attraction basically states that thoughts and emotions have the power to affect physical reality.

Based on these principles, I will perform the following routine:

1. cultivating gratitude - Every morning, I will make a list of 10 things I am grateful for. Based on what I've read, gratitude is one of the most powerful emotional states we can be in. (I will post this list on here.)

2. making wishes - From that powerful emotional state, I will make a wish: to know what I want.

3. asking for signs - As a sign that this whole crazy mess works and that I've been heard, I will ask for a sign. This sign will be so strange that there will be no way its appearance could be a coincidence. (For example, two days ago I was practicing this whole thing, giving it a little dry run, and I asked the Universe for a watermelon as a sign. Two hours later I was walking past a used bookstore and saw the book pictured above.) Whenever possible I will photograph these signs as they appear and post them here.

4. experiencing delight - At some point throughout the day, I will do something that makes me feel good. I will record what that was when I post in the evening.

5. being with the broad strokes of what I know I love - At another unnamed point in my day, I will take a thought/concept/experience from my past that I know I love (example: travel) and hold that thought for 17 seconds. Again, based on what I've read, 17 seconds is somehow a magical length of time. My intention with this is to help the Universe - if it's going to tell me what I want, then the least I can do is tell it what I like.

See you tomorrow morning...when this whole thing starts!

Creative Writing Assignment: National Novel Writing Month

That's all. :)

A Change of Pace


National Novel Writing Month has sucked all my creative juices for the past few weeks. I am 3 days and a little under 10,000 words away from the finish line. So I haven't been blogging...

...but I HAVE been cooking up something new in the spaces of my brain not consumed by work, or novel, or life.

Starting December 1st, I'm going to kick off a month-long life experiment geared towards answering the following question:
What do I want?

If you know me, you won't be surprised to hear that there are rules, lists, and routines involved. I'm really excited about going on this journey, and hoping you'll come with me! Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can follow my NaNoWriMo progress here.

Also, I splurged a bit this week and re-bought a copy of Garrison Keillor's excellent Good Poems which I lost in the cross-country move. Since I'm too NaNoWriMo'd out to bring you any of my usual bits, here is one of my (and Garrison's) favorites:

where we are

Gerald Locklin

i envy those
who live in two places:
new york, say, and london;
wales and spain;
l.a. and paris;
hawaii and switzerland.

there is always the anticipation
of the change, the chance that what is wrong
is the result of where you are. i have
always loved both the freshness of
arriving and the relief of leaving. with
two homes every move would be a homecoming.
i am not even considering the weather, hot
or cold, dry or wet: i am talking about hope.

Bad Poetry

I am amazed to find that writing more (National Novel Writing Month) leads to writing more. I don't usually title my (bad) poems, but I think this one's called The Weight.

When you carry things
that you need –
a sleeping bag
a good book
a gift
The weight is okay. The pulling swaying shoulder-crushing are like friendly whispered secrets.

But when you carry things
that you don’t need –
a laptop
someone else’s trash
The weight is so much heavier.

Where is the incentive to keep your body under it?
Much rather shake it off, like a dog shakes water
And dance the ache out of tired muscles
And leave it in the road.


The feeling of the change of seasons from summer into fall feels like it should be a sad memory—for whatever reason, that nip in the air and the sudden dark after 6:30 connects directly with my gut and turns my head—makes me stop—as if I’m remembering something with nostalgia. It’s not that fall reminds me of anything in stirs up generic kind of fallen-leaves-warm-fire-frost-on-grass-in-mornings kinds of pictures in my’s not that my head or heart are remembering something that happened to me.

It occurred to me today that it may be that my body is remembering something… something cyclical, like the feeling you get on a particularly fast ferris wheel at the bottom, where all your weight drops down, just before the momentum carries you up again. Being in the Northeast (the home of "real weather", I've decided) has been funny that way, to experience my body reconnecting with the change of seasons. Maybe that’s part of what was so hard about LA, and why I lost patience so fast: it felt like one extended, dirty summer, one long season stretched out for 3 ½ years. Now, here, my body remembers what it’s like to be reminded—by the air, by the light—that we are in perpetual motion. But not a straight line with a single point of origin and one inevitable destination; a circle. Literally a circle, as we orbit the sun, but also a circle in time, as we return to this place in the seasons over and over again. It’s my body remembering the passage of time that feels like nostalgia. Reminding me that the skin that touches this newly-crisp air is older this time.

Creative Writing Assignment

I'm at Bus Boys and Poets in downtown DC having breakfast. Today's assignment is from Natalie Goldberg's excellent "Writing Down the Bones":
Write about ‘leaving’. Approach it any way you want. Write about your divorce, leaving the house this morning, or a friend dying.
There is power in leaving.

There is power in being the one packing up and shipping out; the power of purpose, the power of I DON’T NEED THIS…even if I have no clue what it is that I actually need. There is power in decision, and momentum, and finality.
“You’re really doing this?”
Hell yes I am.

Leaving the mall I forgot where my car is parked.

Leaving the party I never say goodbye…it's like having a calling card, only in reverse.

Leaving my orbit, I come back down to earth.
Leaving the parking garage, I always look both ways.
Leaving the city, I watch the skyline from my rearview.

Very important to have pre-selected leaving songs for the initial drive AWAY FROM. Mournful, hopeful, broken, road-flashing-under-car songs to set the appropriate tone for the leaving.
It’s time to move on…time to get going…what lies ahead I have no way of knowing…but under my feet baby, the grass is growing…yeah it’s time to move on…time to get going. (Tom Petty.)
Leaving Tacoma at 6 in the morning in the early spring, driving out and over the mountains in the blue-dark, trying to get my head and heart to wrap around and own that moment: I AM LEAVING THIS PLACE BEHIND. I am not this place anymore. The me that was part-me and part-this place is dying right now. A new me is being born. There is space between this old me and this new me and I’m living in this space right now. This space is dirt-prairie before a sunrise, wind blowing across. This space is dry riverbed with clattering stones at the bottom. This space is now in this car with me with my breath and my things piled high in the back.

Imagining what it will be like when I get ____...already creating a place-sense of it in my mind, what I will be like. Knowing that I will be the same and abandoning my body to that feeling, sinking into it with sorrow and relief and a certain sense of déjà-vous.

“I will take my leave of you”. I like that a lot – like your ‘leave’ is something the other person has possession of when you are with them, and you need to ask for it back.

Leaving a job.
Leaving a friendship.
Leaving a relationship.
Leaving a note. Although sometimes putting it on paper is just too far; is the equivalent of coming out and saying the thing you’ve secretly thought for years and realizing how stupid it sounds…some things are better left in the pink fleshy, underwater secret corners of your body.

Being left is standing still.
Leaving is running full-tilt.
Being left is quiet inside. Nothing to say. The person you’d say it to is five miles down the road already, eyes full of future. You only have eyes for the past streaming out behind them like the frothy, rolling wake from a speedboat.

I’ve been joined by a couple at this table and now it’s hard to abandon myself to this leaving again. This girl is singing and the other girl is scooting closer to her and shaking this table and I’m thinking of leaving this restaurant.

Creative Writing Assignment

I walk into the club and pay the lady at the door...while she takes my $20 and turns it into a $10, I look around: there aren’t a lot of people out here, so I can’t tell yet. It’s a pretty non-descript hallway, and I feel kind of embarrassed as I realize that I expected techno-bass-thump, flashing lights, cages hanging from the ceiling, maybe a smoke machine? coming out from the main room. Instead it’s just a lobby. No posters or anything.

Into the main room, and I can see that this is typically a dance floor…relieved to see rows of folding chairs covering the once-open space. This means there’s no way there’ll be dancing tonight, at least not until after, and it’d probably take so long to clear those chairs off the floor that I’d be long gone.

I order a beer – make my way to a chair in the corner and lay my things down on the chairs next to me. Lean back and look around: pretty empty so far. A few people milling around…still too hard to judge.

Then a girl asks if I’m taking all the seats, and I say no, please, sit!, and I know I’m trying too hard because it’s so obvious that she’s a (lesbian) and I don’t want her to know that I know she’s a (lesbian) and oh God can I move to another seat without it being too obvious? but that would be so rude so I sit further into the back of my chair and concentrate on the program.
But she doesn’t take the hint and wants to know why I’m here and have I been here before and I’m really short with my answers so she can’t mistake my interest for interest. Her name is Harriet and she’s been coming for a year, she likes coming alone, she just got back from hanging out with the kid she mentors in Anacostia, she works for a non-profit. I warm up to her against my will because she’s really nice and calm but I’m careful to keep my left hand with the ring on it visible in case she gets the wrong idea.

Get up to go to the bathroom and this place is filling up and now I am starting to see it. There is a “couple” two rows behind me, similar button-up plaid shirt, his hand on his knee, having a casual conversation and I try not to stare but oh God where am I and how did I let myself get here?? I am grossed-out and I am embarrassed and I have to pee…

…into the bathroom. There are other people in here but I can only see shoes and I relax for a second in the stainless steel quiet only to realize there’s no toilet paper! I see brown sneakers in the stall next to me: “Excuse me: I’m so sorry, but do you have any toilet paper over there?” I giggle in nervousness.
THE VOICE: Yeah, of course I’ve got plenty, hold on…
It’s a nice voice, a warm voice with a smile and acknowledgment at my mortification and then a hand pops into the light of my stall, a wad of toilet paper.
“Thank you!” I say.
THE VOICE: Of course!

Back into the club and I am waiting by the bar because I want to say thank you to THE VOICE in person. I’m standing next to a waiter and I’m sure he’s one of them and I study the side of his face, the smile lines at the eyes, the narrow hips, and I pray for him. I pray for God to heal his brokenness. Movement out of the corner of my eye and a woman walks out of the bathroom but it’s all wrong because she has short hair and cargo pants and she can’t be THE VOICE but I recognize her brown sneakers and the thank you lodges in my throat and I turn away from the smile she's softly issued in my direction.

After, I am driving home and I am alone in my car. I feel like I have survived a battle, like I have performed covert ops in enemy territory and I laugh at this ridiculous thought. I talk to God out loud (something I do a lot in the car and the shower), thanking Him for this evening: for my friends, for my safety, for my life which I hope is pleasing to Him. I fiddle with my wedding ring, so thankful that my marriage is the right kind of marriage. I ask Him to forgive all the people in that place; to forgive and heal them: because I'm sure they're perfectly nice and it's just too bad that they're all going to hell.


This weekend, I flew from Seattle to DC - with a layover in Kansas. I wrote this at the airport bar.

People who live in Kansas are brave.
How do they do it?
How do they conduct their business at a measured pace –
do their jobs and drive their trucks and watch their televisions –
Like everything’s normal?

Like this is okay?

Me: I’m barely holding it together.
In fact, it’s all I can do to sit on this airport bar stool and order my Bud Light in a normal voice because what I really want to do is scream!
run! in terror from the reality of this great and terrible space.
Instead I’ll sit here and eat my french fries and talk to the woman on her way to Denver like nothing’s going on.

I know I should be taken by the beauty of the sunset through these narrow windows:
all those colors in all that sky.
But with no lumpy mountains,
no pitchy wet-green forests,
no sandy curve of rocky shore,
no distant skyline to fixate on –
I can’t get away from it.
I’m a spider trapped in the corner of a bathtub.
I’ve just said the wrong thing at a party.
I’m naked at the school dance.

I am exposed. i am alone. (i am so, so small)

This is why people live in cities: so we can mistake these doubtless buildings for ourselves. So we can forget.
People who live in Kansas are brave.
How do they do it?


I have a crush on this term: ESCAPE VELOCITY. It’s the amount of speed an object needs in order to break its gravitational rotation and shoot out on its own. Obviously, we’re talking about objects in space here, but I like it because it sounds like me.

Here’s where I differ from objects in space, though. Take your average piece of space debris (we’ll call him Greg as I’m really fond of that name), that’s been happily making the rounds of Saturn for – well, I was about to throw a number out there, but I have no concept of this stuff and don’t want to out-myself as the ignorant American I am, so let’s say – a really long time. The space-displacing awesome girth of Saturn has created enough gravitational pull to keep Greg locked into the same space commute for – a really long time.

At first, maybe Greg felt that freshly-minted sense of purpose you get at the start of anything new: I’m a piece of debris! Wait…I’m SATURN’s piece of debris! Saturn is obviously the best game in town out here. Look at all these other pieces of debris – they agree! We can’t all be wrong!

Once that purpose-buzz wears off, Greg probably had plenty in the way of new scenery to keep him occupied: Oh, I love this side of Saturn. I wonder if there are other pieces of debris on the surface down there? Oooh, here comes my favorite corner where I can see that great big burning ball…so bright!

Then, because newness is like a cheap lacquer that thins out and wears off with repeated handling, I would imagine that Greg just got sucked into the routine of it all…just kind of rotated for – a really long time.

And maybe, after some time, Greg picked up some extra girth of his own and found himself slightly further out from the center of his rotating band and thought, ‘Hm, this is weird’, and just like that game you play on the playground in grade school called THE WHIP where a long chain of kids links up arm-to-arm and runs in a circle and you take turns being on the end because that’s where you go the fastest – one day Greg found himself at the very outer end of his rotating band and before he knew it: he felt himself disengage with a ripping sensation, felt strange air all around his body like never before, felt the power and the terror of his own trajectory and momentum slingshotting him out and away from Saturn, the best game in town, seeing it from angles he’d never seen it before, but mostly looking out – looking forward, feeling space particles whiz by like wind.

And eventually, Greg’s momentum will slow and he’ll feel himself pulled like a tractor beam to some other massive space-displacing girthy planet body, and he’ll know his experience with “Saturn” the “best game in town” is in the past now and this is his new life.

Escape Velocity.

Where Greg and I differ (besides all the obvious ways) is that I am the pilot of my own Escape Velocity. As I feel the seasons of my life run through those stages of purpose-buzz to scenery to routine, I hear this whisper from my gut: move faster. The speed starts gathering in my head first; like an old-time movie projector starting slowly, I am treated to images of whatever my next Saturn could be – the next “best game in town”. I feel a corresponding quickening in my desire to stop acquiring stuff, hoard my resources (like canning preserves for the winter), plan, dream, talk…soon I have spun a whole fantasy out, my resources are streamlined, my mind pointed like a dagger, my body tensed for the spring.

And then I launch.

The problem with Escape Velocity for me is not the velocity; it’s the escape. I love the velocity but I’ve made the mistake of tying it up with escape. I am in love with speed. My heart screams for it, my body responds to it, my soul goes along for the ride, hair thrown back and streaming in the wind, knuckles white, big grin. And as I get older, even though I keep responding to that deep whisper (move faster) (Tacoma – Los Angeles – Seattle – DC – Saturn who?), another part of me is resisting. Is growing tired. My orbit is eroding in quality, my arc of speed in strength. I’m so tired of moving boxes and new apartment leases and the process of dating new friends and finding a grocery store.

So I come to this: is it possible to maintain velocity and just orbit one thing? Or will my velocity create escape, again and again, until I don’t know where I started or why I’m going?


I wrote a whole series of these a few years ago. They still take me right back to the moment.

I come to and I’m in the back parking lot of the restaurant. It’s been raining, so the moon is reflected in puddles on the concrete. The air is cold and rich and charged—I drink it in deep, all the way to my tailbone. Then I take a deep drag of my cigarette, and think that’s funny. I stand up and spin, my lime green dress orbiting around me. I am in love with myself and my body and the air and the moon and the cigarette and the green and pink and yellow spinning around me.

I come to and I’m teaching this little boy to Walk Like an Egyptian. I am sweaty from dancing so much but I don’t care. My bridesmaid dress isn’t white or anything so it’s okay. All our dads are dancing. My dad looks at me with love and laughter: “Have we ever done this before?” No, we haven’t. I am vaguely embarrassed by his lack of rhythm. Natalie’s dad is going to town with his mustache and this strange, exclamatory dance with lots of pointing. Darby’s dad is by far the worst—or the best—because he dances just like Darby warned us he would: he stands still and pumps his arms in the air, without heed to rhythm, a look of ecstatic joy on his face. I want to cry because my best friend just got married and our dads are horrible dancers and I’m so happy and full that I could shake apart.

I come to and we’re playing What Color is the Sky? I like Atomic Orange. He insists it’s Dishwater Grey. I lean back on my hands and fidget with the rough grain of the roof, which feels like sandpaper against the pads of my fingers, and imagine we are on a giant square of sandpaper under the Atomic Orange/Dishwater Grey sky with no stars in sight. My feet are sweaty in my moccasins and I wiggle my toes, feeling them slip and slide all over each other in the leather. I am nervous because I want him to kiss me. When he finally does it’s fun and warm and my earrings are bothering his mouth so I take them off and lay them together carefully, the posts forming an x, making him promise to remind me to get them later. They’re still up there.

I come to and realize I have been watching the three lights blink, on and off, more or less in a row, rippling at me across the air misting off of the Puget Sound. I think of the word Sound and its connotations as the sounds of the passing train rise out of the gulch, tiny and perfect, like there’s a miniature train in my ear—chugga chugga chugga toot toot! This makes me laugh and I accidentally inhale some of the Basic brand cigarette I’d been sucking into my mouth and blowing out, because I haven’t learned how to smoke yet, not really—but I don’t know this. All I know is the promise of being 17 and the magic of the clear night air and the blinking, on and off, of the lights.

I come to and I’m watching Natalie Sander-singular become Natalie Kern. Her happiness makes her a fruit that is too ripe, flushed and heavy and achingly, fully beautiful and this fullness is contagious as I grip Mike Raimondi’s hand and catch Kylie’s eye. I am hit with the weight of it: we are growing old, we are getting married, we are making the memories we will tell our children about when we are misshapen and lined and they won’t believe we ever sat like this in our best clothes with our clean hair and lip gloss, under the trees listening to the creek gripping each others’ hands and crying, crying at the gains and the losses that this moment holds out to us in its sun-dappled palms.