The world has all kinds of rules for love;
I say you’ve gotta let it do what it does.
– Hunter Hayes, I Want Crazy
The world has all kinds of rules for love;
I say you’ve gotta let it do what it does.
– Hunter Hayes, I Want Crazy
I got up early this morning to walk to the indoor Farmer’s Market at Shaker Square, stopping at the bank along the way. I was proud that I got up early while it was so cold and I would normally have second thoughts. I got up early, I drank some tea, I read, I played with my cats, and then I got dressed in a dress and even wore lipstick and a hat. I walked to the market with my satchel from Willi’s Ski House, withdrew cash, and passed inside the market with my list scribbled on the back of a Starbucks ad.
My motivation this fine morning? Picking up ingredients from local, organic, animal-friendly vendors to cook another fantastic meal on Monday with Jeff. He’s been working hard, long hours in the cold. I feel for him, and I’m also thankful that he chooses to spend so much of his limited free time with me. He’s always texting me and calling me with positive words, even when he is working or busy, and I want to do him favors while I can (not to mention shamelessly show off my ability to cook anything from scratch). I rounded up ingredients, bought fair-trade coffee at Dewey’s, and walked home to reorganize my produce into tin foil and the proper crisper drawers. And, yes, this vegetarian even bought grass-fed meat to cook for the meal.
While I was emptying my half-peck of apples into the crisper, I started thinking about all the people I saw today.
First, at the bank, an older, white gentleman came in as I finished at the ATM. As I walked out, a younger, black man came into the room. The older man was still fumbling with his wallet and insisted for the younger man to go first. Not only was it strikingly kind, but I realized that would never have happened between most strangers where I’m from. I’ve been realizing how much more colorblind people in Cleveland are than in my rural hometown in Pennsylvania.
Second, I thought about the first meat vendor I spoke with who didn’t have pork or ham. We chatted like old friends and he pointed me directly to another vendor and listed all of the others who sell meat. I told him I’d keep him in mind if I ever need beef or chicken.
Third, I revisited the Woolf Farm vendors for their apples. The old gentlemen who sell the pecks are sometimes so brittle that I want to help them load their crates. Yet, they’re always the first to bend over to pick up anything that is dropped, they always help lift paper bags into sacks, and they always have a friendly, crinkly smile like you buying their apples was the kindest thing you could have possibly done for them.
Fourth, as I walked to the other room of vendors, I took a moment to step back and see how many people had walked (and some driven) from all around town to stuff their eco-friendly bags with organic, fresh, higher-than-the-grocer’s-priced goods. They were all out here despite the 14F-degree morning. Many of them had children in tow, all sporting home-knit hats or classy bowlers. I had this sudden good feeling, like these are the kind of people who are going to keep the world good. These are the kind who care and who keep caring and who get up, bring their family, help out friends they don’t know…
Fifth, I finally found the vendors I needed for my meat. I chatted with the father and son about how a vegetarian has no idea which meats she needs, but she (I) will surely make it taste alright anyway. They pointed me in the right direction based on the recipe I said I was making. The girl beside me gasped and said that not only did it sound good but – And pardon me for getting in the middle and overhearing, but my what a thing you’re doing to be cooking meat for someone! That’s really cool! – and I thought, maybe it is? Not for a second did I dread doing it; it only seems proper to cook an ordinary meal and not subject my guests to my eating habits. Well, I subject them a bit. I am after all buying local, organ, grassfed – because that’s the kind I support.
Sixth, I walked into Dewey’s to get my fair-trade coffee. I was impressed by the numbers of people crowded along the tables, many from the market, all barring against the cold in home-knits and pea coats and smiles, appreciating the local, more expensive things. It was a well-mixed crowd too. I even recognized a student who used to come into the library while I was on Welcome Desk shift. I’ve seen him in there before. He is such an outlier and cannot blend in at all with society; I’m not sure if he actually has a problem, or if he doesn’t realize that people don’t really care about his magic cards and his ability to rule fairies, the way-too-loud conversation he was holding in the middle of the room one morning at 7am. But they all know his name. They all ask him questions to relieve the last person and pass him around, making him feel like he has a home. I’m not sure what the poor kid does with his life; he has got to be older than I am. But there he was today, on his laptop in the corner, surrounded by throngs of people who I know would defend him.
Seventh – this is the moment that stuck with me the most and made me recall the others. It was something so simple. I was walking out of the coffee shop and pulling out my earbuds when I noticed a small dog tied to the bench, shivering. No, I’m not a bleeding heart over animals left outside. We keep our dogs outside all of the time and they much prefer it. I just felt bad because he looked distraught and lonely. So, I walked over to him, introduced myself, and kneeled down to pet him. At first, he cowered, but I reached and scratched and he came closer. Soon, his little tail was wagging rapidly and his breath was panting out steam. When he looked warmer, I started to pull away and walk back. I looked up just in time to notice a man, having held doors for many people, walk briskly past us, look back, observe the moment, and bear an enormous smile that he then proceeded to carry into the Farmer’s Market.
All of those smiles – whether from the face or the heart – were affecting people right, left, and sideways today. It was good to see some hope left in what has been feeling like such a drab, dreary, dark world.
So thank you, man with the smile, and you’re welcome to the person who caught it next.
You were cold, as the blood through your bones
And the light which led us from our chosen homes
Well I was lost
Now I sleep
Sleep the hours that I can’t weep
When all I knew was steeped in blackened holes
Well I was lost
And I was still
And I was under your spell
When I was told by Jesus all was well
So all must be well
Just give me time
Well you know your desires and mine
So wrap my flesh in ivory and in twine
For I must be well
Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to seve my hands to learn
Mumford and Sons
Growing up, my mom and my grandma would always ask me about my dreams. Whether they were good, bad, or just plain profound, I would tell them if something stood out to me the next day. There were days when my dreams were dictated by medication, including a series of horrifying nightmares I experienced during my few weeks in India when I switched to a different kind of malaria pill.
I was always amazed by how progressive my family seems to be, yet certain things stick in the mud like a stubborn twig. Things like my grandma’s insisting that owls are a sign of death, my dad yelling at me for speaking ill of my brother when I saw a raven, or the way my family dwells on dreams. I’ve always felt like dreams are just a subconscious moment of clear thinking, kind of like an innocent child creatively experiencing the world or like those moments when you can’t solve a math problem and walk away from it, only to solve it when you’re not thinking about it. But maybe there is something more to it? I do, after all, own an old, large book of palm reading, tarot cards, and dream interpretation.
I do listen to my thoughts and my dreams. I find myself convinced that it keeps me out of trouble, or even death. Like when I leave the house late and my mom says “It was for a reason; something would have happened if you were on time.” Well, once a drunk driver collided head-on going the wrong way down the Turnpike a few miles ahead of me. I think that really got me thinking from then on.
I know a lot of friends would reject my subconscious theory and rationale. They would say it is undoubtedly god speaking to us, showing us what he wants to see. I just have a hard time believing god really cares that much about the bajillions of people here that he sits with them every night and orchestrates their dreams within their respective time zones and sleeping schedules. Wouldn’t it be easier just to sit back and watch? I mean, most people probably forget their dreams anyway.
Last night I had an unusually frustrating dream. My family and I flew to London for a week. I had just gotten back from London (true story), but I was eager to go to the White Cliffs of Dover and also to the northern most point of Scotland. We sat around in this large, modern apartment, staring out at the glass windows for several days, not leaving, before I finally said something. My mom insisted it wasn’t a big deal, we could see London from the living room. I looked out and, sure enough, I could see the London Eye turning and Big Ben not far from that.
My brother was playing games on his computer. I’m not even sure what my dad was doing – if anything. Every time I tried to suggest leaving, they’d ignore me and say that my brother had stuff to get done. But then they’d let him keep playing games.
“Mom, let’s walk to the train station. I have London so well memorized around the Thames that I can get us to Dover in no time.” (true story)
“Okay, fine, we will get ready and go to Dover.”
I wait for a few hours and it is getting dark.
“Mom, if we don’t go now, it will be dark and we can’t see anything.”
“We can go tomorrow.”
“Then we can’t go to Scotland, too!”
“Calm down, it’s no big deal.”
“I didn’t pay for airfare to come to London for a week and sit inside this room!”
And we never went anywhere. It got dark, I could see the blue Eye, and I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t even run away.
I think I know what my dream was telling me.
First of all, my mom mentioned grandma talking about a trip to Australia. I was surprised yesterday that the flights are cheaper than the ones I’m buying to go back to West Africa in less than two months. That’s why I was dreaming about our family traveling. London was always on my mom’s list.
The apartment. I think that’s how I feel about a lot of people, that they’re just idling, watching the world through protective glass, never going outside of their comfort zones. Suffocating in their Bell Jars. Thinking this is as good as it gets, that text book pictures and stories come even close to representing the real thing. And that’s definitely not what it’s like.
The imprisonment. I think I feel imprisoned often by the restraints my parents have always placed on me, whether it is in my athletics or in my travels, whatever. They were shutting down my idea of going somewhere, doing something crazy. I always feel like, if I listened to them, I would be idle, I would be stuck living the same old, conventional, rural Pennsylvanian life. Maybe I want that, but not without leaving it first. They just never tried to leave it at all. And they try to lock me in their norms.
The computer. This is two-fold. One, I was surprised when my mom recently made the comment “I can’t believe you’re surviving without Wi-Fi”. I thought it was sarcastic. Since when did my mom rely on the Internet? She just got a laptop and an e-mail address not that long ago. It’s not like she ever needed it. I didn’t even know she understands half of what she tries to do on it. And, yes, work makes me dependent on Internet, but not like that. Two, this DEFINITELY reflected my attitude on my family’s treatment of me versus my brother. He is more important, he can do what he wants. I can only do what I want if I damn well do it myself. They’ll dish out the money for him to do something stupid and useless and which doesn’t help his career. Meanwhile I’m actually working and trying to live life. Give me a break.
So – let’s look at this two ways:
1. Subconscious, pure thoughts: Does this mean I truly feel this way? Or is this where the imagination part kicks in and starts making me dream up situations for self-pity? Could it be that my views from this dream are really what I’m facing in my daily life?
2. God’s thoughts in my head: If there’s a god putting these ideas there, what is he trying to tell me? I don’t see a way for me to appreciate anything from that dream, unless I’m supposed to appreciate being able to say “I’m in London” – I think not. Is he trying to make me realize the differences between me and my family? I have no idea.
But I enjoy dreams. They are stories I write without trying to write them, and look at all the symbolism I subconsciously conjure up!
This was taken from my recent draft submittal for my satirical column in The Athenian.
I “get through” my day after day after day i.e. life by looking forward to something. It’s so easy to be distracted by only the big things, but really it’s those little somethings that make up the journey in life. What is a trail anyway? It’s a line, and a line is endless infinitesimally small points along the way.
Yesterday, my big thing was a little something full of lots of simple smiles. I got to spend an evening cooking with someone dear to me. Jeff and I of course have fun skiing or playing volleyball like we sometimes do, but it takes a special kind of person to still go outside to build snowmen and to spend a few hours preparing a meal from scratch – and have fun doing it.
From walking to Heinen’s, to slam-dunking food into the buggy, Jeff making fun of me standing on my toes to look over shelves, wandering aisles because he’s too stubborn to ask for help, walking home in the rain, stirring frogs eggs pudding, cutting up Jeff’s first star fruit, sipping wine while making our own broth, fixing up pretty plates of roasted asparagus and improvised homemade hollandaise sauce…we had a blast. We sat down the watch The Bachelor, but we didn’t need a TV show to keep us entertained. I think we could make scrubbing dishes fun.
And that’s when I thought, how many people do that? How many people can enjoy cooking a time-consuming dinner? How many people in their late 20s would build a snowman with me in snow that won’t even compact? How many people take the time to read a silly, three-paged letter with joking references to the Hunger Games trilogy? How many people can still appreciate the little things?
Maybe we are weird, but I like it. And I’m really glad I have someone like Jeff to make being weird less lonely.
Our menu from last night included: white wine, champagne, roasted asparagus, homemade hollandaise sauce with lime, basmati rice, chicken/seitan in white wine broth with sun-dried tomatoes and seasoned artichoke hearts, arugula-basil salad with fresh mozzarella and balsamic-basil vinaigrette, frogs eggs (tapioca pudding), and a sliced star fruit.
little things and little thoughts that make up little me
"If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys." - Chief Dan George
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