Monday, November 26, 2012

Lady Bird Johnson Grove

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”

― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Friday, November 23, 2012

The grass is always greener...

This week in podclub we listened to Snap Judgement-careful what you wish for.  This is the first time i've heard this podcast but I think it might become a regular.  The test is usually if it makes me lose track of how long it is...well, I listened while grocery shopping for thanksgiving, and it made it seem like a pretty painless short trip (even though it was packed in the store and I'm a slow shopper when it comes to cooking anything out of the ordinary).  The stories were about people who got what they wanted but it didn't turn out to be all that they had hoped.  

I tried to think of times when this has happened to me.  I know there has been times, of course, but I have a tendency to expect the worst.  Thats not really a good thing, but it does mean I go into good things expecting it not to be all sunshine and roses.  For example, when I was little and grown ups told me I didn't want to grow up I believed them.  I saw how stressed out and generally unhappy they were and it stressed me out thinking I'd eventually get to that age and have to work all day and worry about money.  While most kids were growing up as fast as they could I was trying to go as slowly as possible.  All the stress and tears I had over it probably aged me faster than them anyway so even that was a failure.  

So what are things that I wish for?  Well I want to have magic of course, and to be able to fly (not with wings, just like superman I guess).  I wish I had enough money to not have to worry about money because its my least favorite thing in the world.  Actually, I wish the world would just stop functioning on currency and power and instead just functioned because we all wanted to live here and survive together (hey, if we're going all out wishing here I might as well get to the point).  These are just the first things to come to mind so I guess their my biggest way out there wishes...I know they would come with consequences though.  All of them a result of human nature, we are not perfect and there will always be imperfections in any plan or world we create.  There are a lot of things people would struggle with that would be amplified in these wishes, like greed, laziness, narcissism, the need for power, anger, fear, depression.  I'd risk it for the magic though...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Small town, big sky

I can't say I love living in the country.  In fact a lot of physical, and emotional energy has been spent trying to get out of this particular part of country.  I don't dislike it though, I can't imagine being packed into a big city, but I also don't want to live in a place where the only interesting thing to do is go to a bar and forget you live in such a place (which i've actually never done, but I've been here long enough to know thats what quite a bit of people do the second they can) This tiny town doesn't have much to offer.  Its mostly a desert, with irrigation making farms possible.  Anything worth leaving the house for is at least half an hour drive away.  I've met people who love it though, they tell me stories of other places they lived and how they couldn't wait to get back.  I nod politely but inwardly I'm slightly shocked and wonder what it is they can't wait to get back to.  Is it the strip malls full of china buffets and money trees?  The endless supply of fast food restaurants (where they've realized they have no competition and have stopped being fast).  Maybe its Walmart, the one and only store nearby...It always baffles me.  I think for some of them it might just be nostalgia for the place they grew up.  I admit, though I wouldn't want to live in Walla Walla, I do like to visit it, and all those streets I know like the back of my hand could do nothing but make me feel at home.  

This place surprises me sometimes though.  I won't be giving it a second thought and then I'll look out the window and see this huge dramatic sky spreading endlessly over fields.  The clouds will be parting just at sunset, and the light will start to pour down on the earth in pools.  Highlighting a tree here, and old red barn over there, one of the massive flocks of birds that autumn brings moving to another part of the field.  Sometimes I look outside and forget about how much I want to move, because its gone and taken my breath away.  Of course then the wind shows up to remind me...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Podclub-insane vs. unsane

Love+Radio is now one of my favorite podcasts.  I've only heard one, but I can tell this will be like when I finally started listening to Radiolab and couldn't stop until I'd ran out of them within a few weeks (yeah I get slightly obsessive when I find a good story or in this case storyteller).  This episode is all stories about insanity.  There was so much going on that I can't begin to describe it or really even how it made me feel, other than maybe a little like alice must have felt when she found herself having tea with the mad hatter and all his friends.  

We are all a little crazy.  According to the American Psychiatric Association:

One fifth of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder during any given year. One fifth of school-age children are also affected by these conditions. Severe and persistent mental illness is less common, but still afflicts three percent of the population.

At some point in everyone's life they become a little mentally unstable for whatever reason.  I'm no exception of course.  I have days that I know (or realize a little too late) that I'm acting more erratically than normal.  I put on a face to gauge just how much of my particular crazy others can take, and even then I don't usually let much of it out just in case (at least not on purpose).  I don't think I can honestly say what is normal or not because I've been finding that I tend to have my own normal.  I think maybe thats also something thats true for everyone.  If you go to a doctor and get any tests they'll show you where your results are in relation to what they've determined as normal or the average.  But what if your not average?  The average inseam for women is 31 and if your not that well, your out of luck.  You might as well head off to Nordstrom Rack and get a basket so you can load up on jeans, head off to the dressing room and make a day of it because you will never be buying a pair of jeans at any store that doesn't have a massive selection and you can forget about khaki's.  I guess problems with doctors and average's is another issue for another day but hopefully you get the point...

Its true that we're all very similar in a lot of ways but we're also completely unique and in some ways we live in our own reality.  I go about my day with my own completely unique reality.  Luckily (though my reality might be less interesting than if I was slightly crazier and it maybe included something wonderful like my own personal magical fairy and a time traveling tree) its just enough like everyone else's reality to keep me out of a hospital and unmedicated.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Well, hello there.  My name is Caspian and I'm afraid this might be the first mention of me in this blog.  I'm a little shocked actually, and it's a problem I plan on rectifying immediately.  She will be shunned, and I may even have to spend some time staring deep into her soul to find where things have gone wrong.  I've sent my slave girl off to the store for more toys since i've completely destroyed my favorite feather on a string.  It was very sad, we had a moment of mourning for it, but not to worry, my subjects are loyal (and my mind control methods perfected) and I will have a replacement shortly.  It's quite entertaining actually, they think they're going for groceries and once they get there they (somehow, ha ha) end up in the cat aisle with no idea of what they actually went for.

Now down to the interesting part.  All about me.  I've been ruler of this house for over a year now, and my reign is sure to go on for quite some time as I only eat the best food and work out regularly with my feather.  My fur is luxurious and I keep my subjects loyal by allowing them to touch it for a few moments a day.  A few strokes is all they get, but it keeps them coming back for more and serving me without question.  Occasionally I reward them for a job well done by allowing them to serve as my bed for a short time, but only if they keep their hands to themselves.  Of course the mind control helps, how else could I keep them believing they only serve themselves and I am nothing but a pet (such a horrible term, the very idea would make me hack up a hair ball if it wasn't so ridiculous).  After all the most loyal slaves, don't realize they are slaves.  Speaking of, she will be returning soon so i'll need you to rest up for my long day of mean exercising with my new feather.  So long for now, I'll be monitoring her posts for content and make sure I am given a starring role in the future.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Anything Ghost Podclub

This week in podclub we listened to Anything Ghost Episode #164.  I was a little apprehensive about listening to two hours of ghost stories.  Here's how this usually goes...

Me: I don't really like ghost stories...

Whoever I'm with:  Oh really?  I don't either, but there was this one time...

Me: No I really don't like them and actually would rather not hear any because it will give me nightmares and me and my         healthy imagination spend way too much time alone in the dark.

Whoever I'm with:  Oh okay yeah I totally understand, they don't really scare me like that.  Except this one time that...

See how where this is going?  Apparently people love ghost stories.  I, on the other hand, spent over twenty years avoiding them at all costs because I knew I'd eventually have to do something at night by myself and every story I'd seen or heard would be there haunting me.  Under my bed, around the corner, the dog's howling next door, don't look out the window (why did I leave it open!), in the closet or bathroom, and I don't remember leaving the T.V. on (what was I thinking watching The Shining, just because its old doesn't mean it won't scare me).  I guess in a way I've been haunted most of my life by my own overactive imagination.  When commercials for scary movies come on, I turn my head like I'm a child, too young to see.  If it sounds scary I hit mute first or leave the room.  So I guess its strange that I love halloween so much...I think I celebrate the chance to play dress up and pretend.  I love other things about it too, like the decorations, and everything being a little strange and unexpected.  

When I got married it got worse for a few years.  I had to adjust to being alone at night a lot.  I remember waking up after a terrifying dream about my closet being haunted, alone, in the dark, I called Matthew crying, just to hear his voice and beg him to hurry home.  He calmed me down and somehow I got back to sleep.  Somewhere in my mid-twenties it got a little better.  I don't have nightmares as much, I don't have to close my eyes as soon as the last light is off and feel my way to bed, I don't have to avoid looking out dark windows (though I still get this shot of fright for a moment when I do).  I still avoid scary stories and will have nothing to do with scary movies, but now they don't stay with me as much when I do hear or see one.  This podcast started out by saying it was a special episode and the stories weren't required to be true.  As soon as he said that I lost most of the fear I'd been holding about it.  There were some that were good stories, but I'm going to agree with Jill here and say he is not a very good storyteller.  I was having a hard time imagining any of them, and that means I wasn't very scared of them.  It did make me think of a few of my own stories though.  I'll tell you about them but after years of trying not to think about it, lets hope it doesn't scare me again.

I was really young.  It probably started out like most nights where me and Rachael would fight over who had to get up and turn off the light.  One of us would have to brave the monsters under the bed that appear the second the light goes off.  It was usually me, and that might be why I was laying at the bottom of my bed with my head toward the door, facing the window.  It could also be that I was terrified of the window and things that could come through it so I moved away from it.  However it happened, I fell asleep on my back, facing the window.  At some point I was woken up by a tapping on my shoulder.  Like when someone is standing behind you trying to get your attention.  It woke me up slowly and I remember thinking the tapping was strange as I came out of whatever dream I was in.  When I opened my eyes everything slowed down.  It was round and had a face but no body, just a tail that went up to the ceiling and trailed out the closed window as if it had come through it.  It was over in seconds but I remember first fear and then anger along with all these thoughts going through my head of what it could be.  I tried to hit it but it just backed up out of reach.  I sat up and when I turned to look at it again, it was gone.  I think I spent the rest of the night in Rachael's bed (who despite what her journal might have you believe, still had her good moments)  she barely woke up and said I was probably just dreaming.  I told my mom the next day and she said she had come in to check on me that night and I had probably just seen her.  This did not help because it made me worry that she might be possessed.  It was so vivid and has stuck with me like nothing else ever has.  Yes it could have been a dream, but when I say that I feel like I'm lying to myself.  I've had vivid dreams before and like all the others they fade a little and that it was a dream becomes obvious once I'm no longer in it.  This didn't feel like that.  To this day if I see something shaped like what I saw that night, it terrifies me.  And I have seen them.  Its actually another reason I don't think it was a dream.  I've seen them in things and I know there's no way I could have seen anything like that at a time in my life when I was barely allowed to watch any T.V. or listen to unauthorized music.  Here's a picture of the one that took me the most off guard.  It was in Guitar Hero on all the songs by Tool.  I couldn't play or watch any of them being played.  Its the closest ones I've seen so far, I think because of the tail.

The next story is probably more my overactive imagination but it did stick with me for years and caused many painful full bladders to wait till the sun came up.  I was a little older but still sharing a room.  At some point I heard some stories about kids getting kidnapped, and one in particular where a person woke up to find a stranger sitting next to their bed watching them sleep.  I started to worry about being taken in the night, or coming upon an intruder alone on my way through the house in the dark.  One night I was on my way to the bathroom and saw a shadow move from the stairs to the kitchen.  It looked like a person, and stopped me cold in my tracks.  I don't remember how long I stood there waiting for more movement but nothing else happened.  I was convinced it was a person though and I think I even woke up one of my parents (I don't remember which) and of course they found nothing.  I think it probably was nothing, but at the time I was convinced that it was someone who had broken in and probably just escaped through the sliding glass door in the kitchen.  I thought if it wasn't a person it had to be a ghost because of the shape and then it just disappeared.  Either way I could barely bring myself to go to the bathroom at night for months.

Okay last one.  This is why I don't like looking out windows at night.  When I met matthew we had a conversation that went a lot like the one at the beginning of this post.  I told him I didn't want to hear any ghost stories and he proceeded to tell me the church he was currently living in was haunted and then told me all the stories that went along with that.  None of them bothered me nearly as much as the last thing he told me.  He was being followed by something.  It looked like a man wearing a black trench coat and black hat.  All he could see of its face was its red glowing eyes.  I told him it was not funny to scare me, but he was dead serious.  He told me countless times that he had looked through a window at night only to see the man looking back at him, only to disappear moments later.  It had been going on for years, but seemed to happen less and less and I don't think its happened since we got married.  He claimed he wasn't afraid of it, maybe the fact that just my imagining it might happen to me scared me half to death, and made me avoid windows at night when I was alone was enough and it felt like it had accomplished its goal...I still think about it at night if i want to look outside, but it doesn't stop me anymore.  

So those are the things that haunt me at night.  I'm glad I'm not as scared as I used to be (it took long enough).  I still have an overactive imagination but I guess I've had enough practice at calming myself down now that it actually works.  

P.S.  If your looking for a great ghost story thats only the perfect amount of scary, go listen to Neil Gaimen's audiobook of "The Graveyard Book".  He reads it himself, and he knows how to tell a story.