Tag Archives: love

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

10 Jul

I now find myself working a new schedule, Wednesday through Saturday. While this means that I can no longer play Pac-12 softball (please, let’s not speak of this sadness), it does mean that I have two weekdays off.

On this Tuesday, I let my hair go curly. Something I almost never do, because it often frizzes messily or hangs limply like overcooked spaghetti. But today, the planets aligned and my hair curled perfectly; bouncy, honey-colored ringlets falling down my back. So I had to leave my apartment, I had to show my curls to the world.

So I went to the West Village, to a bookshop that had been recommended to me, Three Lives & Company. Lately, I’ve been reading the biography of Elizabeth I. It’s interesting, but it hasn’t been able to pull me in. All those accounts of what happened, what might have happened, and what is no doubt rumors is dizzying, and the writing was as dry as a Wikipedia article. I found myself watching “Gossip Girl” on Netflix at the end of my days instead of curling up with a book. If this happens, it is safe to say that one is reading the wrong book as that show blows. It pulls you in, but it blows.

So I browsed the tiny store for about 30 minutes, until I resolved to buy this book. It has been on my literary to-do list ever since I arrived in my beloved Prague over five years ago. So I purchased the book and headed to a coffee shop. I finished the chapter I was reading about the death of Amy Dudley in Elizabeth I’s biography and picked up the Kundera.

Within the first few pages, I was in love. A lot of times when reading a book, I’ll rush through, read fast and loose so that I can move on to the next book on my to-read list. So many books, so little time. But it is such an amazing and distinct pleasure to find a book that makes me want to go slow, to savor every paragraph. Instead of doing laps in a pool, I’m swimming in a mountain lake on a hot summer day.

My mom always used to tell me that “Money comes, money goes, but money always comes again.” I have found this so true in life, but I’ve found it to be true with everything. After months of the daily grind getting you down, a friend agrees to fly to Japan with you. After weeks of feeling unhappy with your job, a new opportunity presents itself and you find a new passion with which you want to spend your life. After a couple of weekends of nothing interesting, you find yourself at a surprise Brunch birthday party, drinking pitchers of mimosas and laughing with new and old friends for hours. After a series of lackluster dates, a man you’ve known for months crouches down and runs his finger over your tattoo, and it shoots electricity straight to your knees. You remember you’re not the girl who is okay with merely a dinner partner but needs someone who can put your all too sturdy knees in check from time to time. And, finally after throwing “Fifth Shades of Grey” across the room and sighing “Spare me,” and half-heartedly reading a dramatization of the Borgias (what rotten people), and forcing yourself to read a historical book so that you can meet your self-imposed yearly non-fiction quota, you find yourself with an amazing book that you can’t stop thinking about, that you know will be dog-earred, pen-marked, and reread. So if you’ll excuse me, I must return to my book now.


5 Jul


I didn’t have any big plans for the fourth of July this year. I expected I’d get together with some amalgamation of friends, drink beer, sit in the sun, watch fireworks. It would be nice. But when my boss asked me to work the holiday shift, I sighed and said yes. This is life at the bottom of the totem pole.

So I worked 8am till 8pm on the fourth of July, and it was a relatively slow day. There was a rush between two and five where we had a slew of emergencies come in. We even performed a surgery, the name of which I can’t remember. In layman’s terms, we sewed a cut on a Vizzla’s nose under light sedation. Oh, we also saw a cat with ringworm. So we were all scrubbing ourselves like crazy and bleaching every inch of the hospital. I’m still itchy and constantly checking my skin for lesions. So far, so good!

Most of my day was taken up by the gentleman pictured above. Crane.

Crane is a bulldog. Crane is a hot mess. His owner is kind of a jerk, but he’s wealthy and travels constantly. So Crane boards with us often. So often that when Crane’s owner walks him into the clinic, all he has to do is unleash him and Crane marches straight to the back area of the hospital, through all the swinging doors and walks up to a cage and waits for us to let him in. He knows the drill. So on Tuesday when we heard a loud thump through the doors of treatment and heard labored, phlegmy breathing, we all just looked up and said, “Oh hey Crane.”

Where do I start with his issues? He’s not castrated, so he has prostrate issues and urinates everywhere. He has dermatitis in his face folds. His eyes give off this thick green discharge, as do his ears and nose. He overheats easily and makes creative breathing noises. He requires so much care. Most everyone at the hospital finds him amusing but chooses not to deal with him, because he is simply disgusting. The only one who really loves Crane is Christine who is out on maternity leave. So with her gone, I had to step up.

He requires treatments almost every hour of the day. He has different pills to take, different ointments, drops, cleaning routines. He’s nearly blind, so he doesn’t like to leave his cage. I often have to climb into his cage with him and scruff him by his folds to get his eye drops in. He hates having his face folds cleaned, but I must. Crane, I must!! So I have to wrassle his head still while he snorts and spews weird bodily fluids all over me, and I try my damnedest to get into those folds with some wipes which quickly turn brown and black from the debris that gets caught there. Crane is a full-time job.

After it slowed down on the fourth, I sat idly flipping through his chart, the catalog of issues, and I got to wondering how happy he can be. I thought I was alone in the hospital so I went over to his cage and squatted in front of it, just looking in at this disgusting, slobbering mess, thinking about his life.

But I wasn’t alone. Rob, a kennel staff member, was there. He was reading his book out of boredom when I asked him, “Do you think Crane’s happy?”
“Of course he is. It’s Crane. Why wouldn’t he be?”
“I don’t know. He’s gross and weird and has all these problems and no one pays attention to him. That’s gotta get him down.”
“He’s Crane, though. He is what he is, and he’s happy. He doesn’t know any better.”
I looked down at Crane, listening to the gurgling of his brachiocephalic trachea pushing air in and out with such effort. He thumped to the floor and started licking his paws, slobbering over them.
“He’s totally happy, Chrissy. C’mon, it’s obvious.”

So I let myself believe that, as I take the time to take care of Crane. Somebody has to love and take care of the messes of the world. Right?

Memorizing a Poem

26 May

My path to poetry was atypical. I suppose everyone’s is. I was never a big fan, other than Shakespeare which for some bizarre reason I never really considered to be poetry. When I made the decision to apply to the Creative Writing track at my university, I dreaded the fact that I would have to take poetry classes. To me, poetry was pretentious, obtuse and a dying art form. I felt like all the required verse classes I had to take were a giant waste of my time. Prose had always been my natural mode of writing, and I wanted to spend as much time as possible perfecting it.

Then, there was Steve Dold.

Steve Dold. I don’t know where to start. He was my junior year poetry writing professor. He was a dreamboat. Every girl in our class was madly in love with him. He would strut into class with his leather jacket and tousled hair. When he read poetry aloud, he’d get this dreamy look in his eyes and take on a high-pitched intonation which was comical yet entrancing. He taught us iambic pentameter by relating it to a steady heartbeat. A 20-year-old girl’s heart didn’t stand a chance.

Our assignments were pretty standard creative writing stuff. We would read a bevy of a certain type of poem then write our own. One week we worked on narrative, another week we worked on sonnets. The only other requirement he had for us was to memorize a poem, just one, any one we liked.

“I believe this will be the most important thing you take away from this class,” I remember him saying. “You will have this poem in your mind if you choose to keep it with you in your life. At some dark hour, when you most need it, it will be there, a calming refrain, a gift you give yourself.”

I rolled my eyes and decided that I would just pick a random villanelle. Villanelle is a highly structured poem based on French poetry. There are a couple of repeating refrains, a strict meter, and a predictable rhyme scheme. I figured this would be an easy form to learn. I checked out a book from the library full of them, I read a couple and found one that struck me. As I read it aloud, something about it was so pleasant, so perfect, and although I didn’t completely grasp the meaning, it affected my heart in a positive way.

I set myself to memorizing it one night when I was home alone in my apartment. I remember making Macaroni and Cheese, taking a shower, cleaning up my room, all while repeating the poem over and over again to myself.

With each repetition, something happened. I became more and more attached to each line. What was originally an interesting but opaque poem became a poem that meant something, each line revealing itself to me more and more.

I memorized that poem and still know it by heart. I went on to focus on writing and reading poetry. When I bring up poetry to people, they often groan and say they just don’t get it, that it’s too academic. Nothing irks me more. Poetry takes time. It is rare to read through a poem and understand it and be done with it. Poetry is meant to dwell with, to spend time with the words, the variety of meanings, to pull something from it for yourself. When I originally set to memorizing a poem, the poem had little meaning to me, except that I enjoyed the first line. Now it is a source of comfort when I’m feeling down. Yes, at dark times in my life, that poem comes to mind and it means something to me. It might not mean anything to anyone else, and it might not mean to me what was originally intended by the poet, but that’s not the point of poetry. It’s an art, and we are to take from it whatever we need.

The Waking

I will forever be thankful to Steve Dold for that.

Thanks Mariners

27 Apr

Making a wish at SafeCo Field. 2008.

One year ago, life was horrible for me, the worst. I’d had my heart broken. I didn’t know where I was going to live. I didn’t have a job I loved or that I thought would take me anywhere. I was living in a lonely city with few people to turn to. I thought I might have breast cancer. I couldn’t eat. I was broke.

With all my problems weighing heavily on me, it made the little things so much worse. An ipod dying became a tragedy on top of it all. It might sound silly and a bit obsessive, but the fact that the Mariner’s were a horrible team last year made everything worse. I would try to sleep at night, all my troubles swarming in my head, and after I had catalogued them all for the millionth time, I would also think, “And the Mariner’s can’t win a fucking game!” I needed them, and they were just depressing me further. I even stopped following them. For the first time since leaving Seattle, I didn’t subscribe to mlbtv.com to watch the games. I just didn’t care.

I KNOW. I really lost it. I kind of kept up with the scores and news worthy updates, but I let myself not care for a season.

My life is back now. It’s not perfect, but it is probably the best it has been in years. Some days, I even feel like I have it all. So this year, when baseball season was coming back, I made the conscious decision to throw my weight back into my Mariner’s. Everyone predicted that they would be horrible this year…again. But I didn’t care. I downloaded some necessary apps to my phone, started following some key M’s blogs, and I started watching the games whenever I had a free night.

I’ve been fighting off a cold and a bad mood all week, so I stayed in on a Friday night to have some me-time and to watch the Mariners play the Blue Jays. We won. That’s the gist of it. But something more. Even at the top of the 9th when we were beginning our two-run deficit comeback with a Michael Saunders’ (not even one of our star players) homerun, I thought, “We still might lose this, but this is actually an exciting game.”

Good M’s offensive, good M’s defense, smart moves by the coaches. In the last couple of years, the M’s have been so crippled, so disappointing, the games haven’t even really been worth it. But tonight, home alone on a Friday night, I was really really enjoying this game.

Then at the top of the 10th, Michael Saunders (again, not even that great a player) got a Grand Slam that basically clinched the game at 9-5.

“SAUNDERS?” I said aloud to myself. “Saunders?!?!” My computer had been on the fritz, and it was freezing, so I thought maybe I saw it wrong. Then the ding-a-ling score alert went off on my phone, and I knew it was true. I was on cloud nine.

The M’s are playing surprisingly well this year. Granted it is April, and they still have room in the season to have a 14 game losing streak. But right now, things are fantastic. So goes baseball. So goes life.

Those that aren’t sports fans have a hard time understanding the utter devotion someone can put behind a team. It’s like everything worthwhile in life. Sometimes you are disappointed. Sometimes you don’t know if it is worth the effort. But when it’s good, it’s great.

The M’s have made me happy lately, and I’m so glad I didn’t break up with them a year ago when things were rough. While one year later, my life is back on track, I’ve had a rough week or two, and it’s like the M’s showed up at my door with soup, ice cream, and flowers.

Being a baseball fan is worth it. It’s worth the hours you spend in front of your television screaming at umpires, or your catcher, or your team’s manager. It’s worth the obsessive thinking about stats and lineups and injuries.

It’s nights like tonight that I realize just how much I love baseball.