Saturday, August 27, 2011

Inner Turmoil and Horses

I have recently made a discovery.

I like horses.

Furthermore, I like riding horses.
I know. It's so cliche. And I spent four years of high school deliberately avoiding, even defying cliches. I didn't go to prom or football games. I had limited interest in boys and next to none in makeup.

But now? I mean, my makeup use is still limited, and I am only cautiously curious about boys. But look at me, I'm baking and riding horses. Me and my little Mormon girl self.

Irony is great in literature, even though most of the time it stinks in real life. But cliches? They stink in the fictional and the un-fictional world.

But here's the thing. I like riding horses. I like feeling tall, because I usual don't. I like being fast, because I'm usual not.

And there is a romanticism to horses. They're tied to knights in shining armor and the Old West. They invoke ancient images, the kind that come with rose colored glasses. So instead of bumping around on the back of a large animal, you're participating in tradition, in the melding of beings, and the planet's pulse.

Oh gosh. I might actually be romantic. The cynic in me is cringing.

It's cliche that I love horses, but is it OK as long as I don't love them because it's cliche?

I've pretty much decided that I don't care. How pathetic would it be if I didn't do things I liked just because they're cliche? So I'm going to keep making bread. And riding horses. Cliches, I defy you by refusing to let you dictate to me. I am not your secretary.

So there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parent Poems

Mom cracks th egg
The yolk lands with a soft--Bump
Mom wishes
Our backyard was big enough for chickens
She did not have to cook this Friday night
She adds cheese
Grated and ribboned
Collecting on the sides of the ancient black pan
Leaking into the eggs
Basil, mushrooms, flavor
At the kitchen table
Dad smiles at Mom
Wishes we were not having eggs and cheese
Says prayer,
If we were starving
Our bellies hanging behind our belts
We would be
So happy to have this
Mom rolls her eyes
They were teenagers, once

Six weeks of work

Six weeks of Saturdays
that were not my own.
A long red line
down the second-to-last day of the week
on my calendar.

A final armful of leaves
scratching long red lines down my arm
as I dump them into a scratched up red truck.

Sitting in the pickup with my dad
mandatory country music squeaking out of the radio.
The dump smells sweet with decay.
We sweep out the pickup’s bed once more
and leaves fall like a Hawaiian autumn.

Back in my yard standing
with a stocky glass of lemonade in my sticky hand.
We survey our work—
the looming lack of hedge
sunlight pouring through the gaping hole of not-there-ness.

“You know,” says dad
“I don’t think I like it.”

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Adjectives, Expectations, and Frozen Yogurt

WARNING: I'm thinking of starting all of my posts with warnings. Anyway, this is extremely long. I hadn't realized how long until I posted it. I could go edit and cut it down... but I've been editing an essay all week, so that's not happening. I would recommend skimming. Or you could just pretend you read it and move on.

Some of you might remember my epiphany in the dandelions that came last year about how all adjectives are relative. (i've since discovered that all words are relative, but this disturbers me less.) You may remember how very annoyed I was to discover that the only way I could define myself was in comparison to other people.... which totally stinks because in comparison it is mandated that someone is the loser. And, of course, that someone is me more than I'd like it to be.

Every time I tell someone I grew up in Hawaii they say, "Why didn't you go to college there?" And I say something like, "I just thought I'd never grow up if I stayed at home." Which is totally true. Like, if I hadn't gone away to college I still wouldn't know how to use a laundromat, I still wouldn't own a wallet, and I wouldn't know how much milk costs.

(ok, we'll be honest. i still don't know how much milk costs. i haven't bought it yet. i don't drink it that much. but i know i'm a grown up because i have a wallet and keys.)

What takes more time to explain is that, cliched as it sounds, I'm curious about me.

I mean, I've been living with me for eighteen years, I kind of want to get to know me a little better. You know how you'll know someone for years, at school maybe, and then when you see them somewhere else they're totally different? I thought I'd pull myself out of the context of my life and see what I was like without it. Silly of course. I haven't left behind my context at all. I find myself giving it no matter who I'm talking to. "Back home..." "In Hawaii..." "Where I grew up..."

I thought I was escaping the labels and expectations of everyone who knew me since I was six. Everyone who sat in sunday school with me and said, "she's haole," or "smart," or "weird." I thought once I was away from all of that something would blossom in my stomach and vola! Look! So that's who I was all along. Who knew?

Actually, even thousands of miles away from my context, I'm terrified of setting it down. Because who am I without it? I'm self-imposing all those expectations on myself now and I don't even have my sunday-school mates to blame for it.

This is not where I was planning on this post going. I wasn't going to really delve into identity. (though i do have a question: is there a healthy thing to base your identity on? honestly? if i think of myself as smart and then i am disillusioned out of this and just crushed, or if it stops me from doing things i'm bad at because that makes me seem less smart, then that isn't healthy. but isn't that true about basing your identity on anything and making any judgments about yourself? now i'm just confused...) I was actually going to note a few things that I've figure out about me. 

Of course they're comparative. You see, you thought I'd entirely forgot that I'd opened with my adjective thing didn't you? Nope, see, I was going somewhere for once. I know. Weird. So, from living with people who aren't my family I've come to some (comparative) conclusions about me. Nothing real earth-shaking.

I'm actually pretty clean. I don't take any responsibility for this. I think it's my mom's handy work and is probably a bit over the top right now as I try to prove to myself that where I am living is actually my home. But still. I have compulsions to do the dishes, clean the bathroom, etc. These are compulsions that my roommates do not have and do not understand. I'm mostly cool with that, but I wish they'd let me do it. I don't need them to do their dishes, I just need their dishes done. I'm good with cleaning them, but for some reason they haven't really borded that train of thought.

I go sleep early. Really. I'm going to sleep later than I used to and I still go to bed early. Yesterday was eleven thirty-ish because I had a paper due today. It felt late then and this morning it really felt late. But try complaining about a eleven-thirty bedtime to college students. See if you get away without a social stoning. I haven't really decided what I think this says about me... but I thought I'd share it. So if you happen to be my floor mate who keeps playing the ukulele at obscene hours of the morning, take pity on the poor socially awkward girl who lives across from you and stop. Or at least learn a different song.

I am socially awkward. Which does seem sort of fundamentally unfair. I shouldn't have to be physically and socially awkward. I really must have been at the back of the line when the stars were passing out skills. Because I'm a self-justifying person, though, I have come up with a perfectly plausible reason for why I'm socially awkward. The meeting new people part is because I've lived in a tiny town my whole life, so even people I didn't know knew me. Now I'm in a place where no one knows me... and I don't know what to do. Do I just walk up to people and say, "Hey. I'm Marissa. I'm a socially awkward Asian Studies major, looking for a job and craving sugar?"

Not really, right? There is some secret to this whole meeting people thing that I am just yet to discover. Right? Like a secret password.

... Hey, guys. Now would be a great time to let me in on the secret. Just saying.

I actually have a lot to tell you. Like I bought bubbles because I decided that I couldn't live without them. And I was walking back from blowing them on Sunday and got invited in by people I'd met that day ("hey. i'm marissa....") to eat a muffin. Which was fun. I felt intimidated though, because they were talking about politics. And I know nothing about politics. I do, however, know a lot about China, and I got into a heated discussion with a Pakistani in my ward about it. I met him, told him what I studies ("i'm a socially awkward asian studies major..."), and he leaned forward said, "Do you think Mao was a good leader?" We argued about it for twenty minutes, until he had to go talk to the Bishop.

My father has mandated that my entire family will eat sugar only once a week (with the exception of holidays recognized by hallmark) and it works well. Most of the time. Everyone once in a while I just really.... need... ICECREAM. ("looking for a job and craving sugar...") Tomorrow will be my once a week, though. I'm going to go get frozen yogurt. As a treat for me doing a whole half of the things I was supposed to this week. Because I'm responsible like that.