little sarah Big World

Category: Journal


Monday, June 14th, 2010

(airplane: NJ – SLC)

How is it even possible that I’m on my way home? How did time skip forward to this point, carrying me along effortlessly in the present moment until suddenly I wake up and the present moment is THIS, an inevitability so built up and anticipated as to be now mundane, almost. Commonplace, while at the same time it’s strange enough to be numbing, dissociating.

Maybe BECAUSE it feels so normal? So every day, as though I’d only ever been on vacation.

This is what Lucy and the rest of them must have felt, stumbling out of the wardrobe, finding themselves suddenly right back home again.

Distant but Not Cold

(bus: Madrid-Illescas)

The woman sitting directly behind me on the bus has the sniffles, and I’ve more than half a mind to change seats. The sniffles are easily my least favorite sound. I don’t know why, maybe because they’re so gross and mucousy and I’m like, “Just blow your damn nose already!” Even when I, myself, have a runny nose, I take care of it. I blow my nose with a vengeance.

I guess another part of it, too, is that sniffling strikes me as childish, and I’ve never been particularly tolerant of childish behavior.

Not even in children.

*       *       *

Haven’t written much in the ol’ blog lately. Haven’t much felt like writing. I’d love to be one of those Kurt Cobain-y types (or insert any great, alcoholic American writer here) who’s somehow more creative when depressed (since I seem to spend so much time like that), but really what happens is that I just turn into a gloomy little pity party of one, and it’s not particularly artistic or productive in any sense. It’s more like a black hole of moodiness.

Not that I’m depressed. I mean, I was, definitely, and i was having revelations like, “It’s better to be truly alone than to have the illusion of not being alone,” and I guess I still feel that way, but I also feel very…calm. I feel like I’m in a hot air balloon floating high above the landscape–distant but not cold–and while this marks progress, it also worries me.

Because my new thing is that I’m having a really hard time connecting with people. I just feel so far away, even when Whitney was here, and I’m realizing that this isn’t my new thing at all, that in fact this is my thing and this is my me, my who I am or who I’m in danger of becoming if I don’t find a way out of the looking glass (don’t see that movie, PS). I think about Brett, and boy do I miss that boy, but at the time when we were roommates I was always cranky about his everything bagel crumbs on the counter, or if he used the right sponge to clean the toilet, and we very much lived isolated in our own little rooms at two ends of the same small hall, and I just couldn’t reach out to him, even though he reached out to me. He never let me sink too low. He brought me cheap Chinese food when I was sick. He ate cookies and talked boy troubles with me. And where was I? So often I was just off somewhere floating, lost even to myself.

It doesn’t have to be like this! Right? I mean, sure, I’ve said that I want my happiness to be portable, to not be dependent on other people or circumstances, but I’d like to be able to share it, too. Sin costarme tanto, you know? What good is warmth if it’s not shared? I like this floating basket I’ve woven for myself, because it’s safe, and it’s portable, but I want to be able to touch down more easily. I want to see the people, hear their voices, be held in their arms.

Adventures in Medicine! vol.2

Remember those old public service announcements that were like, (stern voice): “Do you know where your children are right now?” Well, if someone had asked my mother that last night, I doubt she would have said “Drinking barium, half naked, while strangers slide her around on a table in a dim room.”

But that’s exactly where I was this morning.

I know that a lot of people are intimidated by hospitals and esoteric medical procedures and whatnot, and I get that. It’s strange, it’s overwhelming, and doctors can me so intimidating and condescending. But I generally have to fight the urge to giggle in these situations. I mean, come on—“You can put your pants and shoes back on but that’s it. Don’t eat or drink anything. You can make piss but not caca and here’s a plastic baggie for your brat and shirt. Wait here. We’ll call you in half an hour.” HILARIOUS, right?

Oh, but how did we wind up here, Sarah? is the real question.

It all started last July, when I noticed (to my horror) that, despite working out six days a week and eating healthier than practically anyone I knew, I was bloated ALL THE TIME. And I was gaining weight, which is the worst thing that can ever happen to a person. (Don’t look at me like that. I know what you’re thinking—“But Sarah, what about [insert horrible, debilitating and/or disfiguring incident here]?” But you know what? People pity the injured, the sick, the victimized. Nobody pities the chubby).

Anyways, America being the wonderful country that it is, I didn’t have insurance. Until September. So I went to the doctor right before leaving for Spain and she was like, “Well, you have some sort of infection, I’m not sure what exactly but I’m going to go ahead and guess it’s a colon infection, which is weird for someone your age.”

True, but I’ve also already had arthritis and bunions. So we keep an open mind.

She gave me some antibiotics, I took them, and nada. By this time I was in Spain, so I had to climb down off the jet-lag/home-sickness bummer I was riding on and muster up enough gumption to go to the doctor here. In short: more tests, more pills, but no solution. Not even a diagnosis.

Then came Christmas and I was busy being forced to eat a ton of food by well-meaning Spaniards, which of course didn’t help anything. I arrived at a point where I was like, “You know what, stomach? You’re not going to digest things? Fine. I’m not going to feed you. But you’ve put me in a foul fucking mood, so expect to see a lot of alcohol,”

This troubled my mother, who insisted that I go to the ER, to settle this shit once and for all (this sounds extreme, but it’s because they don’t really have insta-clinics here. You either make a Dr’s appointment for a few days/weeks later or you go to the ER). So I did, and they sent me to a new doctor, who also implied that my problems stem from chewing gum/eating nuts/being a hysterical woman and generally not knowing what I’m talking about/making a big deal out of nothing.

Now here I am, tummy full of pink barium, bra in a bag, waiting to be called in again for round three of the radiology shuffle.

At least it’s entertaining.

…y que no haya remedio

Monday, December 28th, 2009

(bus: Oviedo to Madrid)

Where am I? Okay, so…I’m on the bus back to Madrid from Oviedo, but…I was just so lost in a book, and it’s over now, and I looked up to have that question come flying out of the darkness at me. Not feeling low about returning to Madrid this time, just…ambivalent. Looking forward to my next book, my next distraction, and that really does worry me. As much as I’m growing and learning and getting my bearings out here, I’m also just…killing time. Until I’m allowed to go home to my loved ones.

But then, okay, two things. First off, we talked about committing to where we are RIGHT NOW, didn’t we, Sarah? And also: you know damned well that you’d find something to bitch about in regards to your “loved ones” back home.

I fear that I may be a malcontent…

Patria querida

On the way to Oviedo, and then just now, again, on the way home, there was a rainbow, on the outskirts of the city. And not just any rainbow, but a vibrant, wide, full color-scheme arco iris that both greeted me and bade me farewell. Hasta luego, Asturias.

It’s good to know that Mother Nature feels the same way about Oviedo as I do.

Sarah & Oviedo, December 2009

On my way to Oviedo

So…they’re showing a movie on the bus with the sound coming through the overhead speakers. It’s American Gangster.

I should mention that this is the 8am bus, and that the movie opens with a man tied to a chair, doused in gasoline, and set on fire.

Merry Christmas, from Spain.

Tour Journal

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

(Madrid – airport)

Waiting for my flight with a headache (a hangover?). On my way to Copenhagen, to meet Will, to join him on the tour.

Nervous, anxious, excited, and headachy. Oh, and tired. Always tired, but I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I suppose.

Friday, December 4th, 2009

(Malmö – coffee shop)

“Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me,

If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me”

-Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

Monday, December 7th, 2009


In a coffee shop, in Hamburg, wanting desperately to lose myself in a book, but stuck listening to shitty radio.

One of the people we met today said that I was boring. I think maybe it was a joke? Hard to tell, with the language barrier and all. Harder than one would think, at least.

And I don’t want to think that it’s true, but maybe it is. I suppose most boring people think that they’re interesting, and that’s what keeps them keepin’ on.

But anyways, fuck it. All I can do is keep on keepin’ on anyhow.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

(Train—Hannover to Amsterdam)

Am I a child? Will said that I am, and with good reason. I don’t know, with him…I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like, he sees me as childish, and so treats me as such, and then that’s what I become; that’s what I am.

But then I think back to the night when Laura forced me to set up my bedroom in Madrid, when she saw how I’d been living—everything a mess, suitcase half unpacked, etc.—and I remember it was all so overwhelming, and nothing was right, and I didn’t know how to fix it. My mind started spinning with wild, childish fantasies—impossible solutions—and I wanted to cry.

This was maybe not the first time I’ve had a near breakdown over a new bedroom.

No, not even close.

And I really don’t like seeing myself through their eyes. I don’t like seeing myself as needy, or childish. Dependent.

*     *     *

But it can’t ALL be true, because sometimes I don’t depend. Sometimes I’m depended on. I mean, dozens of people have entrusted their children to me, and I haven’t let them down. And I’ve known what to say when a three-, four-, five-year-old poses the tough questions (or, if I didn’t know, I made something up, like all good grown-ups do).

I help out all I can and try my best to be honest, to be reliable and keep my commitments, to keep my word. I’m teaching myself to be my own shelter, not to always run to that strong masculine shoulder but to just wait and wait and hold on. A lot of self-justification, but still.

Anyways, I can’t be THAT childish if I’m out there (mostly) on my own, in Madrid, doing my own thing.

I’m just sensitive, and that’s because I’m very serious, and that’s okay, because then I’m also sincere. And I think that takes more strength, in a way, than being callous, because you’re always exposed. No jokes, no armor. No bullshit “adult” superiority, none of that.

Because who ever REALLY grows up, anyway? Honestly.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

(Strasbourg – café)

I think the road to genuinely not caring is a lot different and more “duro” than just pretending not to care. But it’s better.

Oh, how it’s better.

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

(Train – Geneva to Montpellier)

Quelqu’un m’a dit qu’il me trouve bizarre aujourd’hui, mais je ne suis pas d’accord. Je me sens heureuse—heureuse par tout ça que je suis. Heureuse par pouvoir parler le français (un peut), et l’espagnole. Par tout que je sais faire, par tout que je suis, et par tout que je ne suis pas—je me sens heureuse. Je sais que je ne suis pas ennuyant. Pas du tout. Et si on veut ça croire, quel dommage.

Pour lui.

*     *     *

La otra cosa es que, más que nada, ahora me siento tan agradecida por los amigos y familiares que tengo, los que me encuentran interesante, graciosa, genial. Los que ya saben que merezco la pena.

Laura me ha llamado varias veces durante esta gira. A lo mejor es para hablar de unos problemas que tenga, pero no solo será eso. También debe de ser para charlar conmigo, y para escucharme. Para sentirnos muy amigas. Porque ella depende de mí, justo como yo dependo tanto de ella. Y ya sé que cuando vuelva yo, vamos a embrazar. Vamos a cenar y hablar y beber hasta ponernos borrachas. Ya sé que voy a recontar mis experiencias a Marta y a las Marías, y que ellas van a estar interesadas en lo que tengo que decir.

Voy a hacer la compra con Marta, y discutir, y reírnos. Voy a fumar un cigarrillo con María Oviedo y hablar de los hombres. Voy a comer demasiado chocolate con María la pequeña. Voy a ir al cine con Sebastien para ver a Charlie Chaplin, cuantos veces podemos, y vamos a hablar francés.

Y luego, por fin, cuando haya conseguido lo que busco (cuando sea), voy a regresar a los EEUU, donde me esperarán mis amigos, mi familia, la vida que conozco.

Me sumergiré en todo lo que me está esperando, y lloraré. Lloraré por la pura alegría de todo eso.

*     *     *

More than anything, I feel like this has been a voyage of self-discovery. Oh, of course. Of course, of course—always thinking about myself, tucked up in my mind’s attic. Sometimes I wish I could tell my conscious self to fuck off, leave me be to listen to the music, dance a little, to laugh.

But that’s okay. I like that part of me, or at least I care about her—little self-conscious Sarah. And then there’s business Sarah, charming Sarah, grown-up Sarah and pretend-a-grown-up Sarah. I like them all. They can all stay.

There was a dark night, a very dark night (in Amsterdam, of all places!), and I was frozen, trapped under the weight of it all—existence, and possibility, and of course fear. Because sometimes we Sarahs get like that. Sometimes we’re reduced down to a fine point of despair, and in that empty, lonely little space the question comes: Is it worth it? Is all this worth anything? Should we keep going, keep trying? I know I can’t turn back, but I could get out. Morbid though it may sound, I console myself with that ultimate exit. I know that I can take it at any time. What can I say? I need the stakes to be that high; I take things very seriously.

These nights I usually fall asleep before making any drastic decisions. I exhaust myself in anguish and worry.

But then…maybe falling asleep IS my decision. And in the morning, I feel better. With time, I’m learning to remember that: In the morning, I’ll feel better.

So keep going, Sarahs. Lets keep going.

Socialist healthcare…

…but no public restrooms (another journal excerpt).

Monday, November 16th, 2009

(on the bus to Illescas)

We just passed a grafitti tag that said “TinTin.” No joke.

Also, on the Metro this morning, I had to pee. I still do, in fact, because I realized that even though I had 5 extra minutes, I couldn’t use them to go to the bathroom.

Because there is no bathroom.

Excerpts from My Journal

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
(Toledo – Bus Stop)

I wonder what my life looks like from the outside. I know that sometimes you have to step outside of a thing to appreciate it. “Can’t see the forest for the trees,” but I feel like I already appreciated my life in Utah before I left. There were days when I was enamored of it, even. Giddy. But maybe that’s not the same?

And how can I truly step outside my own life? Because here I am, still living it.

I think I need to resign myself better to my current situation, in general. Resign seems too strong a word, but I don’t want to say “live in the moment.” That’s not exactly what I mean, and it’s too…new age. Bullshit.

It’s easy for me to look back and appreciate the life I’ve lead, the shape of its overall arch, the contours, the outstanding moments. But I know damn well that I was restless the entire time. Anxious, distressed. I was drowning in still waters, clinging to each misfortune as a sign that I’d chosen, or been forced down, the wrong path.

I tend to focus on what I can’t have, to think in terms of limitation, seeing each decision as confining. Whenever I take action, I see only the doors it closes for me, instead of walking through the doors it’s opened. And then I’m stuck; no way out, paralyzed with fear.

Maybe Spain is an open door for me, then. Maybe it doesn’t shut me off from Utah, or from music. Maybe it opens me up to myself.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
(Madrid – Metro)

I’m starting to feel at home in Madrid, on the metro. Like I belong. I see the other Americans, recognize the accent, but I know I’m apart from that somehow.

Just now, feeling my new life conforming, starting to fit, like a new pair of jeans, I thought “How quickly I’ve forgotten Utah! How distant it all is!”

But that’s not true. Memories of riding my bike along Windsor Street, summer’s warmth cut with the clear, brisk autumn air. Friday nights going to the midnight movie by myself—it’s as fresh and vivid as ever.

Ha! It’s as real as if it were only two weeks ago.

Friday, October 16th, 2009
(Potsdam – Café)

Feeling better after a walk, even though it’s damp and could out. I almost gave up after one turn around the block, but I warmed as I kept going.

Today marks three weeks that I’ve been here, and I’m finally taking photos. Decent ones, I might add!

Potsdam is lovely, quaint, charming. The people here are all very friendly and very English-speaking, which is nice.

I’m warm and toasty inside a café, with amazing German comfort foods—potato soup with fresh veggies and sausage, brown bread, and hot chocolate.

After this, I’ll practice and maybe read for a bit, then it’s dinner with Beth and hopefully a chance to talk.

If only the whole year could go like this. No work. No Illescas. No hustle and bustle. Anyways.