little sarah Big World

Tag: life

Lucky to Be Free

~OR~

“I’m back…I think”

Temple Gate, KL, Malaysia, 2014

Today is our anniversary.

“WAS,” says Adrienne. Would have been. Today would have been our 2nd anniversary.

I’m spending it alone, in Malaysia, on my way to Bali, a plan I made, reveled in, regretted, and then reconciled myself to (as though a tropical Asian vacation were something to be endured–I am such silly twerp at times).

*       *       *

I never thought any of this would happen. Never thought I’d get married, and then, having committed myself fully, never thought I’d be divorced. I’d never considered living in Japan and could not have guessed, even one year ago, that I’d be the one to stay, happy in my new home, out in the world, again, on my own.

I’d never have predicted the twists or turns or characters that would lead me back to a sense of contentment, and there were times, places, dark lonely spaces, when I sincerely believed that I would not, could not, survive this heartbreak.

Life delivers us many surprises.

Temple Gates, KL, Malaysia, 2014

I can’t stop thinking how fortunate I am, like a metronome in my mind: “Lucky, lucky, lucky.” Born free, raised well, healthy, never wanting for food, running water, shelter, or love. I work a job that makes me excited to get up in the morning; I’ve seen more of the world than most people ever will; I live a charmed life, one that others can only dream of. I must never forget that, never stop feeling fortunate, or grateful.

China Town, KL, Malaysia, 2014

Happy anniversary, Chad. Thank you for the good times, the hard lessons, the opportunities, and for letting me go.

*       *       *

So here I go.

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By Foot

Despite my best efforts, despite myself, I keep going to bed too late on work nights. Last night it was talking with Nicole on her “luscious back porch,” which meant I didn’t get to bed by 10:30 as planned, but rather 1:30. With a wake-up call of 5:30.

Don’t worry, though, I just slept right through that, waking up 7 minutes after I was supposed to already be at work. Which meant: pants on, glasses on, shoes on, frozen quinoa muffin in the purse and RUN. Literally–1.2 miles at 6:30 am.

Life is strange and unexpected, Friends.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Morning

~OR~

But Now Am Found

Last night I stayed up ’til nearly 2 am, writing. On paper. Laptop off, typewriter put away, just pen and ink on the page.

For 5 1/2 pages. Read the rest of this entry »

The Origins of littlesarahBigWorld

~OR~

¡Hola de España!‏

So here I am. In Buenos Aires. On my own. And I kind of dig it. It’s been a while since I’ve had an adventure of this magnetude–travelling alone in a country that I know almost nothing about, with only the vaguest of plans and intentions. It reminds me of the first time I did this, in Spain. Allow me to set the scene:

Summer 2008. I am 23 years old. I have been out of the country only once before, to visit whitney for 10 days in Paris. I arrive in Madrid, catch a taxi fromt he airport to the bus station, buy a ticket headed north, and am on my way to Oviedo. All within the space of about an hour. I feel good about this trip, because of course I speak Spanish, and of course I will make friends with whom I can travel for 3 weeks, after the 5 week intensive Spanish language course ends. Right?

WRONG. My Spanish was not EVEN what I thought it was. And I wound up travelling alone, making hostel reservations for only one city ahead. Kissing strange boys. Busking. And I kept in touch with mass emails to my family and friends, and then I came home and made a zine about it. So, if you put those two things together, it’s kind of like littlesarahBigWorld. The beta version. Now, for your viewing and reading pleasure, I present you with those original emails and pages scanned from the first ever READ ME zine (of which there are…two. Whatevs). Enjoy!

*       *       *

Hi family and friends! Wow, already it´s a bit dificult to write in English. I am in Spain!!!!! I arrived in Madrid yesterday morning at nine (one am in Utah time). There was almost no wait to get my bags and change my money and whatnot (the exchange rate! ¡Ay! 50 US dollars is, like, 30 Euros). By ten I had already caught a taxi to the bus station, purchased a ticket, and I was on the bus to Oviedo. I wanted so badly to stay awake on the bus, because the scenery was gorgeous, but I literally could not force my eyes open. I arrived in Oviedo at 3:30 and had 4 hours to kill. Oh, Moms (or Dad): I will contact Mountain America, but if you guys could also call and tell them that I´m in Spàin and that I´m not a theif and to un-freeze me account, because right now I have NO MONEY!

Mi familia is a single woman named Beatriz. She lives alone, but she has a boyfriend that comes over to eat dinner and chat with us. His name is Eusepio. They both talk very fast (faster than the other moms, like Katrina´s), and I´ve already dug myself into a rut by pretending to understand what they´re saying and now I guess I´ll just have to go with that. I understand about half. Sorry, I feel like there´s so much to say, and I´m having a hard time expressing myself in an orderly fashion. Today was the first day of classes, and from now on we will have classes from 9:30 to 2, with a short break from 11 to 11:30. Today we took a test and they divided us into four levels. I am in the fourth level!!! Estoy en el nivel mas avansada. The Cutrubi are in the third level, but I don´t know why, because I think they speak as well as I do. Their friend, Daschel (who is now my friend, as well) is in level four, along with about 8 others, including a boy who already did this exact program two years ago and is so cocky that´s it´s difficult to even be in the same room as him. Tomorrow is the first REAL day of classes, and I´m a little nervous but mostly excited.

What else…? Well, so far the only totally crazy thing about life in Oviedo is that my house (and other´s, like Krystal´s) only has ONE GARBAGE, and it´s in the kitchen. So, you know, what if I have lady problems? Or what about my used q-tips and floss? Am I supposed to just tote those things into the kitchen? I guess so.

I really like Beatriz. She´s never been married and has no children. She´s 54, but seems much younger and is very metropolitan. Oviedo is absolutely gorgeous, and very clean for a city (not as clean as Salt Lake, but much cleaner than New York–sorry Judy). The weather pattern here (so far) is sunny and clear in the morning, and then cloudy skies and moderate rain from 3 to 8. Then it´s clear and a bit chilly at night. But it´s fairly warm during the days, even when it´s raining.

I get really tired in the afternoons, because that´s when it´s night in Utah. Today I had my first Spanish hot chocolate, and it was very thick (like a syrup), but not as sweet as you´d think.

It´s strange to be here–strange because it´s NOT strange, because it feels only a bit different, like starting a new job. My firs wow-I´m-in-Spain moment was today when Krystal, Katrina, Daschel and I went to a restaurant and ordered in Spanish lke it was nothing. Oh, and I keep getting lost, because–although the streets all have names–there are few street signs. So people will tell you to turn right on Calle Uria, but then you don´t know which is Calle Uria.

Mom and Beth, I need your cell number. For some reason, my cell phone won´t turn on (somebody spilled water on it…Cody…). Once you give me your number, I can tell you how to call me here. And don´t forget to yell at MOuntain America. Oh, and does anybody have e-mail for Natalie or Eric? I don´t.

Okay, I´m going to go now. It´s about 11:30, and I need to be at the school at 9:30. I miss you all so much (especially Sebastian and Rosie and, of course, Chi). Sorry for the mass e-mail, but if you send me (short) personal responses and questions, I will send you a (short) personal e-mail. Thank you to everyone who helped to get me here! My Spanish is already so much better, and I can´t even imagine how it will be in 8 weeks. I love you all dearly! ¡Adios!

 -Love, Sarah

*       *       *

Stay tuned for more dispatches from the littlesarah of FOUR YEARS AGO. What?! Time’s a cookie, Friends.

Spring Has Sprung

~OR~

Lately…

I think a lot of people go to Grad School because they don’t know what else to do, they’re unsure of what comes next. After graduating from college and living the dream for a while–just hanging out, working a couple part-time jobs, keeping up with the ol’ hobbies, etc.–they begin to wonder, “Now what?” They have interests, passions, curiosities, but maybe that’s not enough. Maybe they want something bigger for themselves.

I think most people want something bigger for themselves.

And there’s so much pressure to succeed in measurable and familiar ways. That’s why you end up with a whole flock of uncertain, indebted 20-somethings, “advancing their careers” with more schooling. I’ve seen it happen, like a fever spreading among my peers. They’re not sure exactly WHAT they want, but they need some sense of forward momentum, and society approves of higher education.

“What are you up to?” your parents’ friends ask, and you get to say “I just got accepted to Fancy Pants Academy in Ivy Town.”

And then everyone’s happy.

Except…except maybe they’re not. Maybe they don’t actually want to be a doctor or lawyer or mathematician. Maybe they just know that they’re ready for something more, something bigger than house parties and part-time jobs and poor finances. So they commit 2, 3, 4 more years of their lives in the hope that they will then be transformed, birthed like a grungy pheonix from the flames into full blown adult-hood.

Don’t get me wrong–I think Masters degrees and PhDs are fine, if you know what you want. If you are passionate about Physics, go for it. If you’ve always known that you want to be professor, or a doctor, or a lawyer, then study up and make it a reality.

But I think it’s wrong to pretend you’re something you’re not, to follow a set path and give up your individuality for the approval of others. Progress for the sake of progress, with no regard for who you are or what you want. I think there are many ways to “grow up,” move forward and be constantly changing for the better, and I would never push myself to blindly follow someone else’s definition of the next logical step, just because I was ashamed to admit that, honestly, at the age of 26, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I think I might like to be a school teacher, or possibly a journalist. I know I could succeed in either of those careers. But right now those are just notions, and there is plenty of time. I’m not certain of those choices, but I’m more and more certain of myself.

Recently I realized that most of my anxiety stemmed from trying to figure out the next step. What do I want? Where should I go? How can I best plan out the future in order to move on from the past?

It was freaking me out, Friends, trying to maintain a hectic, busy life here while also planning for a future that I could never quite convince myself of…so I stopped. I stopped planning. I stopped working so hard just to make a buck so that I could keep living a life where I’m working so hard all the damned time. I’m not going to move back to Spain, I’m not going to make any radical career changes, and I’m not going to Grad School.

Instead, I will:

-read more, watch TV less

-write more, facebook less

-run more, worry less

-listen more, talk less

-walk more, rush less

-sleep more, work less

-share more, isolate less

-hug more, stress less

-cry more, feel more, listen to my heart more, dream more, defy more, and spend less time obsessing over what my former classmates are doing, what my former friends think of me, and what my former goals were when I was a person who would ignore her gut instinct and stick to the plan, one foot after the other, even when it made me sick and anxious and depressed

In short, I will do as I please. I commit to me, to my ideals, my passions, my creativity and self-worth. They don’t give out degrees for that, but I feel a hell of a lot more certain of myself and what I want than so many of my peers that I see grinding the axe at a nine to five plus night school, just to get ahead. Even if all I’m sure of is taking things one day at a time and doing what feels right. Because what I’m sure of…is myself.

*       *       *

I think a lot of people go to Grad School because they’re unsure of what comes next. But I know exactly what I want. I want this, I want here, I want now. Spring is here, life is good, and every day I feel more and more alive. I’m not going to Grad School, because I’m committed to the present; I don’t want to change a thing

First a quick trip to South America, though. See you in 3 weeks and 3 days, Friends.

Luck Be a Lady

~OR~

Gratitude, Re-Examined

Sometimes you get what you want. Sometimes, after a really rough year that culminates with you sitting in bed,  crying, and your friends have to come and sit on the bed with you and force you to talk and eat things…things take a turn for the better. Sometimes you go from sleeping next to the coal shoot to having your own studio; from having shitty friends, to no friends, to amazing, caring, devoted, silly and wonderful friends. Sometimes you go from working all the time and resenting everything to working a good amount, saving up money, and totally digging your job (most of the time).

Sometimes you think you are going to have to make yet another Big Decision, and you are totally prepared to face it, to do the grown-up thing, cancel that darned South American adventure in favor of a stable job and a fulfilling life in a small(ish) town (to see that integrity wins over desire, as Ms. DiFranco might say)…but then instead you get everything. You get to keep that job, the friends, the life, the boyfriend, the apartment.

At least, that’s what’s been going on with me. And I feel guilty. For getting what I wanted. For things working out.

I want to say that it was hard work. That I deserve the life I have because I’ve worked for it, suffered through years of tedious jobs and flaky friends, and I’ve always sought better for myself. Or maybe it’s my Positive Mental Attitude, I tell myself–I’ve willed this better, more sustainable, more fulfilling life for myself by staying positive, dancing when I’m down, and letting things go.

And this is all true–I’ve worked hard and tried to stay positive, tried to grow from adversity–BUT if my current, pleasant situation is due to my own self-love and PMA…then why the guilty feeling?

Well, because. Because, Friends. Because sometimes, self-love is not enough. Sometimes good vibrations and an honest day’s work aren’t enough. Sometimes not even patience, not even just waiting out the storm, can explain the sunny skies.

Sometimes you have to admit that your hard-earned good fortune is really the result of the love, energy, and effort of others. That your many blessings you receive are the cumulative result of those who care about you and going out of their way to make your life better and easier, for no reason other than being outstanding human beings who want the best for you.

And then what do you do? How do you relieve that nagging guilt? How do you let yourself feel that you deserve this?

Well, I guess you just do your best. You keep working hard and looking up and trying every day to show that you are forever grateful to those who’ve taken a chance on you and your happiness.

You say Thank You.

You say: I don’t know if you still read this, D, but thank you. Thank you so much.

Then you move on.

The Seasons, They Go Round and Round

~OR~

We’re Captive on a Carousel of Time

(Joni Mitchel)

Ah, but where does the time go? It seems not even a year ago that I was making Passover puns in poor taste…

…probably because it wasn’t even a year ago. Sometimes seder  has to be moved up a few weeks, to accommodate world travelers. And–as Joey pointed out–it’s usually “a bit more reverent.” Listen, we do what we want.

But oh, we have fun.

Except…except this year’s (early) Passover seder turned into a metaphor for my life:

Everyone was having a good time eating and drinking and wanting to dance all night, but then they all got distracted talking about relationship troubles and babies and the seasons of our lives.

And I still just wanted to dance.

The Difference a Year Can Make

~OR~

National Pi(e) Day!

…was last Tuesday. How did I not know about this in advance? Anyways, now I know, because it will be every year, March 14th (3.14…). This day, however, is not to be confused with National Pie Day, which is January 23rd. I celebrated that one last year.

Which gets me to thinking about how much has changed for me in just over a year. Last year, I baked that pie at my moms’ house, where I was living in the basement, next to the coal shoot. I baked the pie by myself, because baking is one of my many coping mechanisms, and I had much to cope with–lack of friends, lack of personal space, lack of direction in life, etc. I was taking everything personally, you see, feeling that I didn’t have decent friends or quarters or plans because I didn’t deserve them.

Now, I do have those things:

AND a much-improved sense of self-worth. And guess what, Friends? It was the self-worth that came first. I had to trust that my shitty circumstances were just that–circumstances. That they did not reflect who I was or what I was capable of or what I merited. I had to trust that I could and would have a better apartment, better friends, and better, more-suitable goals. That I was not inherently flawed, but just going through a bit of a rough patch.

And now? Well, now when I bake a pie, I have many lovely ladies to share it with, friendships that continue to grow and develop and deepen all the time. Now I don’t have to use my moms’ kitchen (unless I’m house-sitting), because I have my very own. It’s small, and imperfect, but it’s all mine.

Now I don’t have to feel guilty about dropping out of school, or quitting my band, or looking for a new job, because I know that it’s okay to want better for myself, and that I deserve it. I know that my thoughts and ideas and dreams and aspirations, no matter how radical or half-baked or uncertain, are all mine. I can do what I want, like eating leftover pie for lunch.

Not that there was much left over.

Meaning

It’s not every day in the First World that you wake up knowing for certain that you’re going to see a dead body. And I was thinking about that, last Friday, in the shower. While I got ready for your mother’s funeral.

I know we joked about it, made light of the situation, maybe even more than most would. It’s just that she wasn’t that type of lady, you know? Not the type for us to go into hysterics over, not a warm and compassionate person. And I didn’t know her as much more than just…your mom.

But you loved her. You love her so much, of course you do. And I should have known that. I should have said something better.

Instead I said I was really sorry, and you said “Thank you.” And you said “It’s okay.”

Anyways, I didn’t even get a good look at the body, so busy was I trying to find a place to warm up, but it’s probably for the best. See, I don’t believe in embalming. I prefer my deceased to look, well, dead. Gone, expired. But you don’t know that, because that’s not the type of thing you say to a 26-year-old planning her only parent’s funeral. You just say “Of course I’ll come, of course I’ll play the violin.” And try not to cry when you see the oldest sister’s broken, wet face.

I should have said something, when I got up to play, but instead I made some comment about…wearing heels, was it? Some silly little thing. Then, later, I thought of all the things I could have said. And what I wanted to say was:

“I didn’t know Linda very well, I only knew her as my best friend’s mom, and to tell the truth I was always a little scared of her. I think we all were. But really I was scared of most people’s parents, because they saw me as a bad influence. And I don’t think Linda ever saw me that way. She always welcomed me without much fuss, if I wanted to stay for dinner, or if I wanted to have a sleepover. I never felt out of place in her home. I’m sorry that life was so hard for Linda, especially these last few painful years, and I know that now she’s not in any pain. I dedicate this song to her.”

But I didn’t say that. I just played my violin, and nobody clapped at the end, because I guess that’s how it’s done at a funeral.

And you said so much, and so well. You made everyone laugh, and you made me bawl silently, and you told stories that I never heard, and you gave so much life and depth to your mother with your honest words. It was a side of you I’d never seen before, and all I could think of was how amazing you are, and how strong, and how lucky I am to have you as a friend.

You know, when I came back from Spain, I was plagued with anxiety and regret. I thought I’d made the wrong choice, yet again, and I almost couldn’t live with it. I kept searching for a sign, a reason that would justify my decision, where I could look and point and say “See? There. That’s why I had to come back. It was meant to happen this way.”

But instead I grew, and grew up, and I don’t think like that anymore. I don’t think that things happen for a reason, that they’re meant to be one way or another. I just try to do my best, to accept the decisions I make and deal with the way things are.

So I can’t comfort you the way the others did, can’t tell you that your mother is in heaven, because I don’t believe that. I have no Celestial Kingdom to offer you, no promises, no answers. I do not think that I was meant to come home from Spain so that I could be there for your mother’s funeral.

But for the first time since coming home, I’m glad I did.

…and now…

I guess now is the time where I once again apologize for slacking as a blogstress and promise to post not only new stuff but all the retro-acties that I’ve long been promising. It’s just that time of year, Friends. It comes ’round more often than Daylight Savings Time.

WHICH, by the way, is the most ridiculous SLASH the best ever word-of-mouth campaign. I mean, have you ever, in your lifetime, been forewarned of the impending Spring Forward or Fall Back by any manner OTHER THAN word of mouth? I always seem to just hear about it the night before. Every year. Twice a year. For life.

Ridiculous, is what it is.

Almost as ridiculous as my SEEMINGLY EMPTY PROMISES. However, in keeping with the theme of Zany Time Antics AND in an effort to make a post, no matter how trivial and last-minute AND to relieve myself of the burden of random old emails filling up my inbox…here’s some pictures from, like, two years ago:

 

Ah, bebbes. Gotta love ’em.

And here‘s a DST-related post, from even longer ago! The past, Friends!