Wednesday, November 30, 2011

take these broken wings and learn to fly

My good friend of a few years got married a few weeks ago to his great friend of a few years. There. When you say that casually it doesn't sound like much of a big deal, but what a gloriously big deal it was.

It's still strange. He's the one of the first of any of my really great friends to marry off. I've been to a few weddings, those of teachers, distant family members. Then it moved up to cousins. Then to distant or childhood buddies, which were strange and lovely, seeing souls I've known since I was two or younger tie the ole knot. But this. This was Strangetown USA. But it made me even happier than I thought it would.

I, like most people my age, have the habit of turning situations around and making them about myself. At least in my head and in my thinking. So I anticipated many many existential crises and much self-reflection as I took my little bus ride down to my SoCal home, but the good news was I mostly spared. Almost entirely. For the first time in awhile I managed to make a great event about exactly what it was. Face value-- as much as love can be taken at face value, I suppose. Anyway, my point is that the happy was just indescribably infectious. Thankfully I was allowed to participate in the prep for the wedding in many ways, which pleased me utterly. I was given the task of picking, downloading, and attempting to arrange the music as appropriately as possible for the reception-- something that made me just as pleased as punch but also gave me about 500 heartattacks because what if I just maim the reception entirely AND NO ONE DANCES NOT A ONE?! I also made tissue paper pom-poms (so. many. good god I am now the most talented of the pompom makers, though, just in case you ever need any pom work done. I'm there) The day before the wedding I was stowed away in a kitchen in some church building, busily stuffing pumpkins with that crazy water absorbent stuff that florists stick flower arrangements in, and everyone was smiling and happy and proud and so I was I, I think.

That night, after crazed pumpkin-packin', we feasted and I got to see what rehearsal dinners are like. I've never been to one that I can recall, never having been a part of a wedding of course (and not really being an official part of this one. but I don't suppose that crossed anyone's mind. I blend?). It was heartwarmingly weird, and after that was the wedding rehearsal itself. I didn't really know where I should position myself seeing as I had no assignment for the wedding, so I picked a spot in the back where I could see everything but remain removed. The wedding party, all lovely, the bride, all lovely, the groom, all groomed, the pastor, all precious. The song, Blackbird by The Beatles, which I can no longer tattoo on my shoulder as planned.

The wedding itself was just a beautiful thing, and I sniffled a few times. But by that point it seemed like pleasant ritual to me. The goofy, crazy, messy night before in a nearly empty church, bride and groom clad in plaid and skinny jeans (what hipsters in denial) was the real thing to me. Megan had told me she was going to pick Blackbird as the wedding march, and of course we all know what happens in the ceremony, but I guess I was not anticipating all of the intense feelings that hit me as I witnessed these two people that I know well come together. As Blackbird was played perfectly on a quiet guitar I felt like my heart was going to leak a little bit. Strange. Empathy is strange. Those feelings don't arise due to pure happiness at the event or sadness for whatever reason, but rather when you know someone who is going through something major and really KNOW them you understand at least a fragment of their feeling. And I can't explain it, but I just got it in that moment. And that's where Blackbird goes from now on, it's slotted away in the box of beautiful wedding moments that do not belong to me. But at least I had a chance to share it.

The day of the ceremony was nuts as I toggled back and forth between Amanda's house where I was then staying and curling my hair and back to the location of the reception, making sure everything I was responsible for was squared away (and being kidnapped by random people I didn't know to help hoist tents and whatnot). Then the wedding. Which was just giddy and joyous and unifying (WHICH I GUESS IS THE POINT). Then the reception. Where I have never danced harder in my life. Literally all night long (at least five hours, I guess). Everyone was psyched out of their minds, there was wine, and by god, there was dancing (the first 20 songs or so were so perfectly arranged, every wedding DJ should bow to me). Then, gone. California, gone. Back to the land of the ice and snow.

Which is not so terrible. And now that I've been forced to disregard Blackbird, I've made my choice of tattoo: I don't want to live on the moon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

except perhaps a bit more soundly.

I'm feeling particularly huffy right now. I'm sure it's just me being my ridiculously emotional self (though I am learning that I am not emotional in the most common sense). But. That sudden turn when everything just seems so grave, that ever so slight misstep of emotion-- damn it. Today is not a very cold day, surprisingly. Usually when I come outside at 6AM I'm met with a hard wall of FREEZE that seeps into my bones so quickly that I can't possibly explain it to someone who is not accustomed to this sort of weather. It really is an adjustment. Anyway, today is actually not one of those days we've had as of late, but it's very bleak. And I feel very bleak. Bleak freaking House, that is me.

I never read that book.


I got off of a particularly taxing shift just now and decided to check my bank balance. I got the paycheck early for my last week spent in California, and it was about 400 dollars less than it usually is. I guess it makes sense. I used my Paid Time Off, but that didn't equal up to the amount of time I usually spend working. So. I can't even pay for the whole of our rent, which I told my room-mate I would try to do this month. I have car insurance to pay! I have effing student loans which I won't even be able to make a measly payment on now! I can't buy furniture, we'll have to continue sleeping on a shared couch and the oldest mattress in the world (which has a bit of mold on the bottom, not going to lie). Of course, even with my normal paycheck this might be some of the case. But I think I was just so saddened and frustrated looking at those numbers that I wanted to scream. Also, this means that I will have to "restart" my time at my place of work before I can get my health insurance/benefits-- where I work you have to pull full-time every week for about four months until you get your benefits set-up. Well. Even though I tried to work it out with my PTO, it would seem that my repeated (see: TWO) trips to California have disrupted this flow. Every time I get close, I have to start over again. Four more months until I can go to the doctor, the eye guy, the damn dentist (yes! damn the dentists, damn them all!).

I'm so frustrated. I'm SO not into being this sheepish person who has to shrug and either apologize for not having enough money to follow through on anything, to have to stall. My mom told me the other day that she was psyched that she was given a 25 dollar gift certificate to Target because the family had exactly 5 fucking dollars in the bank. TO EAT ON.

What IS this?

Sure, people are starving in Africa. But this is here. I'm in the very lucky percentile that has a fulltime job-- but that's what stings right now. I work SO HARD. I work at NIGHT, taking care of the elderly. And I still have to be this frustrated girl who still feels like she's failing herself and her poor little family.

Or maybe I'm just sad about Ernie. Ernie, you see, is my favorite oldster at the old home. He is fantastic and hilarious and odd, and is without a doubt the most educated man I've met in North Dakota. His vocabulary, even now, is incredible. He served in WWII and afterward traveled Arabia working for an oil company. His sister was a teacher and he built a schoolhouse for her. He always tells the image-conscious girls at work that they look pregnant, and tells me, even though he doesn't remember me from one day to the next, that I'm lovely (he makes fun of me too, which I also appreciate). He gently mocks everyone, not because he thinks he's better than all of us, but because he knows he actually is a little bit better than us, or he would be if he weren't a bit out of his mind (we have a new coworker. he's ok, nice and all, but unfortunately he' s taken a shine to me for some awful reason, and he's probably 300 pounds and, though a nice person, a total idiot. one night Ernie came up to me and said "Eh. Have you seen that big fellow? Nice man, nice man. Just don't let him fall on you.")

Anyway. Ernie is dying. He got ill for awhile, then pulled through, then reached a pinnacle of strangeness (during which he told me that he must follow the president, or perhaps sleep as though the president would-- except perhaps a bit more soundly), then suddenly was not himself. One night he cried the entire shift, which he has never done, held our hands, quoted Shakespeare and suddenly segued into praying and vaguely referencing the war. At one point he said "my past has caught up to me." At another point he said that he should not be alive, that some other man was shot for him. I wondered what waves of memories were coming back to him, and how many were actually 100% real. The other evening I came in, said hello, and held his hand for a bit. He coughed, then came around and said "Oh. Yes. Please don't go." I told him I'd get him some water and come back, and he told me "Oh, but please don't lose me. People around here have a tendency to disappear." Now he's just an utterly confused, coughing mess. He can't get up to walk to the bathroom, so we put him in a wheelchair and transfer him. This morning, before I left, I went to say goodbye and to make sure he was comfortable. As I was adjusting I got a whiff of him, of what he now smells like. You know how some people say certain things have the smell of death? There's something to that. It's not just old man smell, or incontinence, or heinous breath. It's just THAT smell.

I guess that's why I was moved to tears about my stupid 400 dollars. I don't know.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But my heart is return to Sister Winter.

Many apologies. Not for anyone who really enjoys reading my meandery writing, for I know you are either secret or few, but moreso to myself and to posterity. Sorry, posterity.

I wish I had kept writing about life here in North Dakota. It seems like, despite the fact that my life is not exciting at all, that there's always something important that I wish I had remembered, written about, something. I'm afraid of forgetting or losing all of this material, for the sake of future writings, of course, but mostly just for the collection that's growing in my heart. I'm starting to realize that's probably the most important thing to me right now, that's why I want to travel and that's why I want to live here right now. Shortly after I moved here I was discussing with the Marschner mother, Tanis (Gma's daughter), about how I'm actually fairly content here most of the time and how I like to experience the ND life and whatnot. Tanis, who has traveled quite a bit, agreed with me and said "There's two kinds of ways to travel: one is the tourist way, seeing things in passing, and the other way is really learning how other people live." And that is so true, and that is what I am doing.

Also, I am writing this from within my soon-to-be-snazzy apartment that I share with my roomie and California friend Amanda. Thanks to my relocation I am able to afford such a thing. Actually this really is quite a feat because in Dickinson the demand for housing is so great (due to the oil stuff) that it's nearly impossible to find a place to live, let alone an affordable one. So we lucked out in that respect. We are mostly furniture-less at the moment, equipped with only a couch, a mattress, and a few chairs, but we are working on it. We have plans. It's pretty glorious, actually-- the apartment faces West and comes with a balcony. This means I get to see my most favorite thing about North Dakota-- its HUGE sky at sunset-- as often as I want from the comfort of my room.

The other amazing thing about this is that my parents started praying for Amanda and I to be in a place in town (we've been living with Gma in a little place out in South Heart, 10 miles from town where we both work) before the first snow. It snowed two days ago. We had all of our stuff inside three days ago.

And now I have to shower, dry my hair and make myself somewhat presentable to meet my Dakootan friends for a DSU event and then onwards to work, even though I've been feeling ill ever since we returned from California. May be my body's reaction to the harsh start of winter (oh, but, body, there is snow. and it is so beautiful).

Life. What a mixed bag you are.