The Wisdom of T-shirts

I saw this on a t-shirt this morning and I'm making it my mantra for the day:

"Worry changes nothing
Faith changes everything"

I'm interpreting the faith part as the "If you believe in yourself, good things will come", kind and not the "Seriously. He was here three days ago behind this huge immovable rock so I'm pretty sure he bodily ascended into heaven" kind.

The headaches are back. I just know it's because I'm worrying too much. Worrying about how to pay for this wedding (Ha! You were wondering when I was going to bring that up, weren't you?), worrying that I am wasting my life in windowless basements doing work I resent, worrying that I have not been keeping in touch with my friends enough, worrying that someone has already beaten me to all the good, money-producing ideas in the world.

I just need to take a few breaths here. Everything's going to be fine. Worrying about it isn't going to solve anything.

Except, for most of my life, that's exactly what has solved everything. Or so I think. I'm learning a lot right now about the human response to trauma (the garden variety everyone-is-messed-up-over-something kind and not the once-when-I-was-five-I-was-outrunning-a-hurricane-on-foot-after-losing-my-family-to-a-in-home-lion-attack-and-then-fell-down-an-abandoned-well kind). I'm learning that most of my life I have been reacting in this really unhealthy way to stress- but it's the only way I know, so, for the most part, it has been helpful and life-saving.

Except for the part where it's destroyed my endocrine system. Funny thing, that.

Last night, I had a drink with a friend who is in roughly the same place I am in my life right now-and as we were talking about all the events that have led me to where I am, he said, "Well, it sounds like you're in a good spot. You sound calm. And that's the best place to make a decision from".

I took a moment to review in my head what I had just said to him. And he was right. I WAS calm! I wasn't making decisions based on emotional reactions. I was calm! Downright serene, even. My hands were almost touching in Namaste greeting, my eyes were practically at half mast, and I wasn't wildly gesticulating, and I wasn't scanning the room looking for predators. I was calm, for god's sake! So why did I still feel so uncertain?

Well, it didn't matter last night and it still doesn't matter this morning. Uncertainty is healthy. At least, that's what people tell me. It's felt like utter hell to me for most of my life. Not knowing is akin to dying as far as I'm concerned. But I am learning that it can be a good thing. It can be a launching pad for change and for possibility. And if that sounds like the opening line for a self-help book, well, then I submit. Some days I just need to take that tone with myself. It sure beats the alternative.

So, for today, I am trying to posses a faith I am uncomfortable with. I am trying to live with uncertainty. And I'm trying real hard not to cover the house in Post-It notes stating "EVERYTHING'S GOING TO BE FINE". You know. Baby steps.

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Okay, you guys. The slideshow is done.

Mr. Burdy and I have been working on this for days and days and I am SO excited to share this with you.

My good friend Tristen saved my life in a number of ways on this trip and the reason I am singling her out here is because she also inadvertently provided the soundtrack for this video. Tristen, thanks for the homemade granola (the only thing I had to eat the day I got detoured through Los Padres National Park), thank you for having such an awesome guest room, thanks for having such incredible taste in music (and men), and thanks for introducing me to Fanfarlo. You rock.

I'm still digging through journal entries and trying to piece together some sort of summary of my thoughts about the trip. In the meantime, though, here are the pictures that will speak my thousand words:

Seattle to San Diego from Lauren Ziemski on Vimeo.

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Happy Memorial Day. I Hate Everyone.

I'm having a hard time being back. There. I said it.

I don't want to abuse the privilege of this platform by using it as a place to complain about really trivial things, but, seriously, can I bend your ear for a moment? I feel like I've earned it, karmically. I mean, I could give you daily updates on the crazies on the bus, and the uppity types at the all-natural grocery stores and my very vivid, very lucid, very apocalyptic, dreams, but I very consciously keep that stuff from making regular appearances here. I've also spared you the stories of the craziness I have to put up with in my profession. (Mostly, though, that's so my own ass is protected. I can't very well go mouthing off about the people who pay my rent, now can I?) Well, what if I change some names and details? What if I just loosely disguise the characters but still reveal the plot? Oh, wait. What's that creaking noise? Is that the sound of Pandora's Box being slowly opened? Why, yes. Yes it is.

I can't tell if I am just in the throes of PMS... or if I have just overstayed my welcome here in the Emerald City and every extra minute here is a sharp stick in the eye. It just seems that everything is conspiring to send me packing, and I'm of the mind to think I would be a fool not to listen. Also? We could spend whole lifetimes chalking bad days up to PMS, and, really, that's not fair to all the dumbasses out there.

I've long resisted the popular opinion that Seattle is an especially passive aggressive place because I think that every place has its share of jerkwads. I used to think the East coast was no more passive than the West. But today, that theory was turned on its head. EVERYone I had to deal with today was a bone-crushing steamroller of displaced angst and bitterness. I am trying very, very, very hard to not let this get to me. Very, very hard. I am trying to understand that maybe it's just me. I am trying to identify what part I have to play in all this and to, in the parlance of our times, "take responsibility" for my actions.

Of course, that's a stack of self help books talking. And maybe a little of Oprah's farewell speech thrown in for good measure. In any event, I'm looking for the silver lining to this whole thing, looking for the reason Seattle is being so damned nasty to me right now.

It started with a client being very unclear (which she typically is, so no surprises there) about a task she wanted done. A very confusing hour later, when I asked for clarification, she giggled condescendingly, as if to say, "Silly girl, I told you how to do this this morning and here you've gone and bungled it". For my part, I apologized for not understanding, but I am still fuming at that horrid (passive aggressive) laugh. Of course, my higher self is saying to my wounded self (in Glenda the Good Witch's voice, because that's who my higher self sounds like) "There, there, my child. You see? She is unhappy in her marriage and her husband is an ass and she has to put up with a business partner dumber than a bag of hammers. You'd be short tempered and irritable if you were her, too." And my wounded child's shoulder's sag in defeat and I trace a semi-circle in the dirt with my toe I admit that maybe I am being too harsh on her. And then I rear back and clock Glenda in the face for trying to shine this turd.

Because that's what this whole thing makes me: an angry, angry beast who punches nice ladies in the face.

Hours after that little incident, I had to call both the city and state to clarify a tax question and my cell phone cut out with the state just as I was about to get to the meat of my question. The state rep, who has a history of not really knowing how to answer questions, got all pissy, as if I had purposely tried to make the phone cut out.

The coup de gras, though, was the city rep. Now, because I have been doing this for a living for the past five years, I know the players around town. I know the accountants and the silver-tongued man at the general help desk with the city who ends every sentence with a slow and velvety "ma'am". I know the sweet old ladies in sensible shoes down at the state unemployment office. And I know this particular woman at the city. And I know she is hard to deal with. And just like her tone indicates, there is no one but her to deal with, so you'd better buck up and get used to it. She doesn't just run this particular department at the city, she RULES it. She LORDS over it. If you have questions, you'd better be prepared to deal with the only person who can answer them. And you'd better be prepared for her to be impatient, rude, and to speak in confusing sentence fragments.

In a series of questions that led to both of us answering each other like miffed thirteen-year-olds (FINE! SEE IF I CARE!), I finally got out of her that we needed to follow a series of steps to get things straight. She listed those steps, of course, as snidely and slowly as if she were talking to a developmentally disabled manatee.

The downfall, really, of our modern small-personal-electronics society is that you can't really angrily slam a phone back down in its cradle anymore. There's no two-pound receiver to crash into a fifteen-pound desk phone with a little bell inside that will reverberate for a second or two afterward while you sweat and take deep, heaving, agitated breaths. I was tempted to throw my cell phone at a brick wall to have, at least, a fittingly dramatic ending to the call, but my warranty doesn't cover "Soap Opera style outbursts of exaggerated violence". Instead, I just wound up pressing "end call" with as much ferocity as I could and yelling, despite my rules about using the word, BITCH! on the echo-y upper floor of my client's business.

Of course, we all know the weather isn't helping things. All of this would be moderately tolerable if it was at least sunny and warm. Maybe I wouldn't have this compunction to want to march right back to my client's place of business and, in front of everyone, yell, HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY. You know things are in the red zone when you start pulling the "How Dare You's" out. Not good, people. Not good.

Do I realize that by posting this here instead of approaching my client and using my "I" statements and saying that how she behaved really hurt my feelings is just as passive as all the shit I am complaining about? Yes. Yes, I do. Am I tempted to correct that? No, no I am not. Does this blog serve, from time to time, as a giant padded room where I go to scream obscenities at the tops of my lungs just to get some release? Well, duh. Isn't that what the Internet was invented for?

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The End of An Era

I'm so moved by Oprah's show coming to an end I hardly know what to do with myself. I know she's not "going away", but it's going to be weird that she's not on at four p.m. anymore. That show has shaped my adult life in more ways that I can count.

Years ago, back when email and the legal drinking age were new to me, I wrote Mr. Burdy a love note that contained a phrase that I think sums up how I'm feeling right now. Burdy was in Germany for a semester and I was in the habit of communicating with him, because of our schedules and the time difference, at night (and sometimes after a cocktail or five). In this particular email, I waxed poetically about missing him terribly, that it was strange to be away from him for so long, and that there was this "bif emoty" in my life where he used to be. What I was trying to say was that there was a big empty in my life where he used to be, but, y'know. I was all Daphne thumbs and bleary-eyed. It has since become an inside joke between the two of us, and every time one of us says it, I marvel at how that one little idiotic phrase can make me re-live that longing all over again.

Ms. Winfrey, I feel a bif emoty where your show should be.

Here are a few more pictures from the roadtrip. Enjoy.

Billy's Deli in San Clemente

Nearly There

Andersen's Pea Soup

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

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…Jiggity Jig

Well, getting back from vacation is never any fun, right? I'm trying to adjust to colder weather and this whole "work" thing. I'm still processing the trip; I have so many thoughts running around in my head right now and I'm not coming up with anything coherent. Best to stay moot in situations like these.

Mr. Burdy and I are working on putting together a little slide show of all my pictures.

In the meantime, here are a few from my phone. More soon.

Bridge in OR
CA Palm Trees
Bikes in Santa Cruz

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