Saturday, 29 March 2014

Source of Irritation

Ok, look. I realize I may be a party of one here, but let's discuss something.

That "you're beautiful" graffiti? You know how it's written on buildings and inside bathroom stalls? You know how people leave it, probably thinking they're leaving an uplifting message? You know how other people take pictures, re-blog it, pin it, and generally swoon over it?

Yeah, ok. Kudos for the thought and all.

But seriously? Seriously.

A) The way we use the world, "beauty" is almost always an external factor. We give lip service to internal beauty, but have you ever actually used that concept to describe someone? Really? We say people are kind, or smart, or brave, or adventurous, or any number of other positive things, but if we say they are beautiful, we mean that physically. If not, we have to clarify. "She's a really beautiful person. Inside and out." If you just leave it at "She's a really beautiful person," everyone will assume you mean physically. Which is fine. That's accurate for some people.

B) Beauty is not something to be proud of. You can be happy with it, for sure, but you did nothing to achieve your beauty. (Unless, I suppose, you did a ton of plastic surgery or have completely re-designed your face with make up, or whatever.) This is especially true in my case. I have some naturally lovely features, and some that are less so. There are parts of my body and face that I love the look of, and others that I don't. I'm not proud of my eyes. They are what they are. They're pretty, but I didn't do anything to make that happen. I'm not ashamed of my nose. It's not my favorite feature, but it isn't my fault.  If you're going to give me a compliment, tell me something positive about myself that I actually have some control over. I can take pride in that.

C) A person's beauty (or lack thereof) is no where near the single most important thing about her. (And I say "her" because these standards are disproportionately applied to women and girls, though I recognize that men, boys, and people across the gender spectrum are also affected.)There is so. much. more. to a person than how he or she looks. Stop endowing this concept with more weight than it deserves.

And stop writing on stuff that you're not supposed to be writing on. Unless you're Banksy, keep your Sharpie in your pocket.

Monday, 24 March 2014


           “So no love in your life?”
            That’s not what she meant, actually. She didn’t mean to imply that I lived a loveless existence. She wasn’t trying to say that I was lonely or disconnected. It wasn’t, I think, what she was trying to communicate.
            In this age bracket, solidly mid-twenties, there is a question that is as ubiquitous as the red wine. “So, what’s going in your love life?” It’s a friendly inquiry into the other person’s life, an opportunity to hear about the escapades, joys, and sorrows.
Ordinarily I, a happily single woman, just brush off the question. “Nah,” I laugh. “I’m too buried in work! What about you?” and we’re off and running, bantering or deeply discussing my compatriot’s relationship status.
The other day, though, the script wasn’t followed. I gave my standard response to the question, and the other person lightly responded, “Ah, so no love in your life?”
I was a bit taken aback, and somewhat affronted. “No,” I responded a bit stiffly, “My life is full of love. Just not romantic love.”
            What is this world that we are living in, where the ability to tie yourself to another person is the pinnacle of your worth? Why was this person’s conclusion that there was no love in my life? I’m sure she would never have suggested that if she had stopped and thought about it; I’m positive that she knows that there is more than one kind of love, and that happiness can come down many avenues.
            But that was her knee-jerk reaction. “There’s no love in your life.”
            I don’t have to defend my life, and I’m not going to. It is full, and it is good, and I am happy. That’s what things can be like, you know, when your life is as full of love as mine is.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

William Martin

I love this poem, because it is how I was raised. There was delight in textures and colors and noises and experiences. We made soup out of the crabapples and whirligigs and flower petals and water from the hose. We put too much bubble bath in the tub and turned on the jets until our faces were hidden by foam. We made smiling snacks out of apple slices with ruby skins, peanut butter holding marshmallow "teeth" in place. We played in the rain until our clothes clung wetly to our bodies. We erected a large wooden cross for a dead goldfish and mourned its untimely passing. There were storybooks read with expression, memorized, quoted.

The ordinary became alive.
And it became extraordinary. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Are you there, God? It's me, Blythe.

I had what some people would call “A Religious Experience.”

I personally don’t subscribe to any religion or spirituality beyond the “Wow, isn’t life amazing?” philosophy. (Ok, there’s a bit more to it than that, but not much.) I’m happy for people who are theists, and I’m happy for people who aren’t and, really, as long as you’re not trying to change what I believe, or use your own personal beliefs to influence politics, well… Rock on. Happy religioning.

But I kind of wish this had happened to one of those people, because this would have made him or her So Happy. If you are religious, this is my gift to you. Take this story. Enjoy it. Marvel in my inability to see proof of god in this.

This all brings me to:

On Thursday, I had a LOT going on. It was going to be a stressful (although ultimately good) day. I was a bit anxious about it, but nothing overwhelming. I drove to work the same way I always do, and passed a sign that read, “God loves you. Do you believe it?”

Well, no. I thought. Mostly because I don’t believe an omnipotent god exists. After all, if you were God, wouldn’t you want people to know? If you were omnipotent, why wouldn’t you prove yourself to doubters like me?

And how do you show people that you love them anyway? I know some religious people think that proof of God’s love can be found in the existence of our family and friends and what have you. But since I don’t believe that, why would God not work to convince people like me?

What do I do when I love people? Well, I tell them. I hug them, or spend time with them, or inquire into their lives. Or I send cards or letters, or text messages, or presents. If God wanted to prove his love to me, why wouldn’t he do that?

And at that very moment, I turned a corner, and a bright, beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky in front of me.

Touché, God.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

101 Goals in 1001 Days

Have you seen this idea floating around the Internet? The concept is pretty straightforward: Create a list of 101 things you would like to accomplish, and then do so in 1001 days. My friend and I are going to do it together, which will be fun. We'll be able to compare notes on our process, and in some cases we have planned in some overlap (we're going Yurt camping together, for example). 

I'm pretty excited about this plan. It will be good incentive to do some of the things I really should do, and will also provide some reason to do the stuff I want to do but can't always justify. (Um, it's on my list. I have to.)

The only challenge right now is coming up with 101 things I need to/want to do! I'm at 36, I think. If anyone has any recommendations, by all means let me know. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Don't Walk

At the corner, in the rain 
Glares across the road 
I think it meets my gaze
What does it want me to do, then?
Stand? Sit? Sleep?


I have manners
And I am obedient
And this is Seattle
And there is rain, and no cars 
And the people on the corner, there
With me
People with places to be
And hands to hold
And jobs to do
They have things to run to
And from
But they
(or run?) 
And we don't make eye contact with each other

Until she steps off the curb
She who doesn't have any of the usual looks
Who is not "grimly determined"
Who is not "flippant"
Who isn't a rebel
Who simply doesn't wait


To flicker
And turn