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Junior Year

Green Thumb

Lately I've been finding myself doing things that, in my imagination, go far better than they do in reality. Is this how adult life works? I would rather not investigate further but I have a sort of uneasy feeling that I may not have a choice. Somewhat remarkably, most things in my life thus far have pretty much gone as I've expected--or better. This is because I keep my expectations exceptionally low, albeit privately. Publicly, I know no one likes a Debbie Downer, which is what we call my Dad when he gets particularly negative. He hasn't figured out how to keep that downer attitude under wraps yet, which is why I know for a fact that popularity isn't bred from a bad attitude--Debbie has been denounced and exiled from my familial home many times by my Mother, who is somehow naturally cheerful and optimistic and hopes for the best and roots for the underdog. All else aside, if you grew up with a Saint you too would keep your assumptions of the worst to yourself. There's just something about a Northwest summer though that puts me in a different frame of mind. I told you I'd be singing praises, and this latest stretch of sun ball weather has come close to initiating a total paradigm shift. Maybe it's waking up and seeing light instead of rain, darkness, and impending doom out my bedroom window. Maybe it's Hobson Happy Hour with camp chairs in the creek. Maybe it's the fact that I have a tan and I no longer look like a white walker. Speaking of white walkers, maybe it's because Spencer and I recently discovered Game of Thrones, which isn't strictly weather related but could be a possible contributing factor. Who knows? I don't have to understand it to enjoy it!

But suddenly I do things like volunteer to water the garden. Actually I'm going to be honest, I didn't volunteer, I was told I had to water the garden, OR ELSE. Which was fine with me because it was a beautiful day! This is God's Glory! The land, now that's really living! Sure, we've heard it all before. So I go water, with a weird sort of farmer's daughter vision in my head that was part Little House on the Prairie and part The Simple Life but no part what actually was. What actually was was me becoming increasingly disgruntled while I hauled an unwieldy hose up the hill, into a garden that was full of increasingly disgruntled bees. It didn't take long for jungle rot to settle onto my feet, which were forming their own ecosphere in my rainboots with the amount of sweat and God only knows what else was coming off them. It also didn't take long for me to get covered in mud, which I'll admit, I really didn't see coming--it was dry as a bone out there. But, alas, by the time I was done there was a slick brown lather on every exposed piece of skin. Which was a lot. Because it was so hot.

But I persisted. I cut roses. The roses cut me. Perhaps you've heard the words of ever-wise Poison front man, Brett Michaels--turns out that every rose does have it's thorn. And then I potted plants, which was perhaps my worst choice of the day, and that's saying something. Potting soil has a particular quality to it that makes it extremely pokey. Except unlike most pokey things, it's not a blunt poke, or even a sharp stab. It's an unholy chill kind of poke, so you can't even tell really where it's coming from but suddenly your whole body is rolling in discomfort.

I can see, in some lights, how this would be fun. The sun was shining, the garden was green, there was a breeze. It could've been worse. It also could've been better. This may be my new life motto. More on that later.

xoxo, Lauren

Rain Rain

Well it's July 1st, believe it or not. Actually I just checked my computer calender. It's July 2nd. I thought it was the 1st. Just like last week on the 25th I thought it was the 18th. I had to study the calender for a long time before I figured it out. What can I say? I'm not great with numbers! Anyway, the point is, it's July and the weather sucks. It's been cloudy for what feels like years. All my tan from my time in New Orleans, a place that really knows how to do spring, is gone. I'm becoming one of the mole people. I love Oregon with all my heart, and I think it's dang near perfect landscape-wise. But good God! Enough is enough! Even my well-thought out reasons for why the really isn't "that bad" are wearing thin. I know the rain  is why everywhere I look is a lovely shade of green, but how much water does a plant really need? And my trump card reason, hey! the weather won't kill you here! isn't even holding up. Because guess what? The weather might kill you. People don't buy blue lights because they're happy. They buy blue lights because they're teetering on the edge of seasonal depression, and it's very possible that they might soon be teetering on a real edge. No man can live without the sun for nine or ten months at a time. NO MAN.

I went back to a work about a month ago--still horrifically taxing for me but I do what I can because they pay me. During my many hours behind the bar, I've discovered that I'm not alone. When it's cloudy out, people get quad-shot lattes. That's four shots, people. They're propping themselves up on caffeine so they can see through the fog that surrounds them, both literally and figuratively! They cannot make it through their miserable existences, made even more miserable by the weather, without drugs! Albeit a legal and gentrified drug, but still. Caffeine. Highly addictive. But when the weather is nice, it's a whole different story. Suddenly people want small iced coffees and fruit granita. They smile and tip better. They think, maybe we'll go camping this weekend! rather than thinking, maybe I'll watch tv for 48 hours straight this weekend, trapped inside on my couch by the constant drizzle. I'm tellin' ya. The proof is in the pudding. Or the coffee cup.

Sidenote: Another thing I've discovered while working is that people make the weirdest "no" faces when you ask them if they want a copy of the receipt. Look next time you get the chance. Women are the worst. Head back, lips pursed, nose crinkled, slow head shake. Just really weird.

Anyway, as soon as the sun comes, which everyone says will be after the 4th but I'm skeptical, we will literally be singing the Northwest's praises. Singing. Because, in theory, the summer makes up for the winter. I'm a big believer of the theory when it's sunny. But ask me come March what I think. And I'll tell you I'm thinking I belong in Arizona.

xoxo, Lauren

The Vortex

I would like to take a moment to issue a public service announcement: people of Duloc, the real Oregon Vortex is located in Milwaukie. I'm not going to say where, exactly, because I wouldn't be surprised if I had a stalker by now. But consider yourself warned. Tread carefully. You, too, could be sucked in. I consider myself an expert on the vortex because I live in it. It's a bit of a Hobson family phenomenon, or at least our little (relatively) branch of them--but I'm getting ahead of myself. We don't have balls that independently roll uphill or broomsticks that stand up straight unassisted. Our vortex is more of a state of mind. Within days of being in and around my familial home, your daily activities will be defined by the wolfpack and you will begin to describe your life in double negatives (I'm not going to say I started that trend, but I'm not not going to say I started it). You will find that HA HA can be applied to a variety of situations. You too will be calling everyone the worst. Some days you will find it impossible to not sing everything, including your own thoughts. You will find out that it does indeed suck to suck. Some days you'll say, "I hate us!" and at least once a day someone has to hit the deck. Usually Benny. 

The state of mind is definitely influenced by the state of our surroundings, aka the madhouse. I quickly realized that I traded out fun for another adjective with my move home from Louisiana--however, in the same way that fun wasn't necessarily that fun, mad is not necessarily that mad. Which is to say we are mostly healthy in body and mind, but the house is barely contained chaos. I like to think my mother is the barely containing part, because the rest of us are basically unadulterated insanity led by the mad man himself--no, not Jon Hamm, but my father. It's a sort of nice madness though--rather than be all sterile white walls and lobotomies we tend to be more on the domestic end of the spectrum. Maybe the constant disarray is because we're all creative and somehow brilliant, and thus we are prone to leaving one task for another and another, and that's why the yard and house are littered with sporting equipment and half-finished plans. Or maybe we're really all just easily excitable but also easily distracted, and that's a deadly combination.We also have a para-suicidal dog, and that's who I lay sole blame on for the amount of stray socks and shoes that are scattered everywhere. Also, anything that's chewed is him too. Well. Probably. Sam has her tendencies. 

Curiously though, every time I come home from my relatively peaceful existence in New Orleans I find myself slipping easily back into the vortex. Perhaps too easily. Sometimes people think I just fall right off the face of the earth when I get back here because virtually all communication stops and I am consumed by my family's life. Sometimes it's moderately disconcerting to me how quickly and without thought I am able to stop being an independent, really, and surrender to an old role. I throw that white flag up without a second thought when it comes to me time versus family time. It's all of us, all together, all at once, usually making fun of each other in some way or another. Whether this is good or bad for my mental health is yet to be decided. I try and carve out quiet time but it's tough to do when you live in a vortex. 

Or a cult, which now that I read back over this, is what I've just described. Whatever. Bring on the kool-aid. Or in our case, whiskey. Wolf pack. 

xoxo, Lauren      

Young and Vital

Young and Vital

Even though I've been sucked into the vortex (more on that later) I still have little moments of Italy in my head, just like I have little moments of everywhere I know. Different places and periods of time wander in and out, brought up by things happening in the here and now, and since Italy was what most would consider my last great adventure*, little things keep reminding me of my brief time there. Sometimes these intrusions of memory are disorienting but also oddly comforting, because then I know that even when I am only one, small, same and insignificant person, awash in familiarity, I still have pieces of the world tucked into my head and my heart, and that makes me glad. I cannot tell you why I like to travel, because for all and intents and purposes I shouldn't. But I do. For some reason I find exacerbating my fear of all that is unknown somehow exhilarating, and I find myself wild and free and drunk on the anonymity that foreign places bring. Everything is sharper and clearer, I can see better and breathe better and know better, and the challenges of change force me to think and think and think, and that makes me happy. My internal narrative morphs to fit my setting, and the stories I tell myself are different and go in directions I didn't know existed before. My sense of wonder and that raging curiosity that plagues me grows ever larger and more voracious. I only want to go and go and go.

Hell is Here

I've been thinking about what I want to say in this post for about a week. This is unusual for me--normally I just sit down and type for about an hour and call it good. Don't make the mistake of thinking that my longer than usual musing time means this will be a post full of deep thoughts. In my younger years I went through a brief phase of writing down what I considered philosophical ideas, but happily for all of us, those will stay safely tucked away on my hard drive, only to be pulled out when my ego gets too big and I need reminding of my humble authorial origins. And by humble origins I mean the mildly psychotic drivel I once considered worthwhile. But I digress. The real reason this has taken me so long to write is that my normal peaceful existence was interrupted by the arrival of my parents, jazzfest, the experience I had hoisting Janelle Monae into the air, the departure of my parents, the end of classes, numerous finals and thus an intensification of my never-ending struggle against procrastination, a new puppy, and clouds of flying termites*. Clearly I have been in no state to write! I can't say I'm in a much better state now, but there's really only so long you can put something off before you begin embarrassing yourself with your own lack of will. Anyway, I probably deserve a break--I've spent the last hour eating German chocolate cake and avoiding repainting  the spots on the kitchen wall I destroyed with poster tape. It's been rough. What I've been trying to talk about for the last week and two paragraphs is how *Actually the clouds of flying termites are becoming a bit of a real issue. I guess their mating season came early this year--normally I'm gone by the time the locusts come, but no such luck this May. Anyway all the buildings on campus are being kept hermetically sealed so they don't get in and lay eggs everywhere, but it makes everybody stir crazy. They compensate for it  by jacking up the air conditioner so high you have to bring a change of clothes everywhere you go--shorts and a t-shirt for outside (or a bee keeper suit, depending on how sensitive to bugs you are) and a snow suit. Because the library is actually Antarctica.

If you find the above confusing, that's because it is. Even to me, and I wrote it. It's half of a post I was working on earlier in May, right before my finals got over. Normally I'd just scrap it and start writing about whatever state I'm currently in, but I think it's hilarious that I can't remember what it was I'd been trying to talk about for the last week and two paragraphs. I have no clue. None whatsoever. Possibly a different person wrote that. I've been trying to remember for awhile now, but I got nothing on a name. What kind of idiot leaves a sentence hanging like that? Apparently this one. The endless battle of me against myself continues!

I know that about that time I was thinking about writing about jazzfest a lot because I really felt like talking about live music and how much I love it and how I always felt like crying and laughing when my favorite radio song was suddenly all around me in real time. I was feeling passionate about the subject at the time. Maybe that's the direction this truncated post was heading in but I sort of doubt it. I think maybe not even then did I know what I wanted to say, and that's why I stopped and saved it for another day. I should know by now that that never works, but then again it was finals and my brain and body were being pushed to the very limits of human capability so I wasn't reasoning normally. I mean if I didn't need therapy before, I definitely do now. Finals Week: The anti-gift that never stops terrorizing.

The problem with trying to go back and write on subjects that once captivated my imagination, or how I felt in the past, is that that was then and this is now. Normally when I'm excited about something I want to write about it. When something good or bad happens or even when I just feel strongly, my words are my outlet. I tell stories to express myself and process the world around me. That kids, is how I stay off the ledge. Unfortunately, life often moves faster than I can capture. Sometimes I am too far in the middle of the river to crawl out onto the bank and tell you what I see. Sometimes there are no natural places to dock the boat. And then, before you know it, you're six bends down the river and you barely remember what those first rapids looked like or how the air smelled a few mornings back and new stories and feelings have replaced the old ones.

The long and short of it is that I can't sink back into that place I was in at the beginning of this mess because I don't know how to relate to it anymore. I'm no longer that person. I can't remember. I missed the moment. And part of me says, you're an idiot, Hobs. But part of me says, well done you. Because that means I've been living enough in the present to be able to easily let go of the past. My two week long trip to Italy definitely helped that a long. But still.

xoxo, Lauren