Friends


So I had a really crappy Monday, and I tried to blog about it, and failed most spectacularly with about  six different incarnations of this post.  But I’m back at it, because it feels important.  Part of what made the start of this week so abysmal had to do directly with my habit of giving people my opinion completely uncensored when asked, and part of it had to do with a relationship I’ve been working on.  Nothing unexpected has happened, which is cryptic at best, but here is my point:

It’s true; someday even the luck rocketship underpants don’t help.  What I love about this strip though is Hobbes being that quite cheerleader we all need on the days when nothing goes as planned.  In that respect, I have to give a big thank you to one of the most awesome bosses a person could have: so THANKS Greta. Greta is one of the most over-worked, people I know, and even though she was so sick she didn’t come in (but was still working from home), she took the time to call and offer me support and wisdom during the middle of a horrid day.  And no, you can’t have my boss…she is too awesome to just give away.

The main issues that occupied my Monday have not gone away, but at the moment I’m in a place where all I can do is wait.  But now I’m a few days after the fact and even that small space gives me more perspective. Part of which comes from my Twitter thought of the day from that same horrible Monday.  It was a Latin proverb: Dum spiro, spero, which means “While I breath, I hope.”

Waiting has to be one of the hardest things in the world for me to do.  Over the past few years I’ve become much more decisive than I was as a child.  This is partly because I got sick of having the endless “where do you want to eat?” conversations with my friends, and partially because I’ve never been overly patient in the first place.  But this is an odd place for me to be in.  For a long time, I didn’t know what I wanted, which resulted in inaction.  Now I know what I want, but to get what I want (if that is even possible) I have to wait.  I think that is worse then not acting because you are unsure of what you want.  So I choose to breathe and hope I get my wishes (as I’ve already done everything I can), which at the moment are fixed firmly on two very large components of what is generally regarded as “the good life.” Namely I’m waiting on news from law schools and to see if the relationship I’ve been cultivating is going to wither or bloom.

I have a love hate relationship with The Rolling Stones.  By that I mean that I either love a song they wrote or hate it.  There does not seem to be any in-between, nor could I tell you why I like some Stone’s songs and hate the others.  But one song that I am enamored of is You Can’t Always Get What You Want.  It has a very catchy little piano and organ bit, which I love and the lyrics are just on point:  “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.”  Such a concise statement for so much of my day-to-day existence, and I guess it has been rattling around in the back of my skull since Monday.  I know this is true, and I actually tried to use this paragraph as the introduction to this post as I thought it was relevant.  But it dawned on me that is the exact opposite of what also must be true.  Sometimes you get what you want, and it turns out to be exactly what you need.  Now that is some hope I can get behind.

It’s odd though.  Monday was not what I wanted by any stretch of the imagination, but it may just have been what I needed.  It’s nice every once in a while to see your life turn into such a flaming effigy.  It reminds you that the numbing routine of work is not what we are on this planet for, and it pushes me to be better.  So thanks to all those quite cheerleaders out there for helping me push through, but I made this mess and it is mine to revel in.  And like my dad says, “The Boss has a way of giving you what you expect.”  To which I add my corollary: be sure to expect the best, even when in the middle of a quagmire.  You will still have a few of those days where the awesome pair of rocketship underwear doesn’t help, but if nothing else, there is always Calvin and Hobbes to read.

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So I had another post 90% done, and was well on my way to posting it, but then fate intervened. For those of you who do not know, I graduated from Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in 2002, which is only important because of a tragic shooting that unfolded yesterday. I meet Jennifer Paulson on probably my first or second day in the dorm, and when my friends called me yesterday and said Jennifer had been shot, it didn’t register in my head who they meant, as I always called her Jenny. Jenny was the kind of girl that a mother dreams about their son meeting. She was hard working, she was charming, and she had both academic and street smarts. But most importantly, she never had an ill word for anyone. She was one of those few people that finds the good in everyone, all the time.

When I think of her in my mind’s eye, I usually see her in a food-spattered apron as she worked in the kitchens of the school. Having worked in a restaurant and knowing how much a grind such labor can be, I was always pleased to see her working in the cafeteria, which by their very nature seem to be morose. But Jenny would wear a smile that you’d swear could part the perpetually gray clouds that hung almost oppressively over the city, and it never seemed to matter how bad things where going in her life or in yours, she could find that kind world or joke that would make everything seem alright.

Two of my best friends at SPU have cerebral palsy, and one of them, I’ll call him Mr. Boarder, had a crush on Jenny. He also lived for a time with the shooter, Jed Waits. Jed was one of those guys I would never have met if not for the fact that he lived with Mr. Boarder. In thinking on it, I only have a few hazy memories of him, and if pressed I don’t think I would have said he was unbalanced, but I would have given you tightly wound. His shoulders were always scrunched and he always seemed to be reacting to something rather then acting out a plan.

When I first heard this story and subsequently discovered the details my heart broke. One reason is that in my soul I’m kind of a cynical person, but I nevertheless try every day to see the good in the world and to laugh at something. Jenny wasn’t the only person who taught me to do this, but she was one of the best I’ve ever meet at actually projecting that sense that somehow everything was going to come out fine in the end. I think it is this fact that makes how her life ended so bitter. Because really, this is one of those stories that makes you shake your fist at the sky and bellow into the void that eternal and infernally succinct question of “WHY?”

But then the part of me that is in love with movies pops into my head, and it is Agent Starling speaking to Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs that echoes in my synapses:

Hannibal Lecter: First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?

Clarice Starling: He kills women…

Hannibal Lecter: No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing?

Clarice Starling: Anger, um, social acceptance, and, huh, sexual frustrations, sir…

Hannibal Lecter: No! He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.

Clarice Starling: No. We just…

Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don’t you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don’t your eyes seek out the things you want?

The answer is both chilling prophetic in this case, and makes me wish that sometimes my mind did not jump to cinema when my own lambs begin bleating in terror at the night.

But at the same time, it is funny the circles this habit of mine weaves. Jed drew graphic novels apparently, and in response to Dr. Lecter I see a girl in a different movie, which was adapted from a graphic novel. She even could even have been Jenny’s doppelganger at a younger age, I’d wager. Her name is Sara, and in the movie , The Crow, she says: “If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.” This was followed up a lyric from a song written by the protagonist, Eric Draven, who has come back from the dead to avenge the brutal abuse and murder of his girlfriend as well as his own death. In fact, this quote was also one of the taglines for the movie, and it is simply “It can’t rain all the time.”

It is true that it can’t rain all the time, even in the Pacific Northwest. I lost contact with Jenny after college, which I regret. There are many things I would have loved to found out about her life, like had she traveled outside the country, which one of my current friends seems to think includes Texas. This got me thinking of another one of my classmates who passed under equally infuriating circumstances. But she did make the trek to Texas once, and in her company I took a picture, which I think Jenny would love. It was taken in San Antonio and was on the side of a large hospital. Jenny was not a doctor, but she did heal people on a daily basis. She made everyone feel good about themselves. She touched the lives of the students she worked with, and for kids with disabilities that kind of person is beyond my keen to describe. So for Jenny, I give the one gift I have to give, and I am sorry it is so little so late.