Blog, My Thoughts on You, Poetry

Tragedy of Atala

a virgin that was blown
to the ends of her sanity

he held tight to her legs
his face so contorted
frozen in mourning
a water colored purgatory

we all died
when she drank that bitter
infected wine

the blue magnolias shriveled
inside her womb- hanging over her head
as she slept


and now lay limp
her fire hair quenched
her belt cracked open
the key hanging from his mouth

it shouldn’t be this tragic, he said

but He too had failed
and she passed like the flowers
and dried as the grass of the fields

J’ai passé comme la fleur ; j’ai séché comme l’herbe des champs

Blog, Come on, Fisher!, Nostalgia

Grass Fed

Driving down Sopris Creek Road, I found myself suddenly surrounded by the past. A herd of cattle, six cowboys, three Australian Sheppards, and an 80-year-old man on a six wheeler – moving the cows down valley.

Bill says, “This really is the last of the Old West. In 20 years, there won’t be such thing as real cowboys, just a bunch of nancies dancing the two-step at a country western concert.” Bill’s from Georgia and has a thick southern/western/somethin’ accent. He’s a cowboy today but, for lack of a better phrase, he’s worn a lot of hats. He’s been a rock climbing junkie, a fly fishing guide, a corporate monkey suit, an entrepreneur – he’s done it all. But Jeanie asked him about 10 years ago what he wanted to be when he was 12. He said a cowboy so that’s the hat today. Though he really doesn’t waste his time with bullshit Stetson’s and usually sports an Orvis Guide ball cap.

The last of the Old West drives their grass fed cattle from the upper part of Sopris Creek down the valley using the now-paved road as their guide. My 2001 Tacoma stood steady in the middle of the herd, while they stuck their noses in my open window and mooed as the dogs nipped their heals.

I took in the view, knowing full well this was something I’d tell my disbelieving grandchildren about someday. “There was a time when cows actually roamed the hillsides and ate the grass for food. Cowboys, like real cowboys with hats, and spurs and horses, would move them from field to field until they were full and fat and ready to eat.” The kids’ mouths would drop in disbelief. Cows probably don’t even exist at this point, except for in storybooks and paintings in museums. Now they are genetically engineered in plastic bags, equal parts protein and nutrients with zero fat. If we’re even eating animals at that point at all. We may just be getting our daily “food” out of an IV.

“And before that, there were buffalo, deer and elk, coyotes, foxes, and mountain lions that roamed these parts, completely on their own. Free.” My grandchildren will stare blankly at the use of the word “free”. To them, nothing is free because everything is just given, allotted, doled out, expected.

Bill says he likes to move the cattle every year because he knows those days are almost over. It makes me remember the days when I was a kiddo and helped move the Bar MJ’s herd with Texaco, the gentle quarter horse that lived to be 35.

I can’t help but what the future fake meat will taste like. And I’m sad to know that I am likely the last generation to ever have ever truly known a cowboy.

Blog, Come on, Fisher!

Left Handed Lay Ups

Looking back on myself at age 15, I try to remember who I was back then. I remember feeling like an introvert stuck in an extroverts body. I remember being tired all the time. Basketball, tennis, social activities, and school. I was constantly busy. I was constantly trying to win at something, to be the best. Trying to get good grades, trying to be the best point guard, trying to be the best tennis player.

My freshman year of high school, I thought I was pretty hot shit. I was the starting point guard for the JV team because the varsity coach wanted to give me play time on the court. And I was really good. I used to steal the ball and run it in for lay ups. That was my signature move. The only problem was, once I got to the other end of the court, completely uncontested, I’d usually miss the lay up. Especially left handed lay ups. So in order to move up to varsity, I had to practice those damn left handed layups until my muscles knew exactly what to do and my brain could stay out of it.

I got so good at left handed layups, that even to this day, I can do it with my eyes closed. But in all that practice and focus, I neglected the right hand. Even though that’s my primary hand! And I am so uncomfortable shooting layups on my right, I miss them all the time.

Lay ups where kind of the beginning and end of my basketball career. I was really good at making them available to me, so you an imagine the disappointment, when I’d make some incredible steal, baffling my opponent, only to get down the court and miss.

I was also a head case when it came to tennis. I would come up really strong, but those forehands of mine where unwieldy and ended up in the net more times than they didn’t. When they did go over, they were a thing of beauty. An over-exaggerated western grip that took a wind up of the kings, then bam. The ball couldn’t handle all that spin and it would go straight into the damn net. So I fought at tennis and even won a doubles championship my freshman year. But when it came to singles, being on my own on the court, going up against competitors that actually knew how to rally, I usually fell apart at the end. The bad thoughts in my mind would eat away at me, they would tear me down. And even the most unrefined competitors would beat me in the last moments.

Looking back, I was probably better than 90% of other girls my age at not one, but two sports. Sure. If you look at it like that, I was an exceptional athlete. But I was unfocused and held down by my own negativity and insecurities. I never made it, at really anything. I never hit that pinnacle you see in the movies where the underdog comes in for a big win. I never felt that glory of ‘holy shit I did this!’ I always came up short. I was always one or two steps away from the goal. I was always losing to someone who was just slightly better than me.

I rode the bench my sophomore and junior years of basketball, watching one of the best point guards run the show. She owned the original finger roll layup. She was my white, lady Steph Curry. She was awesome to watch and went on to play in college. I was her guard in practice all the way until my day on the court, my senior year, when I was the starting point guard. And I was damn good at left handed lay ups.

Blog, Come on, Fisher!

The Alicante Aquarium

By the end of April, after traveling every weekend, my CEA friends and I had seen twelve cities in the southern half of Spain, three countries and a barrio in Granada inhabited by mountain dwellers. By the end of my study abroad term, I had been to the Prado art museum in Madrid four times, the Louvre in Paris twice, the Cathedral of Sevilla for Sunday mass, looked down from the top of the cupola at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Italy, and seen Christopher Columbus’ tomb.

Each week was similar to the last. At school Tuesday, we would talk about where we had been. Wednesday we would talk about where we wanted to go. By Thursday, we would have plans and Friday morning we met at the Plaza de Cuba, bocadillo (Spanish baguette) in hand, ready for our next adventure. This week was just like all the others and the destination was Alicante, a beach town just south of Valencia.

Of all the places we had gone and all of the things we had seen, the end of April was nearing and we had yet to just go to the beach. The Spanish Riviera, the most exotic and luxurious spot on the peninsula. We weren’t expecting much historical value or days filled with site seeing. All we knew about Alicante was that there was a lighthouse that was on the cover of Lonely Planet Spain. But more importantly, we knew there was a beach and a nightlife that didn’t begin until 4 a.m. That weekend four girls that I had known for four months packed into a mini two-door rent-a-car with only our bikinis, towels and cameras for the ultimate weekend getaway at the Mediterranean coast. However, our dreams of sun were questioned once we passed through Granada, the half way point. The mountains were covered with snow all the way to the highway. Snow… in May… in Spain? Spain was supposed to be tropical. This trip was supposed to be a trip to the beach. The snow didn’t faze us and we charged on, all four more hours to Alicante.

Jackhammers greeted us in the morning of our 10 euro hostel room. It was fully equipped with five beds lined along the wall, a missing shower head and a couple of four-legged friends in the closet. The sheets had holes and the cots had springs coming through the mattresses. When we woke, cot to cot, we simultaneously began to hum “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” But something else was in the midst of the prison cell and construction site across the alley; it was rain.

It rained for three days straight. During our spring break getaway to the Spanish Riviera, we never stepped foot on the beach. Marie woke up covered with our jackets one morning because her bed had no blankets.

The next day, after 20 years of the same straight blond locks, she finally decided to cut her hair, eight inches. Kat found out that her absentee election for president of her University, which she had presided over for three years, was lost to her Vice-President. When she turned from the phone and her devastating news, she realized that she found four new friends to lean on. Lexi found a fly in her salsa. Instead of a free dinner, the Italian waiter who spoke neither Spanish nor English, gave us a bottle of tequila, Mexican birthday hats and red carnations on our way out.

Molly was determined to make our trip worth while. She led us around the city for more than two hours in the pouring rain in search of the notable (so said Lonely Planet) Alicante Aquarium. It promised to be bigger than the Monterey Bay Aquarium, more diverse than San Diego and out of the rain. Our excitement, however, for Mediterranean fish was squashed when instead we found a three-foot tall fish tank outside in the middle of a plaza that contained one species of fish – gold fish.

And I, I left for Alicante thinking I had seen almost everything. Cathedrals were all starting to look the same and Renaissance Art was becoming the same old bible story. I left yearning to turn off my brain and bask in the sun. But I returned to Sevilla with the most important lesson of all. Sometimes you lose elections, salsa attracts flies, and there aren’t enough blankets. Sometimes Aquariums are only fish tanks. Sometimes it rains on luxurious Mediterranean beach vacations. Sometimes studying abroad can be unpredictable. But always, always experiences are defined by the way you chose to describe them. And the people you are with are the words.

Blog, My Thoughts on You, Uncategorized

Precautionary Landing

“We are about to make a precautionary landing. Pull out your emergency brochures and make sure you are familiar with our procedures. Tighten your seat belts, make sure your tray tables are locked and all of your luggage is stowed. Also, make sure there is nothing sharp out that could stab you. When we land, you’ll need to grab your legs and tuck your head between them. Let us know if you are unable to do this. You will need to leave everything behind, and when we say “Get up,” quickly head towards the nearest exit. Please take a look to make sure you know where that is. You will fold your arms over your chest when you jump down the slide and step away from the aircraft.”


Some people laughed a little, and not seemingly uncomfortable, perhaps more in disbelief. One woman was angry that we were going to try to land in fog. But this wasn’t about fog. There was a problem.

I was alone. No one sitting next to me. I looked around to make eye contact with the people around me, but they didn’t look back. I was sweating and my stomach felt that tight sensation you get when you are really late to something really important. I closed my eyes to pray — nothing. My thoughts were blank. So I looked around me at my stuff.  A purse full of shit — and grabbed my iPhone, tucked it in my pocket and made sure it would stay, and then I took inventory. I had my computer and some dumb clothes, my wallet – should I grab the credit cards? No I have my ID, that’s all I’ll need. My phone and my ID. How are my clothes, will I be able to maneuver? Will that protect me? My clothes are OK. My shoes – flip flops. I don’t have anything else, it’ll have to do. When I jump down the slide, I’ll take them off so I don’t lose them.

I’m so glad my laptop with all of my writing in it isn’t with me. Does anyone know that I’m even on this plane? I think work knows. The plane started to descend and we put our hands in front of our faces, on the seat back in front of us. Dead silence and calm. And we closed our eyes and held our breath. And we touched down with ease and taxied into the gate, where not until the doors open did people start to clap or move.

Not once did I think about not being ready to die. At that moment, it really wasn’t up to me, or anyone else for that matter. Total random chance – chaos and collision. It didn’t matter what my thoughts and prayers were, or who would miss me or what I had left undone. But it did feel good to know that if it had happened, no one would cease to exist simply because I did. Nothing was depending on my survival. I mean, sure, people would be effected, but nobody needed me. But everyone on that plane needed the pilot.

It didn’t even occur to me until now. I didn’t even say thank you.

The good news is, when being tested at a moment at the end of all moments I was calm and logical and thinking about survival. I always wondered what I’d be at the end of days: a zombie or a zombie killer. Human instinct at the edge of all inhibitions must be shear survival. I took inventory of what was around me, the people. I looked around for who was going to be my survival buddy. A girl about my age one seat up and to the left.

I looked at who was going to slow me down. An elderly woman, to my left, two seats in. I could get out before she did.

I took stock of the items I had. A phone. I put it away. And then I took it back out. No babies around. I’d need my ID in case they need to identify my body.

It wasn’t even that I didn’t know what to expect with the landing. They told us exactly what to expect. A crash. So when we actually landed and it was smooth, the surprise wasn’t in the lack of turbulence, it was in being alive 5 minutes past the time you expected.

I never once thought, I should have written that book. I’m not ready. I have so much more to do. Because what was left undone wasn’t up to me. All that was up to me was what I had done before then – that random moment of no control – and it had been good. It didn’t even matter if I had been good. But that it had been good to me.

Blog, My Thoughts on You

Can’t stay like this forever, kid.

Gradually the distance between your person and your childhood grows apart. You start thinking about what your parents think less. You’re beliefs start to mold to your situation more. The time you find for church is really based on your own time. The time you find for anything – is based on your own time. And your money is your own, the responsibility of your wealth becomes your own.

While we, some of us, maintain the knowledge that if it all fell through you could always go home to mommy, you don’t. Because you psychologically can’t anymore. You’re self worth depends on coming out of hardships on your own dime. Or you do, and you revert back to a childlike state indefinitely, until you can once again muster up the courage to leave home and break the inertia.  Inertia you never had to break to begin with because it was just written. You went away to college because that’s what you do. Or because that’s what you did.

But as time passes, and your bad decisions become your own burden, childhood’s distant memory either becomes a source of inspiration or it becomes a truly distant memory that you only revisit in a dream-like state or when you are around others that remind you.

Things that remind you of childhood like your dog, your house, your friends, your pictures or t-shirts, trophies, notes, letters. But even then, all that stuff is not really representative of what you were like as a kid.

All at once, childhood seems to disintegrate with time. Sometimes this decomposition happens due to your own changing perception or mentally you block out memories. Or it happens because you change. It can’t stay like this forever. But in your 20s, all you know is what it was. And it’s hard to imagine being any older than you already are now. Like in your 40s or your parents age.


I feel like your entire being relies on what memories you choose to hold on to from your past. Which of those matter now and which won’t ever matter again.

Interestingly for me, the ones I thought would be the most significant memories never have affected my being and the most minimal have become stories I remember and repeat to anyone of value.

When my parents decided to sell the house I grew up in, I had to return home to decipher which of my childhood’s most precious belongings got to continue along in my adulthood. I had to go through and pick out the memories I thought were the most significant and throw the rest away. Maybe not throw, but certainly dispose of the physical evidence. And then what happens, when the evidence disintegrates with time? Do you ever find subtle reminders of times of yore? Or does that memory truly die with that Friday’s trash pickup?

Because certain things that live in my time-capsule room of my childhood are only subtle reminders of my most innocent and favorable memories. But there is no room for them in my adult life, in my small adult apartment on Little Raven Street.

There’s no room in my dresser drawers for my first pair of soccer shorts – Umbros — that were slightly too short, which I wore on my first soccer team that was made up of all boys. One of the boys saw my underwear one day and from then on I was dubbed “Claire bear star underwear”.

There’s no room in my current life for endless t-shirts of soccer, basketball, softball team jersey’s from high school.  Or decorated socks from home games and shrines to Scott Bradley from 7th grade.

There’s nowhere to put my endless amounts of trophies from swim team at Westwood Country Club in Vienna, Virginia. Or a place for Kevin Chakin’s photo I kept from swim team pictures circa 1996. Or what about the little sheets of pink paper that told you where you were in line in swim team for the races. For good luck, we would tear off a corner and put it in our suits for the race. To those races I won, I still have those pink corners.

I’m not sure where I’m going to put those beanie babies that Scott gave me, or the endless amounts of dried flowers I kept from my endless amounts of boyfriends. Prom, homecoming, Valentines Day, birthdays, Christmas. It didn’t matter – I always had a guy at every holiday corner. It was my thing. And each one was special. So special that I kept every single rose I was ever given.

I was never given a rose Brian Fischer though. His memory will forever be burned in the pages of my leather diary aging from 6th-9th grade.

And what about my diaries. My books. My notes. Everything I’ve ever written. My pen never turned to gold. And those wistful wishes of becoming a coveted writer, where my childhood brilliance would be forever archived in a museum – those wishes are but distant memories now. So who will ever want to read that stuff now? My children? My grandchildren? What if I die before I ever even have kids? Then all the stuff will sit in a trunk that doesn’t exist, like some sad old ladies memories that turned out to never be important to anyone else buy her.

But if you throw them away, they are gone to the wind.

Does our stuff make us who we are? If my house burned down and I never had the luxury of deciphering the worth of my valuables, would I be a different human? Would my memories completely fade with time and only date back 5-10 years? Would I still have dreams of frolicking in the field with Sean Settle as kids, making up stories about hunting mad-men that would snatch you if you went past the line of the meadows?

If I died and my house burned down, would my soul then disintegrate with the ashes?

I always felt as a kid that my only value was in the pages of my journals. My journals that I declared independence, faith, values, morals – all of which I never kept once faced with actually having to choose my alignment. My journals declaring my deep passionate love for whoever, or my deep gushing sadness about whatever. If a fire were to come and take back my belongings – take them all, I’d say: But spare my journals which I never cared quite enough about to actually place in a safe or fire proof box – though the thought had crossed my mind on more than one occasion.

But there is no fire. Only change. My parents moving on with their lives. Molly, my childhood dog passing away because she didn’t have the energy to move on to a new set of memories. Change of beginning the adult portion of my being, where success and time are only defined by what I physically make of them and never more. Change affecting all portions of my being, and already displacing portions of my physicality.

So what, with change. It’s the purging of your soul. Catharsis from your used to be. Distance between your reality and your unrealized plans. Change is where you get to silo off that which made you who you are and that which almost did.

Blog, My Thoughts on You

Cynicism and the Sadness Shield

To discard emotion from my life would be an interesting task. I’ve realized that with time, you have to disconnect from certain things or else you’ll explode. My mom feels so much for other people, I wonder where all that space in her heart comes from. Not to say that I don’t feel or sympathize, but I have a hard time connecting with pain. It’s exhausting. I often disconnected with my own pain and feel very little on the side of sadness.

I think a lot of that is inspired by the people in my life. Most of them are either highly in tune with suffering, and the other half are completely separated from it. But me, I can feel so self absorbed that it’s hard to even talk to sad people. I avoid them almost, like their sadness will rub off on me. And then I get mad at them for being that way, treading in dark murky water that has no right to interrupt my sunshine.

It’s the same anger I feel for people who take their own lives versus good people whose lives get taken from them. I guess it would be trite to say, but it’s completely unfair.  The only reasoning I’ve ever heard anyone say is they had to die so I could learn XYZ. We try so hard to rationalize everything sad in our lives because we would go insane if we didn’t have a reason for everything. And thus a perpetual cycle of sadness continues. There’s no reason for it, which is enormously depressing, and those that can no longer rationalize became sadness zombies.

So there’s me. I can’t deal with sadness, so I don’t. But I’d be lying to you if I said that I don’t feel skepticism and pessimism, cynical, untrusting, dark thoughts all the time. I don’t have sunshine shooting out of my ass. In fact, I’ve been told that I’m a dark human that people would be scared to see what the inside of me looked like. On the outside, if you ever met me, I don’t come off this way. I think my outer appearance is actually starting to win because the darkness is turning to grey – into dismissive disconnection with sadness.

Also, sadness is boring. Have you ever noticed that? If you sit and listen to someone cry, do you not feel completely restless? Like when is this going to be over and how can I make this person laugh again? I can’t take it! I mean seriously, don’t lie to me. If you are completely honest with yourself, you know you feel that way. Being a shoulder to cry on is exhausting, it’s boring, it doesn’t have to do with you, and you can hardly wait for your turn to talk.

We are all assholes. Okay, there are some people who aren’t assholes. I don’t think my sister is an asshole. I think she genuinely cares when people are sad and crying and I don’t think that she feels like leaving when they do so. I think that she actually feeds off of it. A sadness eater. She loves it because it makes her feel useful. But to my point, it’s all a selfish pursuit.

I just think about time. All we really share together is time. Everything functions around it and lack of it, everyone’s fears all stem from the same place, a perpetual lapse in something completely out of our control. You cannot control the passing of the days and their continual movement towards the end of something, the day, week, month, sun. We are all moving forward, but at the same time, we are all expiring. So this is a large burden to bear for a race that feels things like guilt, need, hopes, and rationale. It’s huge, because you cannot break the cycle, you cannot stop it, you have no choice but to move with it.

In religion, devising a barrier between reality and the continuation of time can only get you so far. It can perhaps make you fear it less or accept its absence by belief in the after-time. But mostly it gives you comfort that we are all running out of the same thing.

I always wonder how anyone can be so frivolous with his or her time. There is no amount of rationalizing that can slow it down or make it stop.  And because of that life provides the same conundrum. And that’s what sadness is – what it is, and tragedy and death, and fear and regret. It’s all there for you to make with it what you will. So I have a hard time understanding what people decide to make of it.

Is cynicism my sadness shield? Hating time wasters? I don’t know how else to feel about them. Bad people are time wasters, people who know there is something better and choose not to achieve it. People who understand how to get from A to B and choose F instead. You’re brain is strong and smart and able. It has the ability to rationalize and to believe, it also has the ability to choose. To choose how you spend your valuable, limited time.

Blog, My Thoughts on You

Battle Cry for the Gen Y

My dad’s very corporate company spends lots of money doing research about why people my age think the way we do. So I’d like to save everyone a little time and give you all a screen shot of the inner-thinking’s of my generation. Our lives are easy, full of convenience and entertainment. We’ve always had everything. There was no famine, no war, no depression. Even the depression/recession hasn’t really affected us because we don’t own anything. Mostly though, it’s because we are the computer generation — in fact the recession has made us worth more because it made the Internet the center of the universe, and who knows it better?

With our lives of convenience comes the need for mobility. So, naturally, since our laptops can go anywhere, we wonder why we can’t go anywhere, too. Doesn’t really make sense to have global WiFi if you’re not gonna use it, now does it? You don’t even really need a laptop anyway. You just need a computer, any computer, anywhere because there’s this cool thing called internet applications. What that means is that software doesn’t exist anymore. Only applications – Internet-based apps that perform all the same tasks as software, but from anywhere. Are you scared yet?

What about the value of face-to-face time? Well sure, that’s important depending on what you do. But you can get face-to-face time in for, like, two hours a week and the rest can really be done elsewhere.

Don’t you think the work days should be shorter then? Now that you can be as productive, if not more, in a fraction of the time? Instead of decreasing work days, there is actually more work, which is fundamentally why we Gen Y’ers feel like we’re worth more. Because let’s face it, we’re doing 10 times as much as you used to do when you had to calculate everything by hand and there was no spell check. Or when making a creative comp meant literally taking your own photos in a shoot, and piecing it all together in a final product that may never go further than your office.

So while you may think we’re all rebellious, greedy and lazy, we’re here doing your work 10 times faster and better and we’re getting paid, like, nothing to do it because we don’t need as much shit in our lives to be fulfilled. And because some assholes in Washington are telling us that we’re fortunate just to have a job. Creating fear in the job market, so that they don’t lose their jobs to some MBA Gen Y’er who will take half their salary.

Fear is a good way to keep control, but it won’t last. Because another thing you should know about us is that we aren’t scared of anything. Anything. We like to play, we like to drink, we like to come to work hungover and we can still do your job better than you.

Now all hope isn’t lost for the retiring baby boomers and their younger siblings. I’m just letting you into the mind of Y, or “i”, I suppose. We’re cool people, too, you know. We just don’t want to live our lives by the same standards as you during your over-inflated consumerism, 80s Wall Street, all-work/no-play days. We think your outfits looked stupid back then, and those thin ties made your heads look small.

I should take this time to also mention that high schoolers wearing emo-thin jeans are NOT part of the generation I’m explaining here. Gen Y is mid-20 to early 30 somethings, working professionals with college degrees and vivid memories of the following: Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky, OJ Simpson, John Benee Ramsey, black Michael Jackson. Not those snot-nosed kids who grew up playing World of Warcraft instead of capture the flag. We passed notes, not “sexts”. We played team sports and had to do thousands of extra curricular activities to get into college. We did not grow up obese and over-prescribed. We were just kids that had Silent Sustained Reading time, the Oregon Trail, 3 1/2-inch Floppies, casette tapes, Green Day, flannel shirts, Molly Ringwald, Pop-Up Video, sagging shorts and Adidas.

I’m not saying we’re all that or anything. All I’m saying is that we’re going to run this shit pretty soon. And when we do, we’re not having casual Fridays, we’re having Powder-day Fridays. We’re not working 9-5 and we’re burning all the cubicles. Our computers are not going to be the place where “collaboration” takes place, because get serious, a computer is a stifling, mind-sucking device. We’re going to be out in the world, exploring, collaborating on our iPhones in the middle of the jungle. And we’re still going to be productive. Don’t you get it? We don’t want your stinky throne; we don’t like to sit down.

Blog, Come on, Fisher!, My Thoughts on You

Let’s Stop Perpetuating this Culture of Gluttony

I went out with the girls the other night and towards the end what seemed like a speed dating extravaganza, it became very apparent to all of us. All anyone cared about asking was what we did for a living. Not what do you do in your spare time? What kind of music do you listen to? What are you reading? How do you guys know each other? Nothing that might actually peer into the essence of who we were as individuals. It was as if our professions were the end-all measurement of our being. Yikes.

It made me think about when I lived in Europe, with my senora, Concha. She woke up and went to work every morning and got home at about 2pm (in time for siesta), then went out with her friends and family, drank wine, socialized, shopped for the rest of her glorious day. Always back in time to make us dinner at 10 pm. I lived in her house for 6 months and never knew what exactly she did. Her life was defined by a totally different description. It didn’t matter how big her home was, or how much money she made. When I asked her once about her job, she just smiled and said she made money working for the government. She was the happiest woman I had ever met.

My dad (Mr. Corporate America) used to say that Europeans were lazy. No one ever works! And that, in a sense, is probably true. But maybe that’s just it. Maybe they got it right. We Americans are bred to believe that the only thing that defines us is our job. You are a lawyer. You are a Doctor. It’s not you are an outgoing athletic girl, who does marketing to make ends meet. We are bred to define every aspect of ourselves by how much shit we have. How big our houses are. How big our wedding rings are. And we are bred to be divorced, obese and chronically unhappy.

Today, we Americans pay at least 45% of our earnings away in taxes when you include sales tax, social security (which we’ll never see), income, etc. etc. We are working to support a system that supports everyone else. In socialist countries, like Spain, they are at least up front about it. But in Spain, people also get a mandatory month off in August. Six hour work days. A country-wide nap time. They never bring their work home with them. In fact, they never even talk about work. They are defined by their family name, not their profession.

But I couldn’t live in Spain. And I’m also not a socialist. I certainly don’t want to support lazy bottom feeders, people that refuse to take care of themselves, people who have 18 kids on welfare, and I don’t want to continue to support everyone’s unwillingness to change. I’m an American and I want to support myself.

It isn’t just the workforce that this culture of excess seeps into, either. It’s in every aspect of your lives. Marriage: people do everything they do in the dating world to eventually get married (and support the commercial wedding industry). And society feeds off of it. Once you’re married, you get a tax break and shared health care benefits, not to mention all the crap you get from your wedding. If you never get married or have kids, you get nothing but the label of sad and single. Self employment: so you work to break the mold and work for yourself. Welcome to insanely poor health care benefits unless you pay $300 a month, 15% in Social Security taxes, zero tax breaks, audit city, no paid vacation, and near impossibility to save a dime. Vacation: so you do work a steady job and you get a finite number of vacation days. You are forced to take them by a certain time or all that hard earned time off goes to the waste side. But it looks bad if you take those days at too much consistency or all at once. So are you truly encouraged to take time off or is it just another ploy to keep you working far over what you’re paid?

Retirement. That is the American dream. And it’s not because of all the shit you can buy. It’s because deep down, everyone’s ultimate goal is to not work. Even if you happily conform to the system for your entire life, you are only doing it to finally be able to have your time to yourself. And then you have the media saying over and over; Life is short. If life is so short, why do you have to spend 40 working years to obtain your dream? It seems like such a waste of your good time. We should retire first and then work when we’re old.

In this economy, change and restructuring are the two hottest things on the market. But are we really changing or just looking for new ways to facilitate our old habits? What if we truly did change, and found new ways to live comfortably without excess? Balance work and life. Stop conforming to what everyone else wants. Stop getting married so fricking young and buying ridiculous rings you can’t afford? Stop buying crap you don’t need and start going on more vacations. Right now we’re on a country-wide diet. But the key to any diet is sustainability.

Blog, Come on, Fisher!, My Thoughts on You, Uncategorized

Intentional Forward Motion

All of the sudden, as I was driving home from my very adult job, listening to KBCO which is a very adult station, I had this moment of “holy shit, I’m an adult.” It wasn’t brought on by any big decisions or life changing events. It was just, I think, a moment of “Oh crap, when did that happen?” Like when your kid is all the sudden taller than you. It was in that moment that I became accountable for every single thing that I do. I can no longer make flippant decisions because they now directly affect my bottom line. And when did I start saying things like that? My wealth, happiness, belongings, all of it are my own. My parents are now consultants, not bosses. I think they call all of this a quarter life crisis? Whatever it is, I dubbed that day as the start of “intentional forward motion.”

Since I’m not really sure how to intentionally move forward just yet, I thought I’d take a literal approach and pick up running. Today, I hit a plateau, which certainly wasn’t intentional. I didn’t even realize it until I got back to the park and saw the clock above Ink! that I realized I had been running for more than an hour. By far the longest I have gone to date. And then I just wanted to keep on going. Something about the music on my iPod, and the smell of dirty diapers as I passed the trash cans that line Confluence Park, and the perfect almost fall air; it just felt so good. Docs tongue was practically touching the ground at this point, shaped like a full blown ping pong paddle. It was so nice and judgment free. It was just me and my dog. Silent for as long as I wanted. No distractions of beautiful mountain landscapes, other annoying bikers riding faster than me. No spandex shorts, no clif bars, no camel packs. Nothing but me, my aching knees and Docs paddle tongue.

It was nice. One might even say, addicting. I’ve heard about this – runners high I think they call it. They said watch out. They all said that. Oops.

This weekend I mountain biked in Salida. It was amazing, but I was also amazed at how much easier it felt given I’m probably in pretty good shape right about now. I hit that plateau often from biking, where I feel like I could bike all day. It doesn’t always happen, but every once in awhile, when I have just the right amount of energy and the temperature is just right, it happens to me and I could probably ride 25 miles. Is it possible that I can get that same satisfaction out of something I very openly disdain? (If you know me at all, you know that running has always been on my list of never gonna happens.)

So it all got me thinking. If all of this world is what I make of it, it only seems right that running could be a great fit into the balance. Or it could be just another huge distraction keeping me from my grandiose “bottom line” goals. Or it could be the next best thing, since it prompted me to come straight home and write this blog. Which at the end of the day — all of my forward intentions — end up here. With you. My blank WordPress, judgment free, canvas.