March 27, 2009

back in my day...

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to visit the town I grew up in: Manson, Washington. A tiny apple farming town on a beautiful lake, surrounded by snowy mountains. I have found my mind going back to Manson quite a lot lately. I remember how simple everything was and how easy it was to be happy. I am not sure if it was the town itself or my wonderfully enjoyable childhood, but I am beginning to realize it may not have been as simple and easy as I thought.

When I first moved to Chicago I thought this is where I belong. The big city. I thought I was cut out for a world of "culture," art, music, constant movement, noise, and people. I thought that I would never be happy in a small town again. I actually forgot Manson existed. Until this last year. I'm not sure if it is the fact that I am once again living in Washington or if I am maturing to the point where I am seeing my youth through a new lens, but I can't stop thinking about it.

Going "home" was an interesting experience for several reasons: the first being that I hadn't been there for about five years, the second being the fact that I hadn't been there with my sister in thirteen years, and the third being that I had the opportunity to bring my one year old nephew with me. It was a strange mix of youthful memories and startling realizations of maturity. I am not a child anymore, and it became blatantly clear the moment I started driving my sisters sleeping child past my old house. I felt very emotional, happy, sad, overwhelmed at the fact that I was not the kid asleep in the backseat waiting for my parents to get me home. I thought about how much I have been through since that moment. I thought about how much things have changed and whether my parents thought the same thing when they were driving me around their home towns.

I think one of the things that struck me was thinking about the complexities that I never noticed. I drove around a place that was so full of memories, yet with the feeling that I had never seen any of it before. I saw the poverty, the small shacks that generations of families lived in, and realized for the first time what it meant to live there. When I was a kid I didn't understand what it was like for the families of the kids I went to school with. I didn't understand the extent of the poverty or the wealth of the tourists that juxtaposed it. I am amazed at the things I never noticed. I was amazed at the beauty that I took for granted. I was upset by the new wealth and "summer homes" that surrounded my old house and playgrounds.

I suppose the point to this is that I'm still young, but I think for the first time I really understand what it feels like to be getting older. It was that moment where I could hear my eighty year old voice saying, "back in my day..."

March 14, 2009

like mother like daughter and other things...

It has certainly been a while since I posted anything. I am nearing the end of finals, and prior to this have been busy writing, editing, and rewriting everything from poems to long non-fiction essays to articles for some teaching magazine. I have one class left for the quarter so I'm beginning to feel a little less pressure. Tonight I have been glueing, folding, and sewing chapbooks which has been fun. I find it nice to make something visually artistic to go along with the words I write.

Tomorrow I head off to a conference on Washington's Hood Canal. It is at quite an amazing hotel on the water. Sometimes I feel spoiled traveling to all these hotels to speak, I hope that it is making some sort of difference worthy of all this luxury. I am looking forward to speaking at this one because I was lucky enough to accompany my mom last year as a guest, and I know a lot of the people putting it on, so it will be amazing to present to them! The picture was taken out of my hotel room last year.

It is really weird when I think about what I am actually doing. I mean, ever since I can remember I have gone to conferences with my mom. I remember coloring in the back of the room, playing "my little ponies" in the lobby, swimming with my dad in the pool. I always tagged along, meeting all kinds of amazing and important people. And now I present to them. It's really funny how sometimes life seems to put you in the last place you expected but the one you feel the most comfortable in. I can't even remember how many people have said, "the last time I say you you were this high..." Its an interesting position to be in, on one level I of course feel natural and comfortable because I have seen my mom do it so many times, and because I know so many of the people, or kind of people, listening. On the other hand I can't help but feeling like a child. Like the child that is still tagging along, just three feet taller.

It's really funny how life puts us in these positions. I never thought I would want to speak at conferences. I never thought I would want to do anything other than play music. Even when I was first diagnosed I never wanted to talk about bipolar, let alone become somewhat of a spokesperson for it. But now I am. And I am going all over the country talking about my illness and the need to help other people learn how to take care of themselves and maybe eventually speak to others as I am.

I don't know where I'm going with any of this, I think I'm just rambling because I'm still in finals mode and a little out of my head. Just thought I would drop a line to say hello. And tell you I'm not dead. I will write more from now on, hopefully when my brain is a little clearer. Goodnight.

a walk in the rain