One Sun

I’ve just finished a lovely book called Same Sun Here by Neela Vaswani and Silas House and I’d like to share some thoughts.

The book is a series of letters written between penpals–an Indian immigrant girl in New York City and a boy in rural Kentucky. And they’re middle schoolers and the book fits with that but it also had some good things to say for non-middle schoolers such as myself. It talked about some of the more obvious things: immigration, racism, Obama’s first election. But also a diversity of other topics, from mountaintop removal coal mining to pets to eviction to mental illness (obliquely).

But the title really got the gist for me. We all live under the same sun. Difference is often what makes friendships interesting but we’re all much more similar than we realize. To deny difference is blind but surely denying the manifold ways in which we are the same is folly of equal, if not greater, magnitude.

There’s been a couple moments recently, and even just this week, when I’ve been really astonished and humbled and honored to witness people earnestly and respectfully seeking to learn more about different people and how to affirm those differences while acknowledging the similarities. Empathy is a cool thing.

Also, here’s a cat update for you. Some snuggles from the desert kitties.

 

This week, I’ve been really thinking a lot about my current joblessness. What I would be willing to do. What I would refuse to do. What are things that I might have to just suffer through. Mostly, I’ve been wallowing a bit because I feel like I’ve paid my dues. Yes, I only worked at Target briefly. Yes, Korea was only one year. But I feel like I’ve pretty much had my fill of doing jobs I don’t want to do. And I feel like that’s kind of justified; I do, after all, have a graduate degree.

I feel like somehow I’m just not applying to the right places, I’ve somehow missed the obvious jobs for me, that I haven’t been looking hard enough, long enough, desperately enough. I feel like I’m really trying. I’ve been pretty promiscuous about where I’ve sent my résumé. It’s a little discouraging. I know I haven’t been at it for that long but still.

On the plus side, I have at least received a couple formal letters declining to hire me, which is more than I can usually say.

The other thing is, of course, what to do if I get an offer at a place I really don’t want to go. I know it’s sort of a thing that you have to pay your dues, the your first job isn’t usually one that you love. But here’s my thing. A) that’s not really a reason, there are not actual dues to pay, you’re just resigned to young people having jobs they hate which I think is dumb and B) can you quantify these dues for me? did Korea count for nothing? how many jobs, how many years until I am allowed to work somewhere I enjoy working?

In summation, capitalism sucks and old people are mean. A bit of a rant, just let me vent. If you know me in person, you don’t need to check up on me, I was just having a moment. I’m like 83% okay which is very fine. Seriously. Don’t worry about it.

Anyway. Here’s the finale to this round of Songs Keegan’s Been Listening To. Maybe YouTube one or two if you feel so led. If not, move on with your life. Until next week.

  1. Glorious – Macklemore feat. Skylar Grey
  2. From Nowhere – Dan Croll
  3. Netflix Trip – AJR
  4. Back of the Car – Miike Snow
  5. Lost in Japan – Shawn Mendes
  6. Science Love Song – ASAP Science
  7. Making Money – Ben Rector
  8. Delicate – Taylor Swift
  9. Mystery of Love – Sufjan Stevens
  10. Torches – X Ambassadors
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Breathe the Free Air

Introductory thoughts for the week:

I was reading a little article about the recent ‘velvet’ revolution in Armenia whereby the premier was removed from power and the whole political system upset by popular demonstrations ect. They reference the actions of youth, commonly known there as the ‘independence generation’.

I’m real into generation things, I think it’s an interesting way to think about history and contemporary life. I like being a millennial, generally. But think about this: in lots and lots of places, I would be in a different generation–the first generation born and raised in a new country.

The early nineties were a crazy time in much of the world. And the resulting waves of independence meant that there’s a whole slew of young people around the world who are literally building their countries. They are deciding what they want their countries to look like. Not just by voting or consuming culture or whatever options are available to people just generally. But by actually being the first people born ever in, for example, the Republic of Armenia.

It’s something that I really can’t imagine, being very far removed from US independence. Certainly, there are traditions to build on, history and precedent. But think about Kyrgyzstan, for example, which went from progressive invasions across the steppes to the Russian Empire then the Soviet Union. Before independence in 1991, there had never been any kind of Kyrgyz state in history, the people of that area traditionally having been loosely organized nomads (historians please feel free to instruct me if I’m mistaken, I like learning).

In other news, I climbed a mountain with my friend on Tuesday. We debated both ‘climb’ and ‘mountain’ but in the final estimation, decided both were appropriate. We went to Mount Townsend, right at the northeast corner of the Olympics. It was eight-ish miles round trip, increasing about 3,000′ in elevation. Having reached the top, we definitely determined that it was a climb not a hike, and definitively a mountain mountain. The views were spectacular.

 

We had some lovely conversation, some lovely chicken salad sandwiches, and some companionable silence (huffing of breath excluded, of course). One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was the air.

It was fragrant almost beyond belief with pine and alpine freshness. It’s a smell I’m familiar with but can never have enough. Something about being up a mountain, seeing verdant green and bright snow and elegant peaks… it’s beyond special.

In places like that, I often try to envision the first people to come to those places. The first human eyes to see those mountains, those valleys, those rivers. To have all your senses alive with a totally new experience–scenting the pine, hearing the birds, warmed by the sun, seeing the peaks, tasting your chicken salad sandwiches.

What an incredible gift it is. I was trying to think of a way to connect my initial musings with the hike and I stuck upon that moment from Lord of the Rings when Théoden is freed from Saruman’s enchantment and Gandalf says, “Breathe the free air again, my friend.” (As an aside, yes pretty much everything can be connected to a Lord of the Rings quotation).

Sometimes, a protest and political revolution is required to breathe free. Sometimes, all that is required is a lungful of pine and a vast, open sky. In the words of E.E. Cummings, “i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky…”

I awkwardly forgot about my music list so I’m adding it now. Too late for some of you, alas.

  1. Praying – Kesha
  2. Pray – Sam Smith
  3. In the Name of Love – Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha
  4. Say You Love Me – Steve Grand
  5. Issues – Julia Michaels
  6. Cameo – Sam Tsui
  7. Silence – Marshmello ft. Khalid
  8. All Our Love – Gentlemen Hall
  9. Paris in the Rain – Lauv
  10. Settin’ the Woods on Fire – Hank Williams

Time at Leisure

Random thought to start us off this week. I was asked which Hogwarts House I’m in, not for the first time. But suddenly I was like, ‘I’d like to think, at my best, it’s because I value people more than the traits they possess.’ And then I was like, whoa. I am definitely a Hufflepuff (not a recent development). And that is what the House is about, I think. So there you go, take a second to feel good about yourself if you’re a Hufflepuff.

Anyway.

On Sunday, for Mother’s Day, we ventured a little down the road to a lovely little park that led to the beach. We were greeted with an excellent view of Mt Rainier, it being an exceptionally lovely and clear day. We spent some time beach combing and just generally enjoying ourselves before heading home. Kudos to all the feminine parental figures in my life, and two in particular. Don’t want to be gushy but they’re pretty grand.

The following day, I returned to the secret park I first visited a couple weeks ago and was rewarded for my fidelity by a stunning view of the Olympics range in its entirety.

 

 

So I spent a while reading on the beach, occasionally looking over the top of the pages to marvel at those mountains. As usual, the pictures hardly do anything justice. I am by no means a photographer of anything approaching skill. Rest assured, it was an incredible scene and a day of pretty total contentment.

The remainder of this week hasn’t held much else. My downtime continues unabated and I’m still trying to enjoy it as fully as possible, even with the sort of background dread of joblessness ever near. I was happy to receive a formal rejection email this week. It was a let down because seeing the email I got all excited only for my hopes to be dashed. But happy because most places don’t ever bother with the three seconds it takes to send that message. I could almost certainly count on one hand all the rejections that I’ve gotten in my life, out of all the many many jobs I’ve applied to.

It’s really something that makes me very angry but I don’t think I really want to rail about it at this juncture.

Instead, I’ll just move on to music. This week’s list is pretty eclectic. I mentioned that I put all my selections into a randomizer and then just broke it into groups of ten so the genres and time periods are whatever my randomizer thought sounded good together. Have fun, give one or two new ones a listen.

  1. Just Give Me a Reason – Pink feat. Nate Ruess
  2. Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales – Car Seat Headrest
  3. Ultralife – Oh Wonder
  4. Faithfully – Journey
  5. Heaven – Troye Sivan
  6. The Way Old Friends Do – Abba
  7. Tidal Wave – Hedley
  8. My Friends – Oh Wonder
  9. Honey – Kehlani
  10. Carry You Home – Ward Thomas

 

Water

When last I visited my friends in California, it was mid-August and mid-drought. Things were, for lack of a more descriptive word, dry. This time around, things have exhibited quite a bit more life. Driving down to the Sacramento area, I passed over actual, visible rivers and lakes. Then, driving toward the East Bay (a term I wasn’t familiar with until I went there), I drove along the Delta (another recently-learned placename) to see an abundance of green things and water.

I think I’ve said this about myself before, but I am most assuredly a salt water person. It hardly counts as swimming if you don’t dry with that half-delectable, half-awful feeling of saltiness in your everywhere. As one of the books I taught this past year puts it, “There are saltwater people, and freshwater people. Then there are some who don’t even know enough to fall in love with the water.” I suppose you’re entitled to enjoying your own form of water whether it be lakes, rivers, pools, or the sea. As long as you love it.

The drive was absolutely wonderful. I took the scenic route through Oregon, driving down along the Cascades and seeing all the peaks. I entered California and drive like all the way around Mt Shasta before rejoining I-5.

Anyway. It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with friends. Long talks that were as much about catching up as just existing in proximity for a sec. Some conversations that were weighty. But all good things.

The weather, of course, was still much too hot. Because it doesn’t take much for hot to become too hot in my book. Even so, it’s hard not to enjoy sun. And there was some downtime that involved reading in the sun which is possibly one of the most important ways yet invented in which to pass the time.

This morning, early, I’m off home again. One advantage to having nothing but time is being able to jet off to visit old friends. It’s something I’m trying to appreciate in the midst of the general stress of being aimless and income-less. As a friend said, you don’t often have times in your life when you have nothing to do, so enjoy it while it lasts. Who knows, maybe I’ll be back down here again before too long.

I’m very grateful for the generosity of my friends in letting me come down. And I’m very grateful for having friends like these. It is a boon that, even if we’re not the best communicators, they know me. They have seen me in vulnerable times. And they still like me.

Without any ado whatsoever, this week’s musical offerings, from my ears to yours.

  1. Victor – Prinze George
  2. Solo Dance – Martin Jensen
  3. Break a Little – Kirstin
  4. Gorgeous – Taylor Swift
  5. Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine – Matthew Mole
  6. Stars Across the Sky – Bien
  7. Океанами стали – Alekseev
  8. Beautiful Mess – Kristian Kostov
  9. Can’t Fight It – Rayvon Owen
  10. Eyes Shut – Years and Years

I am Very Blessed by Having Lagoons in My Life

On Tuesday, I had an unexpected and delightful adventure. A friend invited me on a picnic (though it wasn’t particularly picnicy weather, it wasn’t supposed to rain and that’s good enough). She told me where to meet, about ten minutes from my house along a random stretch of road. We parked in a little gravel patch on the side of the road and I followed her–and the snacks–into this sketchy little trail next to a power pole.

Surprise, there was this whole park place there. It was just a single trail, plenty of nature about, but it was a real thing. Not sketchy. A few minutes in, we encountered a fairly new-looking State Parks sign telling us not to leave trash. Huh. We kept going, following a teensy little stream toward the water. And surprise again, it was the beach! We saw a few little ruins among the trees (research after returning home revealed that this land was purchased for a state park a while ago but that it hasn’t actually been developed as a park yet–it doesn’t even have a name!). It was quite a place.

My friend and I had our little picnic–which is to say, we ate some snacks sitting on a blanketed driftwood log. Then we just wandered around the beach and lagoon for a while. The sun tried valiantly to shine, so it oscillated between a little chilly and relatively pleasant. I got a little wet trying to hop around the lagoon but it was worth it.

We spent quite a while designing, on a whim, our own Hogwarts-style school for the Pacific Northwest. We settled on a migratory island, very outdoorsy, very environmental, very involved with muggles (or no-majs or whatever). Instead of Ollivanders, prospective students simply walk along a beach until their driftwood wand catches their eye. We came up with all sorts of details, 10/10 would attend. Would definitely write that series if ever I became an actual author and I wasn’t infringing on intellectual property. All in all, a very pleasant day.

Suffice to say that I am very grateful for this place in which I was raised. The trees, the sun, the water, the rain, the mountains, the moss. The lagoons, even when I get wet without wanting to be.

Camaro2018-5-2

Unrelatedly this week, I was thinking again for a sec about potential. I’ve said before that I don’t really like the idea of potential, it doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t think that it offers a great way to look at life. For me, at least. But I wasn’t sure exactly what I thought did. Saturday morning shower thoughts–it came to me in a snappy little phrase, which is always helpful. Not potential but fulfillment.

I have the potential to learn Arabic but not learning Arabic doesn’t mean I’m wasting my life. When I was at Target, it wasn’t that I was squandering potential but that I was unhappy. I felt undervalued and underutilized and generally underwhelmed by life. But if, for example, I was working in a podunk little bookstore in the middle of nowhere, making hardly any money, some might say that I was wasting my potential. But if it made me happy, if I felt valuable and fulfilled, then that’s all that really matters, yeah?

Not a monumental breakthrough, lots of people talk about fulfillment. It’s just a useful thing for me. Now I can put a name to something (embarrassing that it took me this long to come up with ‘fulfillment’) instead of just saying potential is a dumb concept. And, granted, this is how my brain works. You think about whatever works for you.

Bubba2018-5-2

Anyway, this month we’re back with random musical recommendations from Keegan. For now, I’ll return to contemporary, non-choral music. You probably have heard at least a couple of these. Selections range from old classics to top 40 to Eurovision entries (say what you will about that). I actually put my full list into a randomizer so I have nothing to do with the order, it’s a surprise. Give one or two a listen–especially if it’s not one you’re familiar with. Without further ado.

  1. Running on Air – Nathan Trent
  2. Boys – Charli XCX
  3. Hold Each Other – A Great Big World
  4. River – Charlie Puth
  5. Never Apart – Benny
  6. Пьяное солнце – Alekseev
  7. North – Sleeping at Last
  8. I Was Wrong – The Oh Hellos
  9. The Cure – Lady Gaga
  10. There for You – Martin Garrix & Troye Sivan