Dennetmint

ATTN: Subscribers!

Hey, everyone—

I probably should have told you a while ago, but I didn’t know how to check whether this blog has subscribers. I’ve switched from a WordPress-hosted blog to one hosted on my own domain. If you’d like to keep up with my musings and wanderings (and I hope you do! There are actually some major changes coming up in the next couple of months), please subscribe to the RSS feed for the new domain. I’ll be redirecting this blog to my new domain again at the end of the month.

♥,
dc.

PS: I’m working on a few entries right now about discussions with Grand Rapidians concerning the American Dream; trauma, projection and compassion; and a scene of what it’s like to be a woman in a deceptively small town. Here’s what I’ve written about in the last few months:

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Vegan challenge… it has begun

Vegan Challenge! | Two friends, one month, zero animal products

I’m pretty sure I have one of the most talented web designer friends. Get ready: It took Matt Anderson about 2.5 days to whip this site together.

Matt and I started vegan challenge as a friendship project. Neither of us are vegans. We tossed around the idea of keeping a blog during the first challenge in June 2010 but didn’t pull one together till this bout.

You’ll see less random posts on Dennetmint this month, so pop on over to veganchallenge.org for our back-and-forths. We each learned a lot of different things from the last vegan challenge, and I hope you’ll join us on this January adventure!

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2010 assessment and 2011 resolutions

I love making lists. I think I’m pretty good at letting myself deviate, but lists are like loose road maps for me.

This new year’s, something my yoga teacher said kept echoing in my mind: “Do what you need to do to let yourself succeed.” I think the key to resolutions is not to beat myself up if I don’t accomplish them. Rather, I’m examining why I didn’t accomplish them and if I really care. If I’m mad at myself for not seeing something through, then it’s time to break it down: What are my baby steps to reach that goal?

Last year, I was so excited to set resolutions that I posted them a week before the new year. Here’s how I stacked up:

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350 or bust

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Today’s been kind of hard. One of my best friends works for 350.org, a Bill McKibben initiative that unites people in a worldwide campaign to their leaders: There must be under 350 parts per million CO2 in order to slow global warming. Right now, we’re at 388.

Things like these always make me turn inward. What did I do today to recognize 350? Let’s see…. I biked, I did yoga, I went to the grocery store for some sundries. The thing is, none of these were done in recognition of 350. They’re what I do on a normal basis. And I found myself feeling guilty—me, who does not own a car; who brings her own tupperware to restaurants; who line dries clothes when weather permits; who may not be a vegetarian but cooks vegan—that I even purchased something, might turn on my gas stove today. Not that there isn’t more I can do, but c’mon! I realized I’m being silly.

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Show me the $$

“When you are young, you have more time than money.”

Chris Anderson, The Web is dead, long live the Internet

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A bundle of letter therapy

A month ago, I asked a former boyfriend if he would lend me the letters I sent him while I was in Peace Corps. I had meant to photocopy these letters before I left Portland, but I ran out of time.

I absolutely want you to keep them—they were written for you, I had said. But they’re also the only detailed records of my daily life in Lesotho.

Within days, he had mailed them priority. Included was a gracious note wishing me a happy quarter century and encouraging me to keep the letters as long as I needed.

Thinking transcription would be emotionally fraught, I dragged my feet. I began the task today. The letters weren’t filed in chronological order, but the first one I pulled was written nearly three years ago on July 27, 2007. In closing:

Do you keep letters and cards people write you? I definitely do and still have letters/cards from when I was 5. I don’t know that it’s a good thing, to be honest. It’s a huge file and I’ve kept these correspondences knowing I’ll probably never open them simply because a.) I think that they put the effort into jotting down a word or two (for which I didn’t even have to pay a penny), so the least I could do is save them, b.) what if I do go back and read them? It would be interesting to see what I was like at whatever age, the relationships I had, what I cared about, &c.

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Frittered lives

My friend and I went out for food and drinks midweek at The Winchester. At some point, the subject of death came up. Since Drew passed away in October, I’ve cycled through a couple frames of mind.

It wasn’t my own death I was concerned about. As far as I know, people can’t think postmortem. Rather, it’s when someone else dies that we’re left with baggage to sort through.

Death was an ancillary subject to whatever it was we were talking about. Relationships, probably. And as we were dissecting relationships and loss, I tried to melt down, as quickly as possible, a concise description of why death was so confounding.

How much we can give to someone and the person’s capacity to absorb our thought and affection can be cavernous, I said. Suddenly, it ceases.

The conversation moved to other things, but my mind lingered on how bittersweet it is, as it has for the last several months.

I wrote an editorial piece for The Rapidian right after Drew’s death.

“Perhaps it isn’t my place to wonder about it, but if we really do have last thoughts or that final moment of clarity, what were Drew’s? I don’t know if there’s an afterlife, but I don’t want to bank on it. At that millisecond—no, nanosecond—that the curtain hit the ground, was Drew comforted knowing he had landed his dream job? That since he had the ability to love, he had lavished most of it on the love of his life and high school sweetheart? That he had two beautiful and precocious daughters, a best friend? A good relationship with his dad and brothers? That’s more than most people can hope for.”

What was left on the cutting room floor:

“Whatever his last thoughts were, I’m sure they weren’t about work. I also desperately want to believe they were not anxiety and dread for everything undone. “

Since October, other discussions have come up. Nihilism. Human nature. Depression. These are often symptoms of our struggle between ephemerality and meaning. We get worn down as we dig deep into these issues, and even when we think we’ve dug deep enough for a spring, it turns out the answer might not be indestructible.

Are there answers to such big questions as what we’re working for, whether we’re alone? Can we have happiness if we don’t know the answers to these questions?

I was turning them over in my head on today’s run. So much heavy thinking. I’m glad I’m running.

When we come home at the end of the day, boil up instant noodles and let ourselves get swallowed up by the couch, these are clues to our mental exhaustion. It must be very easy in our type of society—first world, white collar, consumeristic, a barrage of [sexual] marketing—to separate mind from body.

Yet physical activity is the easiest recipe for happiness. It is the instant gratification of happiness. Go out for a run, and even if you don’t get into it sometime during those 30 minutes, there’s a sense of accomplishment when you make it back to your front porch. More likely than not, at some point, endorphins flooded your bloodstream.

Daily satisfaction doesn’t need to stem from something deep. Happiness isn’t romantic; it’s base. There will be moments when we can savor all the complexities that melded together to result in our happy accident, but those are too far in between to sustain us. What I’ve learned since Drew’s death: Each day is its own challenge. You miss so much if you’re planning too far ahead.

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Jump-starting 2010: Resolutions

Resolutions:

  • Learn PHP, CSS
  • Read 26 books this year
  • Study for and kick ass on the GREs
  • Relearn how to sight sing
  • Learn to cook Chinese food
  • Blog once a week
  • Read (industry) news three times a week
    • Keep up with Google Reader
  • Get through entire Spanish book
  • When in forward bend, be able to bring elbows to ground

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Portland, my Portland

I know, I know. This blog has laid dormant for a month. It might as well be extinct! Buuuut, it isn’t. I was on vacation, and there’s no better way to feel like you’re on holiday than to take an Internet vacation as well! My Internet access was at a minimum both by choice and force. Fact is, I was busy saying my goodbyes and getting ready to move from Portland, Ore. to Grand Rapids, Mich. with a pitstop in the Bay Area. So without further ado, here is my ode to Portland.

* * * * *

I moved to Portland post-Peace Corps. I was lost and confused and all the other classic ingredients of readjustment. Since I didn’t know quite what I wanted to do with my life anymore, I decided to focus on the only thing I still had a grasp on: lifestyle. Not that it’s perfect, but I really thought I was going to stay in Portland.

After struggling through two-thirds of my contract year with PCM, I knew Ibiz couldn’t bring myself to renew. However, it is a well-known fact that Portland is bad for media careers and for young people looking for employment. I began to familiarize myself again with that old moving bug. Except this time, it wasn’t a bug. It became a question of career v. lifestyle, and the truth was deafening: I have a lifetime for lifestyle.

I’ve finished my second week in Grand Rapids. I’m starting to settle into the town but am still without a routine. Now that I’ve traded the lifestyle I want for the career path I need, I get the gut feeling that I won’t settle till I find my way back to the West Coast. I’ll be moving every couple of years starting over and over again, hopefully to the point of ease. Never staying more than two weeks at home and always in transition, my mom often indicts me as the family nomad.

Things I will miss about Portland:

Additions since moving:

  • Cheap six packs of good beer
  • Wide selections of good beer
  • Couscous in bulk
  • Being able to walk to the grocery store
  • Never thought I’d say this, but spandex biking shorts being a normal thang

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An addict’s words of wisdom

Food for thought from my literary crush:

I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.

Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

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