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Friday, February 15, 2008

Holding Pattern

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”--Anaïs Nin

It's late, almost midnight, and one of those times where I wish I had a laptop and I could just lie in bed and write instead of getting up and going to my desk. But sitting at my desk feels less like cheating than lying in bed and writing would be. This week I seem to be a virus magnet and today it was a fever. Wednesday it was a sore throat. I have never had so many little colds and flus since I started this job a year ago. I wonder if we have one of those sick buildings?

I started out the day being furious with the nameless co-worker who brought this particular bug into the office. Heading into a 3-day weekend this way was not my intention. My latest quest during all of this is to find the perfect bowl of soup: mine is Vietnamese pho. (I get the chicken.) The wonderful thing about my neighborhood is that it is a tiny paradise of food. Whatever type of food you want, we have it within a four-block radius (I have not been to the Ethiopian place yet, though). Everything is easily walkable from where I live, which is such a revelation to me still, being a child of the suburbs where a car equals your freedom.

Today was a glorious day. San Francisco has a type of blue sky that is breathtaking, perhaps because the ocean winds keep the air so fresh. Today was one of those days where I could look straight down Irving Street all the way to the Pacific, and then to the far horizon, and feel the ocean calling to me.

On my way to the noodle shop, I stopped at my bank to get some spending money from the ATM. The little ad that flashed on the ATM screen when I inserted my card showed a 30-ish woman with her head tilted back in some mild form of ecstasy. The tag line read: "Access your account. Access your dreams." That slogan, provided to me free of charge through Citibank but for which some numbnuts on Madison Ave. got paid a shitload of money to think up, almost made me want to close my account and start putting my money under my mattress.

Is our society that soft in the head now that we can be told that our dreams come out of an ATM machine? Is it really that easy to access your dreams and I'm just too smart for my own damn good? Perhaps having a low-grade fever is like having PMS and I'm ready to rail on the world (hope to god I don't have both at the same time) but reading that line really sent me into a silent tizzy.

What are my dreams? What are yours? How do we access such elusive things? That's how soothsayers and mystics and oracles have been getting steady business for millenia. I used to put some serious stock into other people interpreting for me what my dreams are and what my direction should be. Only very lately in life have I decided to chart my own course, but it's frustrating and difficult at times. Right now I seem to be in a holding pattern. I feel an urge to break out, do something new, find another way. I think it's mostly a job thing, and being out and about during the day emphasizes how much living we all miss out on being in front of a computer for hours on end, days on end. I don't want to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine because I'm taking a sick day from work. Something's definitely not right with that equation.

If I had only known that I could have accessed all of my dreams from my local ATM machine. But my account's getting pretty low so I'll have to figure something else out.

I won't worry about it too much. I always find my way sooner or later.


The writing helps sort things out, even when it doesn't give me all the answers I want. One of my writing influences, Natalie Goldberg, teaches the practice of writing as part of her Zen Buddhism practice. It's not about what you write, it's just that you do it and that you're faithful to the practice of it. You might have heard of Writing Down the Bones, which is a good book to start with. If you get a chance to see her in person, do it.

Beautiful flickr photo from Jane Keeler.


Anonymous February 16, 2008 at 8:37 AM  

Oh Sweetie! How very sucky to be in the Sniffles again...

AND going through existential meanderings... Well, at least in that department you are not alone. Feel like brainstorming?

tangobaby February 16, 2008 at 6:25 PM  

Dear Johanna,

I would love to brainstorm with you...let's take this offline!


Alex February 17, 2008 at 8:44 PM  

Hmmmm...existential meanderings...I think I am meandering every second of every day...existentially, that is...things like: why to all the traffic lights in my new town turn red right at the "defining moment"...just for me...every light....every time...

Baby, what comes to my mind is this: I wonder if because you are a woman, that when you insert your card, the "system" pulls up and displays an appropriate female centric graphic, and when men insert their card, some different male or male induced graphic pops up - like a photo of a golfer on a golf course or something.

But then again, perhaps the powers that be on Madison Avenue decided that the sublime/ecstatic female graphic would fit the bill for both sexes....?

What a strange thing...what a strange bank...I say find a new one. Put your money where your mind is....

Hope you feel better soon!

Elizabeth February 18, 2008 at 10:27 AM  

Are you getting well? Hope so.E

studio wellspring February 18, 2008 at 11:43 AM  

girl, we need to sit down and talk. soon.

tangobaby February 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM  

Hi Alex,

You are probably right about all of it. That was a very rational response. I think my feverish mind was more sensitized to bad marketing campaigns than usual. Citibank seems to engulf all of the banks I use so it probably makes no sense to find another one.

Hi Elizabeth,

I'm getting there...just sneezing my head off now. No fever.

Thanks for checking in.

Hi Ms. Wellspring,

You've already beat me to the punch, haven't you?


xo to you all

Relyn June 4, 2008 at 1:37 PM  

Hey, you. I have a thing for writer's books about how to write. In fact, I have a very nice little collection of them. Writing Down the Bones is one of my favorites. Have you ever read Brenda Ueland's If You Want To Write? I think it just might be a perfect book. If you try it, let me know what you think?

tangobaby June 4, 2008 at 3:06 PM  

Hi Relyn,

To be honest, I don't really read books about how to write because those would just be fantastic points of procrastination for me. I liked Natalie Goldberg's book and it meant a lot to me because I went to one of her workshops, and I really enjoy her writing anyway. Her autobiography, Long Quiet Highway, is one of my all-time favorite books.

I also liked Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

But mostly I try to live by Goldberg's advice and that is to just write, write, write. I seem to learn a lot about writing just by doing it.

You try this book and tell me what you think. I've seen it in the stores.