Life in the Slow Lane

I talk fast.  I think fast.  I drive fast.  I make decisions fast.  I move fast.  Everything is fast.  But I think it might be time to slow down.  Welcome to the South.  Where even the state troopers don’t drive the speed limit.  Where people have a drawl, even when they’re hyped up on caffeine.

I never quite learned to rest.  I wrote a while back about staying put.  About how it might be time for me to be present where I’m at.  But I think it’s more than that.  I wonder if I’ll settle here.  Although I may never settle. My heart is learning to beat for the land.  And this land ambles.  It does not run.  It does not race.  It does not scream at you to speed up.  If anything, it whispers to slow down.  It calls you to rest.  It asks you to wait and see what might be around the next bend,  because if you take it too fast, you might miss it, you might hit it, you might kill what could have been an opportunity.  Life in the slow lane means not jumping to conclusions.

I think my heart has been so miserable because it is always racing, and I won’t listen to the beat.  I followed it here, and then I forced it to keep me awake so that I could do far too much again.  I’m not going to do far too much anymore though.  I am going to breathe for a little while.  I’m going to take things in stride.  I’m not going to worry, I’m going to listen to the constant streams of consciousness that might be telling me that everything is okay, that good things do happen.  I think I’ll live here, in the slow lane, for a while.  And for anyone who tells me that it’s time to speed up, they can exit the vehicle.  Because this is my life, and I’m going to claim it.

Blogging Everyday in July|Connections, Choices, and Everything in Between

Something I think about a lot, and that I was definitely thinking about yesterday, is how everything is connected, and how if one choice was made differently, than not only would my life be changed, but so would the lives of so many other people.  One of the biggest things that makes me think this is when I get snapchats from one of my friends that I’ve known since I was in high school, who is now very close with my best friend, who I met in college.  She posted one the other day that had friend that I knew in elementary/middle school, and have seen from time to time since then.  And my college bestie was in the snap too.  My mind was suddenly blown at that random connection.

My parents first moved to Bishop in order to go to Church on the Mountain in Crowley Lake, CA.  They attended that church until my brother was small, because it was quite a drive from their house.  They started attending the foursquare church in Bishop, which is the church that I grew up in.  The pastors of that church were an influence in my life from birth.  They both attended Life Pacific College when Pacific was still Bible and the location was still Echo Park, CA.  So I grew up hearing about this school.  And because we attended this church, I attended Old Oak Ranch, a camp I grew up in love with.  Because of loving camp, my first job out of high school was at that camp, which has led me to work at 2 more camps.  That camp also always had reps from Life Pacific, so that was another influence on my college, besides God telling me to go, which happened at a convention that I went to with the youth group from the church I grew up in.  But I only went to the convention because one of my friends who also attended the camp, but was from a different city, was also going to be there and I wanted to see him.

Anyway, I often think about what it would have meant if I had waited to go to college, or if I had chosen a different college, because I often wish I had my degree in English, or literature, or creative writing.  However, although I have always been a writer, I didn’t realize that that was what I wanted to do with my life until I was already in college.  And I may have never figured it out, had I not attended Life Pacific.  Also, it is because of my friend, Aaron, and his Yarning in the Round parties that I realized my love for story, especially other people’s stories.  That was where I realized how much hearing other people’s stories can build community.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met Aaron.

Another person who I never would have met, or who would have never met me, is my best friend Michelle, had I never attended Life.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met my best friend.
If I had moved to Portland when I graduated from college, I probably never would have moved to Mammoth.  Had I never moved home to Mammoth, Michelle would never have been compelled to visit me, thus, she would have never moved to Mammoth and found her happiness and home there.
Also, if I hadn’t moved to Mammoth or started working at The Station, I never would have done the School of Supernatural Ministry, which would have meant that I never would have seen a blind woman healed in Costa Rica, nor would I have met Ray Hughes, so I never would have gone to Ireland.  If I hadn’t gone to Ireland, I never would have moved to Alabama, and I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

If I had chosen to move to Alabama right when I got back from Ireland, I never would have made a lot of choices that I made leading up to my move.  But my brother probably wouldn’t have gotten his first house as quickly as he did.  However, if I had stayed longer, my brother wouldn’t be constantly looking for a roommate, and I probably wouldn’t have moved into a 2 bedroom apartment because there probably would have been a one bedroom available somewhere.

If I hadn’t started working for the resort, I wouldn’t have the confidence that I can find a job no matter where I move, because there are hotels everywhere.  But if I hadn’t worked for the resort, I wouldn’t be convinced that I like working in hospitality, which I have learned that in the South, I don’t, because I am not Southern, and Southern Hospitality is a whole different game.  However, if I hadn’t gotten the job at the hotel, I wouldn’t have known about another opportunity for a very fun job, which I interviewed for, and am really hoping that I get.
I also never would have met two of my favorite people in Alabama outside of my Ireland pals, had I taken a job somewhere else.

I could go on and on about connections and choices.  Because they blow my mind a lot.  If even one thing in my life had been different, I fully believe that nearly everything in my life would be different.  And maybe that’s a conversation for another day.  So I’m both miserable and happy.  I am thankful for my choices because of their connections.  And I’m disappointed, because choices sometimes bring hardship.  But life is a journey, and it’s a learning experience.  It’s nice to see how far I’ve come.  And it’s nice to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned.  There’s no point in dwelling on how things could have been different, because really, do I want them to be different, or do I just like to have something to complain about?

Blogging Everyday in July|Songwriting and Other Thoughts

I’m not an amazing songwriter.  But I can make up lyrics.   That’s just a thing that I do, and I’m pretty sure anyone else can do it.  However, I was asked to write on songwriting.  I had this idea to film a time lapse of my songwriting process, but I’m too tired and I don’t have good enough technology to do something so neat and elaborate.  So I’ll just write about it.  I’m always writing.
On a side note, I am more than halfway through this thing.  I have 11 days left.  This is the 20th day that I have blogged in a row.  Unfortunately, I feel that my writing is starting to get worse, as my eyes grow ever tired.

I very rarely sit down to write a song.  Songs just come to me.  Last night my heart was bleeding into my soul and I was aching, ever aching, so I picked up my guitar with the goal of playing through some songs.  I hoped maybe the music could heal me.  Instead, lyrics came to me instantly and I wrote a song.  A link to that song is here: From the Outside.  Possibly a five minute process.  Not every song takes five or ten minutes, but I don’t like to leave things unfinished, so every song is written in one sitting.  Sometimes I’ll add a bridge or fix the timing or something later, but the product as a whole is usually one sitting.  Editing doesn’t often happen on anything I do, in case you haven’t noticed.
But none of this makes me amazing.  I’m not bragging.  Because not every song I write is amazing.  I’m fully aware that I write a lot of shitty things.  I just need everyone else to know that I recognize my imperfections.
I once had a conversation with Kim Walker-Smith (yes, that one) about songwriting.  She was telling my friend that no one can write a song in one sitting, in a couple minutes.  That when that does happen for anyone, it’s very rare.  That was when I learned of my rarity.  Because I write every song like that.  I write every poem like that.  I write every blog like that.  I’m an impatient person, so I need to get it all out as quickly as I can.
Since moving to the south, I’m suddenly surrounded by musicians and songwriters.  Some of them have tried to tell me what I’m doing wrong.  They’ve tried to get technical with music.  But I rarely call myself a musician.  That’s not what I am.  I don’t care if the chords sound good.  I don’t fix things.  I don’t write music for other people.  But if a musician wanted to take my music and my lyrics and add something amazing, I’d be down.  That’s just not what I’m searching for.  I can play piano.  I dabble in guitar.  I can hold a beat.  That’s all I need for what I do at the moment.  It’s really hard to make people understand that.
So I do everything wrong.  I’m just wrong.  Thank you, and good night.

But really, though.  I started to say that I don’t write songs with the intention of writing songs.  They just come to me.  I think that’s where the best music comes from.  I think maybe people who struggle with songwriting might struggle because they’re trying to write a song, they’re trying to find the perfect lyric to fit.  If it’s right, it doesn’t have to fit, or maybe it fits already, you just can’t see it.
A lot my songs come when I’m already playing music.  I’ll be in between songs, just messing around with chords, and something new will suddenly appear.  That’s my favorite.

So I don’t really have a songwriting process.  I don’t really have a writing process.  I just write.  I just am.  I simply exist.  I’m a writer, not by vocation, but in biology.  My genetics force me to pour the words out.
But lately I feel that I’m not allowed to say the things I want to say.  People are getting too close to me, and my rough edges, my blunt honesty, my liberal Theology, makes them get too offended.  I am just too much.  When my friends start reading my blog, I almost can’t handle it anymore, because they assume everything is about them.  I don’t mean all of my friends, just the sensitive ones.
Have you ever heard the song “You’re so Vain?”

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.

I understand why that song was written.  Because I know those people.  “You’re so vain, you probably think this blog is about you.”  And maybe it is.  But assuming doesn’t make it so.

I’m in a place.  My heart is in a place.  And I just want to go home.  But I probably want to go home, not because I don’t belong here, or because I feel unaccepted, but because I feel trapped.  I was so mad at God because when I got back from Ireland I wanted to move, but I felt trapped in Mammoth.  Now I feel trapped here.  I can’t go home.  Really, we always want what we can’t have.  Until I can be satisfied, I’ll always want to be somewhere else.  And the only way I’ll ever be satisfied is if I allow myself to just be still.  Just be still.  Just be still.  My heart is never still.  Still.

Blogging Everyday in July|Comment, No Comment

13450282_10153738602726448_8925236543982686416_n

That is a picture of me.  In case you didn’t notice, I am a pale, white human.  My eyes are green, my hair is red (though it will someday be blonde again), and I freckle almost as much as I tan, which isn’t much.  That’s the way I was born.  I can’t change it.

Because I’m new to the South, there are things that I feel like I can’t write on because I’m still an outsider.  Similarly, I have avoided writing about something else for quite some time, because I feel like an outsider.  I’m not a racist person, but by staying quiet, it’s like I’ve just said “no comment” on the topic entirely.  But I have views, just as we all do.
However, since I’m a pale, white human, the closest I’ve come to racism towards me is being made fun of for saying I have Cherokee in me when all the native kids where I’m from are Paiute.  I don’t even really have enough Cherokee in me to really claim it anyway.

The thing is, I’m proud of my heritage.  My dad is Norwegian, and I’m proud to say that I am too.  Froiland means “happy place” in Norwegian, and when I shorten it to Froi, it simply means “happy.”  That’s what I want to be, happy.  That’s what I wish everyone could settle for.  Everyone should be able to be proud of their heritage.
But growing up in such a small town in California, I wasn’t aware of my privilege.  I guess most white people aren’t aware of their privilege.  And whether or not that’s okay is a completely different topic.  Another thing about growing up in a small town in California, there were very few African Americans in my town.  There were plenty of people with Hispanic heritage, and plenty of Native Americans, and, of course, plenty of white people, but we could count the number of African descended families on our fingers.  Not that we did count them, that was just the way things were.
When I was really young I was concerned that I was racist because I didn’t have any black friends.  But that’s because I went to a private school in a small town, and so I didn’t have the opportunity.  In high school and afterward I realized my concerns were invalid.  The color of someone’s skin has never made me like someone more or less.
Last year someone commented that I didn’t date white guys, which I realize is almost true.  Most of the guys that I have fallen for have been of a different race, but that’s not the reason we were together.  In fact, the person I fell the hardest for was an African American (he still is), but again, that was never important to me.  He was an amazing person inside and out, and the only thing my mother had to say about his looks is that he was very strong, bulky, when I usually like skinny, lanky guys.

I have a tattoo on my collar bone that says “All is Privilege.”  When I got it, it meant, and still means, that everything we have in life, including life itself, is a privilege, a gift.  We shouldn’t take life for granted.  Now that I’m older, here, in the South, and my privilege is being suddenly announced to me in a different way, I think my tattoo means something else too.  I need to recognize my privilege.  I need to try to use it for the betterment of society, because it’s not something that I deserve, purely based on skin color, anyway.

Racism doesn’t make sense to me.  What’s the point in disliking someone because they look different than you?  I think God made us all different because he likes variety.  If anything, our differences should be celebrated.
No one can help the way they were born, and no one should be hated for it.  No one is a lesser person because anything out of their control.  No color is more beautiful than another, because beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder.  Even if the beholder is wrong sometimes.

There are cops that are racist that are killing people based on their skin color because of their privilege.  And there are cops being killed, because someone might have decided that all cops are racist.  And that really is just as bad as hating someone because of their race.  It’s just as bad as hating someone because of their gender or sexual orientation.  It really is just as bad as hating someone for what they believe.  And it needs to stop.  Stop killing each other.  Stop hating each other.  Why isn’t there more love, acceptance, and happiness in this world?  Froi.  Happy.  Literally.

But maybe I should go back to leaving this alone.  Because it scares me.  Because I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed to have input because I’m an outsider.  I will never be able to understand what it’s like to be pulled over because of my skin color.  I will never be able to understand being afraid to leave my home alone because someone might not like the way I look.  I will never understand being judged purely on my ethnicity.  Not in a fearful way.  And it’s not fair.  It’s not fair that there are people who do understand this.

This is my comment.  No comment.

Blogging Everyday in July|Long Distance Best Friends

I think a best friend is someone your soul is tied to.  Like a soul mate, but better.  Because they’re more than that.  They’re a sister (or a brother), a friend, sometimes a parent, and they’re someone you get to choose.  Or at least we think we choose them.  My best friend and I, I like to think we stumbled upon each other.  We were thrust together by cosmic intervention.
We grew up going to the same camp, but never met.  We attended the same college previews, but never met.  I’m pretty sure we went to at least one of the same music festivals and didn’t meet.  And we were both at the same Nex Gen Convention in Anaheim when we were 15.  We spent so many hours in the same place at the same time, but were steered constantly apart, not aware of what could be waiting right around the corner.
Michelle and I were in the same quad our freshman year of college.  We liked the same music and long road trips and so many other things.  We had all these inside jokes, but were constantly preoccupied.  Junior and senior year crept up on us, and I had spent the last few years begging God for a friend, a best friend, someone who was my person.  It took me much too long to realize that it was Michelle.  Whoever marries her is one lucky person.
After college, we were pulled in separate directions.  I ended up in Mammoth, while Michelle stayed in LA, and then moved home for some time with her family.  We still carried our soul ties though, and our inside jokes live on.  Last summer, almost a year ago, Michelle came to visit me in Mammoth and ended up staying.  She did the school of supernatural ministry that I did, and works at the same camp I worked at.  She even lives in the same house, although it became beautiful after I moved out.  We spent eight or nine months getting to enjoy time in the same place, even though we were too busy to really acknowledge it, then my heart was again pulled elsewhere, and now my home is in the South.  However, our soul ties remain.
I know that if my world is crashing down, I can count on my bestie to listen to me.  I know that she’ll still get my jokes, and we’ll still find things that remind us of each other.  I know that if I go a week or so without texting her, that she still loves me, and that she knows I still love her.  We are content.
Plus, we have matching tattoos, so I think our friendship is kinda locked in.

I’m writing about Michelle today, not because missing her is unbearable, but because I’m not the only person with a long distance best friend.  Another girl who just moved here has a different kind of relationship with her bestie, because she has a different personality.  They need to talk almost everyday.  They talk on the phone and they text and they miss each other terribly.  How they survive?  I have no idea.  Their contentedness looks different than ours does.  But it’s the soul ties that hold us together.
Sometimes your life takes a different path than your soul tied best friend.  Sometimes you need time apart.  But this relationship isn’t like a romantic one.  It’s better, because distance doesn’t matter, it might even make it stronger.   Distance just makes being together that much better.
I don’t know when I’ll be going back to California to visit.  And Michelle has no plans that I know of to come to the land of the humid and the heat anytime soon.  And I think we’re both okay with that.  We are content in our life paths.  We are content with each other and without each other, because we still have each other.  That is all.

Blogging Everyday in July|Some Thoughts on Why the South is Better

So I had a drink.  And yes I’m writing this the night before it posts, so don’t think I’m drinking in the morning.  I tried to call a friend back home who I texted to ask a question to last week, and he never responded.  He also didn’t answer the phone.  I’m sure he’s busy, and that’s not a big deal, it’s just part of the California dream.  They miss your calls.  But they’ll also not call  you back.  Or text you back.  Because they forget, or didn’t see it right away, and decide that you’re probably not that important.  Not that you’re not important to them, you’re just not right in front of them.  You could be ten minutes away, or a thousand miles, it makes no difference.
In California, I feel ugly.  Not that I compare myself to the all the beautiful girls, or that beauty has anything to do with it.  It’s like my soul seeps out and they see right through me, and my inner beauty doesn’t seem like enough.  It feels like I can’t do enough.

Yesterday when I got off of work I called a friend because I was too lazy to text said friend.  Today he called me back.  I wasn’t sure why he was calling, and it was simply because he had noticed that I had called him and was just getting to the point where he could call me back.  My friends here care enough to call me back.  As if I’m important or something.
My friends here try to take what I say to heart.  They try to make me feel comfortable.  They act as if  I’m part of the family, and they care when I’m not around.  There is a community that I’ve never experienced before.  It’s like I’m heard.  Like maybe I’m not ugly.  Like maybe I matter.

And this isn’t to belittle my California friends, because they mean the world to me.  But sometimes I make them my world, when I could never be their world.  This is my world now.  Big skies and clouds that light up.  Lightning bugs and actual lightning.  Humidity that could make me cry, and thunderstorms that make it all worth it.  All of the stories that meant the most from my childhood took place here.  I’ve come home, somehow.

Here, they’d notice if I disappeared.

Blogging Everyday in July|About Interrupting

I feel as though my life has been interrupted abruptly.  But it’s my fault, really.  I got used to being treated a certain way, used to a certain lifestyle, used to a certain version of respect.  But I interrupted it.

One thing that I’ve noticed here in the South is that people don’t really listen.  Not all people,  but a lot of people.  Why do I say this?  Because it’s a land of interrupters.  I don’t speak  or tell stories because I like the sound of my voice.  It’s a bonding experience.  Stories build community.  But most of the time when I have something to say I am cut off, because someone else has an opinion.  Or even better, because they weren’t listening at all.  I can be in conversation with someone else, and instead of waiting for me to finish, people will interrupt.  Like I don’t matter.  Where I’m from, that’s disrespectful.  You only do it if you have no manners, or if you really don’t care what a person has to say.  And it’s something that I hate.

When I want to speak with someone, and I see that they’re already in conversation with someone else, I will stand and wait.  Unless it’s something time sensitive.  Which it rarely is.  But maybe it’s just because I’m timid.

At work I’ll be helping a guest and another one will walk up and start asking questions.  These people don’t know each other.  And they don’t know me.  How did they reach adulthood and not learn to wait in line?  Wait your freakin’ turn.

There’s a coworker that ignores and interrupts me, no matter what I’m saying.  Even if I’m trying to explain a work situation.  Then I’ll get phone calls later, when I’m at home, because I was interrupted when passing on information.  Literally, listen when people are speaking.

I can be hanging out with my friends here and start telling a funny story or sharing some information about myself, and someone else will just start talking.  Like I don’t matter.  Like I wasn’t just saying something.  It makes me feel as though they don’t have any desire to get to know me.  And they don’t really know me now.  Obviously.  I haven’t been here long enough for anyone to know me.

And I’m trying not to to take offense.  Because I don’t think that they mean anything by it.  I was just raised a certain way.  I grew up a certain way.  My heart just feels disrespected.  Sick of the interruptions.