Tag Archives: relationships

Bye Old Blog!!!

Choose Our Own Adventure has moved!

We’ve moved to Choose Our Own Adventure dot com!

I realize it’s the same domain name as before.

But it’s different.

Kind of.

Trust me.

This blog will remain at chooseourownadventure.wordpress.com.

Love AND Luggage Part 2 coming right up on the new blog!

See you on the other side!

Jenn

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Love AND Luggage, Part 1

For Jenn:

My one carry on.

Love Ryan

Luggage. (jenn)

I am so thankful for Ryan.

We know I don’t slow him down.

We know I am not convenience over connection.

We know he is not settling for something he doesn’t really want.

It still stings, to read these words copy and pasted below from a Hawaii newspaper–but only for a minute, like that bee on your bicycle seat that time when you were five and in your bathing suit, about to peddle to the pool. It stings because I know the truth is I have been luggage.

But I’m not allergic. There’s no swelling. And now the bee is DEAD.

Death by ghetto booty.

It’s true.

Amsterdam was both the saddest and most beautiful time of my entire life.

It had nothing to do with drugs–the ingested, smoked, injected kind.

It had to do with my own chemicals–a slow tide, how they slip past a horizon I cannot see–leaving me somewhere barren. And grey. (Are barren places any other color?) Later, back from wherever they receded, I go back to floating, belly up, watching the sky and hoping it will stay bright and endless.

P.S. My sister sent me this link today. It almost made me want to come out of the melancholy closet, to wear my dark black nihilist ribbon, to reclaim “clinical” as a hip power-word, that I can say openly in conversation, just like how gay people can say the n-word.

See. Sad makes me FUNNY.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re waking up at 5 am to deliver flowers to people who actually GET flowers on Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be the best V-day ever!!! Expect us to read everyone’s little flower cards and use them as blog ammo.

And now… enjoy this article about how I am LUGGAGE from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Is it love or luggage?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

by Gloria Baraquio

My best friends are visiting from Honolulu this week, and we’ve been having sleepovers every night they’ve been here. We feel like teenagers again — setting up our sleeping bags, staying up late, watching movies, playing games, eating junk food, and of course, catching up on all sorts of conversation.

Our main topic of discussion has been about relationships — current loves, past loves, ones that involve us, and ones that involve our good friends. We feel like we’ve lost some of our friends to partners they’ve chosen for themselves or attracted into their lives … and not necessarily for the better. That saddens us. It’s like instead of dating someone they like or enjoy, they seem to pick someone who seems to work for them. It seems like they’ve chosen practicality over passion, convenience over connection. How do I say this?… They’ve settled for something they don’t really want.

And so the question on the table this week has been: Is it love, or is it luggage?

[Anonymous Friend] puts it very eloquently when he speaks about our best friend’s girlfriend “She comes with two wheels and a handle. She holds his personal items.”

It’s not that we don’t like the girl. She really is cool. It’s just that she doesn’t seem to enhance our friend who we know and love. In fact, she kinda slows him down. He’s always checking to see if she’s OK or not. She often seems upset or irritable around the group, and she doesn’t talk to any of us. The two of them don’t kiss much or show much affection. He kinda seems stressed out by her. Luggage, that’s what we call it.

This past week, we met the boyfriend of one of our girlfriends. He was nice and not bad looking. He didn’t talk much, and the two of them barely interacted. Supposedly, he’s great in the kitchen and in the yard. As we all hung out, we felt like he just wanted to go home, but our girl was enjoying herself with us. But they soon left because there was nothing comfortable about it. Luggage, we call it.

We don’t mean to be harsh. I mean, I guess luggage doesn’t have to be a bad thing, someone carrying your baggage around for you. But I’m thinking, why do you gotta have someone else carry your stuff? Why can’t you deal with your own stuff and just get rid of them yourself?

I can be empathetic. Part of me feels like sometimes we just need luggage. We’re not ready to let go of our stuff. We don’t even know how to go through all of it, how to unpack it, how to organize it. And so it’s nice to have someone carry it for us while we free our hands to do other things in life, like our art or our craft or whatever it is that we need to do, even if it’s just buying us time to avoid the issues that are too dark and dirty for us to face.

[We] spent quite a bit of time talking about who we think belongs together, who we think will last, who we think will break up. But the reality is that it doesn’t matter what we think. People are gonna do whatever they’re gonna do, and we can never really know what’s going on between two people, let alone what’s going on inside one person’s head. How many of my boyfriends did my friends and family disapprove of?

I don’t care how much we think we know someone. People grow and change and move and morph.

They may no longer be who we thought they were or what we want them to be. And maybe they really are happy even if it doesn’t look like it. We don’t know what’s really going on.

And bottom line, that person in their life is serving some sort of purpose for them in this stage of development, somehow.

As friends, we just want the best for our other friends and their personal growth.

But then I thought about it, and I suggested to the group, “Maybe love isn’t the goal in every relationship. And sometimes, maybe love is just about finding other baggage that matches your own.” Don’t we all love matching luggage?

We laughed and somewhat agreed. Everyone has baggage, stuff, issues, and pasts, but just deal with them and keep it light. In the end, I think the three of us decided you only have room for one carry-on, so leave the rest behind.

growing old together (jenn)

i.
(we never picture growing old together.
there are no rocking chairs, no porches,
no grandchildren with our tired eyes,
no closets cluttered full of inside jokes,
shared gestures, and knowing looks
fading in boxes labeled years past.
there’s no nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake.)

how did i get here

needing someone to tell me how little i matter,
here with my heart, not a specimen of a heart,
but a heart, a breaking heart i want to throw up
through my speechless mouth–
my throat becomes lava,
molting
organ after organ
mistake after mistake

let my insides match the empty i feel.

i know

i’m a 12 year old girl playing this old paradigm house.
toying with her insecurity collection,
her shadow box of sadnesses.

i want the whole world’s sympathy in my hands.

(i hate this girl.)

(i check the light switch.)

how did i get here

taking my own placebo on an empty stomach
in doses of cardio, calories, worries.
wishing i had a control of myself
just to see how far i’ve deviated.

how did i get here

walking past memorials
knowing i am not moment-to-moment
play-by-play
do-or-die
philosophy.
but minutiae,
lists of consciousness,
the compilation of all my fears and failures.

i have loved
more this year
than i have ever loved,
and cried
more than i have ever cried.

my cry is i cannot change this.
my cry is i am surviving.
my cry is thank god
i can finally feel again.

ii.
it’s winter early on my skin
this is not what i want to write
i hate my head songs
quarter, half, whole words,
measures and measures of melancholy.

honey,

we are not victims
we are just tired
both of us
from fighting this war on existence,
a war we were drafted into circa birth
with our footprints.

you and i will never be names carved into stone
towering above a better off generation
but bones sewn into the earth
a place for weeds and time to take over.

honey,

my favorite moments are when you break
and i break
and we are reassembled
parts of me in parts of you
your sorry lodged somewhere deep in my abdomen
and my panic, tendons tangled through your fingers:

when we touch
i feel myself reaching for me through you.

honey,

every day is november 17th
and i’m running off that first plane
the burnt smell of bulgaria
seeped into my hair
in your new arms
i love myself again.
our first drive home
your single finger pressed morse code
secrets into my thigh
we were right to be afraid

honey,

we connected harder on paper
than anyone, you said
and that was something.
i am your favorite writer,
the worst exister,
locked in a self-destructible box
welded together from scraps of hot iron hurt
over 28 years of oversensitivity
sleeplessness and want want want–
my own impenetrable, flawless patchwork

(my mom, she gave me the patterns.)

i crawled in; i still have to live.

remember last year,
we promised to go dysfunctioneering together.
we pulled each other out of twin depressions
yours, a box, mine, a country.
we bought flashlights and held hands,
if hands were stanzas,
lyrics, and prose pacing across our pages.

(alliteration, it happens.)

honey,

when you said russian dolls i swooned
you told me stop trusting lovelessness,
printed my words onto your aorta
moved into my poetry,
painted the walls, even.

we once said: look how much we have been through
before we have even been through anything.

honey,

you could not
give me more
treat me better
love me more
than i love you
but sadness–
i breathe it through
these lungs, these porous wings for living.

if i could just take off
the anchor of my body.

i know you understand.

but i want it out.
i do.

put me down

with anesthetic songs
freestyled from your guitar
the ones that neverend
and sing them louder
than the most love-deaf voice
in my head.

put me down.

give me a life change operation.
i want to wake up with new
breasts and a new paradigm
my grey matter transplanted,
hope transfused through
your organs, mine.

put me down,
put me down.

iii.
all this is not what i want to write.
but you’re right, it’s easy
making pain pretty, alliterated and
packaged without the preservatives–
we pass an empty box back and forth
stuffing ourselves with
the smallest morsels of our panic
and inedible crumbs of our problems.

i’ve learned that today’s devastations
are tomorrow’s last laughs.

i’ve learned that my mind is not my mind.

i’ve learned that i am not the sum of what i am not.

i’ve learned that i forget days like today
beautiful days where we laughed
believed
we can do this:

drive, love, be.

i know my brain well enough to know
it empties the wrong cache, always
we are lovers,
best friends
and family.

i just forget; i’m lucky.

we are so much more than this poem,
than the letters that brought us here
into this motel room in cleveland,
another friend’s bedroom in milwaukee,
a flooded basement apartment in seattle.
let’s wake up tomorrow
be on the same team
cheer for each other
and i’ll sip from your coffee
because all i ever wanted to do
before i met you
when i was there and not here,
before i knew how to not be right for you
and the wrong things to never say,
before you knew how afraid i was
of asking for direction,
was sip from your coffee.

iv.
we never picture growing old together
because we don’t want a life
where we live to be 80,
and each year adds new failures of the heart and mind,
where each year gained is a decade lost
where you become right all along:

who are we without our memories

sacks of cells
bodies without dreams
shells left behind by the tides
and always, always still a roar
from the best time of our lives—which was a day—which was five years—
which was enough, enough life for a lifetime.

v.
how did we get here

into these decaying bodies,
panicked lives,
and folding corners.

i know: stop asking how. look forward. trust you.

there is so much in me i cannot begin to give you;
it’s already yours, owned, lived–
we are
we are already old together.

I’ll Never Be Such a Fucking Amazing Person in My Life Again. (jenn)

Hi Comrades.

I realized that this time last year I was still in Bulgaria. Still Peace Corpsing my life away. Last year’s holiday season theme wasn’t Mr. Jesus Christ, or Macy’s elves, or even blue tinsel. Last year’s theme was hypothermia pie. Hypothermia pie involved Matilda and I spooning in deep hibernation in my bedroom, praying. Praying to the gods of cheap space heaters to keep heat alive, and to the pipe gods to defrost and let water flow. I sang “O Come All Ye Electrical Current” to the electricity gods, because the only thing I hated more than coldness was when coldness and darkness joined powers and formed Early Death.

I really hated Early Death.

To commemorate the fact that I haven’t even been back in the motherland a year, I’ve been revisiting my old Bulgaria writings. I have to say I enjoy the bitter Amerikanka I once was. Now I’m weak. Now I love. Easy access to soy products makes a person soft. SOFT LIKE SILKEN TOFU I TELL YOU!

I need to find an Eastern European market here and see if I can get someone to verbally abuse me for simply existing.

Bulgaria, circa 2006:

I’ll never be such a fucking amazing person in my life again

It amuses me how my life and work are interpreted–how my being here implies I have no direction, or that I am sacrificing something for the work I do. The longer I’m here, the more my life resembles anyone’s life: I walk my dog. I run and go to the gym. I clean my apartment with Mr. Clean. I sit at my desk 5,000 hours a day. The other 5,000 hours a day I spend running around with kids, teaching, mentoring, and buying the orphans pads. I cook dinner for my friends. I drink tea on my balcony and read Newsweek. I go to the farmer’s market. I take my Banana Republic turtlenecks to the dry cleaner. The only real difference between my job and your job is that I make 89 cents an hour. And that’s relative too—89 cents is exponentially more than what my colleagues make. I live alone in a huge apartment, have a cell phone, Internet, and six different pairs of athletic shoes (day hiking, kickboxing, trail running, running, marathon running, hardcore hiking). It’s very American to look at my life and ask me when I’ll get a real job. My job is as real a job as I’ve ever had. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunities I have here. Last year alone I went to Greece, Hungary, Turkey, (and Tahoe!). I create my own schedule, and have to answer to no one besides the extremely sadistic control freak-masochistic-perfectionist voice in my own head. I live in a country where the national IQ average is 89. I’m like fucking Einstein. People are mesmerized by my ability to type “without looking” and with more than one finger. The fact that I don’t have a television by choice, and that I read “for fun” makes me enigmatic, dare I say monk-like. The fact that I don’t smoke is downright revolutionary. I’ll never be such a fucking amazing person in my life again.

And I Thought Buying Tampons in America Was Awkward

Part of my “work” (for 89 cents an hour) with the orphans involves me going to pharmacies and purchasing their hygienic products. Yes, I am their pad bitch. I’m glad I went to Harvard to be the pad bitch of 10 adolescent female orphans. Let is be known that in Bulgaria, you have to ask a pharmacist for everything—every berry flavored cough drop, herbal tea, and heavy flow pack of Always sits on shelves behind a counter. You have to ask for these items in front of everyone else in line at the pharmacy. You have to ask when there are orphans standing right next to you, who speak just perfect Bulgarian, but who are too ashamed to ask themselves, and I suspect take secret pleasure in watching me trying to fumble my way through conversation at each pharmacist’s counter.

Here’s a little example:

Me: “Good day.”

Old Pharmacy Man: “Good day.”

Old Pharmacy Man: “Tell me what you need.”

Me: “Something for the business of women.”

Old Pharmacy Man: “What do you mean, pray tell?”

Me: “Something needed for the month cycle of a woman.”

Old Pharmacy Man: “Oh. Here you go.” [Gives me something resembling ibuprofen.]

Me: “No no! The woman is not sick. It is not sick or pain. For blood. No sick sick. Blood.”

Old Pharmacy Man: “What the hell are you talking about?”

Me [Now bright red, everyone in pharmacy staring. Turns to orphans.]: “You little shitheads know I don’t know the word for the blood things! Fucking help a sister out! You think it’s in my goddamn job description to buy you Always? Fuck that. I’m out.”

[End trip down Bulgaria Lane.]

It’s paragraphs such as these that make it hard for me to edit my Bulgarian experience into publishable travel essays. I am still trying to do this, but I hate the writer I become. I hate 97% of most Peace Corps writery writing that I read, because it’s too pretty, too florid, too edited away from the truth. Too neat. All Peace Corps Volunteers are selfish assholes, just like every human being. I hate that they think they’re not selfish assholes. I hate superficial closures, poetic conclusions to experiences that are anything but neat. I hate feeling as though I have to wax romantic and use phrases like “human folly” in describing my 2.5 years served in the so-called cushiest of all Peace Corps countries. (But remember–the sanity to comfort exchange rate was high. HIGH. Although it’s probably all too easy from my flooded Seattle cave-home to say I would have gladly exchanged my high-speed Internet and bitter nation for a mud hut and happy nation.)

(I’m a selfish asshole.)

Now that I’ve been in America almost a year, I feel as though I have to be more PC and not make negative commentary about Bulgaria. When I was there I felt no such guilt, as there is no such thing as PC in Bulgaria, which is actually one of the things I miss. YES. I do miss Bulgaria. More now that it’s harder for me to just pick up the phone and shoot the shit without someone saying, “Wow. Your Bulgarian is really bad already.”

“I understood THAT!” –Me

“What?” -Them

Most of all I miss Yulia, my BBBFF (Best Bulgarian Friend Forever). She saved me over and over. I miss the Mihailovi and the Peichinovi families that adopted me as their Roma-Hawaiian and Bulgarian-Hawaiian daughter, respectively.

I miss wandering with Mati in the empty hills, letting her run free and only having to worry about what she’d do with a horse carcass, and not what might happen should she she run into a prissy American purebred. And her dog.

(Mati’s developed a real attitude towards American dogs. She’ll try to bite out the eyeballs of the world’s friendliest golden, should the world’s friendliest golden cross her path.)

(Oh, I’m exaggerating future Pet Sitter! Be not afraid! Mati’s a lover, not a vicious murderer.)

I miss my pimp ass palace of an apartment that cost $140 a month, which was a rip off, because I was American. The apartment really should have cost approximately $10 a month, because it was in Dupnitza.

I miss not having to think about car insurance, health insurance, mental dog insurance—all the paranoia that makes America feel safe.

I kind of miss lutenitza, tarator, tikvenik, and mish mash.

lutentiza.jpg
A toast: To my favorite lutentiza. Mmm.

The following is intended for specific audiences only:

For all my beloved RPCVs:

scott.jpg

IT’S SCOTTCHO!

Can I just say that our former forced friend has the phattest house ever? How does SCOTT become a homeowner? Of a house with a man-cave larger than our entire apartment? With the coolest, non-wifiest wife ever and most lovable chocolate lab bitch ever?

Maybe Scott will hire me as his live-in dog nanny.

For all my fellow Iolani No Ka Oiers:

ellen1.jpg

IT’S ELLEN!

She lives! In Seattle! She is awesome! She has the pimpest apartment ever and her super-rad BF, Jordan, makes the best salmon and broccoli EVER.

ellen3.jpgellen2.jpg

So far, the Seattle theme has been: Using Superlatives and CAPITALIZATION to re-claim the “Showing and not telling” writing maxim. I SHOW and I tell. And poorly.

There’s something refreshing about being SO excited to reconnect with old friends–seeing how much their everything has changed since you were band geeks or volunteers in post-Communist Hellistan together. I love being welcomed into the warmth of their New Lives, with too much wine and foggy conversation. I love it. I love it as much as going away to another country, knowing no one and nothing, being charmed by the three-legged stray dogs and markets where everything is sold by kilos and you are really not even sure if kilo refers to weight or flesh trading.

Tomorrow I have my first job interview in at least four years. Awww yea! I am super excited—the gig is to make ‘zines with homeless teens! Everyone knows my two favorite things in life are maximizing creativity and totally messed up kids.

Wish me luck by praying to the god of employment where I’ll earn less than Ryan’s unemployment!

My New Favorites

New Favorite Movie: Did I write about The Lives of Others and how it was the best fucking movie ever? The main actor is Kevin Spacey, Ben Kingsley, Dr. Spock, Anthony Hopkins, Bob Hoskins, and the father from Garden State all in one man! It’s crazy. Just so you know, it’s in Nemski, which means German in Bulgarian. Thanks Ryan’s dad!

New Favorite Book: Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby. I read it down in one, without the intermittent distraction of reality. Disturbing shit–not for the faint of mind. Thanks library of Harmonie and Chad!

My Favorite Album: Juana Molina’s Son. I’m too lazy to describe it now that WordPress lost my fucking blog that I saved 100 times and I had to re-do it with 1/2 the passion and twice the cussing. Anyway… for Juana Molina–Thanks SCOTT!

My Favorite Photo of the Day:

matisleep.jpg

We’re sleeping on the floor since our bedroom was flooded out and mattress is soaked through. We can’t complain. 51% of the world has it worse.

Favorite Last Conversation for Wednesday Night:

Ryan: My stomach hurts.

Jenn: That’s ’cause you just ate a bag of chili cheese Fritos, a giant Peanut Butter Cookie, and 1/2 a box of generic cereal.

Ryan: You’re supposed to save me from myself!

My boyfriend is adorable.

9 days til Amsterdam!!!

Love in the form of a quiet smile,
Jenn

Secret Lovers

11.16.07
milwaukee
1:30p

about her. [ryan]

11.11.07
7:25a
reading Jenn’s myspace for the gabillionth time.
I read her to celebrate my life.
[i love about her]

beauty.jpg

this is jenn’s about me [pre-road trip]:

i’m a recovering peace corps volunteer, living in america with my Myspace.com BF and immigrant bulgarian bitch mutt. i appreciate the movie-film borat at a profoundly profound level, in the same way an alien might appreciate watching alien vs. predator.

for the past two and a half years i lived alone in southwestern bulgaria, certain i was happy, because i had no one to make me feel lonely. there was so much peace in that emptiness. now i live in an apartment of an old mansion in philly. i love our orange-walled living space, how it offers faith that stone, dark wood, and cast-iron gothic lighting can live harmoniously with loud, vibrant, manic orange.

(what metaphor?)

i wonder when i will start looking as old as i feel. ryan asks me why i always look so uncomfortable when we get ready to go out, and i am made-up, eyebrows plucked, hair blown-dry. he tells me i am beautiful. still. at that moment i am as far away from beautiful as i have ever been. beautiful was how i felt after a day of climbing in hawaii—legs bruised and bleeding, nails destroyed, a day’s worth of sun, sweat, chalk and dirt settled into my skin. collapsing into my ’88 camry, hands too weak to grip the steering wheel, drained and invigorated all at once, laughing at someone teasing someone else, or maybe me, and glancing quickly up into my rearview mirror–there and then was the only beauty i have ever seen in myself.

i am simple. i need music. reading. writing. running. (ryan needs me to need conversation, movies, partying.) i love my crazy mati, my family, my BF. instead of a bedroom, we are creating a genius room/hamper. a room for art, brainstorms, music, words, and dirty clothes. in the living room corner, we switch sides of the floor mattress; it reminds me to not get too comfortable—to wake up every day with a new view of branches and sky, and be happy for that. be happy for love. be happy for orange walls. for genius rooms. for piles of books, read and unread. for inspirations. i love my life so much it scares me. and that’s how it ought to be.

so. i am adapting to quite possibly the best life ever. i remind myself every day to be thankful–any moment i could go, any moment you can lose the life and people you love. i want all my friends to find their greatest happinesses. i want to be able to say this without sarcasm. i have a hard time conveying sincerity. i have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to bring a child into this world. i have a hard time understanding people who only worry about securing their financial, societal, educational, environmental future. i have a hard time with a lot of people. i have a hard time breaking down what i am most afraid of. it is so easy to forget to live today as everything, but luckily i have someone who loves me enough to remind me to live and live and live.
–Jenn Meleana, Myspace profile

I love about her.
she is beautiful, no matter what she says.
She is my favorite writer.
I get to live with my favorite writer.
I wish I could love her like her words love me.
A year later, and I am still stalking her myspace.
I love about her.
I am sorry when I don’t read her.
when i forget.
She is my about me.
She is my about face.
I want to use her words as mine to give to her.
She deserves that.
I let strangers choose our adventure because it doesn’t matter where.
She is my where.
I feel clumsy trying to say this.
i think my clumsiness makes her love me though.
so i will fall down stairs forever for her.

abouther.jpg

From: Ryan Matsumoto”
Sent: Sun, 22 Oct 2006
To: “Jennifer Hee”
Subject: plus one…

“p.s. if you were really to fall down the stairs i would fall down too, just so you wouldn’t feel alone.” –Jenn

.endless zeros

.empty gushing

.nothing but

.zeros until

.you sneezed

.ones that

.were carried

.over zeros

.from right

.to right

.replacing the

.nothing with

.everything something

.making my

.fractured fraction

.wholly whole

.moving my

.decimal down

.where zeros

.become one

big infinity…

plus one…

big infinity…

plus one…

“p.s. if you were really to fall down the stairs, if I fell down the stairs, just so I wouldn’t feel alone– I would marry you for profit at the bottom of the stairs, and never stop falling with you, ever…” –ryan

remember.jpg

remember?