Digging Through Someone Else’s Stuff

I was recently sorting through some stuff that isn’t really mine – at least, I don’t feel like it is. It’s not as complicated as I make it sound. About 6 years ago, we moved my Grandma Betty out of her house in Oregon so she could move up to Bainbridge Island, WA, so that my retired uncle could keep an eye on her in her old age. When she moved, she was 88. She is now 94, and still sharp as a tack.

When we moved her out of her house into an apartment, she didn’t take a whole lot with her. Just the basics and things that made it feel like home – her pots and pans, her old flower-printed couch, the stuffed toy dog that sat loyally by the fireplace. Much of the rest was donated, but my parents, with their excellent foresight, saw an opportunity for their high school sophomore to gather the beginnings of her own kitchen.

boxes under the stairs

This is where it’s been kept for the past six years. My parents’ house has a Harry Potter style cupboard under the stairs. Awesome, right? As I will be moving out at the end of July, I decided to get it sorted out so I know what I want to take with me.

There’s some really cute stuff in there! Among my favorites are these strawberry-patterned ramekins, this blue china serving platter, but especially these pink everyday china plates.

strawberry ramekin    blue china platter    plates

It’s hard to wrap my mind around that these are the plates I will be eating dinner off of for (at the very least) the next few years. It doesn’t make sense. In my mind, these plates aren’t of the present, but of my memory. These plates belong in a small house in a 65+ gated community in Oregon where I can ride my scooter along a river path and feed ducks at the local park, not in a cupboard under the stairs. In my mind, they are too large for whatever small apartment cabinet I stuff them into, regardless of whether they physically fit. These are the Thanksgiving dinner plates. These are Grandma Betty’s plates. What do you mean they’re mine now?

It’s a strange type of responsibility. I know where these plates have been and who they have belonged to, and now I am expected to carry on the long-upheld tradition of… eating off of them? I guess that is the task before me. I can’t say it’s incredibly important to me, but I know one person to whom it will make a huge difference.

Grandma Betty is 94, and she has been trooping along many, many years longer than anyone (including herself) thought she would. Usually she’s in a fine mood, but every time one of my visits comes to an end, she talks as if she’ll never see me again. I don’t mind – for all I know it might be true, and even though she’s acted like this at every goodbye since she was 80, I wouldn’t want to brush her off. The woman is 94, after all. You never know.

After one such goodbye, just as she was closing the door to her Bainbridge Island apartment, she looked at me and said, “When you set your own table in your own home one day, think of me”.

It seems to be all I am able to do with these plates – think back to when I most often saw them used, in her kitchen in Oregon. It will take a while to get used to seeing anything but mashed potatoes and gravy on them, but I’ll adapt. In the flurry of my everyday life, when the plates transition in my view from “hers” to “mine, I have a feeling that it won’t come to the forefront of my mind quite as often as it does now.

I figure she knows that I will try my best to do as she asked. I also figure that she understands how the salience of that connection will be dulled with time. So I’ll set the table with grandma’s plates, until I set the table with my own.

More to follow.

Here We Go!

Alright, alright. Why in the world am I starting a blog?

I read an article, found on an old acquaintance’s Pinterest, on some reasons that people should consider starting a blog. Before I was halfway through, I had decided. I’m writing this, still not even having finished reading the article, trying to do that very thing: start a blog, with no real prior experience or skill. Snap decision? Yep. Long time coming? Probably. Am I going to actually do it? Hey, pipe down, I’m workin’ here.

The article’s author listed reasons one “should” start a blog. Here are the reasons that I am starting a blog:

  1. I enjoy writing and journaling. I always have, and now that I’m freshly out of college and finding myself with some free time on my hands, I want to get back in the game. I want to be not only a supporter of artistic pursuits, but a pursuer of them. Committing to fully producing short ramblings about my life and thoughts seems like a good stepping-stone back into written creativity. I want the fulfillment I used to feel after working on a successful theater production or completing my final edits on a poem.
  1. Related to the first reason, I want to commit to a creative project. Anyone who as ever started such a thing will understand the struggle that is completing it. It always feels unfinished, not quite ready. An ongoing project frees me from that. I hope that blogging will also allow me to bring other projects under its umbrella, and lead me to a greater sense of accomplishment in what I have created and am continuing to create, instead of always feeling like I have left my projects incomplete.
  1. Writing more makes one’s writing better. I want to keep my skills sharp, and now that my main source of mandatory writing practice (being an English major) has ceased, I can decide how I do that. For too long I feel like I’ve abandoned my creative voice, incorporating it only sparingly and where appropriate into my academic writing. I’m plenty good at that – now bear with me as I remember the nuances of more diverse forms…
  1. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I know blogging is a good thing to have on a resumé. I want to show off a little. I can write well, and I enjoy doing it. I can put together snippets of a coherent, cohesive story. Looking good doing it is of course secondary to feeling good doing it, but I’m not opposed to giving myself a little boost, especially now that I’m out of college and have the job hunt looming over me. Gulp.
  1. I want to be less judgmental of myself, less shy to share myself with others. It’s a bad habit that I’ve let myself fall into for too long. I’m shy, I’m nervous to interact, I’m always aware of what other people might think of me. Being embarrassed makes me angry, and I get embarrassed easily. These feelings control me a little more than I want them to. I think letting my personality show a little more will be good for me.

I think blogging is ego incarnate. When I read someone’s blog, I hear, “Hey, look at me! My life is really important and at least someone else out there should care”.

That being said, it’s not a criticism. Thinking someone out there in the wide, wild world might possibly be interested in little old you, showing others bits and pieces of life as you know it? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Apparently, I think that I too have something to contribute. It’s not sage wisdom from my almost 22 years on this earth, it’s not highfalutin, moralistic advice with a clever clickbait headline, and it’s not constant travel and sightseeing the likes of which only the true 1% get to experience. It’s just whatever strikes me as something worth blogging about. I’m shamelessly offering up my words for someone to use their precious time reading them. I am pouring hours of effort into putting my thoughts, experiences, stories, and memories into a format that others can access whenever they want to. In doing so, I demonstrate that I have the gall to think someone might want to. But hey – you never know.

As for a theme, there is none. I do this purposefully, so as not to limit myself in any way. This is a blog for me, and I’m going to let it be just that. If it never becomes the streamlined, purposeful, super-thematic blog of the modern day, so be it. I’ll probably like it better that way. I’m content to leave it in internet purgatory, never seeing the light of popularity, as long as it remains what I want it to be. If it does achieve what one might call “success”, that’s fine too – as long as it’s still authentically me and mine.

There will be musings. There will be stories. There might be poetry. Heck, there might even be DIY projects, advice, French, photographs, travel logs, and attempts at drawing some larger conclusions than the ones written. I don’t care that my blog is just one out of a million others, and I’m not trying to be number one. I’m just trying it on for size.

 

More to follow.