Archive for release

Ghana in Reverse (Four)

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by ccartlidge

For a few days, I felt as if I were approximating someone with emotional and mental stability, but then I started to make sweets with reckless abandon and ate like a third of a bag of Pebbles for lunch just now and I feel insane again. I really like making dough fritters, partly because everyone loves them and it’s nice to know that I can contribute somehow. I know one day I will have bad knees and a bad back, so continuing to run in cheap tennis shoes on a washed-out, rocky dirt road seems like a bad idea (even above and beyond the fact that I hate running and always thought the international sign for “leave me the fuck alone” was to put on headphones, sunglasses, and a spartan expression but this is not actually international and if you are an obroni girl with short hair people are always curious about where you are going and why you are going there and why are you so tired you haven’t gone that far and it’s too hot to run after 8 am so I have to get up at 5:30 but I suppose it doesn’t really matter much anyway because Isaac the baby screams like a damn banshee starting around 6 so it’s cool and there’s nothing to do after it gets dark and the power’s out so I just go to bed at 8 pm and always get a lot of sleep except when I have the insomnia or I’m sick and peanut butter makes me gag now). I always hated running, but I’ve got imaginary monsters chasing me. Americans take elliptical machines for granted.

The funny thing about self-motivation is that production only works properly if you believe in the product. Socratic irony and dichotomy fascinate me. But: having no one to answer to on a daily basis, and still working for what is essentially a startup non-profit organization run by very young people is neither precise nor transparent (read: trying). I’m curious about how other similar organizations work. I can’t pretend to know a lot about what the best model for international aid work is, nor do I even have a clear opinion about the moral issue and I would like to be able to make an informed opinion. Oh, I’ve got opinions, but they’ve been shaped using only firsthand experience and opaque information. Actually… nevermind. That’s the way it is.

I remain skeptical (and I’m not alone). I am watching with eyes wide and mouth gaping.

[For the record: Believe it or not, I hold a fair amount back in these posts. If I give it all away here, I’ll have no more stories to tell in person. That would be a shame, because I have an expressive face and like to use my hands when I talk. *gesticulates wildly*]

Ghana in Reverse (Two)

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Note to Self, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2012 by ccartlidge

This last week has simultaneously been the worst and best. The shit finally hit the fan. I am relieved and looking forward to the day I stop torturing myself. I’ve been in my head for months, more than is habitual even for me, and it’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t. It’s horrifying. Any self-respecting overthinker is conscious of overthinking, and conscious of the high that results from the occasional desperate sprint through a labyrinth, but I’ve turned around so much as to have lost my bearings and I’m afraid that I’ve allowed myself to become ridiculously lost. High, but lost.

I like to think that I’m good at reading people. That may be true, but if it is, it is certainly also true that I’m a bit of a masochist. Ever since studio taught me how to see, I’ve seen that I am bored and frustrated by that which doesn’t at least acknowledge the sick beauty of dichotomy. Being absolutely sure is idiotic, which I realize is hypocritical coming from someone who enjoys having strong opinions, but I enjoy being an idiot because, after all, I’m smart enough to know that I am, in fact, an idiot but perhaps not quite smart enough to always be able to tell what is self-aware and what isn’t. I suppose it’s always been true that most things aren’t, including me. I’m disappointed and simultaneously smug.

I feel gross, and even grosser because I got exactly what I thought I wanted. At least now I know what I don’t want, which is a step forward unfortunately.

There are a few people I want to send a care package to when I get back to the States, but I’m not sure if they even print porn dirty enough to be worth it. Who buys porn anymore? No one. The internet killed the centerfold.

Exposition Upon Death

Posted in GFYS, Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Note to Self, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by ccartlidge

It has only been a few days since I moved back from Ghana. In retrospect, time seems to have passed disturbingly quickly (which isn’t surprising, as they say that about practically everything).

It seems like a dream that manifests in the midst of the rising action, leaving me to fabricate the introduction, scramble to prepare for the climatic action, and then it ends so quickly that the conclusion seems not to exist at all and I still have no idea whether this dream was a comedy or a tragedy. Or nightmare, as it were. I suppose the truth is that it is both, because everything is, and it would seem so obvious as to be stupid, if it wasn’t also so complicated.

I may have learned more about human nature in the past year than I’ve learned in the previous 28 and I’ve certainly learned that the dramatic arc only exists, unadulterated, in a fabricated drama.

Endings are for the dead.

Ghana and the sauce

Posted in Aesthetic Day, Literary Masterpieces with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2012 by ccartlidge

The sauce being the keyword there. Because I imagine a severe dearth of it. (Side note: whiskey is delicious and I’m very sorry I didn’t open up to it earlier. Either that or eternally grateful. You know, given how poorly I respond to tequila. Sorry, Geoff). Also: a severe dearth of the innerwebs. Upon my return in November or December or sometime decidedly earlier than next May (Sorry, Danielle), I might have 20 posts at once.  Until then…

There is a human, who I’ll call “Parenthesis Brit”. I didn’t realize until a few days ago that he might be the king of backhanded compliments. Desperately, I hope I’m overreacting. (I’m known to do this). BUT. If I’m not overreacting than either A) I was wrong, B) We were both wrong, C) He’s wrong, or D) One of the above combined with my severe self-doubt regardless of who is actually wrong, if anyone at all. At least part of D) is true.

(Also, I was being serious about Ghana).

(On a super side note, Adam Yauch will be missed. Rest in peace, MCA)

I’m Glad I’m a Lady, Because I Might Not Otherwise Have Learned To Braid / Maybe I’ll Look Back On This One Day and Smile, Slightly.

Posted in Literary Masterpieces with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2012 by ccartlidge

I always thought it was something. Here at the end I can only wish for something more tangible, as our timeline has split into yet another thin tangent: the prince, the pauper, the second after a forgotten dream, and so on. The space directly behind my forehead fills with a sort-of meta sorrow, forcing out existential expletives.

Extracting lessons from hardship mutates sorrow into sick joy, which settles into the space directly behind the space directly behind my forehead. Still shapeless, this lesson laces itself wherever it can and cannibalizes itself when necessary. It might also dissipate, shamefully, as happier times trot in. Which makes it meaningless.

For better or worse, I no longer have you living permanently among my influences. This is the good mourning.

Waffles. Sweet, sweet waffles.

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Rants with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2011 by ccartlidge

I should be a politician, because I am the master of the flip-flop. (I shouldn’t. I just said that for shits and giggles. I like to think I’m not that corrupt, ba-fucking-zing.) The diversity of moods I’ve had in the past two months is baffling. Never have I questioned my life with such amenability.

I’m dutiful: I went to college right on time, earned good grades at a decent university, worked a few jobs in a few offices, went back to school when the economy tanked and earned good grades there as well. I was supposed to have a reasonable amount of fun and relationships and I did. Everything in its right place! Ostensibly, I also questioned society and all the other things that a dutifully anti- girl is supposed to, I did my due diligence there as well. I even had the obligatory rebellious phase and on me, as it turns out, this involves quite a bit of pink, J. Crew clothing. I said a mouthful there.

The waver has been a constant in my life here in Portland. Perhaps I have the city itself to thank for this, and I do mean that without a hint of sarcasm. It’s true, I feel murky, but for the first time in my life it seems like I’m questioning all the right things. Metaphorically, I was the punk who regards himself so highly because he is aggressively questioning societal normalcy by sporting the same damn punk uniform, right down to the green mohawk and studded jacket with the Misfits patch on the back. This ironically fashionable kid questions nothing. (Also, did you notice I made myself male? I said a mouthful there, too.)

I used to think that people didn’t change, but that’s bullshit. Creative energy and the wish to be self-employed are my constants. Pursue these. Inconsistent extroversion and pursuing the path of least resistance are also my constants. Fuck those.

Luckily, I’ve managed to learn from my fucked up priorities. Luckily, I’m relatively intelligent and coherent (big-ups to my family for the good genes, healthy childhood, and seemingly unconditional love. I’m not sure I deserve all that, but now I’m determined to use them wisely. Subjectively wisely). Luckily, I’ve managed not to burn a crushing amount of bridges in my life and have a support system. Luckily, I have a certain amount of control. Luckily, I’ve been lucky. Next up: the evolution from amenable questioning to tenacious game. Hopefully. I mean definitely. I mean hopefully. Yup.

Lesson Two: Finding Meaning in Small Talk Concerning an Impending Cross-Country Move

Posted in Literary Masterpieces, Loves, Personal work, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2011 by ccartlidge

Most people we love or have been close to in our lives have good intentions. We catch up and have conversations about the near-past, present and near-future, and we care enough about the other person to get the background information before moving on to more interesting discourse. Good intentions don’t prevent emotional incandescence or tetchy conversational evolution, regardless of how neutral the pretense. Association depends on interpretation. In other words, if I’m having a neutral conversation and it becomes partisan, it might be because I’m being to damned sensitive.

It might help to mention that I am currently transitioning from Portland (Oregon) to an unknown city via my home state of Maryland. After many months of vacillation, I decided to move and I’m still unsure if the decision borders on correct (read this if you care for even more elaboration on the subject of decision-making), but it’s happening.

It hurts to go, because it means leaving people and places I love. I don’t have to drive, I’m not even peripherally presented with ignorant or closed-minded people, development hasn’t ruined the gorgeous landscape, and I can go for a hike without even leaving the city. These are all reasons to stay. On the other hand, the economy is crap, over-educated creative types make up a significant part of the population (which is also a plus, but unfortunately we’re all unemployed and looking for the same three jobs), my family is only accessible via an expensive, annoying and ecologically insensitive day of plane rides, and I’m treading cold water.

I’ll only know in hindsight how much of this is rationalization, but this is in a strange way what I’m hoping for. I want to be sure about something again. Anything, really. Even if the only thing I’m sure of is that I shouldn’t have left Oregon, that would be just fine with me. I’m allowing myself to become covered in moss and this is disturbing and gross. I can come back. But only if I leave now.

I’ve learned that although I love Portland, I’ll never get that first year back. It was fucking magic. I didn’t mind biking in the rain, I had a ridiculously close group of intelligent and beautiful friends, I was working towards a goal. I was working hard, playing hard, and I was in love but all things come to an end. I got a Master of Architecture months ago. I bummed around for the summer. I was successful in both of those pursuits, but now I’m lost. The city reminds me of this daily. Growth and confidence are the only things I know I want for sure, and my instinct is telling me to leave to get them.

A conversation I had a few hours ago brought me to these words. When I tell people I’m leaving Portland, I usually end up justifying my decision partly by mentioning the new places I’m interested in. Currently I’m focusing on New England, specifically the original American Portland, the one in Maine. I know nothing of significance and I’m aware I might change my mind, but I’m drawn to it somehow.

It seems like the first thing that most people mention when the word “Maine” pops out of my mouth is that the winters are cold. God, really? I have no concept of weather patterns outside Oregon so thanks for mentioning this as I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise. The second thing is that it is a very small city. Again: thanks, I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE INTERNET WORKS NOR ANY ABILITIES IN SPATIAL RECOGNITION, COMPARATIVE OR OTHERWISE. Shit.

I know now I react this way because I’m sensitive about the subject, not because the person speaking thinks I’m an idiot. I’m still very unsure and it makes me uncomfortable to think that I am in the middle of making a bad decision. But I’ll never know if I don’t try, so I’m strangely happy to keep having the same conversation over and over if it moves me closer to finding my new goal. Bring on the unknown.

So if you live in Portland, Maine and you see a cold, lost, short-haired girl visiting alone in a brand new winter coat, come say hello and remind me that Maine is much colder and smaller than Oregon. I might even thank you.