Today was the type of day where towels made me cry and I got a sunburn without my skin ever seeing the sun.

Today was the type of day where you go home, and your legs go numb the second you sit down.

Today, I realized how sad I am that Ben has moved, because today was the first day all of his stuff was gone.

My boyfriend got a career opportunity straight out of college. Great for him. I could not be more incredibly proud. Being a photographer is hard work. He is great at it, and he deserves to work as a photographer because he loves it.

I’m just a little bit of a selfish wuss.

In the coming months, expect me to work and study more than is healthy. Expect me to eat less food and substitute it with coffee because real meals take time. And most importantly, be patient with me. I’m learning an entirely different way of life without warning.

I’ll get there. He just moved, it’s not the end of the world. I’m working on it.

Random Acts of Kindness

It seems like kindness is a scarce commodity in today’s world. I have seen an insane amount of rudeness come in all shapes and sizes, and surprisingly, people seem unapologetic about how rude they’re being. In such a deep sea of negativity and hostility, there are shining beacons of light. These people are good to the core, and it brightens up everything around them. I love this kind of person, the kind of person that is inherently good-natured without being overbearing or too proud of their kindness. 

Last week, a young man came into my cafe two days in a row, ordered his coffee and sat down to read. After a while, he came back up and asked us to do him a favor. The first day, he gave us a $20 bill and asked if we would buy the next person’s drink and split the rest as a tip between myself and the other girl working. We did, and I thanked him later. All he did was nod and smile. He did the same the next day with a $10 bill. It is such a small gesture, but his humble attitude and unexpected actions really made a difference in how my weekend went. 

Today, it was my last day working in the cafe that I’ve worked at for over two years. I’ve been with the company for over three years, and so today was very bittersweet. I was on a short break, and a coworker of mine asked how I was doing. I let her know how I would be done in the cafe after my shift, and how sad I felt. She came back with, “Christina, everyone will miss you. No one will forget about you. You have so much joy in you.” She made me honestly think about how we talk about others. Why don’t we describe other people by their joy, their infectious laugh, or their gentleness? 

When I think about small acts of kindness, and I’m sure when others do as well, they think of monetary donations, or paying it forward in the drive-thru at Starbucks. However, I strongly believe that we should think of the kindness that is within people, not just when they’re being praised for it. The man who bought those drinks for random strangers didn’t do it to be noticed, no one even knew who bought their drink, we just told them it was on the house. The coworker who told me about joy was doing it to comfort a friend, not to be seen as a “good person.” 

It’s most important to be kind when you’re not being watched. This weekend was long, stressful, and hard. These two examples of kindness changed everything. It seems like being a jerk is the cool thing to do, but trust me, it’s not. If you have the opportunity to be kind, to show someone you care about them as a person, take it. It’ll make all the difference in the world. 

Every Day Ass Holes: a rant about service and those who make it a chore

I will say this as a caveat to this post: If you are an ass hole in public, this post will offend you. Hopefully, it’ll help you change your ways.

 

With that said, I am SO goddamn sick of having to deal with people who don’t understand simple concepts like courtesy and manners.

The last four days in a row, I’ve seen the exact same man sit in my café for longer than the shift I work. He buys one thing, and then loiters all day long. Not only does this man sit there, but he also hacks and coughs and does not cover his mouth. The napkins he wipes his face with litter his germ ridden table long after he’s gone, because everyone is afraid they’ll get TB from touching his table after he has left.

If you can’t go five minutes without coughing your lungs up, do NOT sit in public for six hours straight. Spare everyone the anxiety of being around you, and just stay home. Or better yet, go to the doctor so the coughing isn’t a problem anymore. This is absolutely as serious as it gets. We do not need a revival of the plague because you can’t make your coffee at home for a couple days. STAY HOME.

Another thing you should really understand before entering a social situation is that there are norms in every situation. If you’re in a public place waiting for service, the social norm in the United States is to form a single-file line. Don’t budge, don’t form your own line, and don’t spend your entire time in the line on your phone and then take up 5 minutes at the register deciding what you want. It’s supposed to run as a smooth system where I ask you what you would like, give a couple suggestions, and you go on your merry way so the next person has a chance to do the same. By being discourteous, you’re wasting your own time, my time, and every person in the line’s time. This really has a lot to do with distractions that are new to the 21st century, like smart phones. STAY OFF OF THEM IN LINE. You are there to be served, and if you’re not paying attention to me, I can’t ask you the questions I need to ask in order to serve you.

Listen, I get it. You have a demanding life, one that calls for you to be constantly flipping through Facebook or looking at the latest Groupon deal, but knock it off. Get out of my line if you don’t have the time to waste waiting or paying attention, you obviously have more important things to do.

Manners are so important, and there is not enough description in the world that could explain how many more people need to work on theirs. Please and thank you go a long way. Saying, “Could I please have…” works a hell of a lot better than, “I need,” or “Get me…” Seriously. I get paid too little to deal with people not thanking me for anything, ever.

This also goes along with tipping. If you’re getting $25 or more of food from me, and you watch me ring you up, cook your food, bring it to your table, bus your table, and clean up after you, TIP. Honestly, if you went to a restaurant like Applebee’s or Chili’s and ordered two meals, there would be no chance you would walk out without leaving a tip. At my cafe, I do the work of all of the employees by myself, one with one or two other people at maximum. I have said it before, and I will stand by it forever, baristas deserve tips. They earn tips. They handcraft your drink from scratch literally every single time you order. Every time any person orders, the drink starts from square one. Tip your barista and tell them “Thank you,” because they work dang hard to make your drink delicious each time you come in and get a triple shot medium extra hot no foam vanilla caramel skinny latte in a large cup.

The service industry is rough, and every day it seems like you see a new kind of crazy. Don’t be the one I write about next time, and remember to not be a dick.

“All art is quite useless.”

Oscar Wilde wrote that line in his famous The Picture of Dorian Gray. If you haven’t read Gray, you don’t know that the entire book centers around a painting, sort of. With that said, I find this quote so interesting. Art really is useless, but absolutely profound.

Without art, I imagine a lot more people would be in a lot worse places.

For a long time, I stopped making art. I don’t know if I forgot to paint, or if I just thought I wasn’t good enough at it for it to matter, but I’m sure the latter is more accurate. Two long years passed by without so much as an underpainting. Life gets busy. Work, education, sleep every now and then, and all of the sudden, it’s been over 700 days without a hint of primary yellow or red ochre.

I finally broke my long streak of artless days a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve completed 9 paintings, and sold 6. It’s incredible and so validating.

So, I will post one here if anyone is interested. This nebula needs a home (preferably not mine) and it’ll go for a fair price. Only $35. 11×14 board.

20140426-011637.jpg

Hopefully my art isn’t useless, and neither is yours.

Hockey “Fans”

Anyone that knows me on a personal level will tell you I have an undying passion for ice hockey. I grew up a hockey fan. My mom, my sister and I watched Gretzky retire when I was only 8 or 9, and cried the whole time. My golden birthday, when I turned 8, was the year I got my Federov jersey, and I wore it all the time, even though the hem brushed my knees.

I’ve always been a proud hockey fan. I’ve never hidden my love for it, and I’ve always stood by my teams, Pittsburgh and Detroit, even when I don’t appreciate the decisions they’re making. The Detroit Red Wings have been in the playoffs for 23 consecutive seasons, the longest run in professional sports. That’s something to be proud of, but they also have made many mistakes on the way. If their fans walked away from them when they had made those mistakes, would they have gone to the playoffs for all of these years? I doubt it.

This forces me to ask the question, why are Pittsburgh’s fans dropping their team at the first sign of trouble? The first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs should have been an easy task for the Penguins. Set up to play the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had never won a single playoff game in franchise history, this was supposed to be a simple move to round two. Obviously, it hasn’t been easy, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. Somehow, Columbus has tied the series 2-2. Each of the four games has had one team up 3-1, and then dropped the lead to allow the other team to win. Four times in a row. Pittsburgh, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Columbus. In that order. It’s been such a yo-yo of a series, and Pittsburgh is pissed.

Recently, defenseman Kris Letang returned to play, only 10 weeks after suffering a stroke. He is in his late 20s. It seems crazy to even be living a normal life after a stroke, much less playing professional hockey in the playoffs. With that said, Letang has had some struggles since he has returned. Coach Bylsma has moved him to the third line after he took two bad penalties early in the series. Some “fans” have taken to Twitter with some downright hurtful things to say about Letang’s playoff performance thus far. Some people have even gone so far as to say he should just “have another stroke.”

These fans are NOT fans. Pittsburgh has a huge fan base, with hockey, football, and baseball, and it seems like a lot of these fans need to evaluate themselves and realize that being a fan isn’t about winning. Being a fan is about supporting your team, and watching them succeed, and sometimes fail. When they do fail, a fan is to continue supporting their team and show up a little louder next time.

Being hateful is crossing the line. I love my team, I support them through the losses. I am not happy with all of the decisions they’ve made in the playoffs so far, but I will NEVER say such hateful things towards the team I love. That’s not about sports, that’s not what sports are about. I cannot imagine turning on my team every time they lose, and every time they make poor decisions.

Marc-Andre Fleury has been outstanding this season, with amazing saves I can’t even begin to describe. However, one mistake in game 4 against Columbus, and fans are giving up on him. He left his net in the final 30 seconds of the game, Penguins were up by 1, and he just had to keep the lead, and the Penguins would have won. He made a mistake in leaving his net, because the Blue Jackets scored on a wide open net, forcing overtime. His confidence was shaken, and they lost the game in overtime.

These mistakes aren’t the only things causing the Penguins to lose in games they should be winning, statistically they were 5-0 against Columbus in the regular season. These mistakes are the ones that are making fans rear their ugly heads and scream in anger at a team they should love and support.

The bottom line is this: camaraderie is supposed to carry you through the wins and the losses. That’s what sports are about, and that’s what the Playoffs are about. Every game, teams win and lose together.

Don’t abandon your team just “Because it’s the Cup.”

Music that Matters;

As a North Dakotan, I don’t get a lot of opportunity to see live music. I have to travel a minimum of three hours to attend shows. Recently, I took a trip from Fargo (where I live) to Minneapolis, MN, 460 miles round trip. The reason for this drive was to see Seattle singer/songwriter Noah Gundersen perform. 

This is the type of show I love seeing. The musicians that are putting on shows because they love music. They pour themselves into their art, and it’s evident in their performance. 

A year and a half ago, I heard about Noah, and from that moment on, he has become an artist I have consistently loved. He makes you believe in the power of music, and it’s beautiful. 

Noah Gundersen recently released his first full length album, titled Ledges. From the very beginning, this album grabs you to your core, and does not let go, even after the last notes of “Time Moves Quickly.” This album is soul searching music. It makes you think, and not just about life, but about love, what it means to be alive, and what both pain and joy can bring into your life. This album is heartfelt, and simple, but not at all plain. It is honest. That’s the best way I can describe this album, purely it is an honest album. 

It is at it’s core, a beautiful sentiment to the passion Noah has for his music. Seeing him live in Minneapolis solidified everything I felt about this album. I have never seen a more engaging, passionate, and vulnerable type of performance. I’ve never been to a show where afterwards the artist stuck around to talk with people. Noah did that, and not only did he stick around, he actually talked with people. I overheard him talking to a young man who also made music, and he asked the young man the name of the band he was in, and if they played shows around the area. That small gesture probably made that young man’s day, if not week, because someone who makes music for a living showed interest in the music he was making. It seems small, but it matters. My boyfriend and I got to chat with Noah for a bit about driving so far to see him, and the movie Fargo, but I was also able to thank him for caring enough about music to do what he is doing, and to make the music that he does. 

His music is wonderful, his album couldn’t be any better, and if the opportunity to see him play live presents itself again, I know for sure that I will take it, because when you experience music that truly matters, it sticks with you. 

Noah’s music is the kind of music that matters, and Ledges is an album that can speak to you, even when it seems like nothing else can. 

I don’t know where we’re going, but I know where we’ve been;

In this life I’ve led in the past 21+ years, I haven’t done and seen a lot of things. I remember things that I have done as if someone else was living my life, and I just watched it happen. I’ve wandered through my life having an extended out of body experience, it feels like that anyway. All of the memories I have seem to feel as if I am the bystander to my own experiences. In this odd form of nostalgia that I am just realizing exists in my life, I find a lot of things that I wish I could change, but also many many things that are beautiful and heartbreaking, but at their purest moment, those experiences are peace. 

The purity of a peaceful moment is hard to grasp for me, maybe because I’m still not ready to look at the past with that lens. Life is weird, it’s strange, and gripping, and unbelievably unexplainable. There is not one way I can think of that would describe what life is or what it means. I often wonder if there is a reason I stay awake long evenings wondering where I am going or where I’ve been, and how to be better for myself. All of this mystery and wonder and even pain all lend a hand to the bigger picture of what my life will be. I have been wondering lately what I want out of my life, and where I want to go. 

Sometimes I wish I would have waited to go to college, because it’s not what I wanted, I wanted to be able to see things that I had never known or understood. Instead, I stayed in North Dakota, just like I said I wouldn’t do, and I got comfortable. 

I drove to New Jersey almost two years ago with a few friends of mine, and realized how closed off my life here is. That experience, now, seems so out of body, so distant. Did I actually do something so insane and spontaneous? I travelled 1,400 miles to see one band play for an hour. I had never had an experience that changed my heart and soul so much. Seeing music played mere feet from the ocean, and feeling all of the people around you having the same transcendental experience is something that changes people. Hearing Jesse Lacey sing the words, “Well Jesus Christ I’m alone again, so what did you do those three days you were dead? ‘Cause this problem’s gonna last more than the weekend,” made me wonder what the hell I was doing in my life. In that moment I knew that I wanted to live a life where I met people, and talked to them about their lives, where they came from, and who they wanted to be. I realized that I didn’t want to have only the weather to talk about, and I didn’t want to live in a place where the only thing people care about is god and guns. 

I realized in that moment that I needed to make a change, but to this day, I have not made a change. I am stuck in school, doing something I don’t love. I am stuck paying back student loans I’ll never be able to afford in a profession that will leave me emotionally drained day after day. 

Then I think, is this life continuous? Is there fluidity in the span of a person’s time on earth? Or does it happen like a book, chapter after chapter, where each one starts a fresh idea or starts in a new place? 

None of this made any sense, but I am sure that one day, it will make sense, if there is justice in life, those lost souls will find places to call home, and there will be one of those moments, the pure moment where peace is found within yourself.