A Well-Watered Garden

I am different from other people. And yet, I am so very much the same as well. I have nothing and everything in common with everyone else. And when I die, I will have added something to the universe, just by having existed and been me. The rest - the part that's missing, aching, itching and feeling the pains and pangs of imperfection and weakness and enmity...that has all been taken care of. Now my garden is well watered, and my life is the kingdom of heaven.

Thank you.

Now You're in Bellingham

Let me tell you a little about Bellingham. I didn’t grow up in any place like this. The particulars of Bellingham are not what bring me reminders of my childhood. I feel Washington reminiscences every now and again, but not based on what Puget Sound has to offer. It has a lot to offer.

I think I moved to the Sound not because I thought it would remind me of my childhood or be exactly like where I grew up. I knew the stark difference between the eastern and western half of Washington, even if I forget the particulars. But the sound is what I considered Paradise when I was a kid. Being here was living the dream. I remember visits to my family in Seattle, coming to the pier and feeding the seagulls. Seeing and feeling the mightiness of the ocean – letting it strike fear in me. Looking at the ocean life, barnacles clinging to the wood on the pier, jellyfish and seaweed washing up to the surface. There was a completely different world down there. What a terrifying and thrilling idea of exploring its depths and knowing it – encountering it. The thought brought shocks to my soul.

Bellingham is the best of Seattle without the worst of Seattle. We’re right on the water, which is beautiful. But the beauty that is here is somewhat untouched and uncommercialized. Which any good Northwestern Puget Sound Granolahead like me should think of as a good thing, right? (But I am also a Capitalist. I think it’s good for businesses to be on the water. I love shops and boutiques and cafes and restaurants and pubs. We all do. We can’t deny it. We live in those places – it’s our culture).

The reason the waterfront in Bellingham is not developed and pretty like other towns (such as White Rock, BC), I’m told, is actually geological. The land by the water is not deemed safe – the ground itself is from land that was brought in to create a sort of beach or shoreline where there really was nothing before. I’m not sure what the shoreline did consist of back then, perhaps just sheer cliffs of rock? I’d have to research this more to find out exactly. Anyways, the point is that there are only old, condemned buildings from closed down factories along large portions of the shore here. Which I think is sad, but I guess there is nothing anyone can do.

There are some nice parks. The coffee shop I’m sitting in is located in a park that is basically a strip of a walking path along the water. The beaches in Washington are not “beachy” in that they are not long bars of sand that people lie on in their bathing suits and towels. This is just a place where the water meets the land along a sharp, cold edge. Rocks and shells and remnants of sea-life are mostly what you find there. And the water is cold. The weather is gray and damp most of the time. On beautiful days like today, where the sun is shining, you feel obligated – it is your natural duty to go out and soak it in.

The people in Bellingham…how can I describe them? They all have reached a certain level of Cool. Everyone here is attractive. I haven't seen very many not-cool looking people. Only people who reach even higher levels of cool. They all know how to dress in a way that makes them look chic and sophisticated and high-class, yet at the same time like they could survive in the wilderness for months with only a stick and their jacket and some shoes that they bought at REI. The men look like they build log cabins in their spare time, with their burly beards and waves of thick, dark hair. Yet even with long hair they somehow embody a look that is clean-cut – this is the way they have groomed themselves. The tattoos are designed. The book under the arm is spiritual, or obscure, or a classic that takes weeks to read. The soup and the coffee are hot.

The women do color in a quirky but coordinated sense. I sometimes wonder about the purple stockings, brown boots, yellow skirt and hunter green top look. I would see someone like this in Texas and immediately think that they have something to say. There is a reason – they are trying to look this way. Hipster, I would say. But here it’s like…everyone just woke up with those clothes already on, they didn’t even have to dress themselves. The girls are pretty. They wear their hair in ways that illuminate the curves of their faces. They wear makeup and jewelry. They have white, shining straight teeth, which usually form the shape of a smile. I feel intimidated but at the same time somehow comforted in their presence. I don’t seriously think of them as judging me. My intimidation probably springs more from the fact that I get the sense that they want to be my friend.

I’m here and it’s a different culture, but in many ways it’s very similar to what I left in Austin. I feel like I am just closer to the tree where the fruit was picked – like these are the “originals.” There is so much embedded in that as a stereotype…too many shallow assumptions. But I’m okay with embracing it lightly because there is a bit of truth to it as well.

Bellingham, I'm not sure if I found you, or if you found me. Let's stick together for a while.

Moroccan Solo Adventure

What can I say? It's so awesome here.

I went to a "cultural dinner" last night. It was this "Fantasia Folklore Etcetera-Whatever-Something-or-Other" thing, as titled by the tour company. (I signed up for a bunch of guided tours while I'm here, since I have no clue what else I would do by myself. Keep walking around the Medina bartering for souvenirs? Oh man. Five days of that and even "good price for you" gets too pricy).

The dinner came with a show. It was in a restaurant that was like Morocco Las Vegas or something. It looked like this huge palace where you spend the first 15 minutes just walking through it, taking pictures and watching dancers and drummers move around. The dancers weren't, like, totally authentic looking to me...some of them looked like they really hated their jobs (they stood there picking their noses and swaying a little bit), which I thought was really funny.

I ate at a table with two girls from England, a couple from Scotland and Ireland, and a French husband and wife. The French man was sitting at the end of the table where every 10 minutes or so a train of dancers would come through and pick on him to dance with them. It got ridiculously funny after a while (he was a good sport).

The meal had four courses, starting with some kind of soup. I was so excited when they brought out a HUGE rack of lamb for dinner. The guy set it down and walked away, and we waited for about 5 minutes for him to come back and start cutting it (he didn't leave a knife for us to cut it ourselves). Then we realized that everyone else was starting to cut into theirs with their own utensils (butter knives and forks), which was a little gross for all of us Westerners, but...what else were we going to do? We also had to serve up the couscous with the spoons we had just eaten our soup with.

I have never had couscous before. I knew that it was on the menu for the night but I didn't realize that was it when they set it down. So I made the mistake of asking the French lady next to me (who spoke English), "Do you know what this is called?" EVERYONE at the table looked up at me as if I had taken the dish and thrown it on the ground and stepped on it, then exclaimed in unison: "It's couscous!" I felt like such an uncultured American.

The time came for the dinner show. Outside the restaurant was this big open area, sort of like rodeo-grounds, with stadium seating around it (this restaurant was seriously huge - it was like 15-20 restaurants linked together around this stadium thing). I hadn't the foggiest idea what to expect. I think that's the best position you can take in Morocco, though. I've decided the catch phrase or motto for this country should be, "Who the hell knows what's going on?" (And who the hell really cares?)

First these riders came out and did a bunch of dangerous stunts on their ponies. Standing up in the saddle, hanging from the back, etc. One guy even ran alongside his horse, which I thought was quite impressive. The ponies (I think they were ponies) were very agile and beautiful. After a while I spotted something remarkable: they were actually stepping in time with the music. I didn't know it was possible to teach any animal to do that. Then, later on, they seriously were dancing to the music. I'm not kidding - the rider would pull their reins and they would, like, DANCE. Like humans! They danced better than I could.

The whole show was a bunch of random stuff that didn't connect to form a cohesive story or have any logical explanation whatsoever (hence the country motto). There was one point where the lights went totally black and Star Wars music came on (the Darth Vader theme) and all the horsemen came back and started marching ominously down the field. I couldn't figure out why I was the only one trying not to die laughing.

The only thing I didn't like was going back to my riad (that's what they call hostels here) by myself at night. I was hoping my taxi would pull right up to my derb (street), but apparently taxis can't drive through the Medina at night. So I walked through it by myself, which was actually cool and not too scary because there were still huge crowds of people partying, buying things, and watching snake charmers. Once you pass through the main square and into the more dark and narrow derbs where the hostels are, however, it gets pretty scary. There was a crowd of youngish-looking men loitering around by my corner, and as I walked down my narrow, walled-in derb I saw in the corner of my eye as they all turned their heads toward me (being a white female alone is something that definitely draws attention). I quickened my pace toward my hostel, hoping to God that it wouldn't take me very long to fiddle with the keys and get the door open (and freaking out in my head anytime I saw a person walking by or heard footsteps approaching). Right when I walked up to the door, the guy who runs the hostel was opening it to go out, giving me a clear entrance with no time to wait for the possibility of any creepy dudes I imagined were following me. Nice.

Dora Jordan Inside Jane Austen

A meek and delicate Dorothy Bland spoke the first lines of her acting debut in whispers, as told in the scene framed by Otis Skinner in Mad Folk of the Theater: Ten Studies in Temperament (177). No one in the audience would have known that this frail creature would go on to dominate the acting scene of her day, winning the affections of not just audiences but future kings. Yet as seen through the eyes of Jane Austen, herself a young theatre attendee and playwright, one might have been conscious of an early Jane Bennett, emerging quietly, timidly playing her part.
Perhaps the pages of Austen’s manuscripts held more pictures of this fascinating woman. A young Mary Bennett might be recognized in the shadow of this industrious, devoted actress, who watched the performances of Mrs. Brown in “The Country Girl” and rigorously imitated her until she found her own talent to display (Skinner 182). This self-sacrificing diligence would be the vehicle to take her from acting in “third-rate plays” that barely kept her and her mother out of the poor house, to landing roles like Viola in The Twelfth Night with the Drury Lane Management Company (Skinner 182). The devoted Mary sitting at her piano forte might have felt similarly as she dreamed of what she also could become.
One might also be able to recognize the shape of a Lydia Bennett protruding from Austen’s imagination, as she watched the progression of Dora’s relationship with Richard Ford, the Duke of Clarence and future King. Jordan was already no stranger to scandal, as she’d already had two illegitimate children, being taken in by the seductions of her first boss at the age of twenty (Thompsett). These naïve passions may have been what drove her to stay with Ford long enough to bear him several more children, despite his refusal to marry below his social status (Skinner 183). Watching from the audience, Austen might have visualized her own Mrs. Bennett, a mother whose outlandish behavior could have been blamed on the pressures of raising several children on the income of a middle-class working farm. No wonder she wanted to rush her daughters into marriage – she would have had one less daughter to house and feed.
Yet, while the threat of poverty remained as a pressure for Mrs. Jordan, she could never quite resort to Mrs. Bennett’s manipulative tendencies. She wished for the dignity of a marriage proposal from the Duke, yet stayed faithful to him despite his refusals. The respectability of this devotion may have struck the young Austen as the inspiration of a true heroine. An Elizabeth Bennett could possibly be the result of such a production – one whose value of integrity was greater than the draw of wealth and the lure of a high social status. After Ford finally succumbed to his family’s pressure to dismiss Jordan (Denlinger 84), she continued to put her children first by returning to the stage despite her promise to the Duke to permanently give up acting – she needed the money to save a daughter from financial ruin (Jerrold 376). She died in poverty after the Duke discovered her secret and removed his financial support (Jerrold 377-379). Her life would remain in the hearts of fans that either loathed or adored her for the many different stages of her life and career, and in the imagination of a female novelist who saw a piece of her characters in every one.

Works Cited:

Denlinger, Elizabeth Campbell. Before Victoria: Extraordinary Women of the British Romantic Era. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. Print.

Jerrold, Clare Armstrong Bridgman. The Story of Dorothy Jordan. New York: Brentano’s, 1914. Print.

Skinner, Otis. Mad Folk of the Theatre. Indianapolis: Bobs Merrill Co., 1928. Print.

Thompsett, Brian. Directory of Royal Genealogical Data. Hull: University of Hull, 1994- 2005.

Web. 20 May 2010. < http://www3.dcs.hull.ac.uk/cgi- bin/gedlkup/n=royal?royal5912>

Copy-Editor Job Posting

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Copy Editor for Publications and Bible Study Magazine (Western WA)

Date: 2011-04-18, 1:31PM PDT
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Copy Editor for Publications and Bible Study Magazine
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****** Bible Software is seeking a Copy Editor to join our publications department.

Ideal candidate
- Loves grammar
- Is succinct
- Has stopped reading poorly edited books
- Is professional when correcting someone else’s writing
- Is a walking thesaurus
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- Finds writing style guides amusing
- Has trouble putting Merriam-Webster’s Usage Dictionary down
- Reads the Associated Press Stylebook for entertainment
- Knows what’s new in the 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style
- Is familiar with the Bible

Job Duties
- Serving as second proofer on **** Bible Software publications
- Serving as third proofer on Bible Study Magazine
- Copy editing for grammar, usage and style
- Re-writing submitted work
- Writing marketing copy and headlines

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Please submit a résumé, cover letter, and two 500-word-or-less writing samples to jobs@***.com. (In cover letter, note what optional grammatical element is in the previous sentence. What style guide requires it and which doesn’t?) You can also fax materials to (xxx)xxx -xxxx, or mail them to:


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