Bluebird Rising

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

After Everything Is Gone August 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 1:42 pm

Here’s what I think about love.

I think the single biggest question we spend our lives trying to answer in some form is “why don’t you love me yet?” We’ll ask most people only once; we’ll ask a considerably smaller number again and again as if we simply can’t believe that they already do.

I think that’s because while love exists in many forms, very few people will love you in a way that you understand.

And maybe there is no such thing as love, in the traditional sense of the word. Maybe love is just an infinite continuum of how scared you are to lose someone.

But don’t tell other people this. You’ll learn the hard way that words have edges, sharp enough to slice your tongue. And you’ll spend your time wondering what exactly you have left after everything is gone.


The Understudy July 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 2:24 am

Currently, my favorite part of the day is heading to a job I don’t particularly like.

Five days a week, about a quarter past 2100, I head west into Minneapolis taking the slowest possible route, because in July that’s the time when the sun has just set and the sky is all shades of bruised and the buildings look like cardboard cutouts, haphazard high school stage props in place of decades old brick and mortar.

I have never been in a play.

I have an immense amount of stage fright. I certainly can’t sing. Mostly, I don’t think I could convince an audience of a character, even one relentlessly studied and rehearsed, when so often I don’t even feel like myself.

Which is odd, I think. Because often the things that feel the most real are things that we’ve invented.


I’m Sorry May 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 8:49 am

To the person on the Smith Avenue bridge yesterday afternoon,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for being annoyed that the bridge I needed to cross to get to my car to the dealership was closed. I’m sorry that I was annoyed an entire bridge was blocked off for what seemed like only a minor accident because none of the cars blocking the bridge seemed that damaged. Or damaged at all, as I got closer. I’m sorry because as I was forced to take a last minute right turn where I needed to go straight was when I saw you hanging over the wrong side of the bridge.

I saw your blonde hair. I’m pretty sure it was blonde, anyway. It was sunny. There was a traffic pile up and accumulating gawkers crossing the street to pay attention to. Add in a double take of “oh my god, is that a person?!? OH MY GOD THAT *IS* A PERSON” and the immediate sense of gut wrenching sadness and sickness that floods into you. Suddenly, detailed driving becomes extremely difficult.

I’m sorry that you ended up on a beautiful bridge on a beautiful spring day with the beautiful skyline of a beautiful city beside you and you couldn’t feel any of it. I’m sorry that you were alone. I’m sorry that you didn’t feel like you could ask for help, or that when you did you didn’t get what you needed.

I can’t tell you I know what it feels like. I thought I knew sadness, and I thought I knew loneliness, but never to depths that deep. I can’t imagine that pain. I can’t tell you it’s going to be okay. Without knowing your circumstances, they just seem like empty words. But I hope you find someone you trust who can. I can’t tell you it will get better, as much as I have to believe it will, for my own sake as much as yours.

I can tell you that you have been on my mind ever since. I can tell you that I went back to the bridge about 90 minutes later and it was business as usual rather than blocked off by tape and rescue swimmers, so I took that to mean you were safe for the time being. I can tell you that I didn’t sleep much last night, and when I did you were there, too. I can tell you that you’ve got people who saw you yesterday, people who you will never meet, hoping you find peace. Hoping that even if that’s all the good you have in your world right now, it’s enough until you find more.


Hello Again April 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 8:39 am

Since we’ve last met I’ve died a thousand little deaths, breathed in a thousand little new lives, and pondered a thousand little aspects of the same basic questions.

Is this really all there is?

Am I doing all I can?

Are the answers still considered a lie if the only person you tell them to is yourself?


On Being Brave August 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 4:54 am


This is by far the hardest post I have written in a really long time. I’ve actually sat down and begun writing it about fifteen separate times, only to delete it the next day because of one reason or another. I held this story in, in the palm of my hand, in the corners of my heart,  hoping that by waiting I would reach a place where I had a lesson to share, or a satisfying “AHA!” moment, or at least a funny story. But I have finally realized that is not the type of post this is supposed to be. Rather, it’s one full of frustration, of shame, of an open wound. But I’m trying to be brave.

I’m sharing it  because I can’t not any longer. Because the clock is ticking. Because I’m really on edge lately, and people who don’t know are wondering why. And those that do want to know how to help and I have no answers for them either. Probably because this still seems like it shouldn’t be real. Probably because it’s finally hitting me that it is, and I can’t sit and stare at the boxes I have been collecting anymore. I have to start packing up, the dishes, the linens, my pride.

I have turned in my notice with my landlord. My lease runs out at the end of the month, and I’m moving home. And I feel awful about it. Awful that I am back in my parents house, in their personal space, with my weird schedule and crazy cat that I’m really praying does not eat their blinds. Awful that while everyone else seems to be doing well and hitting all the adult milestones, I seem to have somehow lost my footing. Awful about all the choices I’ve made, even though I thought they were the right ones. Awful about nearly every aspect of this situation.

But in an odd way, I have begun to see this reversion to living at home as maybe the most adult decision I have made in a really long time. See, I’m not good at asking for help, to put it…mildly. In fact, I’m downright awful at that too. And so that is a big step for me, not only considering moving home, but actually talking through with my parents and then actually DOING it. I’m realizing it’s probably something I should have done years ago, but back then my pride was even bigger and my mind even more stubborn. And so, in that aspect, I’m progressing. It’s a lesson that I’ve been challenged to learn for years, and now it’s finally time to dive in, headfirst.

And it’s not an all negative endeavor. I know that. It by far mostly isn’t, I promise. That’s just where my head is now, and I’m swimming like hell to get out of that tidal wave. But I am so blessed that I have parents that agreed to let me come home before I had even finished asking the question.  I adore my parents, and I’m excited to spend more time with them as adults. They make me laugh until I cry, and I know for a fact that I love them more than I did as a kid. Or at least in a very different way. There’s not just love for love’s sake I feel anymore, but an appreciation: of them, and of everything they have and continue to do for me, that I will never be able to put into words.

(Also, really excited their laundry machines are not $1.75 a load.)

I’m looking forward to jump starting a new budget, which means I can leave my job at some point in the near future, rather than be trapped indefinitely, and find a job that is more fulfilling, even if I don’t know exactly what that it yet. Maybe I’ll use my Hamline degree. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be a barista again. Maybe I won’t. But I’ll have options. And any options are more options than I’ve had in the last 8 years, and that possibility sounds so amazing.

And so I’m not sure exactly what the future holds, and that in itself makes me panic, because I’ve always had a plan. Then again, this plan never included moving back home after I left at 18, and yet, here we are. And so, before my bravery ducks back into the shadows, and I delete this post too,





On Goodbye June 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 2:35 am

If I think about all the people I’ve ever said goodbye to in my life, I count two.

And I’m not talking about goodbyes like, “see you later” or “until next time.” I also am not talking about the goodbye of death, because that’s an entirely different beast to slay on a day that is not today. I’m talking about genuinely saying goodbye to someone you know you will never see again, using “goodbye” as a succinct cop-out way of saying, “thank you for coming into my life” and “I know you need to go but it still makes me sad” and “I wish you only the best.”

One of my goodbyes was a girl in college. We had two years of criminology classes together (even at a school as ridiculously large as the U, those who excitedly debate over compounding recidivism rates and the probability of everyone being capable of murder sort of keep a tight-knit circle.) She had long wavy hair I was jealous of and walked around the West Bank with an oar because she didn’t have time to head back home between class and rowing practice. She couldn’t understand our Russian stats teacher anymore than I, and so we would play a Mad Libs sort of game to keep ourselves awake. (This actually worked out so hilariously we both registered to take Social Theory with the same professor that spring despite the inevitable ding in our GPA.)

After junior year, she was off to wander Europe for the summer, an idea I was entranced with because I typically like to know here the nearest bathroom is. We exchanged contact info, but something about it just held an air of finality for me. Maybe her too, as it turned out. That fall, I never saw her on campus, although I knew that she was there. We never ended up in another class together, and we never contacted each other to catch up. It was one of the things I adored about her, her spontaneity, her go with the flow attitude-it was everything that I wanted to be more like-that made contacting her just seem wrong. And so I never did.  

The other was after college; a friend from college I had lost track of senior year in the labyrinth of East Bank housing options. There had always been a definite mutual attraction, and perhaps even a high possibility of dating, if we had ever been single at the same time. Anyways, he emailed, we reconnected, and decided to do dinner. As friends. Because, well, you know. And I don’t know why it hit us that time out of any other that we didn’t really make good friends without the dating aspect. We got along fine, but it felt….like work. Maybe we were both tired of waiting, or hanging in the balance, or maybe we’d realized that if it didn’t happen in four years of living in conveniently close proximity, it never would. Maybe we liked the idea of each other more than the actual thing. Regardless, it was definitely nice to say goodbye to someone under the same terms. A long, final hug in the parking lot, kisses on the cheek. A solid goodbye on both of our parts. Then I went north, and he went south.

Two times.

And yet, we never learn, do we?

I overslept recently, on a day that I had a date with an important goodbye. I jumped out of bed, sped through a shower, and raced over to this church I have started haphazardly attending to say goodbye to Jim, a ministerial intern that was giving his last sermon of his internship.

Jim was the first person that I met when I wandered into this church last fall; I barely got three feet into the door before he saw the lost look in my face and introduced himself with a warm handshake and a huge smile. Jim’s sermons were all hilarious, honest and serious in the most intriguing way. When I asked Jim a question he didn’t have an answer to, he said so. Jim welcomed me into his World Religions class, where for 8 weeks myself and about 40 other wanderers tried everyone else’s beliefs on for size.

So maybe in this last year, Jim didn’t teach me exactly what Universal Unitarianism is, but he did teach me what it wasn’t. He made me want to come back every week and learn more, and maybe that’s more important than anything else.

Except when I raced over to the church, the on-street parking was uncharacteristically ample. The doors, usually propped open in any weather warmer than 40 degrees, were closed. Closed, and as it turned out, locked. Jim’s last sermon was given the same Sunday that summer hours started, and so I-showing up for 4:30 p.m. service-was about 6 hours too late. Jim had already long gone and I, suddenly feeling an immense amount of sadness, realized for the first time just how much this goodbye had meant to me.

And I’m wondering why we do that. When most of can count on one hand the number of people we have actually said goodbye to, why do we feel incomplete when it doesn’t happen that way? Logic would tell us to never expect it, and yet we often adamantly refuse logic whenever our hearts our involved. There’s always more time, or there’s always next time. Why do we fear goodbye more than we fear leaving things left unsaid? In theory, there’s a certain grace to weaving in and out of people’s lives, but in practice it leaves us uncomfortable and unsettled.

See, without goodbyes, we leave our friendships in a precarious place. We’re often left with these weird “what exactly is this?” discrepancies, these odd things that aren’t really deep friendships anymore, but have become more of a casual acquaintance based on history. And then suddenly all that surrounds you is a loosely wound web composed mostly of strangers with stories in common.

I’m realizing I’d rather have the goodbye.


After All May 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 3:05 pm

I wander the halls of the Minnesota History Center far more frequently that you’d believe, and for more hours at a time that you’d think possible. I attend historical events; book readings (Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip!) classes (at the Turf Club! With beer!), and seasonal gatherings (Victorian Halloween ghost stories @ the Alexander Ramsey house!). Dex, because he is just the best, even humored me last fall and spent a long afternoon on a coach bus chartered around town by the St. Paul Gangster Tour.  I will stop and read any historical marker within three miles of my car, am always on the look out for interesting historical non-fiction (recommendations, please), and have Netflixed pretty much every mini-series ever produced by the History Channel. I know random event dates of historical note, am memorizing the presidents in succession just to see if I can, and rattle of the most obscure of facts from time to time.

I think you get the point. I totally nerd out over this stuff. But, mostly, I’m interested in the stories; what the human experience was like for the people who lived day-to-day through these periods of what we later deemed historically significant. Like, did they know? Did they know that they were in the middle of something big? Did they know that candid newspaper photo would be in my textbooks? Did they wish that they had paid more attention? Or did they pray that one day they would be able to forget?

I wonder if and what my grandparents remember of the Depression. I regret never asking them, now that they are all gone.

I do know that they remembered WWII, but I regret never listening as closely as I should have, because I think about these stories now, and I have forever unanswered questions. I know that my dad remembers the day Kennedy was shot, and I have a few coworkers who have given me a glimmer of what Vietnam was like. I learned that it seemed each generation before me had some sort of seriously defining characteristic that played a role in shaping the society I exist in every day. Maybe I’ve always wondered what ours would be. Maybe I’ve always felt there is a little bit of “missing out,” in not understanding why my generation is seemingly fine just existing in this world as is, when we often have the ability to create a beautiful new one. Maybe it was my parents, who gracefully taught me that there is your world, and then there is the world, and you are expected to be present and a participant in both. Maybe when we are drawn to events of the past, we are just mostly internalizing what we do not want our future to be.

History has already seen so much that our ancestors were a part of; colonization, territorial conflicts, World Wars, women’s suffrage, civil rights, Roe v. Wade, the technological boom. Growing up in this generation, maybe it wasn’t that we were actively choosing to sit out, as much as it was the assumption that it seemed so much of the world was already drawn and quartered. Sure, there are constant new developments, but don’t all current events now seem more a matter of maintainance than reinventing the wheel?

I have always a bit jealous of that.

Coincidently, this was what arrived in my mailbox last week.


“Lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” At first, it sort of stung, because I don’t know about you, and I keep it mostly behind the scenes, but I’m busting my ass over here. Is this how others see us? And are we comfortable with that? Or, is this how we picture ourselves? And, if that’s true, then as narcissists, why the hell does that hurt so much?

Now, what we know about Millennials from this article is that there are 80 million of them, which is the largest age group in American history. They are scoring 58% higher on scales of narcissism in 2009 than in 1982. 30% live with their parents. They have notorious levels of job dissatisfaction. They are more of a “think before you do” generation than a “just do it” generation. They have had their country in some state of war nearly all (or all, for most) of their entire lives. They watched 9/11 on tv and personally knew the soldiers that were sent to fight; they were their classmates and friends. Marriage ends happily less than 50% of the time. Scientific advances mean they are faced with the opportunity to have children into their 40’s-if ever at all. They believe in God, but 30% of them (the largest percentage ever) are unaffiliated with any particular religion. They are continuing to educate themselves despite the massive and ever-increasing amount of money is takes to do that, although they have less household and credit-card debt than any previous generation.

It is because of all this that they are, understandably, often reserved, cautious, even wary.

And yet, they are optimistic. AMAZINGLY optimistic. Specifically, 89% stated “I am confident that eventually, I will get what I want out of life.”  They are more accepting of people than ever before, and in general, maintain a very positive outlook on life. That will be what saves us. And I saw it last week.

And by last week I am referring to when I spent the entire afternoon and evening on Tuesday in St. Paul, at the Capitol, encompassing myself in a gigantically sweaty human mass of purely happy, thankful and tearful chaos that was the bill signing that finally brought gay marriage to Minnesota. And this post isn’t about gay marriage as much as it is about watching something that had never been done before in the history of this state that I love so much. (And really, how much of ANYTHING has NEVER been done anymore?) It was about seeing history made, and being able to say, 50 years from now, “Yes. I was there. I saw the bill signed. I cheered with all my heart and breathed a sigh of relief. I danced along side the marching band parade that took over the streets and elatedly spilled into downtown. I watched people hug strangers with all their strength, and wave flags with more faith than I’ve ever seen. I saw true happiness. I cried when the Gay Men’s Chorus sang “Marry Us” at dusk because I knew at that moment, without a doubt, that it was one of the most beautiful things I would ever hear. (It’s right here if you’ve never had the pleasure). And I walked home sweaty, exhausted, and elated, feeling more on top of the world and hopeful about people than I have in months. Maybe years.”

And yet, it simultaneously felt like a blur. Is this right? Is this how it felt for everyone who celebrated achievements those generations before us? I’m guessing so, but we’ll never know. All I know for certain is that a few times that day, I found myself stopping, breathing, taking it all in and thinking: yesterday, history was what happened 50 years ago. Today, history is what is happening right now.

And so maybe this is what my generation will accomplish, changing the face of marriage across the nation. Maybe this is our civil rights story. And I am so proud of that. Because long after everything seemed settled, and everyone carried out as business as usual, we stood up and said “Hey, wait a minute. What about them?”

And maybe it’s taking us longer than previous generations to find our footing, and maybe you’ve almost given up on us too. But don’t. Please. Just because we’re doing it differently doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong. Just because it’s taking us longer doesn’t mean we don’t care. Maybe we care so deeply that we want to make sure we get it right. Maybe we are so invested that we sometimes just don’t know where to start. Maybe we see that the lives we are currently living are exacerbating the suffering of others, and undoing that is going to take even longer than it did to put this type of world in place.

But we want the challenge. We’re optimistic about it. Let us try.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have stories to tell after all.


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