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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Category: People

Day 815: Like Taking Candy

So, I was clearing out some blog drafts and I came upon this one from August 28, which was about two months after I started dating Joe.

A few things have changed since then. I’m 32 now. I have bangs. Joe and I have met each other’s families and made each other meals and agreed that we want to share the same balcony from the same apartment. But for the most part, this draft still holds true.

I’m publishing it today as an ode to a balanced, imperfect relationship. One that I want to keep.

Warning: it’s a little gushy and it’s totally something I would have hated (secretly loved?) reading when I was single.

File this one under the category, “Things people say to you and you roll your eyes, but then later you realize they were right.”

At 31, I’ve had a good number of dating experiences. I’ve had a long-term, loving relationship that just didn’t work out, and a series of shorter-term relationships that have ranged from from fun to serious, to confusing to honestly-I-can’t-believe-you-thought-I’d-like-that-movie.

But the key marker in my adventures is that they’ve all been complicated in their own ways. However compelling, there’s been a problem to be solved.

My friends and family have been relentlessly supportive of whatever and whomever I chose, but often with the gentle sighing caveat, “You know, I really think it should be easier.”

It should be easier.

That’s a particularly easy statement to ignore, because it can be intellectually overridden with facts about why it’s hard now but will get easier later, or snorts that maybe not everyone gets to glide down easy street in the beginning of a relationship. It just sounded too simple, and I truthfully figured that “easiness” just wasn’t in my nature. I enjoy complicated tasks – things that need to be untangled and wrangled and sorted out.

But that was before I met Joe.

I’m telling you, there’s something to this easy thing. We like each other, we tell each other we like each other and we have easy conversations about complicated topics.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. His cheap, black socks leave little fuzzies all over my apartment, and I swear they look like dirty spiders and it drives me freaking crazy. And my work life often bleeds into my after-work life, and I know I have a hard time disengaging when I’m focused on a project.

But. It’s easy. We like each other. He’ll buy new socks and I’ll turn off email notifications. He’ll teach me how to love cycling and I’ll teach him how to think performance art is beautiful (some of it, at least).

I’m not writing this to say that something’s wrong if your relationship looks or sounds different. If it doesn’t seem easy, it’s still okay. You’re the only one who knows what’s right for you.

But from one logical justifier to another, it’s been SO worth trying for easy.

Also, we met on Tinder.

Zeus Jones Holiday Party

The only photo of us from my work holiday party.
Captured by Colleen at 2nd Truth Photography.

Day 632: About Not Being Scared

I started writing this piece before I learned of Robin Williams’ death.

And in full disclosure, I don’t suffer from depression the way many of my friends, families and peers do. I’m honored to have heard some of their stories over the past few days, and to have been privy to the depth at which depression is managed with grace, grit and sometimes deep, deep loneliness.

Cheers to the depressed. May you press on and keep sharing.

_____

Original post:

The other day, I had a moment. I woke up, took a shower, lay down on the floor, and stared up at the ceiling while tears sort of unceremoniously streamed out of my eyes, down my temples and into my ears. I felt exhausted. And hyper-aware that my wet hair was soaking the carpet.

In that moment, I felt anxious and incompetent. Logically, I knew I didn’t have anything to feel sad about – and I knew I could snap out of it if I really, really wanted to. But I didn’t want to. I felt compelled to stay there, stretched out, feeling anxious and incompetent, wondering how much longer I could delay the rest of my day. It was comforting in an incredibly uncomfortable sort of way.

I think sometimes life is just kind of scary.

And sometimes we should feel comfortable talking about how life is just kind of scary.

There’s a reason we thrive in communities – it takes all kinds of different relationships (dare I say a “village” of them) to support an individual’s emotional well-being. We need champions, advocates, reality-checks, comic relief, passion, warmth and challenges – and in the best communities, what an individual takes in in balance with what they provide.

But we (perhaps women, in particular) still struggle with this concept. We think we should be able to do it all and have it all and work it all out ourselves. We have to give more than we take. And we can’t talk about our sad or scary moments, because they make us seem weak and fragile, instead of normal human beings with deep emotions and strengths.

I’d like to be part of the movement that says it’s okay to talk about these things. That it’s okay to not have it all together, and it’s okay to ask for help. Asking and seeking is not weak – it’s productive and smart. It says you’re willing to grow and be challenged. And isn’t that a brave, beautiful thing?

Day 555: I Saw a Beautiful Thing Today

If you live in a city like mine, you’ve seen the women and men who stand on intersection medians and ask for help during red lights. Their cardboard signs identify themselves as Veterans, mothers, fathers, widows, unemployed workers, addicts, alcoholics, etc. They share the same titles as many of their car-driving, stoplight-waiting counterparts; just different circumstances.

Lately, there have been a number of times where I’ve been the first car in a line of cars right up against the median, sitting less than two feet away from a person reaching out for help. Last week, I had groceries in the car, so I passed along a bag of grapes. Today, I sucked on the straw of my soy chai and just sat there.

My stoplight today was a particularly long one, so I had plenty of time to wrestle with my ethics. I had about $10 in cash in my purse, but dollars didn’t seem like the right kind of help. I thought about making eye contact and offering a welcoming and/or I-see-you-and-I-wish-you-well smile, but I also worried about coming across as condescending. The more I went back and forth, the worse I felt. Then I felt bad for feeling bad, because how gross is that? I’ve been incredibly lucky, and who’s to say that he and I wouldn’t have swapped lives with different support systems?

As I slunk and drank and sat, I noticed a teenage hipster-ish girl across the intersection, standing in a sort of weird and dangerous spot in the road. She seemed to be trying to cross to the median, which was angled, and between two converging/diverging roads that run along the lake (in other words, not particularly pedestrian friendly). I wrote her off as trying to take a shortcut to the water and watched carefully as she tried to pick a good time to cross.

Eventually, she zipped through a long line of cars, crossed in front of me, and stepped up onto the median. She had a plastic bag with her, and I glued my eyes on her sideways as she greeted the median man, offered him her hand as an introduction, and asked him how he was doing. They introduced themselves to each other and exchanged pleasantries, and she started pulling goodies out of the bag – a giant bottle of water, peanuts, granola bars, a Tom Clancy book. She had scoured the gas station across the street on his behalf.

And then (this is my favorite part), she stayed there. He guzzled the water, the light changed and I pulled away, and I watched in the rearview mirror as the two of them sat down on the median and unloaded the rest of her plastic picnic basket, both of them smiling. She seemed interested in him as a person – not as a concept, not a representation of homelessness, not an uncomfortable part of an otherwise privileged daily experience. And because I think the full picture is important here, I’ll also point out that their skin tones didn’t identify their privilege one way or another. His was white and hers brown. Both wearing ripped t-shirts and jean shorts – his torn by wear, and hers by a manufacturer.

She’s my hero today. I don’t know her and I’ll probably never see her again, but she – likely half my age – exhibited the kind of understanding of human connectivity that every person (and especially every leader) should exemplify.

So. Here’s to the girl with the plastic bag, here’s to the guy reading the espionage book in the intersection median, and here’s to remembering we’re all part of the same thread.

 

Day 340: Post-Halloween Brain Bust

It’s the day after Halloween. You probably spent last night gorging on candy, peeling sticky wrappers off of your adorably dressed kids, or – if you’re like me – you worked late, came home, put on sweatpants and watched Contact.

Either way, you’re in recovery mode. So what better way to get the ol’ mind moving again than by blowing it?

Aware of my nearly obsessive admiration of Neil deGrasse Tyson (who recently tweeted, “I love the smell of the universe in the morning.”) and longtime dream to meet Carl Sagan in some kind of heaven-like afterlife, one of my coworkers recently sent me this Radiolab Podcast (thanks, Brad).

In it, theoretical physicist Brian Greene uses statistics to make the case that there’s likely another you out there, doing the same thing you’re doing now. Not only that, there are an infinite number of other yous, doing the same thing or only slightly different things than you’re doing now. Or, doing the same thing or only slightly different things, with slightly different thoughts than you have now.

If everything that exists and can exist does exist, the odds simply point to the fact that there are more yous (I just paraphrased an enormous concept… don’t take my word for it – just listen to the Podcast).

The later part of this interview moves beyond the real universe (or universes) and posits that it’s more likely we actually live in a simulated universe as opposed to a real, natural one. Like, a universe manufactured by something or someone with a good grasp of technology.

Hoooh!

For me, the most interesting part of these concepts isn’t that they might be true, it’s that we can imagine them to be true. We’re equipped with this amazing capacity to be curious and eager and hungry to understand. We can conceptualize realities that are in direct conflict with our actual concepts of reality. It’s oxymoronic in the best way.

“To me, the most wonderous thing about science – and physics in particular – is the fact that through the power of thought and calculation and observation, you can be led to conclusions vastly at odds with what you would think based upon experience. I don’t think there’s anything more wonderous than that moment when you think the world is one way and your equations, your math, your ideas, your theories begin to convince you that is it another way.” – Brian Greene

Check it out. It’s 50 minutes long, but you’ve got time.

comaImage of the Coma cluster of galaxies from Nasa.gov

Day 267: The Thing About Art

The thing about art is that everyone should make it.

If you’ve been to a museum, gallery, sculpture garden, dance performance, theater show, opera, etc., you’ve witnessed art that someone else has created. And maybe you thought it was beautiful, inspiring and insightful. Or maybe you thought it was weird, more weird and just totally weird. If the later is closer to your experience, you probably went home afterwards promising yourself that you’ll only attend another artsy thing if someone you deeply, deeply care about is involved. Or if Google and your TV both break at the same time.

The thing about the second scenario is that it’s awfully common. And it’s a crying shame. Witnessing something someone else has created is like getting to peek inside another human being’s brain while they’re dreaming. And if the dreamer has taken the time to be trained as an artist, it can be an extra-moving experience.

Because maybe their dreams are filled with bright colors, winding stories and fantastical creatures you never thought to imagine. Or maybe they contain complex scientific concepts and questions, and experiments that make the questions visibly grow and shrink. Or perhaps the dreamer’s mind is a dark, disorganized and messy tumbling whirlpool, and they’re using art to pull everything apart and examine the pieces.

Either way, it’s a privilege to witness art, even when it’s ugly.

But making art is more than a privilege. It’s a necessity. It’s a complicated and vulnerable process that gives a person equal parts frustration and joy. Creating art lets us organize, categorize, identify, explode, imagine, be selfish, ask questions, make answers, connect to God, refute God, reach to each other and find common ground.

We’re all born artists, but some of us grow up to be self-conscious adults. But for the entirety of our lives, creativity is an outlet we can access just by turning inward. And it doesn’t require anything other than a brain and a body. (And some other stuff, if you want to get complicated.)

So that’s the thing about art. Happy making.

Gerhard-Richter_4One of Gerhard Richter’s Übermalte Fotografien (painted photographs).