When Blink 182’s hit came out I was ten years old and more attuned to the raciness of “she started taking off her pants” than I was to the warning of what was to come 13 years later. Retrospectively, I want to give Mark, Tom and Travis credit for nailing the fact that my 23rd year would be full of obstacles. A few months after that ominous 23rdbirthday, I moved to a new city, excited by the many personal and professional changes I’d been eagerly awaiting… and quickly became a walking example of Murphy’s law. Without boring my huge readership (Hi Mom!) with the details, I was gravely disappointed as I watched the romantic comedy I’d envisioned turn into an angst-filled Degrassi episode, sans cool accents.
Then I realized something: unlike the Degrassi episodes I had so enjoyed as a middle schooler (okay, and the occasional re-run in my twenties), I wasn’t the observer in this soap opera. I was the screenwriter and apparently I hadn’t crafted a very good play. While the circumstances in my life were daunting to change, they were changeable. So, I changed them…one by one. The first big change was the scariest, but culminated in relief and empowerment. As I continued address the obstacles before me, waiting for life to fall back into place, it didn’t. One thing would improve and the next would fall apart before my eyes. It became comical. I began to laugh at myself because I got tired of moping.
At some point something shifted. The life I’d wanted began to unfold, and I knew it wasn’t luck; it was because I’d written a better screenplay this time. But, like every good show, the actors were the biggest factor in its success. I have never taken the people in my life for granted but this year, I have become more grateful for them than ever. It’s hard to choose the unknown over the status quo, no matter how crappy the status quo is. But when you have people around you who believe you can do anything, you start to believe it yourself. If you think this sounds corny, I agree with you. But my gratitude for the many amazing individuals in my life dwarfs my concern about appearing sappy.
As a disclaimer, life still isn’t perfect. This morning I had a large bug fly into my nostril as I was jogging. I tried to breathe out of that nostril while holding the other one shut in order to propel the nostril invader right back out. I looked incredibly stupid and yes, there were people watching me and looking confused. I never saw the bug leave my nostril. I am disturbed by the precarious implications of this.
I realize as I sit trying to write something funny that trying to be funny in writing is exactly like trying to be funny in real life: the trying part is where you go south.
So instead of trying to write something with a shred of meaning(which, hopefully, I usually do) I’m going with the stream of consciousness thing.
1) Am I too old to wear the Victoria’s Secret PINK brand?
1a) Why do guys still ask why things that say PINK are not the color PINK? Haven’t they all already had the whole “it’s an awareness campaign that is actually a ploy to make you spend 60 dollars on a sweatshirt so you can rest easy that approximately 2 of those dollars go to a good cause?” conversation?
1b) WHO is Victoria? I know people say she’s a man! I kind of believe it because thongs with metal attachments are just not something a woman would tell another woman to wear. If it is a man, he probably has long passed down the business to his son or grandson now…I hope they consider the effect of metal on bare skin better than grandpa did.
2) Why can’t I stop eating kettle corn?
2a) Why did I BUY 2 boxes of kettle corn?
3) Why is “Gilt” not called “Guilt”? I think the point of the website is to appeal to the elite demographic (not I) so I guess the fact that even their name is over my fashion backward head is not surprising.
4) I had a visceral memory of my Indian Princess trip to Catalina just now…the smell of the campfire and the slight hint of brandy because little did I know, the YMCA events were actually a booze fest for parents. The Tim Allen movie “Man of the House,” i.e. the only prominent film depicting the YMCA Indian Guides program (the male counterpart to Indian princesses) does not mention this debauchery.
5) In middle school, this girl told me I had a secret admirer and she kept giving me notes from the guy who “liked me.” I would write him back and daydream about him when “What’s Luv” by Ja Rule played on my Napster account(before Lars from Metallica shut them down). I just realized that she was almost certainly making the guy up…I vaguely recall asking to meet him and finding out he got expelled. I guess if he was real he was a bad influence anyways.
6) I just looked up Metallica v Napster case online and read through all the details. In doing so, I discovered the Sony Corp of America v Universal City Studios Inc case, which I also read through. I think I’m interested in multimedia law.
7) If I gave a TED talk, what would it be on?
8) My foot is asleep.
8a) Still asleep.
8b) Does my circulation just suck?
8c) ….ah. better.
9) Will I ever wear the big heels I just bought as an assertion that I am confident and un-clumsy enough to finally wear big heels?
9a) I am confident in many things, including the fact that I am extremely clumsy…and that I will probably trip in the heels.
10) I read that the reason rat poison works is because rats can’t vomit. They apparently lack the esophageal muscle strength and neurological complexity necessary…
11) I miss the book series “Replica” about heroine, Amy, a normal 7th grade girl who finds out she is one of a group of clones. Some are evil, but hard to tell which ones due to them all looking exactly the same.Amy has this really nice boyfriend who is not a clone but then meets a hot guy who is a MALE clone and there is sexual tension. I don’t remember which one she chooses. But she was only 12 so in retrospect I am impressed she even had the choice between 2 guys who, according to the cover art, were quite handsome.
12) Pogs. What was up with those?
After finishing grad school in Washington, DC, I have just relocated to San Francisco. The past month and a half have been quite a learning experience…I will now share some new kernels of wisdom:
1) Scaling hills to get everywhere is a powerful incentive to avoid any and all unwanted tasks. If you ever want to get out of grocery shopping and opt for the microwaveable pizza calling your name, cancel a coffee date with an acquaintance you are only lukewarm about or avoid replenishing the hand soap in the bathroom in favor of just using the dish soap in the kitchen…move to a place on Telegraph Hill.
2) The ratio of strip clubs to grocery stores in my neighborhood is 20:0. So while I have to trek up and down afore complained about hills to get apples and bread, I need not venture more than a block to have Centerfold, Deja-vu and other equally classy venues at my fingertips.
3) It isn’t that cold here. People told me to brace myself. It wouldn’t be like sunny Southern California, there are real seasons here. The lack of sunshine in many neighborhoods was something I should take into account when choosing an apartment. Seasonal Affect Disorder might be all too SAD to cope with. But it’s just not that chilly. Thank you, East Coast, for teaching me that if I can feel my fingers and toes, it is a good day.
4) If I run really fast instead of walk past the strip clubs on my early morning trek to the gym, I can appear to be warming up while also giving the creepy drugged men who congregate in front of Crowbar less time to mug me.I bring coffee with me because, in addition to the morning jolt, I figure throwing hot liquid on someone is an effective means of self-defense. I never drink any of my coffee until I pass Crowbar, to ensure the availability of all 12 oz of java. Depending on how much the early morning strip club lurkers like a good ole’ hazelnut brew with almond milk, the coffee could also be a peace offering. This early in my career, the cup coffee is more valuable than the contents of my wallet(if you include container manufacturing costs).
5)I can cook without giving myself food poisoning or starting a fire. I can’t do it with more than 5 ingredients (pepper counts as an ingredient, so does shaken-on Parmesan cheese). But I can make a reasonably palatable meal that does not come out of a box or carton. Those of you who know my ways understand the significance of this step.
6) While my cooking is apparently not casual to fires, a Cost Plus World Market carpet can be. The colorful woven rugs that bring about “my room is going to be so cute!” excitement can also spontaneously combust if sunlight is reflected onto them via a small makeup mirror. My roommates and I,along with the San Francisco Fire Department, learned this lesson the hard way.
More tales of Fog City to come.
Transition, according to Webster’s, refers to a change from one state to another. What is it called when you are changing a million things at once? Transillion…that’s what I’m doing soon. I’m making the transillion from grad school in DC to a full time job in California. Leaving my DC job, friends, the red line metro delays, the health sciences library, Sign of the Whale happy hours and the lack of Mexican food (admittedly a total win, I miss Baja Buds). It’s weird when something you absolutely know is going to happen shocks you. But that’s exactly what happened to me this week. I bought my one-way ticket back to the west coast, filed for graduated…and flabbergast set in.
My mind went Jersey Shore amounts of crazy. And what’s odd is that the whole getting a job/apartment/new friends thing doesn’t worry me. What I think about is all the random stuff. Like whether or not my Target sheets are worth shipping back (Pro: I milk that $40 I spent on them. Con: They are about as soft as a cactus and are uneven at the bottom, so I end up with one toe sort of uncovered unless I tuck with extreme care). I think about how I will get places. No need to write about my driving, writing about it alone might induce the white knuckled fear my passengers speak of. But let’s just say that if I live in a hilly neighborhood that requires parallel parking I may be screwed.
When people ask if I’m worried about getting a job, I say no. I’m not…but the process of making myself an attractive applicant is a different story. Business saavy people tweet, right? So I decided to follow a bunch of companies on Twitter as to slowly immerse myself in what they are up to. Then I noticed that some of them are following ME. Eek….now I have to tweet for them. Do I have to stop following Cosmopolitan? Does that look trashy? If I abort all non-public health followings, I’ll be boring and hobbyless.
Also: meeting people for information interviews at Starbucks. It feels like a blind date. I always get there early and get a table…then I wonder: do I text them saying I’m there? Or email, because texting seems too informal. And the WORST…do I have to identify myself so we don’t have that awkward moment where we have to wander the coffee shop trying to find someone else awkwardly wandering too? (I took this course of action once and the wandering person I decided was my interviewer was actually a guy seeking out his online date. From the looks of it, when the correct woman showed up, they seemed to hit it off and I’d guess at least a second date was initiated. My interviewer was late so at least I got to access the potential love lives of strangers). The solution I have deemed minimally intrusive and maximally appropriate: I send an email referring to where I’m sitting: “Hi Bob. I am at the table to the left of the door, look forward to seeing you soon.” Look at me, learning the tricks of the trade.
So once I figure out the whole to ship or not to ship subpar linens thing and find a living social deal for “one year of parallel parking assistant at your fingertips” I should be in good shape. I am still following Cosmo on Twitter because refuse to miss out on gems like “Your man’s vigorous movements will create carnal currents in your nether regions.” Even professionals need carnal nether region advice. However, life is not without sacrifice and if Cosmo stays, I might have to let either Khloe Kardashian or Miley Cyrus go.
I was in a really difficult yoga pose: thighs burning in a squat and arms tingly from reaching upward. The instructor mentioned that this was a very stressful posture(umm, thanks for the memo I couldn’t feel it). But then she said to acknowledge the stress and work with it. They always say that but this time I listened a little more carefully and gave it my best shot: instead of trying not to think about how much the pose hurt, I committed to fully experiencing the discomfort. And suddenly, I felt a sense of peace…with this simple shift in cognition, I was giving into strength instead of fighting weakness. The burn intensified when I gave it my undivided attention but the wobble in my leg went away and my choppy breaths steadied into controlled, deep breaths.
Later, it occurred to me that there are many times when I deny the obvious in favor of what is comfortable or purposeful. When I feel instinctively opposed to an idea or decision, I often choose to stay mum, deciding that I’d rather feel frustrated with an outcome than ruffle feathers. And sometimes I am full of affection, happiness or love but don’t express it.These feelings generally hit me more at random than after someone does something particularly kind or thoughtful. And thus, I question whether expressing extreme gratitude towards people in my life without an obvious reason will be perceived as disingenuous.
But in yoga, it felt pretty damn freeing to just feel what I felt and work with it instead of against it. That relief, could it come with doing the same in other walks of life? Obviously it’s not realistic to act on everything-social propriety does exist. But what about just letting what I feel be what it is? Instead of telling myself this jealously is irrational or that anger is unwarranted, can I just accept that I’m overcome with it and let myself ride out the unpleasantness? If I feel immense gratitude toward someone in my life, I could question why I feel it because they didn’t move a mountain for me that morning. Or I could enjoy having love and appreciation in my heart, feelings that uplift me and make me my most generous and openhearted.
There are so many reasons not to acknowledge what is blatant in our bodies, our hearts or our minds. But think about it: wouldn’t you say you’re committed to honesty? (If you say no I will not only question your moral ground but will also make you wait 10 feet outside the Citibank glass kiosk if I ever need to grab cash when we are together).
The idea of being truly congruent sounds hard. It sounds unfamiliar and risky. But maybe trusting what is raw instead of what is familiar isn’t actually hard. Maybe, just like in yoga, welcoming an uncomfortable or unfamiliar feeling is easier than just tolerating it. A little more id, a little less superego for fellow psych nerds out there…
And if this doesn’t apply at all beyond yoga, at least I just found a way to hold those tough poses a little longer. NAMASTE BABY!
It’s the standard question when we see a friend’s lip curling in the telltale inverted U shape (why yes, I do realize I am thinking about biostatistics so much that graphical terminology creeps into my journal entries).
Some people will decline to discuss whatever is causing today’s case of “not okay.” Others will tell you more about it then you cared to know.
I think a lot of girls, myself included, go the route of the overshare. We rant to our friends, we discuss every detail of our despair with our moms. Often times when I’ve talked to friend about a trivial but-at the time-upsetting issue and then apologized for venting, she reassures me with “that’s what friends are for,” just like I always have said in the reverse situation.
So IS that what friends are for? Friends are certainly for seeing you through legitimately upsetting events. But are my friends really “for” listening to every time I’m vaguely annoyed, insecure or anxious?Most times when I talk a friend’s ear off about a not-so-serious problem, I don’t actually feel better. I feel annoying…I feel like I just made my friend spend a perfectly good hour of her life reassuring me about something mundane that I probably would have felt better about in an hour anyways.
Problem talk seems to take on a “boy who cried wolf” quality. I’m sure you’ve received a text or phone call that begins something like “Oh my god, I have the most awful news!” only to find out that the said tragedy is…not all that tragic.
Disclaimer: I’ve done this myself so I’m not bagging on those who have cried wolf. However, I am resolving to cry wolf as little as possible. I love my friends and am lucky to have their advice and support when I need it. But the operative word is need…and when I’m just being a crankasorous overreactess I don’t need to ruin a cheerful friend’s day. I need to take a chill pill and be an adult who can take things in her stride.
Let’s face it : mild moodiness passes and it’s not worth throwing around dark clouds while you ride it out. Maybe it’s like borrowing money…if a friend asks you to spot her for a cab ride once when she forgets to bring cash, you will probably cover her gladly. But if every single time you go out the same friend has nothing in her wallet but excuses why she “couldn’t find an ATM” you will feel more and more inclined to wish her a pleasant walk home.
I know a lot of people hate Valentine’s Day-it’s pressure to get your significant other something uber romantic or it’s feeling sad about being single…
But I’ve come to appreciate the fact that, no matter what your relationship status is, this day is just another opportunity to tell people you love how much you love them. So, I want to appreciate and declare my love for:
My mother, my best girlfriend and the only one who I can talk to on the phone with 3 times a day and still realize I forgot to tell her something. She understands me better than anyone else has ever come close to doing. She has the purest heart imaginable and would go to the ends of the earth for the people she cares about. She taught me how to be strong in this world, taught me how to tap dance, and even helped me to do things like alter the shoe size I wore with a Sharpie when I felt self-conscious about it in elementary school.
My Dad…for loving his little girl from the time I grabbed his hand in my first moments on this earth. For taking me running in Cheviot Hills, watching me try on shirts in Limited Too for 2 hours and not complaining about the Disney music and strange aroma of tween girl perfume. For being a role model in his devotion to being a good father and son, for his work ethnic, his dedication to learning about all that interests him in this world, and for secretly enjoying watching Lizzie McGuire with me in middle school.
My stepdad, for accepting me when I was a catty preteen who wasn’t very nice to him at first. For taking me driving in his PT Cruiser and not yelling at me when I was too close to cars the way my mom did. For having a truly novel take on things that never ceases to inspire me, help me to cope, and sometimes just makes me laugh really hard.
My brother, for being the most thoroughly decent man I could fathom. He has no idea just how incredible he is: brilliant beyond words and the hardest worker I know…but still the sweetest and most loving father to my niece and nephew. Possibly the only person who has a weirder sense of humor than I do…something I both appreciate and envy.
My niece and nephew…for being adorable and delightful kids. Feisty sometimes but lovable all of the time. When my niece told me she loved me on the phone yesterday, I couldn’t stop smiling for an hour…hearing the sincerity of this little girl I’ve watched grow into such an impressive little student, gymnast, and recently, karaoke singer, say I’m special to her is the greatest feeling.
My friends, who I feel close to from one floor down in my DC apartment building, from all over California, from New York, and even from Spain. I am truly a lucky woman to have friends who make me feel so able to be myself, who do amazing things in this world everyday, and with whom a five minute phone call can make my whole day.
This list is not exhaustive…it’s just a tiny glimpse into the true gratitude I feel everyday to have so much love in my heart. My mom once told me that love is unique in that the more of it you give away, the more of it you have. I couldn’t agree more, Mom.
Ok the level of ingenuity encouraged by that song is a bit disquieting … If my heart is breaking, can I just be sad as opposed to fake smiling because a cheesy song urged me to? But, neither here nor there in terms of my blog exploring happiness.
Crying is a clear indicator of sadness…except the occasional happy cry, I suppose. But happiness is a little harder to quantify. Arguably, laughter and smiling when you’re happy should equate to crying when you’re sad…But think about it: How often do you laugh or smile out of sociability or politeness?
My happiest moments are not necessarily when I am laughing or smiling. They aren’t usually following an exciting event or accomplishment. In fact, my purest joy often comes when I’m walking by myself. In these rare moments in which no coworkers, classmates, or friends are present, I relish the opportunity to let my mind wander. And suddenly, I’ll feel overwhelmingly lucky. Lucky that even when I’m by myself, my thoughts are full of people I love. Lucky that its beautiful out or, when it isn’t, lucky that I have a warm apartment minutes away. Lucky to have energy and youth on my side..
There I’ll be, walking to work or class on a seemingly uneventful day and then, boom, it dawns on me: “I’m completely content.” Not passionate, not jubilant..but simply without the need for anything more than what I already have.
And, as great as jumpy excitement can be, there is an anxiety to it’s temporariness…ecstasy is chased by a low that comes from the sheer, sudden absence of such heightened joy. Peaceful contentment, on the other hand, is luxurious. It can be drawn out and savored…it punctuates your day with a quiet appreciation that defines your reactions and interactions. Everything is a little prettier and more interesting, everyone a little more worthy of your time and compassion.
I’m not sure where my hands went!!!
For a second…then I remember that I live on the East Coast right now, where not wearing mittens outside results in an hour of hands devoid of feeling (though, if they DID have feelings I think they would feel angry at me for forgetting my gloves).
I have to wear man(think Shaq not Justin Bieber)sized jogging pants over my athletic shorts when I walk to the gym now. Okay…so, at first I thought I looked silly. But now I can appreciate that I actually look like a 12 year old boy during the “it’s cool when my boxers stick out of my pants and the waistline of said pants falls just below my ass.” In middle school, this look resulted in a referral to the dean, but as a grown woman I get to sport this badass getup all winter long.
My nose drips at inopportune times…and since said nose is so cold that, like my hands, it has little sensation, I don’t even know when it’s dripping until someone points it out. I’m like this little unprepared kid who needs her Mom to give her a Kleenex…but I’m 22 and I have Kleenex. I just can’t freaking tell when I need it. So my plan is this: every half hour or so, I will perform what I’ll call the “preventative sinus sweep” a short, swift movement of a Kleenex over the nostril area just to ensure that I’m all clear.
Ok, so I know I sound like I’m just a royal mess…a California girl lost in an icy East Coast winter. BUT here is the glass half full, my friends : I am so cold that I’m planning on hibernating, which I can only infer will do the following wonders:
1) Mastery of course material. I’m taking 5 grad school classes while working this semester. Sound crazy? Yes, if I planned on doing any interesting activities on weekends. But, the heated library is where I’ll stay…immersed in my studies like the kids I didn’t understand in undergrad(see, when I lived in beautiful San Diego, I was a strong proponent of weekends=parties).
2) Increase income. Clocking out to go get lunch in the deep freeze? No can-do-zee! I will happily work through lunch. I figure an extra 30 minutes of work on my salary is 6 bucks a day…which can finance 2 of the Starbucks breaks I take during my night classes.
3) Be in better shape. Everyone lacks motivation to go to the gym when it’s cold right? But I’ve discovered that after I work out is the only time I can enjoy feeling organic warmth(as opposed to the scorching, stuffy heat provided by my building’s Stone Age heating system). That six pack I’ve always wanted? Get ready for some competition[insert celebrity with good but not unattainable abs].
4) Enhance my social life. Being more social while avoiding nonessential ventures out of the home may seem counterintuitive. But think about it: Bars are so noisy…we all have experienced meeting a friend to “catch up over drinks” and then spending the entire night struggling to hear one another. Why make the walk to endure this half-ass hanging out in the frigid night air? Winter is the perfect opportunity to bond over with friends indoors…where we can hear each other and everything. Add a couple bottles of Sav Blanc and that shit’s cray.
*The title of this blog refers to the play “A Lion’s Winter” and my astrological sign, Leo. Which is an odd choice on my part since I saw the play ten years ago and don’t remember it and also do not follow astrology in the least.
I love words. Being able to convey ideas and feelings in the space of 5 or 10 letters is amazingly satisfying.
Words can generate humor, convey love, and string together the world around us in a way that makes sense.
But sometimes I resent the power of words, the way the biting ones play on repeat for days in my mind. Everytime I think I’ve successfully muted them, they come back out of nowhere and provoke a wave of fresh pain. I have a great memory that serves me well in many ways but I wish that I was a little better at forgetting the exact words used to tell me that I’m not good enough.
The voices that tell me that the words hurting me aren’t true are as useful as a hot person in a bar telling me their name. It would be great if I could hear it but unfortunately all I hear is “Party in the USA.”
The words interrupt throughout the day, artfully inserting themselves where they do not belong. “The results of the study indicate that….I don’t care about you….and the results are potentially biased because….you are nothing to me”
So, while I never know how to mute the words that plague me I do find comfort in knowing that their power will wan in time. The exact content becomes vague, the sound gets fuzzier. And then finally, they just don’t bother me.
Since there is no way to really make fresh wounds hurt less, I guess the trick might just be to remind myself that the feeling is temporary. And that moments of intense pain make happiness more potent. Every time someone is good to me, I appreciate it that much more because I’ve experienced being treated with disregard.
And in the moments of sadness, friends and large amounts of wine make them survivable.