Hello Spring

Happy spring equinox! I wish I was starting off my first day of spring more like today’s Google doodle (if you’re  haven’t already, visit the google home page), but I’m actually staring out the dirty window of a megabus into gray skies and Austin traffic. 

But I’m welcoming this Texas spring with open arms, 70 percent humidity and all. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily the arrival of spring that I’m happy about, or the subtle excitement that comes with a transition of seasons – the anticipation of new possibilities.  These past few months I’ve had a case of the winter blues (even though in Austin it reached 80 degrees almost every weekend in January and February), and I guess a part of me is hoping that spring will show me the cure. Because spring invites hope and change and new opportunities. The sun lingers a little longer and the scent of the air matches the colors of the trees and flowers. The only downside to spring is that now I have to pay extra attention when I shave my legs.

 We bought a Texas State Park pass the other week, sort of on a whim. If I remember correctly I think it means we can go to any Texas state park for free and bring friends along too. Hopefully it’ll lend itself to creating more memories and adventures. Who knows, maybe I’ll do a series on the best state parks. 

Here’s when we went to Pedernales Falls, which is infinitely better than Enchanted Rock in my book. If we go back, I’d like to see if my water bottle is still there, since last time I dropped it and watched helplessly as the waterfall swept it into the middle of the pool. I felt awful and wanted to fetch it out because I didn’t want people to think I didn’t care about the environment, but it was impossible and Daniel told me I was making a scene and only drawing more attention to myself so we watched as the water bottle floated back and forth in the dead center of the pool, then left. We are bad citizens.

On another note, one of my coworkers always asks me how ‘Dan’ is doing, not ‘Daniel’. I made the mistake of not correcting her the first time, so now whenever we talk about him, I also refer to him as Dan. It’s been a few months, so we’ve definitely passed the stage where I could casually switch back without it being weird and awkward. Reminds me of the time in Friends when Chandler’s coworker calls him Toby for five years.

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Laundry room thoughts

Yesterday I locked myself in my apartment’s laundry room.

It has one of those doors with a lock but no handle. You can actually pry it open if you pull on the lock hard enough, but it was 28 degrees outside so my fingers were frozen and the door was frozen and I’m not very strong – so I stood at the window waiting for someone to come by for about ten minutes.

No one ended up walking by so I tried one more time and it finally flung open.

Once during a Professional Development session at work, they told us that those with greatest productivity learn how to take advantage of discretionary time, or unplanned ‘free’ time. It’s a practice I would like to master.

Ways I should have spent my ten minutes of discretionary time (I did not have my phone):

- Draft replies in my head to various text messages I’ve ignored
- Make a mental grocery list
- Ten minute power nap
- Push-ups or something

My discretionary time is usually spent daydreaming or wondering about life and the passage of time.

Like why are years separated into months, then weeks, then days. We work and toil to finish a task within a month or a week, when a month or a week is just an arbitrary number of days (days, however, I understand).

How do I spend my time? What does it look like to spend my time radically, and at what point does that radical use of time become reckless?

I’ve been feeling a little reckless with my time lately – pulled in different directions, not even having time for my personal health. It’s hard to count the number of times I’ve stolen pizza from the office because I don’t have time for dinner before the next thing. (I guess it’s technically not stealing). The other night I was leaving the office late on my way to another meeting, so I grabbed a slice of pizza from the fridge. As I was leaving the kitchen I heard footsteps rounding the corner and in a panic instinctively shoved the pizza into my purse. Trying to nod nonchalantly goodbye to my colleague I ran into the elevator, and as soon as the doors shut, pulled the pizza out of my purse. Then I thought better of it and waited until I got into my car.

It wasn’t until I was driving with one hand, eating pizza with the other, worrying I would be late to my next meeting, that I stopped to take a look at my life. Not pretty.

I’ve been wondering what it looks like to ruthlessly eliminate hurry. I don’t think it’s so bad that I spent my ten minutes of discretionary time wondering about time and pizza instead of completing a task. It’s nice to wonder about things sometimes – like how an accident of latitude and longitude, a serendipitous accident of time and place can mean the difference of having someone important in your life.

These thoughts aren’t really leading anywhere. This post was a result of a continued desire to blog more regularly, just like my roommate Melissa, who has an awesome blog. Check it out!

Mediocrity: Learning Curve Part 2

I’ve been wondering why I don’t write more about work. It’s odd, considering how much time I spend either at the office or meeting with students or driving to and from work-related events in the ever-increasing Austin traffic. It’s not like I don’t have anything to say (because Lord knows I definitely have things to say), but I think there’s a reason why I don’t like to write about work.

It’s because I don’t think I’m very good at my job.

This was hard for me to admit at first, especially considering how much I wanted this job. In college I would dream about going off to change the world and impacting lives. But when the dream was actually in front of me, the world started to look a lot bigger and I started to feel a lot smaller and impacting lives became a little fuzzy in the light of my own inadequacies. I started to realize I wasn’t really the person I thought I was.

Which is fine, really. My identity is not in my work (I remind myself on a minute-by-minute basis), but coming to terms with my shortcomings was a weird feeling, not unlike disillusionment. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, I really do. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve met people who’ve impacted my life. It’s just that I’m, well, a little mediocre.

And mediocrity’s not such a bad thing, I’ve discovered. It’s not always the same thing as inadequacy, and it’s not the same as sitting around feeling sorry for myself, not believing I’m capable of greatness.

Because what is greatness anyway.I used to wonder if thinking I was mediocre was limiting me from reaching my full potential, but actually it helped me realize it’s not really about me. Which has been freeing, actually.

I have a student who loves to write. Two, actually. Sisters.

Loving to write doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at it, nor does it mean that you do it often (I know this better than anyone I think). It’s more like, who you are, I guess. How you identify yourself.

It helps you deal with pain too, I think. One sister told me she can’t drive past the hospital where her grandmother died without falling into tears. She said it’s like a reflex almost, and she can’t help herself. What is that like, I wonder.

She told me her sister tries to numbs herself from the pain. TV, she said, and games on her phone. So when I met with her sister, I thought I might say something to help. I started to ramble, too loudly and too quickly. Writing is a type of art therapy, it can help you process your pain. Writing can help you have an outlet…my voice trailed off. I handed her a pen and a piece of paper. Write a letter to yourself from the summer, I said. Write down your thoughts.

I didn’t know if it would actually help, but I wanted her to do it. I wanted her to write. She picked up the pen, and I stared out the window where the window pane was starting to frost and the ice was beginning to stick. She wrote furiously for 10 minutes, and I worked on other things on my computer. When she was done I told her she could keep the letter. She got her stuff  and walked away.

I don’t even know if it helped. It would have helped me, I know that much. It has helped me, in the past.

I might regret writing this, a couple months or a couple minutes from now. But for now, I think mediocrity’s okay. In all honesty it’s not an easy job, and I guess it’s okay that I don’t really have it figured out.

On seasons

7 things I’ve learned (so far) about post-college friendships:

  1. Call, don’t Skype. It’s more likely to happen.
  2. E-mails are surprisingly nice, as opposed to texts or Facebook messages.
  3. Take more pictures, especially when you have the chance.
  4. Stay awake during crucial moments of conversations.
  5. Finding out about big life updates whilst browsing through social media is not cheating and/or pathetic.
  6. Inevitably, there will be moments you will not be a part of, and things they go through that you will not know or understand. It’s going to happen.
  7. But it’s still nice to be with each other, even if things aren’t exactly the same.

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The mind always associates smells and sounds with experiences. Once in high school, my best friend got in a minor car accident. She said that the moment she was hit, Sexy Can I was playing on the radio – that one part about the girl sliding down the pole. My friend was upset because now she could never listen to the song the same way again. But I guess there are worse things in life that could happen to you besides not being able to listen to Sexy Can I.

Anyway, that’s why the other night, when the rain started to fall in heavy sheets and I was staring into darkness and my car began to skid and I ended up driving over several curbs (yes that’s right, several curbs– why I even have a license I do not know), the first thing I did was turn off the radio. The last thing I need is for some top 40s hit to become a trigger for the fear and panic I felt while careening off the side of the Mopac service road.

I think I ended up driving into some neighborhood where I turned off my car and listened to the sound of the rain pelting the windshield. I remember instinctively taking out my phone and calling whoever came to mind. I don’t know why I called them, it’s not like there was anything they could do to help me, but I did. I remember thinking about it later and being surprised (but I guess, not really) about who I decided to call. Is that friendship?

Maybe it’s because 2014 just ended, or maybe it’s because I’m always listening to that new One Direction song, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how things change. On principle, I am not a particularly happy person, and left alone with my thoughts, my mind drifts between optimistically pensive and wistfully melancholy.

And maybe it’s because it hasn’t stopped raining for the past two days, but I find myself asking questions like – Is it okay that these friendships are changing? What if one day, we’re all like that old couple in the casino sitting there drinking coffee with nothing to say to each other? What if there’s nothing left for us to say?

People are designed to change, I’ve learned, and different seasons can be exciting. This fact used to make me really sad – the fact that friendships have seasons. But things should change, and if they don’t, where’s the growth? And isn’t this is all a part of becoming an adult?

What is adulthood, anyway. If adulthood is understanding real estate and cooking dinner from scratch, then I don’t have it figured out, and if adulthood is knowing what the plan is  and where my life is going, then I definitely don’t have it figured out. But I know what adulthood is not, and that’s pretending like things don’t change, so at least I’ve got that covered.

What I said about not being happy was actually a lie. I’ve been pretty ridiculously happy these past few months, for a variety of reasons, one reason I think being the fact that I get more sleep now that I’m no longer a college student. Regular sleep generally leads to a healthier emotional well-being.

Cheers to 2015, and cheers to seasons.

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The Guy From Stories Read to Kids at Night

I spent the last few days of 2014 in New Orleans. We ate oysters and listened to jazz music and tried to go easy on the beignets by eating only half and taking the rest to-go. We ended up splitting one more beignet and then splitting just one more and then we emptied the to-go bag and ate the rest of the beignets.

Once when we were buying pralines (pronounced praw-leens, we all learned for the very first time), I heard a band playing that one song by Fitz and the Tantrums and I started to sing along. Valerie said what if that’s actually them? And I said no it can’t be them and she said we should ask, so I asked the guy who was ringing up my order of praw-leens and he said I think it’s a band called Fitz and the Tantrums. I got a little excited but not too excited, and then we went and I took some blurry pictures on my phone to prove that I s aw them.

There was also this guy singing and playing the guitar on the side of the street. We heard his voice before we could see him, something like a mix between Jason Mraz and George Ezra, and once we could see him we ran to hide behind the postcard stand a few feet away from him so we could listen to his voice while pretending not to. After he finished we talked to him and learned he was actually from Austin and he went to UT and majored in Biology, which meant we all literally had so much in common.

I bought his CD so we could listen to it in the car, and we learned that his voice and his music actually sound better live. The music was still good though, by my standards. My favorite song is the guy from stories read to kids at night, because that’s what he was singing when we were hiding behind the postcards. There are other notable songs like Emily and Lonely as Balls. Emily is interesting because the first line is ‘Emily, come to Austin’ but I guess she never did, because his girlfriend’s name is Amanda. Lonely as Balls is also good. We listened to it over and over again during the trip, and I guess it was one of those things where we liked the song because we knew that none of us were actually lonely as balls, so it was funny in that way, but also funny because we all still knew the feeling, you know, feeling lonely as balls.

Other noteworthy happenings included:  a bookstore, a ghost tour, the smell of cigarettes and coffee in a casino, reunions, and vintage soda pop.

Things changed a lot in 2014. We reminisced a lot on mistakes made and all the times we were sad and cried. There are things I regret and there are ways that I would like 2015 to be different, but maybe it’s okay to regret things. I’m glad for all the times we cried, because it’s kind of nice to think about now.

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Quaint little independent bookstore in the french quarter. “The secret is that it is poetry written into prose, and it is the hardest of all things to do.” – Mary Hemingway

Meet me in Montauk

Meet me in Montauk

"Are you guys taking a picture?"

“Are you guys taking a picture?”

"It'll all be pointless if we don't take a picture!"

“It’ll all be pointless if we don’t take a picture!”

2014 Memories That May or May Not Matter

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. I mean, I’ve written things, like shopping lists, e-mails, and practicing a new signature (it’s more vertical and bubbly now), but I haven’t really written anything.

I feel like I’ve almost forgotten how. What does my voice sound like? Do I usually use long sentences? Short sentences? Do I write with a lot of detail, or am I purposely vague?

Should I write about my feelings? I’ve been happy lately – should I write about that?

A lot has changed these past few months, and I’m not sure how to process it. Actually, I’m not even sure if I remember half of it. That’s the thing about time – it passes, you remember the big things, the occasional small thing, you see what changed, but after a while it’s all kind of a blur.

There are lot of things I wish I had written down. With work, life, friendships, and ministry, I don’t read as much as I used to and I don’t write as much as I used to (okay let’s be honest, I never read).

Something I’ve always done in the past, but not as much recently, is keep a list of random memories. Like, random things that I noticed or observed that made me think, that made me want to write. I found this list recently, and it trails off around the time I started work.  I’m not sure what to do with this list, but I don’t want it to only live in the corners of my mind (or rather, in an ambiguously titled Evernote folder).

List of Memories (exact dates: unknown, but some time between Jan 2014 – July 2014):

– Today I ordered the ugliest iced green tea latte from Starbucks. It was my first time ordering an iced green tea latte. I saw it on someone else’s Instagram and I wanted to order it then Instagram it as well, but it was ugly. Tasted great though

– Once when I was interning, this guy came in while I was working the front desk because his 8-year-old son needed to use the bathroom. He said he wanted to get him into martial arts. You could tell he just really wanted to be a good dad

– Tiffany and I were walking to Amy’s, but we passed the warehouse that looked rundown and creepy. We heard children screaming and I grabbed Tiffany’s arm and was like oh my god did you hear that, and then there were more screams, but then we realized they were just echoes from the playground from the actual Amy’s.

– We listened to this really sad This American Life story in Brian’s car. It was familiar enough to make me want to cry.

– We were playing some kind of truth game, and I told him that if I was dying and there was something I knew was the Truth, and I was absolutely sure, then I would spend every second of the rest of my life making sure I told as many people as I could. At first I was like, why am I not doing that now? But I realized it’s not the same. When you know you’re going to die in three days and everyone else also knows you’re going to die in three days, you can kind of be as in your face as you want, who cares, you’re dying.

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These memories are not at all representative of my 2014. In fact, when I look back and reflect on this year, none of what is listed above comes to mind. It’s actually been a much happier, much more thankful year – especially the second half. But until I remember how to write, those things will have to wait.