October 2, 2013 9:30 pm

The below is a message I sent to a friend from high school a month after I moved to the city and two months after I began my first “real” job.  I saved the conversation because she told me I should since it was well written.  It occurred to me that it would fit in well with all of my posts here, since I’m often writing self-reflecting pieces.  It’s amazing to look back on what I was feeling then, and compare it to what I am feeling now.  All I can say is that things have improved, and I’ve grown up a lot in the last year and a half since I wrote to her.

(I’ve deleted names from the message for others’ privacy, so whenever you see ____ it means there was a name there.)

***********************

Hi _____,

I’m good. We’re settling into the apartment okay, _____ and I.  We still need a couch and a table to make it really be home, but until then we have a card table and folding chairs.

Work is good, it is more the idea of work that I’m getting used to.  I think this is a hard transition for me, more so than college or study abroad was, because this is the moment I’ve been waiting for for (not to be cliché) my whole life.  I always wondered what I would be when I grew up, and now I sort of feel like I have grown up, and I’m trying to see if my life matches up with my dreams and expectations.

I think part of what is hard is that I promised myself I’d never work in an office.  The reason – because when I was very young, in preschool, I saw my mom dressing up differently and poofing her hair and painting her face and putting on pointy shoes to go to work every day and I thought it was stupid. I think I also didn’t want her to go to work, and so rejected her job, wishing she would instead stay home.

So now I wonder, am I okay where I am, or have I given up on some dream that I forgot.  Another… issue… I’ve been facing is how to be excited about things I ought to be excited about.  I mean, I’m living in my first apartment in the city next to the subway, I’ve got a boyfriend, I’ve got friends in the city, so I should be drinking up this experience, right?  But instead, I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience, where my body is living on auto-pilot and my mind is somewhere else over-analyzing my whole situation and reason for existence.  Basically, instead of enjoying what I’ve got, I’m over analyzing everything in my head and missing the moment.

It’s weird though, because I had this problem in college…. this weird ennui (and I think ennui is a really appropriate word for what I mean).  It happened sometime near the start of college, when instead of being happy about things, I became aware that the moment was happy, and if I was happy, it was because I new the moment should be happy.  The same goes for exciting moments.

For example, it’s senior year, and I’m sitting with a group of friends baking cookies and listening to broadway music.  My friends that are into broadway are singing along and doing so in a funny way.  We all laugh and smile, because what they are doing is silly, and silly is funny, and here we are eating sugar and being silly after a hard week of studying/clubs/and work study jobs… and I’m laughing because I recognize it’s funny, and I’m smiling because everyone else is smiling and that is infectious… but when I leave at night and walk home to my dorm, I’m not smiling anymore and I’m not chuckling to myself.  I’m just walking alone at night looking at the position of the moon, surveying the area for any forest animals, and wondering if my night really held any significance in any sized scheme of anything.  I’m not sad, I’m more like, temporarily satiated and naggingly unfulfilled.

But I thought that was college, and I didn’t know my path in life, and things were supposed to be like that.  I thought when circumstances changed, so would my thought pattern and mindset.  Then, things did change. I realize now something I knew before but forget in this instance, that emotions and thoughts don’t change from the outside, they change from the inside.  So if one is sad, winning the lottery changes nothing.  If one is truly happy, a tragedy won’t bring her down.  And if my life doesn’t feel as meaningful as I need it to feel, then having a job and a boyfriend, and a city life won’t alter my perspective in the slightest.

That is what I have been trying to explain to people for the past month, and have been told many times that I just need to adjust.  That this is a hard transition and I need to settle in and then reevaluate.  I am settling in, so I suppose I do need to wait a bit longer before really having an opinion on my life… but still.

Everything is more than fabulous in my external world, it’s my head that’s malfunctioning.  My new goal is to try to start a new pattern of thought about my life, because I think I’ve fallen into a poor pattern of existential introspection and reminiscing.  And I think I’ve read too much philosophy, thank goodness I wasn’t a philosophy major!

On a more positive note, yes, fall has begun!  I’ve been doing fall things like apply picking and drinking cider.  I do miss doing those things at home, though, it’s a bit different in the city, the apple orchards get very crowded.  I have a list of things I need to do this fall, and while I’m living here.  I want to hit up all the museums, for one.  I am also planning on going to the King Richard’s fair for the first time with _____.

I need to stop typing and go to work now, but I can give you a more exciting update on my life (all the things I’m trying to be actually excited about).  In the meanwhile, how are you?  And thank you for keeping in touch!

Posted in Life Updates | Leave a comment

A long winter in the city

Well, March is upon us already, which means winter must give way soon.  It’s been a long winter for the Northeast, creating a unique set of challenges for the city of Boston.

At first city-dwelers enjoyed the snow.  Many people took to the streets on skis, the college students were out sledding on cafeteria trays, and the sight of one’s car completely buried by white powder was slightly amusing and awe-inspiring.

Comm Ave skiing

Comm Ave skiing

The positive feelings towards the snow rapidly declined, however, after snow storm upon snow storm battered the city, adding layer upon layer of snow to the frozen landscape.  Freezing temperatures and emergency closures meant that people were stuck indoors and going stir-crazy.  But the worst of it all — the final “icing,” if you will, upon the already frosted cake — was the inadequacy and failure of the MBTA.

Train and bus delays were only to be expected, but the closure of the entire MBTA was not.  And when the MBTA began running its services, several busses and trains did not run, and no shuttles were provided immediately.  When shuttles were provided, the bus drivers did not know the new routes they were assigned — they did not know where to drop off/pick up people meaning that several people were left quite angry on the side of the road — and the shuttles were so infrequent that in many cases you were better off walking anyways.  … even if the sidewalks weren’t shoveled properly…

Unshoveled Commute

Unshoveled Commute

Despite the trouble the snow has caused, I can’t help but be impressed with nature.  One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed living in New England and see my self staying here as long as I can, is that I love the change in seasons.  It’s a disappointing winter for me without seeing snow drifts and long icicles.  What’s more, I like the camaraderie that comes out in winter. With all the frustration people have felt over the snow, the long commutes, and the cold, tempers have run high. But everyone is mad about the same thing, and it unifies people! Commuters finally have a reason to talk to each other – even if that means they complain together.  When it’s too cold to keep your smartphone out in the open, you suddenly look up at the crowded T-stop and remember there are actual people around you, and they all need to get to work too.

The winter’s not all bad, but I think that now it’s time for spring.  There may be a little snow on the way, but it can’t stop the inevitable turn of the wheel.  Spring will come with flooding and flowers!  In the meanwhile, I will take a last look at the snow still piled high, and at the frozen Charles River on my walk to work. I’ll remember such a winter as I’ve never seen before.

Good morning snowy Boston!

Good morning snowy Boston!

 

Posted in Life Updates | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What do I want?

A career, no, a relationship, maybe? Love, sex, freedom, to be skinny, to be fit, to be home, to be abroad. I want to dance – right now, go out dancing, spinning a wild skirt under a starry sky. I want to be scared again, amazed again, in love and at wonder with the world.

I want to be powerful and I want them all to get out of my way. I want to be special, but I want to fit in, somewhere, I want to share culture with others, fully,

I want to sleep till I wake, I want to wake up with someone else, I want to believe there is fate and that it’s magical.

I want to want to be enlightened again. Since when did I get so mainstream? Since when is mainstream so alternative? Since when is everyone grown up? Since when?

I want to be calm, so *&$%^&$ #@$-#^!

Do I want a Master’s degree? Do you want to come with me? Do I want to go with you?

It’s like, imagine you’re out for a walk, and you decide you don’t want to go home. So you walk out of the way and all around taking the scenic route. And you take another turn – thinking you’re going in circles having such fun, and find yourself smack dab on the major road, in traffic with everyone else. Yeah, that’s me in that car. How’d I end up here again, and why don’t I want to leave?

*********

In other news, I look sexy, apparently according to folks at work, so that means I’ll have a boyfriend soon. Oh, and I’m supposed to be taking career risks now and finding my true self. Is there such a thing?

Make me an anarchist and let’s take off to Alpha Centuri to start the third race of man.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections on identity

I think I spent half of my time in college searching for my identity.

All that I found was the realization that identity isn’t something concrete like your gender or your ethnicity – it’s way more fluid than that.  Also, identity is in large part, your own self-persepctive.

Instead of searching for my identity in my first year out of college, I decided to try to let things be and see what identity rose to the surface.  Unsurprisingly, although to my disappointment, my identity was something like “recent-college-grad-starting-career-maybe-and-learning-how-to-be a-professional.”  I was hoping it would be something more like, “wholesome-confident-self-made-young-woman-in-love-for-real-for-the-first-time.”  Whatever. Close enough!

A week ago I began to be inspired to write something about identity, but the title I had in mind for this post was, Life post-religion and why I’m nice to the protesters outside the Planned Parenthood.  Sometimes I remember what it was like when I was both spiritual and religious.  I believed in the power of God and the Holy Spirit and maybe Jesus – I thought they had my back and I was always safe in the darkest times.  But more than that, I believed in the magic of the world. I think at some point during my education I thought too much and overthought the whole system of the world to the point of un-faith.  This year I’ve felt at times particularly disconnected from anything “higher.”  And I noticed that when I dropped any sort of religiousness or spirituality from my identity I was left with a much plainer, much more unscented and flavorless identity.

To say this year in emotions has been interesting would be an accurate statement.

I remember when I first began to play around with my identity in college it hurt so much.  But afterwards… after all that I think I became an adult.  Life has been a lot less painful to me since graduation.  I understand myself better, and most importantly I’ve come to accept myself: my adult self.  Or most of myself…remember nothing is static in life.  I’ll always be working on self-acceptance.

I’ve come a long way, but sometimes I feel this nostalgic tug on my heart… when I see those religious protesters outside the planned parenthood.  They’ve got their pamphlets, their long skirts and their ideals.  They KNOW what they want and they KNOW what they stand for.  I smile at them.  I take their pamphlets and wish them a good day.  I do this because I want them to think, for just a moment, that I agree with them, so that for just the tiniest of moments, I’ll get that rush of belonging and feel like I’m one of them again.

But I’m not…

And there we have just a small part of my kaleidoscopic identity.  I am not a protester outside of the Planned Parenthood.  But I am not always a bleeding-heart idealist liberal.  I am sometimes a fanatical perfectionist.  And I am not the enlightened 8 year old I was at the turn of a millennium.

Identity… who are you? to others? at work? on the internet? to yourself when you’re alone?  Are you someone’s husband, best friend, teacher?  Are you a supervisor, director, or support staff?  An artist, a plumber, a scientist? A good person, a bad person?  And what do you tell yourself when you look in the mirror in the morning?

I don’t know.  Maybe this is the lack of sleep talking or maybe we’ve really entered the Age of Aquarius.  Right now, things are pretty good.  I’m thankful for the support I get from my family, because even when I feel like I was switched at birth I’m still happy for having them.  None of us is perfect, and more than the majority of humans have some kind of disfunction.  That never stopped galaxies from gravitating together, whilst all the while the universe launched them into infinity.

Posted in Opinions, Spiritual, Physical, Emotional Health and Wellbeing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What is love? part 2

So, I’ve been single now for almost a year.  I’ve also been spending a lot of my time working a full time job.

I noticed throughout the year that sometimes it felt like my emotional and spiritual journey was progressing much slower than it had in college.  I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but what I have noticed is that there is suddenly space in between Then and Now.

Then I was in college, and I had a lot of expectations that didn’t quite mesh with reality.  Now, I’ve adjusted my expectations to fit my new reality.

And in between Then and Now one thing I learned was that I had no clue in college what romantic love was supposed to feel like and no idea what a real relationship could be.  I’m not sure why I thought I would fall in love in college, but that most definitely did not happen.  And I’m not sure why it’s been a priority in my life that I NEED to fall in love to have a fulfilled life, but I have a hunch that society lead me to that aspiration.

So now I have to ask myself: what is it that I really want?  What is my heart’s desire?  To think I’ve spent my whole life waiting to find meaning and purpose and to discover that the meaning is subjective and the purpose is my own to create… it’s almost maddening, but it’s moreso emptying.  Who am I now?

But getting back to love… I think if it happens you know it.  I don’t know if I know what that feels like, and I wonder if it is possible to understand what that feels like before it happens.  I was thinking the other day, “what if love is not so great as I make it out to be in my head.  What if it’s just as temporal as happiness and sadness?”  Yet on a different day, while sitting in a car, I spontaneously felt a tremendous affection for a certain family member, and I thought to myself, this is what people live for.  If it weren’t for love, then really, what is the point of life at all? But we are capable of loving – thank God? goodness? thank something!  I heard a quote the other day… something about how love isn’t meant to be a noun, it makes the most sense as a verb.  I liked that idea; I still have to mull that one over.

Not sure how to conclude this ramble of a blog post.  That’s where I’m at thinking about love.  So there.

Posted in Opinions | Leave a comment

Relax and enjoy the ride

Ossipee Lake morning…

I awoke to the buzz and hum of the fan, in a room not my own, which smelled of blankets and summertime.  With eyes still close, I could here the gentle lapping of water onto sand. Sticking my arm outside the covers, I test the air: cool and dewy.  It must be early morning.  Quietly I slip out of the covers, out of bed, and tiptoe around the room to get my sweater.  Near the windows, I peer outside.  In the dim light of dawn, I can see the lake below.

Twenty minutes later I’ve gone downstairs, used the bathroom, and fixed myself a snack of fresh cut fruit.  Still tip-toeing, conscious of my sleeping aunt and mother, I walk into the sun room.  Painted a pale shade of periwinkle blue, the room is made up of mostly windows full with the view of a little known paradise.

Inside the sun room, there is an old wooden table and chairs.  On the table is a jigsaw puzzle.  I set the fruit down carefully, and get comfortable in a chair.  Now I scan the pieces   spread out and organized by our own personal logic.  Giving my full attention to the puzzle, I set to work.

———————————————————————–

I woke up last weekend, on the day before my cousin’s wedding, and my mind was filled with the all the feelings that came from this memory of Ossipee Lake.  It was a wonderful feeling!  It was like – when you realize suddenly that the world is full of possibilities – except that this was different, not opposite, but a parallel idea.  It was the feeling that even doing nothing, life is good.  That being alive and enjoying the moment is itself a wonderful sort of happiness.

So that’s been the charge I’ve given myself this past week; to let myself relax and just be.  To let life roll in like water’s waves.  To be aware of each moment, and take delight in all that is happening now.

 

Posted in Opinions, Spiritual, Physical, Emotional Health and Wellbeing | Leave a comment

Life lessons as discussed in the office on a Friday

I had a revelation this past week, which lead to an insightful conversation with someone at work this past Friday and more revelations.  Here they are:

I am not special.  I am average, like most people.  In fact, except for the people on extreme ends of the scale (prodigies and mentally handicapped people), we’re all a lot more similar than I ever believed when growing up.  I’m from the ‘snowflake’ generation; we were all told that we’re special, each and every one of us.  I believed this story for my whole life.  I thought I was very special – no one else was like me.  Now, however, I’m not so sure how true this is.  Now, I think that we are the people we are more because of the circumstances in which we were raised than because we’re each unique.  Both factors, environment and genes/souls, have an effect on who we are, but I don’t think I’ve ever realized just how strong a role the environment and our upbringing plays on our development into adults.

Each and every one of us is a human.  We’re all trying to survive, trying to find our place, and searching for love.  Everyone has his or her own story, but we are all doing the same thing.  We’re all living together on planet Earth.  We’re all making the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in.  We get up, we work, we learn, we eat, we socialize, we plan, we build, we rest — rinse and repeat.

It makes me feel more compassionate towards other people – when I realize we are all so much the same.   And it makes me feel more comfortable, because I know that I’m working with what I’ve got as best as I can – and that’s okay.

me being normal

My morning commute in the fall – an average me on a regular morning.

 

While chatting with my work friend about all of these ideas, she took the conversation in another direction, and she told me,

The only thing a child needs to become successful, is to know she is valued and loved.

If you know you are loved and valued, than no matter what you become, no matter what happens to you in life, you will have a strong core to fall back on.  You’ll have the confidence to know that your life matters.  Why are there wealthy CEO’s who jump off buildings? she asked me this.  Because they’ve spent their whole lives overcompensating, trying to fill an empty hole where they know there should be something.  And when they reach the pinnacle of what our world labels as “success,” they realize that are just as empty as they ever were.

What really matters is love.  You need to know that you matter to someone, that even if you are not the most special person in the world, you are special to one person.  Every other experience will affect the quality of your life, but it won’t change whether or not you are fundamentally secure with the person you are.  Only love can do that.

This may seem like common knowledge or common sense, or maybe not.  Either way, it’s good to be reminded of what’s really important and what really matters.

I’m thankful that I grew up with plenty of opportunities to shape me into the person I am today, and I’m thankful that I grew up surrounded by a loving family.  That’s the greatest gift a person can have.

***********************************************

 

While writing this blog post (which took me over an hour to compose) I’ve been listening to a most amazing chillstep mix on youtube and I’d like to share the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGhXjCuucLI 

One of the songs on the list had a song with a quote in it.  After some digging, I found that the quote comes from the 1940’s movie The Great Dictator.  I’m going to share that too, just because I enjoyed listening to it while I wrote, and because some aspects of it seem relevant to this post.  Enjoy!

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor
That’s not my business
I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone
I should like to help everyone if possible
Jew, Gentile, black man, white
We all want to help one another, human beings are like that
We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery
We don’t want to hate and despise one another
In this world there’s room for everyone and the good earth is rich 
And can provide for everyone
The way of life can be free and beautiful
But we have lost the way
Greed has poisoned men’s souls 
Has barricaded the world with hate 
Has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed
We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in
Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want
Our knowledge has made us cynical
Our cleverness hard and unkind
We think too much and feel too little

The hate of men will pass, and dictators die
And the power they took from the people will return to the people
And so long as men die, liberty will never perish

 

Posted in Life Updates, Opinions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment