Friday, August 07, 2009

Attn: People who read this blog

Hello, friends!

I'm moving over to Wordpress -- the times, they are a-changin' -- mostly because I think it looks cleaner, nicer, and offers more opportunity to make it look even more clean and more nice. Things are still looking pretty bland there right now; I hope to have some fun with CSS soon to make it look a bit more like I want it to. I'm also thinking I might begin to blog about more than my innermost thoughts and feelings. . .though I do love telling the Internets about those things, indeed.

At any rate, please update your bookmarks/feed readers/mental notes to (The usual usernames/domains were taken, so we're trying something new!!)

There's a post about my recent 24-hour whirlwind tour of Pittsburgh and a recipe for one of my favorite things to eat waiting for you! Fun!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009


Some of my favorite Mountain Goats lyrics are from the song "Tallahassee," on the album of the same name. The part I like best in the song goes like this:

"There is no deadline; there is no schedule.
There is no plan we can fall back on.
The road this far can't be retraced.
There is no punch line anybody can tack on."

When I graduated from college and moved to San Francisco, one of the hardest transitions for me was learning how to function in a lifestyle that didn't have any set end-dates, no specific schedules or timeframes. In college, and even in high school and middle school and elementary school before that, your time is divided up into neat little chunks. You go to different classes each day of the week; the semester ends after a certain number of weeks, and you switch to new classes; the year ends on a particular date and you move out of your current apartment into a new one, and you get ready for the next year. Everything has a deadline; if it sucks, you know you only have to do it for so long; if it's awesome, you know you better enjoy it, because it won't last.

When you enter the real world, you get a job. You go to that job, usually to an office (the same office) every day, Monday through Friday, from something like 9am to 5pm, give or take. Unless you're on contract, there's no end-date to that job; you're just. . .there, for as long as you want to be there or until you get fired. You find an apartment, and you live in it; you might sign a lease for a year, but if you want to stay there indefinitely, it's probably a possibility. For some people, this lack of confines is great; they feel free to pursue their interests and make their lives awesome, and they grow up, and they thrive.

For me, it was incredibly difficult. I didn't know what to do with my time, how to think about the present or the future. Unintuitive as it is, I felt trapped by the lack of structure, paralyzed by all the options of what I could do, so much that I found myself not wanting to do anything. It was a big adjustment. It took me a lot of time to get used to this "new life," and the process entailed a lot of moping.

These lyrics ran through my head a lot during my first few years in San Francisco, as I lamented the lack of deadline, schedule, and plan, the inability to retrace the steps that got me to where I was, the reality of there being no punch line to wait for.

So, after almost three-and-a-half years of working the daily grind (okay, so my job was pretty cushy, but still, you know), of bouncing around to different apartments when the time felt right, I finally adjusted to the timeframe of real life. But in the last few months, lots of things in lots of aspects of my life have taken turns very much back toward the kind of regimented schedule I tried so hard to let go of.

Right now, there very much is a deadline: A lot of people I'm close to will be relocating in the coming weeks, and the pressure to spend time with them, do the things we've talked about doing but never got around to, and make the most of the time we have left is palpable. And there very much is a schedule and a plan: I've committed to a two-year masters program at Berkeley, which means that for the first time since I moved here, I'm actually committed to staying here for a defined period of time. I'll be going back to that academic structure of weeks and semesters and years that I used to thrive in. Beyond those two years, I won't have to stay here, but it'll probably be in my best interest, since the connections I'll make through the program that will definitely be Bay Area-centric. What's the point of making connections if you're just going to abandon them? I'm realizing that my decisions at this juncture have larger implications than the obvious ones.

I should be careful what I wish for. I'm not finding these deadlines, schedules, and plans to be as comforting now as I remember them being before.

"There are loose ends by the score. What did I come down here for? You; you." -The Mountain Goats

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Here's what is getting me through this breakup: (1) doing things that I really enjoy doing but that I have not done very much during the time that I have been in a relationship and (2) doing things with friends that I previously thought I could only enjoy doing with a boyfriend.

Let me clarify:

(1) I am not in any way resentful of the time I have spent in relationships. I do not feel in any way that I have been pushed or tricked into "giving up" things I enjoyed doing for the sake of the relationship(s). But it is just a fact that when you (okay, maybe this needs clarification, too, so for now I will say I instead of you) -- when I am in a relationship, there are always certain things that I would somewhat like to do, but if the other person doesn't like to do them, it isn't a dealbreaker for me. I'm flexible, and at the end of the day, what's most important to me is companionship, no matter the form.

But still, when I am alone and making decisions for myself and myself only, there are things I like to do. Recently, as I have been remembering what it is to be single and independent, I have found a lot of enjoyment in those things. Biking instead of taking the bus or train. Biking around just for fun. Really, just biking. Heading out to a show at 10pm instead of going home and going to bed. Doing random things with friends, even if it's a gamble as to whether or not the activity is going to be hugely fun. Not caring what time it is or what the plan is or what else I need to do and just going with the flow. Um, hello, blogging.

Again, I'm not saying that relationships have forced me to not do things I like to do. However, I know that I have often made the choice to fret over how another person is feeling and allow that to influence my own decisions. When I am committed to someone, I put him first -- even when he doesn't ask me to and maybe would even prefer that I didn't.

(2) There are many things that, in my head, I see myself ideally doing with a significant other. "Date" things: brunches, walks, neighborhood wanderings, other outings. But really, the majority of the things I have, in the past, enjoyed doing with a significant other, I can also enjoy doing with friends. A revelation that many people have already realized, I know, but it really hit me this weekend. I don't have to mope around and feel sorry for myself that I don't get to do X and Y things because I don't have a boyfriend to do them with. Of course, there are certain exceptions here. . .but on the whole, this is true.

Tonight, I ate sausages and drank delicious Czech beer and had three hours of great conversation with a friend I don't see often enough. We talked about how to find the balance between allowing yourself to be influenced and molded and changed by a relationship, while also retaining your independence and your identity. Both have value, and I think both are essential, but this is something I have yet to do successfully. I'm getting better -- I have done this increasingly well in each of the relationships I've been in. But I'm not there yet.

I think part of the difficulty for me is that I am committed and loyal and serious. But I'm also very trusting of my intuition. In all honesty, I won't spend more than an hour with you, one-on-one, if you aren't someone I see myself having a real, meaningful friendship and connection with. And even moreso for relationships -- as much as I want to dismiss the whole "you know when you know" thing, I do know. I haven't gone on more than one date with anyone I couldn't see myself with long term. It's crazy, arguably -- but I feel like if I'm not invested as much as I can be invested in something or someone, it isn't worth being a part of in the first place. I don't know how to not be committed, how to not give of myself fully. I was spoiled by a long relationship where I was loved that way in return, but in the past year and a half, I have (painfully) learned that this is not how everyone operates.

But really, I don't think this is something I should change. I don't advocate anyone living a guarded life. The fact that this is how I operate, emotionally, means that I may get hurt more often and more deeply than the average person; I have learned this. But I'd take that any day over half-assing any relationship or friendship.

So, I'm not sure where that leaves me. I keep trying, I guess, to find the healthy balance. I remember whose house I live in. And until then, I lean on my friends, and I trust myself to learn more about who I am and what I need.

"Every day is a struggle, from the trough to the crest. Waves keep crashing forever, and only death brings us rest. Sometimes we drift on a current; sometimes we wrestle the rip. If I'm not waving but drowning, promise to not lose your grip. And we will fight against the tide, going under side by side. And if our lungs give out, we will breathe without, and heaven's gates will open wide. . ." - Or, the Whale

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I have been freaking out lately.

There's a lot going on, and though I generally appear to be taking care of business, I've been going fairly crazy on the inside. It's starting to catch up with me -- I'm perpetually cranky; I'm snappy and short with the people I least want to be snappy or short with. And most recently, I've just felt plain sad -- that old-fashioned melancholy that is only egged on by sunset at 4:45pm and the songs my iPod chooses on shuffle.

The are plenty of immediate and small-scale things on my mind. But, more detrimentally, I've been allowing myself to freak out about the big picture. In the past week, I have convinced myself that one way or another, I'm messing up everything I'm involved in -- every relationship, every community, every goal I'm pursing. Tonight I had to force myself to stop, to breathe, to grasp any shred of perspective I could find and recognize, internalize, and accept reality.

And reality is that things are good. I have so much to be thankful for. I have a job I feel pretty confident about, despite impending economic doom. My church is growing up and doing awesome and interesting things, and I get to be a part of it. I'm in a relationship I feel good about, with a man who's caring and funny and talented, who challenges me to grow and learn. I'm far away from my family, but they love me anyway. My friends are bold and amazing, and they allow me to participate in or at least live vicariously through their adventures. I'm thinking about and pursuing what's next, and even though I hate not knowing 100% what it's going to be right now, right now, right now, it's okay, and I'll get to where I'm supposed to be.

A year ago, I had no clue where I was going, what I was doing, what was going to happen. I was hunkering down with my cat until the emotional storm blew over and I figured out what to do next. I've been playing this game lately where I think about exactly what I was doing at this time last year, what I was thinking, feeling, worrying about. Things haven't necessarily gone as I would have expected them to go in the last year, but they have gone well. I'm in a better place now than I was then -- I'm more confident about what I want and don't want, I'm more stable and healthy, I'm more self-aware, I'm more comfortable inside my own head.

I'd like to think I'm in a better place today than I was even yesterday, and that I'll be in better one still tomorrow. And if I can ever get used to the fact that that's the timeframe life operates on, one day at a time, I'll be all set.

"a brain that never stops ticking / sometimes an on-off switch would sure come in handy / a mind that's constantly cutting up and dissecting / looking for answers / committing murders along the way / is it the red wire or the blue wire? / just pick one and cut / it just doesn't matter anymore / or did it ever? / cause I could never control when the bomb would explode / oh god I love you / I mean forever / I left my body behind to break the news / looks like it's over / please remember all of the things I never got a chance to say" -rocky votolato

Monday, October 13, 2008


How cliché is it that I bake when I am emotionally insecure and feeling lonely? I've been doing it now for about the last year. Is it just plain nesting? Reassuring myself that I will, indeed, endure this life because I can concoct sweet sustenance from an amalgamation of common ingredients? Taking comfort in the fact that I will be able to draw people to me with my baked goods, thus assuaging my loneliness? Proving to myself that I am valid as a woman and potential wife because of my domestic prowess and ability to incarnate a venerable gender stereotype? Cue gagging noises, perhaps -- but these thoughts cross my mind as I spoon and level off.

Casseroles, pies, cakes, cookies, bread. Whatever the psychological reasoning, I make these things. And I feel better.

"But then the light, the lamp I held in my blistered hands -- you the fuel, and me the fool for not noticing." -Laura Veirs

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The line between being forgiving and being too forgiving is such a hard one for me to define.

I feel like I have fairly high expectations of people. I do my part, and I expect others to do theirs. I take care of people, and I expect them to take care of me.

Yet, I see myself accepting treatment that is not as good as what I deserve, not as good as the treatment I give others. And I often see myself brushing this off, not demanding better, cutting slack where I should be calling out, settling for less than I should, allowing myself to be walked on and taken for granted. Of course, this clarity generally only comes in hindsight; in the moment, I don't realize I'm being treated badly, and I let it slide, convince myself it's okay, acceptable. I rarely demand better.

There are instances in which I do get frustrated, do feel angry that I'm not being appreciated or cared for -- but those times don't last long. I end up feeling guilty for not being forgiving enough, for holding people to high standards, for expecting too much. And it continues.

And then, there's the problem of focusing on the people with whom I'm frustrated, while not acknowledging or appreciating the people who do care for me, love me, look after me -- despite the fact that the latter far outnumber the former.

It comes from a lack of agency on my part, to demand to be treated well and to recognize and appreciate when it happens. Perhaps it's because on some level, I feel that I don't really deserve it. I feel awkward when someone's attention is focused on me. I don't want to inconvenience someone by telling them I need them, their help, their love. Or I'm afraid that if I do receive that attention, it will only be fleeting and I'll be left feeling hurt.

I want to see better the line between forgiveness and agency. I want to have more confidence in knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. I want to stand up for myself when I need to stand up, and be able to be cared for when I need to be cared for. I want to appreciate more the incredible people I am blessed to have in my life and dwell less on the ones who don't meet my expectations. I want to freely offer and freely accept the love, patience, and grace that comes from God.

"Oh, I do believe in all the things you say; what comes is better than what came before." -Lou Reed

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


One thing that keeps popping into my head lately is, "Oh, so this is how it's supposed to be." In a lot of aspects of my life right now, I feel like things are as they should be. Of course, not everything is perfect; there are still moments of frustration, areas for growth, things that could be better. But on the whole, I feel like my life is balanced and good -- in terms of my job, my living situation, my social landscape, my connections with people, my connection with God. I feel happy and whole, and it feels real, not like something I have to convince myself of or talk myself into out of desperation, not a happiness that I'm settling for or that I'm compromising something else for.

I have always struggled with being patient, with enjoying the moment I'm in instead of rushing on to the next thing that's lined up. I couldn't wait to be done with my small-town life and go off to college in the city; I graduated from college early because I wanted to start my "real life" as soon as possible; it only took two weeks in San Francisco before I had moved into an apartment and started a job; I ended one relationship only to emotionally plunge into a new one. I don't necessarily regret any of these things, but looking back, I can see that not all of these decisions were to my advantage.

But over the past few months, I feel like I have settled into a place that's good, and I'm realizing that being settled, to some degree, isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've always been afraid of becoming too comfortable, worried that it would make me lose my drive to be more and do more. But a reasonable degree of security doesn't have to be detrimental. Because now, I feel like I'm in a place, literally and figuratively, where I think I'd like to stay for a while, a place where I can be still, and patient, and listen, and see what really is next -- instead of forcing what I want to be next.

A few months ago, I was ready to drop everything and embark on something new -- anything new. I hadn't thought it through, I didn't have any vision; I just wanted to do something that felt like it mattered. I was unhappy with many aspects of my life, and I felt like I needed to pour myself into something larger than me.

But then, one by one, things started shifting. I started to feel more capable and in control at work. I moved out of my apartment into a place with two fun, friendly, and caring roommates. I started dating a guy who encourages and inspires and energizes me. And suddenly I had these new things to pour myself into, these relationships to be a part of. And I felt good. Not complacent good, or things-should-stay-like-this-forever good, but good in the sense that I didn't feel empty or lonely or sad. Good in the sense that I felt like my life was headed in a positive direction, I direction in which I wanted to keep going. Good in the sense that I realized that I didn't have to be doing something seemingly insane in order to be doing what God wants me to do right now. Good in the sense that when it is time for something big to happen, to change, I will know.

Of course, I still have moments where I get desperate for what's next, for things to be planned and purposeful and perfect. But I am trying to enjoy where I am now and be open to the possibilities of what will come next, without imposing my plans or selfish desires upon those possibilities. I am trying to see, to seek, to be patient. Sometimes it feels like a cop out, but I really believe that for this moment, I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing, with the people I'm supposed to be with. And I'm thankful.

"I am healthy, I am whole; but I have poor impulse control. And I want to go home, but I am home. We are strong, we are faithful; we are guardians of a rare thing. We pay close, careful attention to the news the morning air brings. We show great loyalty to the hard times we've been through." -Mountain Goats