Wednesday, October 7, 2015

that moment

Maybe it's because my mama read Goodnight, Moon to me so often as a child, but I love that moment when I tuck my apartment into bed. There are no more expectations - whatever dishes remain in the sink will become tomorrow's business.

Hush, candle - let your wick rest. The day is done.

This moment is gentle, and not just because I'm burrowing under my quilt. Quiet arrives and I gratefully welcome her home.

It's in this moment that there is space to read. I need not be waiting in line or avoiding the gym in order to justify turning a few pages. There is no multi-tasking.

How I love this moment.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

a lesson from Project Runway

I'm still unpacking boxes. Actually, I was worrying whether it will be possible for me to unpack these boxes. I'm tired after work, and I still don't have much furniture. It's hard to organize office supplies without a desk in which to store them. I had spent a good portion of tonight considering all that needed to be accomplished. The anticipation created a lake of molasses between me and action.

And then my sister texted and asked for a progress update.

I hadn't made any progress.

I got up and emptied a box, and then another. (The thought of disappointing my sister infuriated me.)The progress isn't noticeable and the books I did put away aren't organized chromatically on the shelves. But I have to trust that it mattered -- that I'll start someplace new tomorrow because of what I finished tonight.

What is possible may not be the most appropriate metric to gauge progress. There is a kind of implicit accounting that takes place when we invest in the possible but our returns fall short. I become wary, reluctant to try again.

I may have too many books (clarification: too many books for my bookcases at the moment) but putting one away now doesn't have to mean one less spot for another book later. I must trust that I can "make it work" - - thanks, Tim Gunn.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Time out

Growing up, I shared a cul-de-sac with four families' worth of kids, our own version of The Little Rascals. We played fiercely. Our competitive games were fueled by a na├»ve sense of idealism, in which every soccer goal counted and you risked your own capture to "release" your teammates from the big oak tree, where they were guarded by someone from the other team. We followed the rules, often brokered amongst ourselves minutes before starting. More than a handful of us grew up to be doctors and lawyers, but our fastidious adherence to the rules ran deeper than our natural predilections.

The rules made sure we stayed in bounds, forcing us to find creative ways to run / pass / tag / hide, depending on the game. And the rules granted us permission to yell time out. We didn't abuse that privilege, implicitly recognizing that - like in the "boy who cried wolf" fable - it was up to us to preserve the sanctity of those magic words.

Whatever happened to time out in this place called adulthood? Perhaps it was less the actual pause and more the possibility - a chance to say, "hold on" and "let's re-group" - that allowed us to invest so fully in the game as children.

I know that calling time out won't unpack the boxes at home or wash the dishes in the sink; time out was never allowed as an avoidance strategy, even back in the cul-de-sac. And yet I can't seem to figure out the grown-up version of this childhood tool, a way to say "we need to figure this out together" with dogged optimism.

I say we bring it back.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

a Sunday night whisper for the week

Embrace the unexpected
and cherish imperfections.
The way we adapt
is a testament of character.
Surrender to big changes
and take small steps.
Try a little harder
with grace and grit.
Live to be whole, not perfect. -Oprah

Saturday, October 3, 2015

sisters in the city

When I lived in Philadelphia, "sisters in the city" meant a day trip to NYC - Central Park, Laduree, The New York Public Library. We are expert tourists, having perfected the art during our times abroad when we armed ourselves with a guidebook and camera, not trusting ourselves to remember without capturing the memory.

Sometimes, though, it's the stories - the candid recollections of unexpected moments that caught us by surprise, becoming more valuable in their  repeated retelling - that hold more truth.
I want to capture them as much as those recommended in guide books.
- - - -
The post-Orange Theory coffee at the North Market, when my Sister - knowing that I'm braver with her by my side - helped me create a new Saturday morning routine.
Picking out wedding fonts on Pinterest after unpacking some boxes in my apartment. Laughing until our sides hurt (or is that the post-workout burn?) while watching Matt Ballassai's Whine about it.
Here's to capturing the essence of this weekend's edition of "sisters in the city" - Columbus edition.

Friday, October 2, 2015

what doesn't change

Once, we ate Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant when our kitchen was out-of-commission. I was 12 or 13 and completely unsettled by the prospect. I wanted us to dig in our heels and somehow find a way to preserve what had always been. I imagined that if we gave ourselves permission to adapt, then nothing would be considered sacred. Would we abandon Christmas Eve candlelight service next?

I feared change, even back then. But I didn't know change, having only ever experienced its proxies - transitions, disappointment, uncertainty.

When my dad passed away unexpectedly, Change became an unwelcome guest who moved in, without notice or regard.

Suddenly, the traditions that once defined my family could not be. It wasn't fair that he wasn't there to put together our Christmas tree while we unraveled the tangle of lights. We couldn't bear to go through the motions; his absence was overwhelming.

And yet we were still a family, glued together with grace and forgiveness. We've tried new summer spots and forged a Christmas Eve tradition for the three of us. Family isn't about holding on, although there is beauty in heirlooms.

Instead, it's my Sister knowing I will need her before I realize it, and she's in the car crossing states to help me unpack. It's an "everything will be okay" ethos that we borrow from one another.

i carry your heart (in my heart). e.e. cummings

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Three majors, two countries, one calling

I remember visiting Princeton on my Grand Tour of Colleges the summer before my senior year of high school. We sat in a room lined with books, floor to ceiling, and the Person in Charge asked each prospective applicant to introduce herself. Name and hometown and what you wanted to study.

I haven't a clue what my response was, but I cannot seem to forget one girl's desired major - Greek mythology. I remember feeling contempt for her boldness - how could she know so definitively? Yet even then I knew that my disdain was rooted in envy. Growing up, I couldn't stick to just one "when I grow up" fill-in-the-blank reply.

NASA Engineer.
Editor for a publishing house.

I applied Early Decision somewhere else as an English major, bewitched by the poetry of William Blake and the prospect of one day writing a Great American Novel. Add in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and once again I was an eclectic, unable to commit to a particular discipline.

I was an English major for less than a month. I worried that reading would become work and I couldn't bear the thought of resenting something so dear to me. I eventually settled on Psychology after pursuing a Government major for several semesters. I only stumbled upon developmental psychology while abroad in London, where only psychology courses would transfer for credit. What if political science courses were available instead? Did I miss my calling or find it instead?
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