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Entries in life (13)


My Summer Vacation and Facebook Brag Photos

Agra, IndiaIf we're friends on Facebook, you know that I traveled A LOT this summer. I went back and forth about sharing lots of photos on the page. I didn't want to appear to be a braggart. (Ew. Who even uses the word "braggart"? Apparently, I do.)

I think it's fairly universal -- that feeling when you see someone doing something awesome in a photo on Facebook and you're just sort of sitting around watching Netflix and, like, it's not even good Netflix - maybe the later seasons of Criminal Minds where it's basically the first five seasons with different characters-- and you think "Wow, this photo of this person doing awesome things is kind of making me feel bad about why I'm not doing awesome things." I can only speak for myself when I say that if I am not doing awesome things it's either because I'm physically tired or having one of my anxiety/depression/closeted introvert recharge moments. Did I say moments? Oops. I meant "weekends." So, I get it if you hated all of my vacation pictures, I totally do. But hear me out.

I promise you the sharing was not an effort to flash my "I'm so awesome" badge.

Seriously. Promise.

I posted the photos because I think international and transoceanic travel needs some normalizing these days. I can't count how many people greeted my travel plans with, "Really? Gosh, be careful."  The world is so incredibly crazy right now. It's not abnormal for someone to get anxious about boarding a plane for another continent. I was anxious. The anxiety isn't some out of the blue feeling either. It's grounded in a reality that anything could happen. There are people in this world who are so committed to their (skewed) ideology that they've crossed over to that place where they aren't exactly human anymore. They don't care about the collatoral damage that's associated with a news story. They just want to terrorize people. It can be hard to make the decision to leave your house in a world like this much less your country.

My iPhone regales me every day with news about terrorists and demagogues hell bent on creating a fractured humanity that is destined for peril and destruction. It reminds me daily that more and more humans seem to be becoming less human each day. While I don't dispute the accuracy of my iPhone with respect to specific stories, I do doubt the presentation of the proportionality of "awesomeness in the world" and "really terrifying shit that's happening."  If my every day has so much beauty in it, surely the rest of the world exists in a similar beauty.

So, the decision to travel to Oahu, Paris and New Delhi was a decision to push back against the narrative that the world is a dangerous place filled with inhumane people trying to kill us all. The decision to share these journeys on Facebook wasn't aimed at showing how I, personally, am awesome but reminding you that this is a world worth seeing

While I would not ever seek to diminish the violence that is done to innocent people daily, I know that hope lies in the knowledge that human kindness and beauty is still an actual thing all over the world. I didn't post the pictures to brag. I posted them so you would know that the world is still beautiful despite the dangers, injustices and unkindnesses that are present. I feel like if we forget that then maybe we might be in danger of being a little less human, too. 


Creativity, Usefulness and Moving to Selfish

I read an interesting article yesterday about the effect of family life on creativity. Here. Go read it.


You didn't really read it, did you? 

Anyway, this article is by a writer and she talks of how her artistic life has been impacted by family in what seems like a negative way, but, then, in the end, there's a semblance of bittersweet conclusion about how things are really just different now and not necessarily worse. Or something.

Don't like that summary? Well, that's what you get when you don't read shit for yourself. They're called consequences, Beav.

As my children get older and as my vocation is increasingly child centered (teaching, running a school - which is not the same as family centered, but still relies on this idea of maintaining order not disrupting it), I find myself less and less able to be truly creative. Like, in an artistic way.

Now, it we're talking about "I have a piece of pita bread, some sketchy looking turkey and a third of a tub of cream cheese and it's 7:20a.m. and I have to be at work in fifteen minutes and I need to make two lunches -- TURKEY-PITA-CREAM-CHEESE-SURPRISE-VOILA," then I'm freaking Picasso. This kind of creativity is not enough. This is really problem solving. This is an outflow situation. It doesn't renew. It takes.

I really just want... Just to be alone in a space for a while where I can disrupt the normal cadence of life and think about things in a new way. I want that fire and passion of looking at reality, saying "this is not the only way things are -- they can be like this, too! Aren't we all uncomfortably energized and ready to live it all in this new way?" 

But I have Life stuff. Stuff that has to happen so that we can, you know, eat and maybe wear clothes that don't smell. And, then, there's the stuff going on inside my head. This brings to another point and by "point" I mean "tedious human struggle." I have this horrible thing of believing that worth equals usefulness to others. Well, wait, this is true thing -- to a degree. It is important to be useful, but it's equally important to be self serving.

When I was growing up, I had a parent that told me I was selfish, a lot. It damaged me. Not in a terrible way that's unrecoverable, but in an innocuous way that shows up when you're forty and you're like, "well, isn't this some fresh hell I thought I had dealt with already?" I've got to tackle this demon that clutches at my throat every time I think of doing anything that doesn't directly benefit someone besides myself.

I'm not selfish. I've proven that to myself. I am now the opposite of selfish. I'm specifically a martyr like that other parent who didn't call me selfish. Isn't that something. You know, the only time I'm not benefitting someone else is when I lay down in my bed to sleep or watch TV. I think I even rationalize using the bathroom as a general public service. Backed up people with urinary tract infections are not good for the planet. Just saying.

The problem with working to the point of exhaustion is that you end up in bed watching a Netflix/Hulu marathon. Although, I did change it up this week by diverting to a Serial marathon.

(Oh, Adnan, BRO, why did you smoke the pot that day? You can't remember where you were because you were too HIGH, dawg.) 

I have to work on this whole being creative, taking care of myself, redefining self worth stuff. Who else is annoyed by the prospect of having to figure something out when when you've reached midlife? That is some serious CRAP. I really thought that forty was taking the red pill and realizing that we're all in the Matrix so we can all just chill. Or maybe it was the blue pill. Or, damn, maybe I took the blue pill and that's why we're having this conversation.

I have plans of attack, though. Maybe I'll share them with you. Maybe. I am planning to start listening to Season 2 of Serial now, so best laid plans and all that.

P.S. I just typed and retyped the word "download" three times. It went down like this:




I thought you'd enjoy that.

Hey! Mike Scheinberg and I have started producing Hey! That's My Hummus! again. New episodes to download. Check it out on our website. Or you can download from iTunes.



I Attempt Becoming a "Morning Person"

I once read an article about Tiger Woods in which he stated that gets up at 4:30a.m. every morning and that this simple act contributes greatly to his success. Golf success. Not cheating on his wife success. Which obviously was, depending on how you look at it, not a success.

I have never been a "morning person." I jokingly told Tariq the other day that in my ideal world, I am the last person to go to sleep and the last person to wake up. "So, basically, you would like to be a princess."

I am what I am.

Unfortunately, be it due to age or otherwise, I can no longer be productive when I stay up late and these pesky children and day job require that I get up in the morning. The resulting conundrum being that while I am the last one to sleep, I am now the second to wake up, courtesy Tariq's bedside service of a scalding cup of coffee every morning. This results in my being tired -- all the time.

Furthermore, while there was once a time where I could knock out thousands of words and tens of spreadsheets at the midnight hour, I now find myself in the regrettable position of watching hours and hours of "Cold Case Files" reruns. Not the documentary, but the show. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Shut up, it's good. That part at the end when one of the cops waves to the ghost of the murdered person gets me every time.

Anyway, the point is I can't hack it, this staying up late. Also, I want to be like Tiger Woods. Not the cheating on your spouse with strippers part. Just the "exceptional at what you do" part.

Today, I woke up at 5:20a.m. For those of you who are self righteous morning people, you know who you are, may I clue you into the life of someone who is a not a "morning person" who is attempting to be a morning person? The alarm blares. The sickening feeling that it's time to get up washes over you. Is it really time to get up? You glance at the clock and realize you are up about ninety minutes earlier than normal. It's still dark outside. The world feels empty. Too empty. There is no chatter. There is no light. There is no... coffee.

And what, pray tell, will you do with that extra ninety minutes? Write a novel? Make a spreadsheet of supplies needed to climb Mt. Everest? Let's just start with reading the instructions on the bag of coffee grounds. Two tablespoons to every six ounces of water? That seems excessive. The coffee is made and now there are precisely eighty two minutes left to kill.

Make that seventy two.

Outside my bedroom window. I am up before the sun. This feels all wrong. Especially because this photo is on its side. Whatever. At least, I'M AWAKE. 


My Surfing Will Go On and On...

Whenever I'm at my laptop and Tariq heads to bed, he looks at me very seriously, "Now, promise me you'll go to bed soon."  It reminds me of the scene in Titanic where Leo says, "You're gonna go on, Rose, and you're going to die an old lady, happy and warm in her bed, but not like this... not this night, not here.. do you understand me?"
And, then, I go all Kate on him and am like, "It's not up to you to save me, Jack...  leave me alone." I know those lines aren't in the same scene, but they should be. 
Unrelated: I didn't even have to Google those lines. Have a good weekend.


And, hey, have you liked my Facebook page? You should do that!

Photo Credit


Lyrical Life

You know what I love more than music?


Sometimes they make me laugh.  Or think.  Or cry.

There's this song that reminds me of a woman from my childhood named Helen.  She was our nanny.  A sassy Southern lady, who now that I think of it may have played for the home team, Helen is most likely the reason I will often say "yer" instead of "your" or "ain't" instead of "isn't."  Don't look so surprised, it happens way more often than you may think.

Anyway, long after Helen stopped being our nanny, she was in our lives.  She drove to Daytona from Bartow, Florida for every birthday, milestone, graduation and often for no reason at all.  I always meant to drive over and see her, but I never got around to it.  Even years after I had a driver's license, I always found something better to do than drive over to boring Bartow.

A little while after my twentieth birthday, my dad called me from the office and gently broke it to me that she had been killed in a car accident the day before.  I will never forget that moment.  As soon as my dad told me, I screamed.

I actually fell down.  Just like in the movies.

I went to her funeral a few days later.  That was the day that I realized that it's more than just a trite little saying.  Life really is too short and, no, you never do know.

When someone said count your blessings now

'Fore there long gone,

I guess I just didn't know how

I was all wrong

But they knew better

You said you'd stay forever

And ever

Who knew?

-- Pink, "Who Knew"

Winter Sky Over the Mississippi River